Feelin’ The Hate With Toby Keith Nation

Toby Keith likes to brag, “This big dog will fight when you rattle his cage.” But when my reporting on the pro-lynching lyrics in his song, “Beer For My Horses,” began to complicate the promo tour for his forthcoming “Southern comedy” movie of the same title, tough-talking Toby whined to the media. “The song was a hit and the words ‘lynch’ and ‘racism’ has [sic] never come up until this moron wrote this blog,” he fumed to Contact Music.

When Fox News picked up Keith’s comments, Big Dog Daddy’s loyal fans bombarded my in-box with a deluge of indignant rants. While insisting to me that “Beer For My Horses” contained not even a hint of coded racial animus, Keith’s fans simultaneously revealed their simmering resentment of Jews, blacks, and “faggy liberals.”

Their hate-laden letters comprised the script for my latest video:

Toby Keith Nation Fights Back, a creative take on my hate mail

Keith claimed that “Beer For My Horses” was simply an anodyne ditty intended to evoke nostalgia for the Old West, where “bad guys” met justice at the end of a rope. “It’s about the old West and horses and sheriffs … and going and getting the bad guys. It’s not a racist thing or about lynching,” he said.

Why then did Keith sing so despairingly of car thieves, “corruption in the street,” and terrorists who blow up buildings? Why did he invoke the swarthy boogeymen of the modern right-wing imagination right before launching into a verse about the good old days when his “grandpappy” would “take all the rope in Texas…find a tall oak tree,” and “hang them high in the street, for all the people to see?” Maybe “Beer For My Horses” isn’t about the Old West after all.

But since Keith has invoked that golden era of “horses and sheriffs…and going and getting the bad guys,” it is fair to ask if he knows anything about the real history of lynching in Texas. Does he know that according to the Handbook of Texas, the Lone Star stood third among the states — just behind Mississippi and Georgia — in its total of lynching victims? Does Keith know that of the 468 people lynched in Texas, a whopping 339 were African-American (a partial list of black Texan lynching victims is here)?

Lynching was not, as Keith disingenuously claimed, a practice exclusive to gallant Hollywood cowboys played by Gene Autry (who couldn’t even ride a horse) and Ronald Reagan. It was a mode of organized terror employed by groups like the Ku Klux Klan during Reconstruction to restore white supremacy in Texas and throughout the region.

Keith should immediately apologize for his musical monstrosity. Then I suggest he perform a cover of “Strange Fruit,” the Billie Holiday anthem inspired by the anti-lynching poetry of Jewish school teacher Abel Meeropol. Holiday often cried (watch her here) as she performed her haunting dirge. On at least one occasion, she was so overcome with emotion she could not finish. With Toby Keith exploiting the South’s most barbaric tradition for big bucks, Holiday’s tears burn like salt on an unhealed wound.

29 thoughts on “Feelin’ The Hate With Toby Keith Nation

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  4. William Myers

    Toby Keith…appears to be the incarnation of redneck! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f9f-lXqUZ18.

    BTW, your vlog here is well done, Max! Good for you! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ygFGCMvptY&eurl=http://maxblumenthal.com/

    Look at who called you that (“marxist pussy”)…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7zEUpYjs-oE…Astrocreep69. You don’t deserve it! Marxist = OK, but pussy, not = OK.

    Unfortunately, your vlog gets right down in the gutter with his friends & adherents & adds fuel to their fire. Something like “Your Song”~~ http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&ie=ISO-8859-1&q=You+Tube+Elton+John+Ronan+Keating&btnG=Search
    ~~I suggest, might serve your purposes better, ironically turning the other cheek & returning good for their evil, i.e., loving your enemies.. Just a thought!

    J’embrasse la terre que vous marchez dessus, aussi bien que vos joues douces et vos fesses belles!

    Maître, je me signe votre domestique obéissant et humble, aussi bien que marxiste.

    Bill

  5. Preston

    Damn, Max, I’m jealous! Not only are you a gifted journalist, but you get to hang out with two hot chicks who are willing to participate in your video making.

    Lucky bastard!

    Good video. Not sure if this will stop the Hannityized knuckle-draggers with their “America isn’t racist, America is pure” meme, something they’re itching to use if Obama is elected president. “How can America be racist when we have a black president?” It’s the same type of white-washing and denial of social injustice that is so common with the American citizenry.

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  9. Tom Meyer

    Lynching was not, as Keith disingenuously claimed, a practice exclusive to gallant Hollywood cowboys played by Gene Autry (who couldn’t even ride a horse) and Ronald Reagan. It was a mode of organized terror employed by groups like the Ku Klux Klan during Reconstruction to restore white supremacy in Texas and throughout the region.

    Nor was execution-by-hanging exclusive to murderous, racist mobs.

    Anyone reading this blog should go back and watch the video and see if his or her own impressions match Blumenthal’s. In particular, consider that:

    1. The photographs on Willie Nelson’s shelves show the execution of a white criminal by an equally white sheriff. This is nothing like the lynch mobs Blumenthal links to.

    2. The “swaggering black man sporting short dreads and baggy clothes” is a drunk who one of the characters asks for information, not the “the profile of Keith’s ideal lynching candidate” as Blumenthal writes. Indeed, the actual villain in the video is quite clearly white.

    3. Besides the drunk, the only other African American in the video is — as best I can tell — one of the prostitutes murdered by the villain.

    The video is located here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_JZUHFuklo8

    Screen shots from the video are available on my blog: http://snarkybastards.com/index.php/2008/08/08/max-blumenthal-is-a-liar-a-lousy-liar-at-that/

  10. brendancalling

    I’ve written about Max’s pearl clutching. twice, actually.

    You sir, are WAY off: not only in your diatribes against the admittedly clownish Toby Keith but in your broad and demosntrably untrue presentation of country music.

    Speaking as a long time country music fan and performer, you come off as ignorant and bigoted in your own special way.

    For example your bullshit about “the dignified tradition established by Bill Monroe etc?” Friend, Bill Monroe’s music came along in the late 1940s, well after country music and the grand ol’ opry had been established. Furthermore, while you presume that Keith is talking about black people in his reference to car thieves (because only black people steal cars, right?) and “swarthy people” who blow up buildings (the name Tim McVeigh ring a bell?), you overlook a couple of explicitly racist lines in Monroe’s work. It’s clear you’ve never listened to “New John Henry blues”, which opens with the “dignified tradition” of “John Henry was a little colored boy”, or Monroe’s first hit “Mule Skinner Blues” which opens with “Good morning captain”/”good morning shine”, a common pejorative for black people at the time. Your remarks about a “lobotomized Merle Haggard” are equally uninformed: Haggard was as right wing as they come until well into the 1970s, and perhaps even longer than that.

    Furthermore, well before Mr. Monroe began playing what became known as bluegrass music, the old time fiddling that became started what we now call country was FILLED with broad racial steroetypes and humor: let me offer some titles. “Run Nigger Run”; “Nigger in the Woodpile”; “Uncle Eef’s Got the Coon”; “All that I Want is My Black Baby Back”; and “Black Annie”, to name more than a few. Or the Allen Brothers’ work, or the Georgia Yellow Hammers, or the Louvin Brothers, who sang in their song “Kentucky”, “I hear the darkies singing in the silvery moonlight”

    And that doesn’t even begin to address the fact that Toby Keith A) is a democrat; B) likes Obama; and C) doesn’t support the war in iraq (although he did support the Afganistan invasion, and is certainly not anti-war).

    Sir, if you want to attack a pompous country redneck asshole, why not go after Mccain supporting homophobe John Rich (from Big and Rich) or war-mongering Clint BLack (complete with soundtrack, a must hear).

    What you call Keith’s “whining”, is most likely the man trying to defend his good name against your slanderous allegations.

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