Year
2003
Month Day
March 12

The Dixie Chicks backlash begins

In response to the critical comments made about him by singer Natalie Maines in the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, President George W. Bush offered this response: “The Dixie Chicks are free to speak their mind. They can say what they want to say.” Of the backlash the Chicks (then known as the Dixie Chicks) were then facing within the world of country music, President Bush added: “They shouldn’t have their feelings hurt just because some people don’t want to buy their records when they speak out.” This music-related sideshow to the biggest international news story of the year began on March 12, 2003, when the British newspaper The Guardian published its review of a Chicks concert at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London two nights earlier.

In that review, The Guardian‘sBetty Clarke included the following line: “‘Just so you know,’ says singer Natalie Maines, ‘We’re ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas.'” (Clarke left out the middle of the full quotation, which was, “Just so you know, we’re on the good side with y’all. We do not want this war, this violence. And we’re ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas.”) That line quickly became fodder for a grassroots anti-Chicks backlash. It began with thousands of phone calls flooding country-music radio stations from Denver to Nashville—calls demanding that the Chicks be removed from the stations’ playlists. Soon some of those same stations were calling for a boycott of the recent Chicks’ album and of their upcoming U.S. tour. Fellow country star Toby Keith famously joined the fray by performing in front of a backdrop that featured a gigantic image of Natalie Maines beside Saddam Hussein.

The economic and emotional impact of all this on the members of the Chicks is documented in the 2006 documentary Dixie Chicks: Shut Up and Sing. In its opening sequence, one can see how popular and how far from controversial the Chicks were just prior to this controversy, when they sang the national anthem at the 2003 Super Bowl. The film also captures a scene in which the Chicks’ own media handler is counseling Maines not to speak her mind too openly about President Bush in an upcoming interview with Diane Sawyer. 

In 2020, after a 15-year hiatus, the Chicks released a new album, "Gaslighter." That same year they announced they were changing their name to the Chicks, dropping the word "Dixie"

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Broadway goes dark due to COVID-19 pandemic

On March 12, 2020, after New York state and city leaders placed coronavirus-related restrictions on gatherings of more than 500 people, the Broadway theater district announces it will go dark for an unprecedented 32 days. The longest shutdown for the artistic mainstay in its ...read more

Coca-Cola sold in glass bottles for the first time

Though today there is almost nothing as ubiquitous as a bottle of Coca-Cola, this was not always the case. For the first several years of its existence, Coke was only available as a fountain drink, and its producer saw no reason for that to change. It was not until March 12, 1894 ...read more

Germany annexes Austria

On March 12, 1938, German troops march into Austria to annex the German-speaking nation for the Third Reich. In early 1938, Austrian Nazis conspired for the second time in four years to seize the Austrian government by force and unite their nation with Nazi Germany. Austrian ...read more

Mohandas Gandhi begins 241-mile civil disobedience march

On March 12, 1930, Indian independence leader Mohandas Gandhi begins a defiant march to the sea in protest of the British monopoly on salt, his boldest act of civil disobedience yet against British rule in India. Britain’s Salt Acts prohibited Indians from collecting or selling ...read more

FDR broadcasts first 'fireside chat' during the Great Depression

On March 12, 1933, eight days after his inauguration, President Franklin D. Roosevelt gives his first national radio address—or “fireside chat”—broadcast directly from the White House. Roosevelt began that first address simply: “I want to talk for a few minutes with the people of ...read more

General Fromm executed for plot against Hitler

On this day, the commander of the German Home Army, Gen. Friedrich Fromm, is shot by a firing squad for his part in the July plot to assassinate the Fuhrer. The fact that Fromm’s participation was half-hearted did not save him. By 1944, many high-ranking German officials had made ...read more

Hail causes stampede at soccer match in Nepal

On March 12, 1988, a sudden hail storm prompts fans at a soccer match in Kathmandu, Nepal, to flee. The resulting stampede killed at least 70 people and injured hundreds more. Approximately 30,000 people were watching the game between the Nepalese home team, Janakpur, and ...read more

Police recover Elizabeth Smart and arrest her abductors

On March 12, 2003, 15-year-old Elizabeth Smart is finally found in Sandy, Utah, nine months after being abducted from her family’s home. Her alleged kidnappers, Brian David Mitchell, a drifter who the Smarts had briefly employed at their house, and his wife, Wanda Barzee, were ...read more

London police conduct drug raid at home of George Harrison

The London drug squad appears at house of George Harrison and Pattie Boyd with a warrant and drug-sniffing canines. Boyd immediately used the direct hotline to Beatles headquarters and George returned to find his home turned upside down. He is reported to have told the officers ...read more

Truman Doctrine is announced

In a dramatic speech to a joint session of Congress, President Harry S. Truman asks for U.S. assistance for Greece and Turkey to forestall communist domination of the two nations. Historians have often cited Truman’s address, which came to be known as the Truman Doctrine, as the ...read more

Red River Campaign begins

On March 12, 1864, one of the biggest military fiascos of the Civil War begins as a combined Union force of infantry and riverboats starts moving up the Red River in Louisiana. The month-long campaign was poorly managed and achieved none of the objectives set forth by Union ...read more

This Day In History: Public Notice urges recognition of “humane ladies,” March 12, 1776

Public Notice urges recognition of “humane ladies”

On March 12, 1776, in Baltimore, Maryland, a public notice appears in local papers recognizing the sacrifice of women to the cause of the revolution. The notice urged others to recognize women’s contributions and announced, “The necessity of taking all imaginable care of those ...read more