Friday, August 31, 2012

Corn dogs and turnips and hate, oh my

"Animals don't hate, and we're supposed to be better than them." Elvis Presley

IF YOU'RE FROM Iowa, you know that the Iowa State Fair is iconic. It served as the inspiration for the novel, State Fair, written in 1932 by Phil Strong, who was born near Keosauqua, IA and attended Drake University in Des Moines. It tells the fictional story about the Frake family and their three-day trip to the Iowa State Fair. Three movies, 1933, 1945 and 1962, and a stage musical were subsequently based on his book.

You can find just about every kind of farm-and-family, hearth-and-home competition you can possibly imagine — plus a few you can't — at the Iowa State Fair: sewing, cooking, baking, pickling, canning (and caning), woodworking (and burning), crocheting, quilting, knitting, needlepointing, china painting, picture taking, sculpting, hog (and husband) calling, banjo picking, tractor pulling, sack racing. Pigs, cattle, horses, sheep, rabbits, goats, chickens, geese, ducks pigeons, llamas and more are judged and awarded ribbons and prize money, and so are tomatoes, cabbages, corn, turnips, green beans, onion, apples, peaches, cantaloupe, watermelon, roses, lilies, marigolds and every other cultivated fruit, vegetable, grain and flower that can be grown in Iowa.

Added to that are hundreds of food stands selling lemonade, corn dogs, cotton candy, taffy, ice cream, apple pie, snow cones, barbecue, funnels cakes and anything else that can be deep fried or put on a stick and whole bunch of things that shouldn't, hundreds of win-a-stuffed-bear barker games and amusement rides and every sort of exhibit known to humankind including a life-sized cow made out of butter — and the result is the Iowa State Fair, which is in short, the fair that every other fair wishes it could be.

Into the middle of this celebration of wholesome, all-American endeavors crashed Hank Williams Jr. He was playing a concert in the grandstand about three weeks ago during the fair and said this, "We've got a Muslim president who hates farming, hates the military, hates the U.S. and we hate him!"

Aside from being insupportable, what makes this (literally) hateful speech so awful is the wellspring of racism from whence it arises. I have a friend who hangs out with a bunch of Republican codgers who loathe President Barack Obama, and even he admits that so much of the excoriating criticism isn't politics; it's racism cloaked as politics.

This isn't about whether you're a fan of our current president, and it's not about whether or not HW Jr. has the right to say such repugnant things. He does. It is, instead, about whether you think hate and racism make a healthy footing for our country.

If you don't think so, don't buy anything with Hank Williams Jr.'s name on it. Don't go to his concerts, don't download his music, don't buy his CDs. Even better, write, call or email Blaster Entertainment and tell them that you will boycott not just JW Jr., but anyone else on their roster.

Here's a link to a press release issued by Blaster Entertainment about their "star" with whom they've signed a three-year contract, and below are the media contacts:

For Hank Williams, Jr.
Kirt Webster / (615) 777-6995 x230 / kirt@websterpr.com

For Blaster/Bocephus Records
Alan Taylor / (615) 777-6995 x226 / alan@websterpr.com
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