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Far be it from us to question the choices any club or venue makes when it comes to bringing musical acts to town (after all, one can choose not to attend), but the announcement of Ted Nugent’s upcoming appearance at Track 29 on Aug. 21 is worthy of comment.
It’s debatable, but Nugent is something of a music legend who might otherwise be a welcome Classic Rock respite from the string of newer acts that make up the eclectic lineup Track 29 continues to bring to Chattanooga. But the guitarist has become better known for his vocal, far right-wing political rants and his support of hunting and gun-ownership rights than his small catalog of hits. In fact, the newest generation may be more familiar with Nugent’s controversial political stances than such songs as “Cat Scratch Fever.” Once known as the Motor City Madman, the Detroit rocker could now be better known as a Right-Wing Maniac.
Of course the convergence of music and politics is not new, and Nugent is one of many entertainers who use their fame to amplify their political opinions. We have no problem with that. Trouble is, there is a line between political discourse and political ranting, and Nugent has clearly crossed it. His comments have gone from offensive to unacceptable at best, and violently aggressive at worst.
Most recently, Nugent was investigated by the Secret Service after a torrent of vitriolic statements aimed at President Obama earned him a meeting with agents to discuss his comments at an April 17 NRA convention at which he said he’d rather be “dead or in jail” if Obama was reelected, and later referred to himself as a “black Jew at Nazi-Klan rally.”
When his Chattanooga show was announced last week, commenters on Nooga.com fired back. “I feel that any thinning connection to ‘legend’ is, from here on out, going to be overshadowed by ‘hateful right-wing lunatic,’” wrote one. “I don’t want this racist asshat in my city,” wrote another.
While others recognized Nugent’s musical talents, he now draws more notoriety for his reckless political commentary. Whether Nugent will check his politics at the stage door remains to be seen. Perhaps he’s learned something from the Dixie Chicks, who famously said they were embarrassed by President George W. Bush during a live performance. That light commentary almost ended their career. The takeaway? Just shut up and sing.