The late Malcom Muggeridge, a former editor of the great British satire magazine Punch, once noted that the world was so ridiculous that it was difficult for a satirist to compete. I’m reminded of his comment as I follow the controversy about country music singer Jason Aldean’s song “Try That in a Small Town.”
As usual, the best take on the subject comes from another satire magazine, the Babylon Bee. The Christian conservative satirical publication’s headlines alone often makes me laugh out loud, such as, “Being Against Crime Added to List of Things That Are Racist.”
READ MORE — Paul Davis: Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan is America’s James Bond
The Babylon Bee went on to state “Country music star Jason Aldean released a controversial single this month called ‘Try That In A Small Town’ in which he laid out his belief that crime is bad. He has since been forcefully condemned by the music industry since being against crime is now considered a racist dog whistle.”
The Bee article continues: “‘I was shocked and saddened by the blatant racism in Aldean’s song that condemned violent crime,’ said CMT President Brian Philips. ‘Crime is a beloved and noble tradition of BIPOC communities, and to condemn it is to condemn our own black brothers and sisters. I am sorry we ever allowed it to be aired.'”
Clever, funny stuff.
In the song, Aldean warns big city criminals who assault the elderly, spit on cops, and burn the American flag that they will get a different reaction in a small town.
He suggests small towns would not put up with unruly, lawless crowds or rampant crime. In the song’s video, he presents news footage of the various crimes that Aldean sings about.
I don’t find his lyrics, some of which are offered below, offensive or racist.
Sucker punch somebody on a sidewalk
Carjack an old lady at a red light
Pull a gun on the owner of a liquor store
Ya think it’s cool, well, act a fool if ya like
Cuss out a cop, spit in his face
Stomp on the flag and light it up
Yeah, ya think you’re tough
Well, try that in a small town
See how far ya make it down the road
Around here, we take care of our own
You cross that line, it won’t take long
For you to find out, I recommend you don’t
Try that in a small town
Outraged commentators on the left, who apparently equate urban crime with black criminals, have accused the country music star of racism.
Aldean took to Instagram to address his critics. Aldean said he never referenced “race or points to it.”
He added, “What I am is a proud American. I’m proud to be from here. I love our country. I want to see it restored to what it once was before all of this bullshit started happening to us. I love my country, I love my family, and I will do anything to protect that — I can tell you that right now.”
Country Music Television (CMT) pulled the video from their rotation three days after initially airing the video. They did not comment on why the video was removed.
The publicity of the criticism of the song has helped propel “Try That In A Small Town” to the second place on Billboard’s Hot 100 list.
Although I grew up in the city and not in a small town, I understand Aldean’s sentiments. Back in the 1950s and 1960s, South Philly neighborhoods like the one I grew up in were in many ways like small towns.
I love my country, I love my family, and I will do anything to protect that — I can tell you that right now.
Growing up in a rowhome neighborhood, I rarely saw crime or criminals (other than mob guys). Heaven help the fool who tried to burglarize a home or steal a car where I lived back then. The men on the block would hand over a much-battered crook to the cops when they finally arrived. It was not until the late 1960s, when heroin use was rampant among teenagers, that crime came into our neighborhood.
Today, my South Philly neighborhood has low crime statistics and sees little crime other than the occasional mob hit, some armed robberies and burglaries, car break-ins and stolen cars. Living in a tight-knit community helps prevent crime.
I recall when a crook snatched a purse from a woman walking on my street a few years ago. The purse-snatcher ran for dear life as several men from our street chased him for several blocks.
In my South Philly neighborhood, like other tight-knit neighborhoods across the city, we tell criminals that they are not welcomed here.
Yeah, try that stuff in a small town, or in a tight-knit city neighborhood.
Paul Davis, a Philadelphia writer and frequent contributor to Broad + Liberty, also contributes to Counterterrorism magazine and writes the “On Crime” column for the Washington Times.