Monday, October 6, 2014

The One About Carrie Underwood's New Song: Anatomy of a Persecution Narrative [Updated Below]

The American right has, for years, forged phony persecution narratives into a potent propaganda weapon; convincing people they're persecuted can generate a strong emotional reaction. When weaving their particular variants on these persecution narratives, those of the Religious Right[tm] persuasion have made a habit of portraying those who criticize them--criticism almost invariably aimed at their politics, not their religion--as calling for persecution of "Christians," positioning themselves as the representatives of the entire Christian faith who are victimized by any disapproval of their backwards, authoritarian views. Much of the political program of the Religious Right[tm] is, of course, directed at persecuting huge swathes of the population; at their most comical, they present themselves as victims of persecution if they're disallowed from persecuting everyone else.

I call attention to that this today because, on and off since this morning, I've been tracking the latest Religious Right[tm] persecution narrative. Singer Carrie Underwood recently released a new song dealing with her Christian faith, "Something In the Water," and right-wing blogs across the internet are claiming atheists are just fuming over it.

"Atheists Outraged By Carrie Underwood's Latest Song," proclaims the headline at TellMeNow,. The article informs readers that "Atheists are outraged that such a hit-maker as Underwood would dare to sing about Christianity, but Carrie doesn’t seem to care."

Mr. Conservative sayeth, "Atheists Outraged By Carrie Underwood's Latest Song," an article that asserts, "Atheists are outraged that such a hit-maker as Underwood would dare to sing about Christianity, but Carrie doesn’t seem to care."

Clash Daily: "Whiny Punk Atheists Will Hate This New Carrie Underwood Song."

The Political Insider asserts, "Carrie Underwood Is Known For Being Nice, But She Has A TOUGH Message For Atheists Attacking Her New Song."

The tale began to grow. The Conservative Tribune claims "Atheists have a new target in their sights and it’s country music star Carrie Underwood, who recently released a new song expressing her Christian faith and values...  According to TheBlaze, Underwood has always been an outspoken defender of singing about religious themes and has a message for all the liberals and atheists who are whining and complaining about the lyrical content of her new hit... With the current state of pop culture being radically opposed to religion, especially Christianity, and traditional values, its refreshing and uplifting to see someone as popular as Carrie Underwood take a bold stand on her convictions and refuse to be silenced by atheist bullies."

With American News, the tale gets even taller: "Atheists Viciously Attack Carrie Underwood's New Song, Want It Banned." The article says "As part of their constant attack on religious freedom and anything Christian, it appears that atheists have founds a new target: Carrie Underwood." But, it says, Underwood is standing up to those no-accounts.

Two days later, American News made another pass at it. Under the headline "Carrie Underwood Fires Back Against Radical Atheists: 'If You Don't Like My Song...," we get the reiteration of the original charge: "As we recently reported, country singer Carrie Underwood has become a new target for atheist activists, following her release of 'Something in the Water', which expresses her feelings towards God and highlights experiences like baptism."

TheFrisky.com even quotes Underwood in its headline: "Carrie Underwood Addresses Her Atheists Haters: 'If You Don't Like It, Change The Channel." The accompanying story asserts that the new song
"has left some of her atheist fans less than thrilled. But despite the criticism, Carrie told Glamour that she’s not sorry for singing about her personal faith, and she’s certainly not planning on changing her tune.

"'Country music is different. You have that Bible Belt-ness about it. I’m not the first person to sing about God, Jesus, faith [or] any of that, and I won’t be the last. And it won’t be the last for me, either. If you don’t like it, change the channel.'"
And so on.

Astute readers who wade through all of these articles will notice something about them (besides the plagiarism, that is): Not one of them cites a single actual atheist, liberal or anyone else who is outraged, upset or even expressing any critical sentiment at all toward the song in question, much less trying to bully anyone over it, ban it or any of the rest. There are no quotes. There aren't even any direct references to anyone doing anything of the kind.

Poking around the major atheist and freethought sites today, I haven't been able to come up with any either. I did find one writer at Patheos who had discovered this "controversy." Hemant Mehta's headline: "Atheists Don't Give A Damn About Carrie Underwood's New Song." He notes that "none of [these stories] actually name any atheist groups, websites, or even random individuals who have a problem with the song."

All of the articles use the Blaze, Glenn Beck's sewer, as their source, which is a big warning-sign, but surprisingly enough, Beck and his minions appear to be blameless in this matter. The original Blaze article to which they're all linking is just a 30 Sept. puff-piece for Underwood and the song. The Blaze, in turn, uses Deseret News as its source, but the article there is, likewise, puff. Neither make any claims about angry atheists raving against or trying to persecute poor, rich, white Christian girl singers.

All of the articles offering the false narrative suggest or directly insist Underwood has responded to these liberal/atheist attacks and two claim to directly quote her as doing so. Underwood could hardly respond to attacks that have never, in fact, occurred. A quick Google search for the "if you don't like my song" quote attributed to her by American News turns up nothing; it appears to be entirely fabricated. The "if you don't like it" quote attributed to her by TheFrisky, on the other hand, appears at both the Blaze and the Deseret News. It does appear to be real and does come from Glamour magazine, just as TheFrisky said, but contrary to TheFrisky's tale, Underwood didn't offer it in response to those (non-existent) attacks on "Something In The Water" and neither the Blaze nor Deseret News ever claim she did. As reported on Taste of Country, Underwood made those remarks over two years ago, long before that song existed, in response to a question about how her fans reacted to an even older Christian-themed song ("Jesus Take The Wheel") she'd done earlier in her career:
From the start, Carrie Underwood was never shy about her personal beliefs, especially when releasing her single, ‘Jesus Take the Wheel’ in the early part of her career. The song went on to become a powerful smash in country music, landing the ‘American Idol’ winner her first chart-topping hit.
In a recent interview with Glamour magazine, Underwood said the song’s content never worried her as far as how fans would embrace her or the song. “It wasn’t a worry to me at all,” she says in the magazine. “Country music is different. You have that Bible Belt-ness about it. I’m not the first person to sing about God, Jesus, faith [or] any of that, and I won’t be the last. And it won’t be the last for me, either. If you don’t like it, change the channel.”


Read More: Carrie Underwood Takes Pride in Using Religion in Her Music | http://tasteofcountry.com/carrie-underwood-using-religion-in-music/?trackback=tsmclip
From the start, Carrie Underwood was never shy about her personal beliefs, especially when releasing her single, ‘Jesus Take the Wheel’ in the early part of her career. The song went on to become a powerful smash in country music, landing the ‘American Idol’ winner her first chart-topping hit.
In a recent interview with Glamour magazine, Underwood said the song’s content never worried her as far as how fans would embrace her or the song. “It wasn’t a worry to me at all,” she says in the magazine. “Country music is different. You have that Bible Belt-ness about it. I’m not the first person to sing about God, Jesus, faith [or] any of that, and I won’t be the last. And it won’t be the last for me, either. If you don’t like it, change the channel.”


Read More: Carrie Underwood Takes Pride in Using Religion in Her Music | http://tasteofcountry.com/carrie-underwood-using-religion-in-music/?trackback=tsmclip
"From the start, Carrie Underwood was never shy about her personal beliefs, especially when releasing her single, 'Jesus Take the Wheel' in the early part of her career. The song went on to become a powerful smash in country music, landing the 'American Idol' winner her first chart-topping hit.

"In a recent interview with Glamour magazine, Underwood said the song’s content never worried her as far as how fans would embrace her or the song. 'It wasn’t a worry to me at all,' she says in the magazine. 'Country music is different. You have that Bible Belt-ness about it. I’m not the first person to sing about God, Jesus, faith [or] any of that, and I won’t be the last. And it won’t be the last for me, either. If you don’t like it, change the channel.'"
Underwood released "Jesus Take The Wheel" back in 2005 and, just to dot every i, please note that even these comments regarding it weren't a response to any criticism that song was alleged to have received.

The image proffered by this phony story are very familiar to those who follow these matters, an heroic Christian standing up to persecuting liberal/atheist bullies who seethe at mere public expressions of Christianity and want to actively silence it. When one draws back the curtain, all of those villains are revealed to be merely a string of ugly fictions conjured up by conservative "Christians," who feel no compunction against freely lying in order to demonize those whom they despise, projecting on to those people their own sick hatred. There's something in the water they're drinking, alright. One suspects it isn't Jesus.

--j.


UPDATE (7 Nov., 2014) - The bullshit just keeps getting deeper. From axs: "Carrie Underwood Stirs Up Controversy With Atheists On 'Something In The Water'." The article claims "Atheist fans are speaking out and they don't like it [the song]. Well the thing is, Underwood doesn't care what they think about it."

From Headline Politics, now more than a month after the rest of these stories: "Christian Carrie Underwood's NEW MUSIC VIDEO is Making Atheists FURIOUS!" From the brief article:

"Unlike many young pop stars, Carrie Underwood is proud to proclaim her belief in the Bible and Jesus Christ. So when she release the new hit song 'Something In The Water' and its music video (above), left-wing Atheists across America were repeatedly attacking her for the lyrics and standing up for her faith in the public square.As you can tell from this music video, Ms. Underwood is not backing down from a fight."


UPDATE (12 Jan., 2015) - Months after these stories came and went, this same bullshit has reappeared, this time being peddled by Breitbart (6 Jan., 2015), one of the most popular nut-right sewers on the internet: "Atheists Won't Stop Carrie Underwood From Singing About Faith: 'If You Don't Like It, Change the Channel.'" The article asserts, "Here is a sample of the lyrics that struck a nerve with various atheist groups," then reprints some of the song's lyrics. "Underwood, who stands for traditional American values, issued the following statement in response to the attacks on her new song, which just hit #1 on the Country charts this week," and then the years-old Glamour quote is recycled.

On the positive side, fact-checker Snopes debunked these false claims, noting along the way that they'd spread to Twitter as well:

"Claims that atheists are trying to ban Underwood’s song 'Something in the Water' are faulty on multiple levels. No atheists have complained about the song’s content; and Underwood’s remarks implying otherwise were made years prior to the track’s release and in response to a completely unrelated question."