Why's the left so hot and bothered by "Try That in a Small Town"?

(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

If you tune in to the weekly VIP Gold live chat with HotAir’s Ed Morrissey and myself (which is coming up at 1:30 ET today), I’m sure you’ve heard me say that “everything is stupid and it’s only getting worse” in response to the latest social media-fueled outrage of the day. That phrase definitely applies to the hysterics from the left when it comes to Jason Aldean’s song “Try That in a Small Town,” which has now been yanked from rotation on CMT and is in the crosshairs of anti-gun activists like Shannon Watts, who’s claiming credit for CMT’s move and now trying to get the country singer cancelled from a fundraiser benefitting Covenant School in Nashville.

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When I first wrote about this “controversy” a couple of days ago, I figured it would be a one-off. After all, how much traction could Watts and her allies in the tribe of the perpetually outraged really get by complaining about a song in praise of small town living, even if it did mention those small-town residents keeping their guns instead of allowing them to be “rounded up”?

Well, we’re now on day three of the attacks on Aldean and his song, and the outrage mob is still gathering their torches and pitchforks. Aldean has been accused of fostering racism and violence with his lyrics, even as the singer himself has pushed back on the criticism.

Aldean denied the allegations against his song in a tweet on Tuesday.

“In the past 24 hours I have been accused of releasing a pro-lynching song … and was subject to the comparison that I (direct quote) was not too pleased with the nationwide BLM protests. These references are not only meritless, but dangerous,” he wrote. “There is not a single lyric in the song that references race or points to it- and there isn’t a single video clip that isn’t real news footage -and while I can try and respect others to have their own interpretation of a song with music- this one goes too far.”

On social media some users were offended by the lyrics, especially since Aldean was performing onstage at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas in 2017 when a shooter opened fire and killed 60 concertgoers and injured hundreds more. In his tweet, the Grammy-nominated star referenced the tragedy: “NO ONE, including me, wants to continue to see senseless headlines or families ripped apart.”

“‘Try That In A Small Town,’ for me, refers to the feeling of a community that I had growing up, where we took care of our neighbors, regardless of differences of background or belief. Because they were our neighbors, and that was above any differences,” he continued. “My political views have never been something I’ve hidden from, and I know that a lot of us in this Country don’t agree on how we get back to a sense of normalcy where we go at least a day without a headline that keeps us up at night. But the desire for it to- that’s what this song is about.”

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I have a theory about why Watts is so incensed by Aldean’s song, and it isn’t just that he’s warning against trying to round up guns; something gun control activists swear they’re not interested in doing anyway. I think it goes back to the Las Vegas shooting, and Aldean’s comments not long afterwards that it was “too easy” to get a gun in the U.S. As long as the singer was siding with Watts, there was no reason for her to complain. But now that Aldean is singing about hanging on to the guns we already own, instead of stumping for gun control it’s time for him to be cancelled.

I can’t help but think if Aldean had left out the verse about denizens of small towns keeping ahold of their guns, Watts would never have taken notice of his song. But when an ostensible ally starts singing about small town residents not giving up their guns, that singer has to be treated as Public Enemy #1.

As Aldean and some of his defenders have noted, there’s no racial component in the lyrics of “Try That in a Small Town.” Instead, Aldean’s taking lyrical aim at big city crime and far-left protestors as well as gun-grabbers. Unless you’re a violent criminal, an Antifa member, or interested in rounding up guns, what exactly is there to be offended by here?

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I didn’t grow up in a small town. I spent most of my life in cities and suburbs before moving to rural Virginia a decade ago. Even now I live a few miles outside a small town of a few hundred people, not inside the town itself, but I know well that feeling of community that Aldean says he was hoping to capture; from helping our neighbors out when the need arises to hanging on to our guns when prohibitionists say they’re gonna ban ’em and round them up. Frankly, a lot of what I’m seeing from the left looks like simple bigotry against those who live in the small towns from people who’ll never visit and who would never deign to live in one.

That’s been my experience as well.

Whether it’s the “chainsaw brigade” of volunteers who hit the roads after every storm to cut up downed trees and clear the roads or the folks who show up to help a neighbor bring in their crop because his failing health doesn’t allow him to work as hard as he once did, we do come together in times of need. That attitude isn’t limited only to small towns, of course, and I’m sure there are small towns out there where even neighbors are viewed with suspicion, but thankfully that’s not been my experience.

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Don’t get me wrong; my neck of the woods isn’t a rural utopia. We have our share of soul-crushing poverty, fentanyl is a growing concern, and there are still heated debates between local Republicans and Democrats on any number of issues, just like in big cities and the suburban sprawl. There are still jerks and jackasses to be found, but there are far more people who care about their neighbors and the community at large.

I have no idea if Aldean will bend the knee and grovel for the anti-gunners forgiveness or keep pushing back on the baseless attacks on his single, but I do know that my own neighbors are gonna keep looking out for each other and zealously guarding our right to keep and bear arms regardless of what a Nashville singer or a California gun control activist has to say about it.

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