Senator Cruz is a gift that keeps on giving. This was apparent well before he declared for the presidency, but in the past two days he's become a cornucopia for critics. This morning he expounded on a musical conversion experience he had after the September 2011 terrorist attacks on the U.S. Perhaps strangely for a born-again, the Texan had been a rock fan until that point. But he "didn't like how rock music responded" to the terror attacks, while he discovered an affinity for country music. Hearing country music, he says now, he "had an emotional reaction that said, 'these are my people.'" Since then, it seems, he has listened to country exclusively.
Even before I could search my own memory, critics of Cruz reminded us that rock musicians were at the forefront of the big memorial fundraising show that aired on all TV major networks within days of the attacks. But to be fair to Cruz, he did not say he objected to how musicians responded. His problem was, and presumably still is, with the music, and one can infer that rock (not to mention hip-hop!) is guilty of a sin of omission. Rock, at least on the mainstream level, did not produce war songs. To be more precise, rock acts did not produce exhortations or incitements to fight a war against "the terrorists." There's no rock equivalent I know of to "Have You Forgotten?" or "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue." To be fair also to country music, these songs don't represent the whole genre. I doubt whether Cruz is a big Steve Earle fan, for instance, and he most likely didn't like how the Dixie Chicks responded to the invasion of Iraq. But I suppose he gives the benefit of the doubt when he hears that twang until evidence throws an act's patriotism and authenticity into question. Of course, Cruz could simply be pandering to the same rural demographic he was implicitly courting yesterday at Liberty University. Regardless, your takeaway from this is that Cruz carries grudges against entire genres of music if they don't "respond" to important events the way he thinks they should. For someone touting his conservative Americanism and his love for liberty, that sounds downright Stalinist.