During times of heightened political turmoil, even the simplest acts can appear polarizing or provocative. No sooner has a teenage kid in middle America tweeted a picture of him- or herself holding an American flag and saying, “I believe in inclusiveness!” than a hail of douchbag responses rain down upon them, condemning the simple message of goodwill for being “P.C. brainwashing” or whatever. Similarly, a cautious Facebook post saying, “Hey guys, do you ever think sometimes Republicans have good ideas?” will provoke an onslaught of leftist hectoring about what a Nazi their ostensible friend has become, followed by the swift and proud declaration of “unfriending.” Truly, it is morning in America.
Then again, some guys just bring it on themselves. Toby Keith, the musician and sole genial face of star power at Donald Trump’s inauguration (unless you count the wraithlike presence of Jon Voight, which not even Jon Voight does at this point), is embroiled in a controversy of the highest order, a public dispute so consequential and far-reaching it threatens to unravel the vey fabric of American society itself: Some residents of Naperville, Illinois, think Keith is too political to play the local Ribfest.
As WGNTV.com reports, concerned citizens of the upper-middle-class Chicago suburb employed social media during the weekend to cite the haunting specter of a Toby Keith performance as negatively impacting an event dedicated to ripping the cooked and hanging flesh from the ribcages of animals with your teeth. The concern was that, thanks to Keith’s decision to play the inauguration, he was now too political and polarizing a figure to be headlining the opening night of Ribfest. Leaving aside the fact Keith has performed for all of the past three presidents, the musician has made a career of playing to a certain political base while still holding himself slightly above the fray—in other words, Keith is smart enough to not go down the Ted Nugent route of sounding like a deranged sentient Infowars post.
As a result, the Exchange Club of Naperville, which hosts Ribfest, is reaffirming its choice of headliner, with a Facebook post stressing its lack of interest in performers’ political beliefs and stressing the community-oriented nature of the event. The people supporting keeping him as headliner seem to outnumber those opposed by a goodly number, so this isn’t surprising. Besides, as resident Mark Moon says in the comments of the Exchange Club’s post, deftly encapsulating the complex philosophical discussion hiding behind this fracas, “Robyn me are going rib fest is always a good time we go all the time.”