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Shania Twain & Our BS Woke Culture

Shania Twain, History's Greatest Monster (This Week) (lev radin/Shutterstock)

If you’re like me — and if so, God help you — you only know the name “Shania Twain” from seeing her name on magazine covers in the checkout line at the supermarket. I’m not a fan of country music, but I’ve known for a while that she is, or was, one of its superstars. I did not know until I read in The Guardian the other day that she was even bigger than I thought … and that she had disappeared professionally for a while. From the profile:

Shania Twain was at the peak of her powers when she lost her voice. We are not talking a couple of cancelled concerts or a few weeks on the throat lozenges. Twain did not make a record for 15 years.

“I never thought I’d sing again,” she says quietly. It is only six weeks since she had laryngoplasty, an operation to reconstruct the vocal box. A two-inch horizontal scar is stripped across her neck.

Actually, she says, she was lucky. Her vocal cord paralysis was a result of being bitten by a tick and contracting Lyme disease. “Lyme disease can be so much more devastating. It can go to your brain.”

It is hard to conceive just how huge the country-pop star was when disaster struck. She was one of the first “crossover” stars, combining country music with pop and rock. Without Shania Twain, there might well have been no Taylor Swift. She made three monster-selling albums with the help of her husband and music partner, producer and writer Robert “Mutt” Lange. Come on Over, which has sold 40m copies, is the bestselling album by a female artist and the ninth-top seller of all time in the US.

The best-selling album by a woman artist ever?! I also did not know this about her:

To say Twain had a traumatic childhood is an understatement. She grew up in Ontario, Canada, and never knew her biological father. Her mother, Sharon, had depression; her stepfather, Jerry, was an Ojibwa Native American, much discriminated against, alcoholic, violent and mentally ill. “A third of my relatives were suicide deaths at young ages – that’s not an exaggeration. A number of them died prematurely just from neglect and alcohol abuse.”

She was christened Eilleen Regina Edwards, which became Twain when her mother married Jerry. Sharon brought up three daughters from her first marriage and a son she had with Jerry, as well as Jerry’s nephew, after his sister died. There was little work around, no money and a lot of violence. “I was worried about my father killing my mother.” She starts again. “I thought they’d kill each other. My mom was quite violent, too. Many nights I went to bed thinking: ‘Don’t go to sleep, don’t go to sleep, wait till they are sleeping.’ And I would wake up and make sure everybody was breathing.”

In her memoir, she describes an occasion when Jerry beat Sharon unconscious, then repeatedly plunged her head in the toilet. Twain grabbed a chair and smashed it across his back. He punched her in the jaw; she punched him back. Twain was 11 at the time.

Her father often abused her. “Physically and psychologically,” she says. She stutters to a stop. Did he sexually abuse her? “Oh yes, sexually,” she mutters. “Uh huh, uh huh. I’m not going to go into details about it. I don’t mind saying it, because I do think it’s important that people understand you can survive these things.” She did not mention the sexual abuse in her book.

Good God. What an astonishing woman, to have come out of that horror and triumphed so fully. And then to have lost your voice due to Lyme disease at the peak of your fame, and now to be making music again. Here I thought she was just another pop country star. I was very wrong. Shania Twain ought to be an icon of grit and perseverance.

But she’s not, not this week. Why? Because of this in The Guardian:

If she had been able to vote in the US election, she would have plumped for Donald Trump, she says. “I would have voted for him because, even though he was offensive, he seemed honest. Do you want straight or polite? Not that you shouldn’t be able to have both. If I were voting, I just don’t want bullshit. I would have voted for a feeling that it was transparent. And politics has a reputation of not being that, right?”

With that, she became last week’s object of the Progressive Two-Minute Hate. To which she responded:





“Inclusivity” is progressive-speak for “keep the Bible-thumpers, the pro-Trumpers, and the white trash out.”

Matthew Walther weighs in on the Shania Twain controversy, in a must-read column. “Don’t shame Shania Twain,” he says. Excerpt:

Is the fact that Twain holds a meaningless political position really more important than the story of how she was able to overcome a horrific childhood, the pitfalls of success, a nearly career-ending health crisis (she was diagnosed with Lyme disease some years back), and continue to make music that ordinary people care about, all while continuing to be a mother?

What were #MeToo and the so-called Weinstein effect really about? Painful as it is to admit, I think it looks increasingly likely that they were another soon-to-be forgotten addition to the ceaseless noise of contemporary discourse, not evidence of a widespread desire to come to terms with the reality of evil.

Read the whole thing.

It’s all virtue-signaling, all the way down. It’s like a variation on an old racist joke:

Q: What do you call a woman who rose from a broken, abusive childhood, one in which she was raped by her stepfather at age 10, to record the all-time best-selling album recorded by a woman, make $350 million, and triumph over a disease that took away her voice for a while — and who said she might have voted for Donald Trump?

A: A disgusting bigot.

The point here being that there is nothing people like Shania Twain can do that would alter the judgment of some people about her ultimate worth. The only thing that matters is not her accomplishments, or what they say about her character, but the politician she — as a Canadian born into the working class! — she might have voted for.

A friend of mine works at a large firm with a somewhat stodgy public profile that is growing increasingly woke under its new CEO. The friend told me this morning that people within the firm are afraid not to appear insufficiently progressive to others. “It’s like living in ‘Invasion of the Bodysnatchers,'” he wrote. You don’t know if what people said they believed yesterday is what they believe today — or if what they say they believe today is what they really believe, or if they’re just too scared to indicate otherwise.

Obviously I can’t tell you where this is, or what it is. But I assure you that it’s not Google, Facebook, or some left-coast institution. People are afraid. This is what the Left has done, and is doing. When you feel that it is too dangerous to express your convictions publicly, for fear of losing your job, you keep it to yourself, and then you vote for people like Donald Trump.


about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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