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Try That in a Sundown Town
Jason Aldean’s Lynch Mob Song and the Amerikaner Fascist Culture War
The unsightly country music star Jason Aldean is offended that liberals have criticized his recent mega-hit song “Try That in a Small Town” as racist.
A Fascist Anthem Meant to Build Up New Rittenhouses
Actually, “Try That in a Small Town” is worse than just racist. It’s fascist.
It’s not just another annoying and whiny white boy country song you try not to hear while you gas up your car in a flyover zone. It’s a 21st Century Amerikaner lynch mob anthem.
Its clear target, evident from the song’s video, which pretends to splice in images of Black and white protesters during the George Floyd Rebellion, is the movement to defend Black lives from police and vigilante violence. It promises lethal brutality to those seen as disrespecting small business, the racist US flag, and the racist and murderous American police state.
The “Try That in a Small Town” video starts by planting in viewers’ minds a link between Black Lives protest and urban/Black criminality:
Sucker punch somebody on a sidewalk
Carjack an old lady at a red light
Pull a gun on the owner of a liquor store
The tune moves on to defend America’s local gendarmes in blue, agents of racist mass incarceration and police brutality, and the US imperial flag, under whose banner millions of mostly nonwhite people have been killed and maimed at home and abroad:
Cuss out a cop, spit in his face
Stomp on the flag and light it up
Aldean vows bloodshed against his Black Lives protester enemies with lyrics that combine vigilantism with classically fascistic anti-urbanism and embrace of the rural Fatherland, gun-brandishing, and a chilling reference to “round[ing] up”:
Well, try that in a small town
See how far ya make it down the road
'Round here, we take care of our own
You cross that line, it won't take long
For you to find out, I recommend you don't
Try that in a small town
Got a gun that my granddad gave me
They say one day they're gonna round up
Well, that shit might fly in the city, good luck
Full of good ol' boys, raised up right
If you're looking for a fight
Try that in a small town
Try that in a small town.
“Try” what? To loudly and fiercely oppose racist murder and repression, as tens of millions of US Americans did in hundreds of towns and cities big and small from coast to coast in the summer of 2020.
“See how far you make it down the road”? That’s a clear threat of physical force, as in “try to take to the streets for social justice here and we will put you down.”
“Cross that line it won’t take long for you to find out, I recommend you don’t” is a threat of swift violence.
“Grandad’s gun” is an embrace of America’s ugly gun culture. It’s also a blood and soil reference, upholding the legacy of earlier white generations that brutalized people of color and others, back in the “good old days” of lynch mobs, Jim Crow, and (see below) Sundown Towns.
What/who is a “good ol’ boy, raised up right,” ready to “fight” and “round-up,” stop people who “cross the line” from mak[ing ]it “down the road” with his “grandad’s gun?” Let’s not kid ourselves. It’s a racist white guy with a pickup truck and a rifle, maybe an AR-15, primed to kill folks who rise up against racism, police violence, and white nationalism. The message is clear: “Black and brown folks, liberal and left people, keep your heads down and your mouths shut, put your signs away. Respect white supremacist rule or you might not make it out of here alive, you hear?. Fuck around and find out. We’ll round you up.”
It's a call for more people to emulate Kyle Rittenhouse, the teen fascist militia member who murdered two Black Lives protesters with an illegally owned AR-15 in the not-so small town of Kenosha, Wisconsin in August of 2020.
Rittenhouse, found not guilty of murder in a trial overseen by a racist judge, is a hero of the Republi-fascist right. Like Jason Aldean and his right-wing “influencer” wife, Kyle has been down to Mar a Lago to visit the nation’s fascist leader Donald Trump.
Small Town Blood and Soil, Home of White Virtue and National Greatness
Aldean’s song embodies a key volkish and pastoral aspect of fascist pathology. “Try that in a small town” and “that shit might fly in the city” express fascist ideology’s revanchist hostility to and fear of the “wicked,” “immoral,” and “shameless” modern metropolis, where people of different races, cultures, languages, world views, ideologies, and sexualities intermingle – and where liberals, intellectuals, and radicals dwell. Aldean’s lyrics reflect fascism’s longtime espousal of the “hard- working” and supposedly virtuous countryside as the true, God-fearing blood and soil taproot of the white nation’s greatness, seen as threatened by nefarious elites and dangerous, inferior, criminal, dark, racially impure, lazy, and licentious masses in the cities.
Aldean really should have named his tune “Try That in a Sundown Town.” Blacks were violently removed and kept out of many hundreds of small and medium-sized US towns starting in the early 20th Century – towns where Black people were not welcome “after sundown.” These racist removals and exclusions often involved horrific pogroms in which Black Americans were lynched, usually Black males falsely accused of raping a white woman.
Horribly and tellingly enough, the song video features a performance in front of the Maury County Courthouse in Columbia, Tennessee, where the 1927 lynching of the Black man Henry Choate took place.
Aldean claims ignorance of the courthouse’s history. He’s probably lying about that, but it is unlikely that he would have cared if he had known. He is a known racist who once went to Halloween in blackface and who donned a Confederate Flag shirt on stage for years. He and his wife are big backers of dear Leaders Trump’s big racist and Hitlerian stolen election Lie.
Aldean’s Myth of Cities as Protest Havens
“That shit” – meaning social justice movements and protest – “might fly in the city”? Actually, Black Lives protesters and social justice activists have faced plenty of repression from fascists both in an out of uniform in big cities. “Might fly in the city” is a cruel joke for racial and social justice activists who were killed, maimed, and beaten by big city police and vigilantes during the George Floyd Rebellion. (Please see my September 2020 CounterPunch essay “Fourteen Martyrs in the Struggle Against Racist Trumpism-Fascism,” detailing the killings of Calvin Horton in Minneapolis, James Scurlock in Omaha, Dorian Murrel in Indianapolis, Jorge Gomez in Las Vegas, David Macatee and Tyler Gerth in Louisville, Summer Taylor in Seattle, Garrett Foster in Austin, Texas. Federal gendarmes damn-near killed the anti-racist activist Donavan LaBella and shot the historian Maureen Healy in Portland, Oregon.)
Last March, New York Attorney General Letitia James sued the New York Police Department (NYPD) and its leadership over their “excessive, brutal and unlawful” response to the George Floyd Rebellion. An investigation found that NYPD officers used “indiscriminate, unjustified, and repeated use of batons, pepper spray, bicycles and a crowd control tactic known as ‘kettling’ against peaceful protestors.”
A remarkably detailed and thoroughly annotated registry of US police violence incidents during the George Floyd Rebellion shows 281 such incidents, the great majority of which took place in cities.
The Other Big Fulton County RICO Case
And just this week, the big city Fulton County, Georgia prosecutors’ office of Atlanta – the same one that has indicted Trump and other co-conspirators on racketeering charges for trying to subvert the 2020 presidential election count in Georgia – announced brazenly arch-repressive racketeering charges against 61 activists who have opposed the giant eco-cidal and highly unpopular Cop City police training facility that is being built with corporate money on formerly pristine forest land in the Atlanta area. As the Associated Press reports:
"Among the defendants: more than three dozen people already facing domestic terrorism charges in connection to violent protests; three leaders of a bail fund previously accused of money laundering; and three activists previously charged with felony intimidation after authorities said they distributed flyers calling a state trooper a 'murderer' for his involvement in the fatal shooting of a protester.”
Included among those absurdly accused of racketeering by big city prosecutors are people whose “crime” was “being reimbursed for glue and food for activists who spent months camping in the woods near the [Cop City] construction site.”
More “Small Town” Bloodshed in Big Cities
Aldean’s fascistic big city versus small town dichotomy is badly overblown in other ways. The George Floyd Rebellion arose in hundreds of small towns across America in the summer of 2020. “That” has been done and will be done again. At the same, fascist white supremacists both in and out of uniform keep carrying out horrific racist shit in big cities, where most of the white cops are aligned with whie-supremacist Trumpism-fascism.
Amerikaner racist-fascists don’t just defend Aldean’s cherished “small town” way of life in the hinterland. “Lone wolf” fascist mass shooters have slaughtered Black and brown people in such cities as Charleston, South Carolina (2015), El Paso, Texas (2019), Buffalo, New York (2022), and Jacksonville (two weeks ago). A fascist maniac murdered Jewish people identified with immigrant rights in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (2018).
City on New Civil War Hill: Seeking “a Qualitative Change in How Society is Governed”
“Try That in a Small Town” is a not-so veiled call for civil war. “Cuss out a cop, spit in his face?” The “good ‘ol boy’ MAGAts who Aldean champions did quite a bit more than merely cuss and spit at Capitol Hill Police during the Trumpost-fascist coup attempt on January 6!
As the national organization Refuse Fascism notes, “Fascism’s defining feature is the elimination of the rule of law and democratic and civil rights. Fascism foments on xenophobic nationalism, racism, misogyny, and the aggressive re-institution of oppressive ‘traditional values.’ Truth is obliterated and fascist mobs and threats of violence are unleashed to build their movement and consolidate power. Fascism is a qualitative change in how society is governed.”
American Trumpism-fascism, which has taken over the Republican Party, seeks this change in multiple ways. It employs election subversion, voter suppression, and election cancellation. It advances border crackdowns and the repression of liberal, progressive, and radical social movements. It makes violent threats against elected and other public officials. It wages war on abortion, gay, and transgender rights. It demonizes and attacks racial and sexual minorities and non-fascist political parties. It demonizes the cities in which those minorities are disproportionately concentrated. It undertakes a relentless assault on truth, science and a free press. It works to throw the real and ongoing history of American racism, sexism, and LGBT-bashing “down the memory hole” (Orwell), making it a crime in some states for teachers to tell the truth about these core and critical aspects of the North American and US experience.
Fascism promotes conspiratorialism and political personality cultism. It advances lawlessness in the name of law and order. On January 6 it undertook an actual attempted physical coup, trying to block the peaceful transfer of national executive branch power.
The open racist and Trumpist Aldean’s hit song is meant to advance all this. It is part of the fascist culture war, crafted precisely to promote and justify this many-sided revanchist project of radically changing “how society is governed.”
Aldean’s producer, the Nashville-based BBR Music Group, is owned by the Berlin-based music giant Bertelsmann (BMG) Music Group. It is cashing in on American racial and political polarization and fascisation, a process with more than slightly audible echoes from Germany’s ugliest past. Aldean, his writers, and BMG Music are using their twisted version of country music not just to make money but also to help make this country fascist.
It’s a sick statement on the state of late bourgeois-democratic, rancid-capitalist Amerika that butt ugly Aldean’s white nationalist hate ballad has spent time at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart since controversy emerged over its racism. As the revolutionary communist Bob Avakian wrote in January of 2021, on the eve of January 6, “this country, the self-proclaimed ‘City on a Hill,’ is full of fascists, in the government at all levels, and in large parts of the society as a whole.”
Resolute Opposition Beyond the Collaborationist Dems: Come to Tinley Park to Protest This Sick Fascist Crooner
And the Democrats are part of the problem. As Refuse Fascism’s mission statement says, “The Democratic Party will not stop this nightmare. Trump, fascist Fox News, and the Republi-fascist Party have branded them as enemies and ‘traitors.’ Yet, the Democratic Party will consistently pull to try to work with, conciliate with and collaborate with them. There can be no reconciliation with fascism except on the terms of the fascists. Fascism must be resolutely opposed.”
Speaking of resolute opposition, the Revolution Club of Chicago is leading a protest of Aldean’s coming highly provocative concert in the largely Black south suburbs of Chicago this coming Saturday. Please read the Club’s call to action and for support: .
‘Jason Aldean's mega hit, ‘Try That in a Small Town,’ is a vicious celebration of America's lynch mob tradition that topped the country music charts for weeks this summer. It gives expression to a whole move by fascists, led by but not limited to Trump and the Republicans, to bring back the "good ol' days" of undisguised white supremacist, anti-woman, anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-immigrant violence and repression…Now, days after a Nazi racist mass shooter murdered three Black people in Jacksonville, FL, and a week after the assassination of shop owner Lauri Carlton for flying a gay pride flag in a California "small town," Jason Aldean is coming to spew his Klan-loving poison in Chicagoland, out at Tinley Park. NO!...The Revcoms call on EVERYONE who is sick and tired of the growing racist, anti-woman, anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-immigrant hatred and violence to join them in protest next Saturday, September 9, in Tinley Park.
If you understand the danger these armed fascists pose and the need to expose and protest their agenda, your contributions are urgently needed to make this action as powerful as it needs to be. The needs are many: join us in Tinley Park on Sept. 9, send a statement of your support to the Revolution Club Chicago, share their social media posts (@revclubchi and @TheRevcoms), help them find videographers and photographers, and donate to cover the expenses of the volunteers who are making this happen.
PROTEST, 6 PM Saturday, Sept 9, 191st & Oak Park Blvd, Tinley Park
Shuttle available near Arby's in Brookside Marketplace Mall, 191st & Harlem, Tinley Park
Call, email or DM the Revolution Club Chicago to find out how you can help make this a powerful action:
Revolution Club 312 804 9121 * email@example.com @revclubchi
Donations by PayPal or credit card can be made here.’
For what it’s worth, “Try That in a Small Town” is musical shit, high production values notwithstanding. I could write a better song in my sleep.