Fact Check

Charlie Daniels 'Rag' Ban

Did singer Charlie Daniels pull out of a scheduled appearance because the benefit's organizers barred him from performing a certain song?

Published Nov. 18, 2001


Claim:   Singer Charlie Daniels pulled out of a scheduled benefit concert appearance because the organizers barred him from performing a certain song.

Status:   True.

Example:   [Collected on the Internet, 2001]

This is a statement from Charlie Daniels.
I simply say, "AMEN" !!!!!

There are probably some of you folks out there who are wondering why we didn't appear on the CMT Country Freedom Concert for the Salvation Army to benefit the victims of the September 11th Attack on America.

We were announced and scheduled and had every intention of doing the show, until we gave the CMT folks the lyrics to a new song I had written and wanted to perform on the show.

After receiving the words they informed us that we could not do the song on the show and when we asked them why they said that the show was a healing type show and they were afraid that the song would offend someone.

I would never do anything to hurt the show but I knew that they had the very epitome of country stars and didn't particularly need us to sell tickets. With this in mind, I decided to pull off the show for personal reasons which I would like to share with you.

Let me preface my remarks by saying that I respect CMT's right to not allow anything they don't agree with to go out over their airwaves. And in all fairness, I guess they were taking the sensibilities of the victim's families into account. But I respectfully and vehemently disagree with their stand.

First of all, I don't feel that this is the time for healing. I feel that this is the time to rub salt in the wounds and keep America focused on the job at hand. We lost almost seven thousand people in the Trade Towers and Pentagon and we're worrying about offending somebody?

We have seven month old babies infected with Anthrax and we're afraid we'll hurt someone's feelings?

Brave Americans forced a plane down in a field in Pennsylvania and we're worried about ruffling someone's feathers?

We're sending our sons and daughters off to fight and perhaps die in a war we had nothing to do with starting and we're concerned about insulting somebody?

I felt to give into this political correctness would be to turn my back on the people who lost their lives on 9-11 and on the brave men and women who defend this country.

The title of the song is "This Ain't No Rag It's A Flag", and I don't apologize for a word in it. I'll let you all decide for yourselves:

This ain't no rag it's a flag
and we don't wear it on our heads
It's a symbol of the land
where the good guys live
are you listening to what I said

You're a coward and a fool
and you broke all the rules
and you wounded our American pride
Now we're coming with a gun
and we know you're gonna run
but you can't find no place to hide

We're gonna hunt you down
like a mad dog hound
and make you pay for the lives you stole
We're all through talking and messing around
and now it's time to rock and roll

These colors don't run
and we're speaking as one
when we say united we stand
If you mess with one you mess with us all
every boy, girl, woman and man

You've been acting mighty rash
and talking that trash
but let me give you some advice
You can crawl back in your hole
like a dirty little mole
but now it's time to pay the price

You might have shot us in the back
but now you have to face the fact
that the big boy's in the game
The lightning's been flashing
and the thunder's been crashing
and now it's gettin ready to rain

This is the United States of America
the land of the brave and free
We believe in God, we believe in justice,
we believe in liberty

You've been pulling our chain,
we shoulda done something about you
a long time ago
But now the flag's flying high
and the fur's gonna fly
and now the whole world's gonna know

This ain't no rag it's a flag
old glory red white and blue
The stars and stripes
and when it comes to a fight
we can do what we have to do

Our people stand proud
the American crowd
is faithful and loyal and tough
We're as good as the best
and better than the rest
you're gonna find out soon enough

When you look up in the sky
and you see the eagle fly
you'd better know he's headed your way
This ain't no rag it's a flag
and it stands for the USA

What do you think?

God Bless America
Charlie Daniels

Origins:   The above-quoted essay attributed to Charlie Daniels began circulating via e-mail in early November 2001. Its authorship is not in question: it was indeed penned by the famed singer/songwriter and can be found on his web site in his Soapbox section.

"This Ain't No Rag, It's a Flag" has been giving the pot of controversy a good stir. The facts as reported in Daniels' essay are accurate — he was scheduled to appear as one of the entertainers at an October 20 Nashville benefit, the Country Freedom Concert, and he did cancel out because the event's organizers asked him to refrain from performing this song. "If the song is offensive, I figured my presence there also would be offensive," he told The Hollywood Reporter.

The song has proved to be wildly popular. It debuted at #51 on the Billboard country music singles chart in early November, and requests to play it have poured into country music radio stations. Traffic at his web site, www.charliedaniels.com, the only place to buy "Rag," has soared. The song does strike a responsive chord with a number of folks and does give voice to widespread sentiment, hence its popularity. Of course, the song does not speak for everyone (what song could?), but it's clear a significant number of people do find a sense of empowerment in it. It's a war song, and it's meant to stir up the blood. At this, it succeeds remarkably


The question of whether "Rag's" message is the right one for America at this time is too large an imponderable for this site to try to address. Suffice it to say, some will love this song because it fiercely cries out what's in their hearts, and some will hate it because they disagree with its cowboy justice posture. Discussion of "Rag" at the family dinner table thus guarantees lively debate, possibly escalating to pot slinging and plate slamming incidents wholly unrelated to the food.

The opening lines of this battle cry have proved especially offensive to some. "This ain't no rag, it's a flag; And we don't wear it on our heads" has been parsed by some Muslim Americans as a slam of their customs and of them — they interpret the reference to a rag's being worn on the head as applying to their traditional head coverings, thus perceive the song as equating all Muslims ("ragheads") with the object of the song's ire, which are terrorists.

Those attuned to issues of flag etiquette could view that opening stanza in a more innocuous fashion, as a not-so-gentle reminder that it's disrespectful to wear the American flag or representations of it as an item of clothing (as explained in Section 4(d) of the 1976 Executive Order regarding flag laws and regulations: "The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery"). Bandanas decorated with the stars and stripes of the U.S. flag, though popular, are thus improper displays of patriotism. (So are boxer shorts made of the flag, but what goes on inside a fellow's pants is generally a matter just between him and his Levis.)

It should be noted, however, that Charlie Daniels himself has never espoused the flag etiquette explanation. But in various interviews, the singer has explained that the angry sentiments expressed in the song are exclusively aimed at the terrorists behind the September 11 attack on America and that he deplores any violence or abuse toward law-abiding Islamic people. "We can no more blame it on good Middle Eastern citizens than we can blame Hitler on people of German descent," said Daniels.

Barbara "charlie's angle" Mikkelson

Last updated:   8 March 2008

  Sources Sources:

    Autrey, Jennifer.   "Broker's Link to Tragedies Was Ironic - and False."

    Fort Worth Star-Telegram.   16 November 2001.

    Mason, Doug.   "Anti-Terrorism Anthems Stirs Discomfort Among Muslims."

    Knoxville News-Sentinel.   31 October 2001   (p. A1).

    The [Cleveland] Plain Dealer.   "People Watch."

    1 November 2001   (p. E2).

    The Deseret News.   "Daniels' Flag Song Raising Applause - and Eyebrows."

    4 November 2001   (p. A2).

    The [Albany] Times Union..   "Daniels Finds a Hit in Song That Seeks Revenge."

    4 November 2001   (p. A2).

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