Cancel culture mob attacked Jason Aldean. They came for 'God Bless the USA.' But they can't cancel all of us

Freedom of expression is under attack, but we won't back down

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The latest "cancel culture" attack has struck directly through the heart of country music as the mob has come for one of our most popular current stars, Jason Aldean.

Make no mistake, this isn’t just about Jason - who is a friend, and I’m also a fan - this is about all of us in country music.

Freedom of expression is under attack. We are increasingly seeing it throughout our culture. Yet, freedom of speech and creative expression are essential to a free country — it’s the American way of life. Canceling artists is anti-American, it’s insidious and if it gains a foothold, it will take another generation to weed it out.

I myself was "canceled" from the National Endowment of the Arts by President Joe Biden just one year into his administration. A curt letter was sent to me, and no explanation was given. Oddly enough, I had served presidents on both sides for over a decade - first appointed to the NEA by President George W. Bush, then served 8 years under President Barack Obama, and 4 years under President Donald Trump before receiving the news I was being terminated. I presume the reason I was canceled is due to my song "God Bless the USA" being played at former President Donald Trump’s rallies and my refusal to "demand" he stop using it, as some critics have suggested I do.

The reason I won’t give in, and the reason Jason Aldean won’t back down, is we know how this ends.


As I was writing "God Bless the USA," which commemorates its 40th anniversary this year, I witnessed firsthand my grandparents on their Sacramento, California farm struggle with Cold War-era regulations to shut down their grain production in response to our battles with the Soviet Union. I saw what that did to their livelihoods, and that’s where I got the inspiration for the opening line of the song, "If tomorrow all the things were gone I’d worked for all my life, and I had to start again with just my family and my wife…" The large red tractor which appears in the official video for the song has become a symbol which so many Americans tell me as I travel across the country that they see as a symbol of hard work, perseverance, and the American way.

A few years after I wrote the song "God Bless the USA," a man named President Ronald Reagan stood boldly and asked Soviet leaders to "tear down that wall." Folklore has it that his advisers told him numerous times not to say it, for it would be far too controversial for those times. However, Reagan didn’t back down and if you visit The Ronald Reagan Library in my home state of California, you will see the transcript from that day, in which Reagan himself kept penciling that line back in. He knew that you could only have peace through showing strength.

We must ensure that we don’t allow cancel culture to take our freedom of expression away.


Lee Greenwood performing "God Bless the USA"

(Robyn McIsaac/The Charlie Daniels Journey Home Project)

In response to the cancel culture, I’m committing the rest of my life to freedom of expression, to country music, and to America’s veterans who’ve died and served to protect those freedoms. That is why I’m inviting all Americans to join me in going to and sending Veterans to the movies this Veterans Day for a special salute to country music, a genre which celebrates all that is great about America.


I also encourage CEOs of companies to step up and join us in supporting America, freedom of expression and free enterprise, by buying out a theater for Veterans in their communities. Without patriotic American companies’ support, the cancel culture mob wins every time. We must send a message to every queller of free speech that their actions are not welcome here and as my song says, "…that the flag still stands for freedom, and they can’t take that away."

May God bless our country music artists, our Veterans, and may God Bless the USA.