Culture war symbolism versus reality

Barrett sings praises of 'Small Town' safety — even though hometown Charlotte's crime rate is high

Campaign effort to capitalize on controversial country song doesn't fit Barrett's Eaton County hometown


THURSDAY, Aug. 10 — Republican congressional candidate Tom Barrett is soliciting signatures and funds from people to stand against the “woke” mob he alleges is trying to “cancel” country music star Jason Aldean over his song “Try That in a Small Town.”

The song implies small communities are safer than larger cities, and a video created to accompany it is filled with video from social protests where protesters fought with law enforcement and sometimes looted communities.

The irony, however, is Barrett’s hometown, Charlotte, is not exactly a prime example of a safe community, according to statistics from  Barrett is seeking the Republican nomination in the 7th Congressional District.

In Charlotte, where Barrett still lives, 1.85 people per 1,000 have been rape victims of rape than the national rate of .43 per 1,000. As for other violent crime, 4.45 per 1,000 residents of Charlotte have been victims compared to the national median of four residents per 1,000.

Charlotte also has a higher property crime rate than Michigan: 18.35 in Charlotte compared to 13.81 across the state. Both are lower than the national median of 19 per 1,000.

Asked about this, campaign strategist Jason Roe said Barrett has focused on the illegal importation of fentanyl across the U.S.-Mexico border.

“I would say he's not ignoring those things,” he said about the connection between drugs and crime in rural communities.

Barrett’s campaign is running digital ads and fundraising off the controversy, Roe said.

“Obviously it's part of a fundraising campaign, and it's something that's being talked about around the country, and so it's something that we wanted to weigh in on,” Roe said.

He said 1,315 people signed the petition as of Tuesday. When the campaign ends, Roe said, the names of petitioners  will be made public.

On Monday, the campaign began a text message campaign soliciting donations of $7 for his campaign.

“I come from a small town,” Barrett explains in his text message. “So, I know what it means to protect it. I served 22 years in the Army to defend the exact kind of towns Jason Aldean sings about.”

Roe said the controversy over Aldean’s song was a “manufactured controversy where liberals looking to be outraged.” He noted the controversy and pushback against Aldean’s song didn’t begin until two months after it was released. What Roe didn’t mention was the outrage was over Aldean’s video combined with the song.

The outrage over the song is twofold. The verses imply that any sort of criminal activity in a small town is immediately stopped by neighbors, including with violence. The video has been a real concern for activists because it shows images of various social protest conflicts with police, as well as looting.

At one point as Aldean sings that small towns are filled with “good old boys, raised up right,” the video shows a man stopping an armed robbery. The video is from a robbery in Yuma, Arizona. Yuma has a population of 97,093.

Barrett’s likely Democratic opponent, Curtis Hertel Jr. was not impressed with the ad and fundraising campaign.

“I am not running to be a celebrity or a music critic,” he said. “I am running to represent the people of the 7th Congressional District and to get things done for families and working people.”


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