Slate Writer Visits Dolly’s ‘Dixie Stampede’ Looking for Racism, She ‘Found’ It

There was no way she was leaving without being offended.

Aisha Harris, culture writer for Slate and whose apparent job is looking for racism everywhere she goes, went on assignment to Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede the week after white supremacists descended on Charlottesville, to see if she could find a connection between them and the family-friendly dinner attraction. Well, it won’t surprise you that she indeed found what she was looking for and walked away highly offended by the experience.

The Dixie Stampede has been a staple in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee for almost three decades and is the “world’s most visited attraction,” according to Parton in the promo video above. It’s so popular, the queen of country opened another in Branson, Missouri. Shows run seven nights per week, with some matinees on the weekend, and there’s always a packed house. Guests are served bottomless beverages, soup, biscuits, a plateful of meat and vegetables, and desert with no forks or knives to be found. That’s so guests can applaud and cheer for their side — the North or South. 

During the feast, horse riders from the opposing sides of the auditorium perform stunts, dancers dance, singers sing, and it all helps to tell a very redacted history of America up through the Civil War. There are buffalo, Native American dancers, pyro, and projection screens. Both sides compete for their teams and the audience participates in games and are encouraged to jeer their opponents. It’s all in good fun. (This writer has seen the show with his family.)

Here’s what you won’t find: Confederate flags, any mention of slavery, or salutes to southern generals (unless you count the piglet named Robert E. Lee, but of course there's a Grant and a Lincoln, too). It’s very obvious that the producers are aware of the sensitive nature of these things and have gone out of their way to avoid potential offenses. The only flag you will see, besides team flags, is the American flag in abundance. It’s not really a pro-North, or a pro-South show at all. It’s pro-America. And anyway, the deciding factor on which side eventually wins is based on which piglet is the first to run around a track and cross the finish line. Kind of hard to peg a pig as racist.

Yet, somehow Harris does. But again, her takeaway was predetermined before she set foot on the property. Here’s how she described it:

Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede is the Lost Cause of the Confederacy meets Cirque du Soleil. It’s a lily-white kitsch extravaganza that play-acts the Civil War but never once mentions slavery. Instead, it romanticizes the old South, with generous portions of both corn on the cob and Southern belles festooned in Christmas lights… it’s put on at a venue that can only be described as resembling a plantation mansion.

“The South rises again,” she thunders.

Harris saw the show twice in one day, visiting both North and South sides as a nod to how President Trump responded to Charlottesville: he saw violence from “many sides.” One of Harris’s first shocks came when she actually saw guests and employees who were, gasp, black. 

“I wasn’t expecting to see so many black people here,” she told one of them.

Harris did note that the majority of guests were white and made sure to note that when they clapped, “They were very off-beat.”

Harris stated that as she watched the Native American portion of the show, she couldn’t help but wonder if the performers were actually indigenous people or not. But she didn’t have enough time to figure that out because as the show’s host stated, “Settlers came in from the east” and the scene quickly changed.

“In one of the more true-to-history moments in the show, these native peoples weren’t seen again for the rest of the performance,” she remarked. “Instead, the settlers quickly colonized the arena, riding horse-drawn covered wagons and lip-syncing about the wonders of new frontiers. I spotted two black female chorus members among the ensemble dancing and singing side-by-side with the white chorus members, and when the women and men paired up, they even danced with the white male dancers. Everyone seemed to be getting along just fine.”

It’s pretty clear Harris came wearing her race-baiting goggles. She could see nothing else. Her conclusion was that Dolly’s Dixie Stampede was “deliberately offensive” in the same way as Mel Brooks' Springtime for Hitler is in his broadway show The Producers. And she’s not at all surprised at the show’s popularity, because everyone in America but her is racist:

“This is the same country where The Birth of a Nation was once the biggest box-office hit of all time and where Gone With the Wind still is. Dolly Parton is right about one thing: Dixie Stampede is as American as America gets.”

By the end, Harris was real miffed because the host united both sides, telling them when all is said and done, there “really is no North or South… we’re all winners… we’re all under one flag: the United States of America.” She couldn’t help but think about Trump’s “many sides” comment again.

If it wasn't clear before, it should be now. The Left is coming after it all. They won’t stop at the Confederacy, they won’t stop at the Founding Fathers. Not even Dolly Parton is safe from leftist rage. They won’t stop until Dixie Stampede burns, or is at least renamed Yankee Stampede.

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