The most famous men in country music have — for the most part — held their tongues on the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6. But that silence hasn’t extended to their spouses.
Brittany Aldean — social media influencer and wife of Jason Aldean — is among those who’ve shared their thoughts on Instagram. That included a repost of an image falsely alleging that two men in the group were actually supporters of antifa.
Five people, including Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, died as a result of the shocking mob violence by President Trump’s supporters, fueled by Trump’s baseless claims that the November presidential election was stolen from him.
The image shared by Aldean was part of a misinformation campaign that emerged as the disturbing Capitol images brought revulsion around the country. The antifa protestor claim was deemed “baseless” by the Associated Press, which stated there’s “no evidence” the violent rioters who breached the Capitol were supporters of far-left leaning militant groups.
XRVision, a facial recognition service cited in since-debunked reports on the antifa claim, issued a statement to BuzzFeed News saying the company’s software actually identified two members of neo-Nazi organizations and a QAnon supporter among the pro-Trump mob — not antifa members.
Instagram removed the image from Aldean’s feed hours after it was posted.
In response, Brittany Aldean posted a video to her 1.8 million Instagram followers. “It’s getting so ridiculous the filters you put on everyone that’s against your narrative,” she said.
Also on Jan. 6, the day of the insurrection, Brittney Kelley — spouse of Florida Georgia Line’s Brian Kelley — expressed her support for “the patriots who fight for our freedom every day” on the platform next to photo of herself flying an American flag in the couple’s convertible Ford Bronco driven by her famous spouse.
After many of her followers expressed concern that she was supporting the Capitol takeover, Kelley edited her post, replacing “patriots” with “people.”
Country star Maren Morris, without naming names, also tweeted, “…how do some singer’s wives conveniently not know the difference between marching for racial injustice and Nazis breaching our Capitol because their guy didn’t win?”
“I do not believe in violence, or mobs/cults rioting or storming buildings. I do not believe ‘patriots’ are the people storming the building,” Kelley wrote in a subsequent post.
“I was taught to stand for what you believe is right. Holding the American flag and calling on God for peace is not a way of expressing what ‘side’ I’m on,” she wrote.
In recent days, both have shifted their focus to promoting tolerance, and questioning their critics — particularly after a story was published by Rolling Stone detailing their posts. Their steps back have come as law enforcement and elected officials are bracing for the potential of more violence across the United States.
In the days since the insurrection, groups tracking right-wing extremist organizations have said violent preparations are underway. The FBI has warned of possible armed protests at state capitol buildings beginning Jan. 17 and through the inauguration, an official with knowledge of a bulletin told USA TODAY.
Aldean sees pushback against her as unwarranted. “Everything I say gets blown up and made into a ‘story,'” Aldean complained on Instagram Sunday.
“Apparently freedom of speech doesn’t apply to everyone and that’s the issue I have. I have AMAZING conversations with my liberal friends and we can agree to disagree. It’s the people that aren’t willing to hear you that chap my (expletive).
Aside from her criticism of its removal, Aldean hasn’t said anything more about the “antifa” image she shared.
Also on Sunday, Kelley shared an image with the text: “Can you imagine if we didn’t limit our love to those who were just like us?”
“To you, the one reading this, I am choosing to respect and love you no matter your beliefs,” she wrote. “…I encourage you no matter what your belief system is to help spread love and respect to everyone you come in contact with, because our world and future depends on it.”
Contributing: Bryan Alexander, USA TODAY