If it quacks like a racist duck …

The reaction to the comments of Duck Dynasty “patriarch” Phil Robertson, a day after he was suspended for homophobic and racist remarks in a magazine, has been more illuminating than the interview itself.

In the GQ article, Robertson dismissed opposition to the Jim Crow laws in the South, noting the African-Americans in his neck of Louisiana were pretty happy.

“I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field…. They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’—not a word!… Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”

But most of the interview’s criticism comes from his comparison of being gay to bestiality.

So, operating under the theory that you’re judged by the company you keep, A&E suspended Robertson.

This blog was typical of the reaction:

You punished the Christian guy for being a Christian because you got some angry emails from a bunch of whiny gay activists who lack the spine and maturity to deal with the fact that there are still people out there who have the guts to articulate opinions that they find disagreeable. In so doing, you’ve kowtowed to a pushy minority of vocal bullies who don’t even watch your channel, while alienating the fan base of the one show that keeps your entire network afloat.

Clearly, gay rights is a more recent phenomenon than the repeal of the Jim Crow laws, Robinson’s defense of which is abhorrent by the standards of 2013, even though there probably are still people who believe a white person shouldn’t have to touch that already touched by an African American.

(Library of Congress)

But the suspension, Linda Holmes of NPR’s Code Switch blog writes today, doesn’t really accomplish anything.

This entire brouhaha has unleashed some of the usual arguments over (perhaps ironically) whether he’s being punished for being too genuine. Authenticity, of course, is no defense unless the charge is a lack of authenticity. One can be truly authentic, real, honest, and perfectly appropriately fired — it happens all the time. The concept that you enjoy a kind of immunity whenever you speak from the heart is surprisingly popular but, like the interpretation of double jeopardy in the movie Double Jeopardy, wrong. It appears from A&E’s own comments that the last thing they want interfering with Show Phil is Real Phil.

GLAAD applauded the suspension, saying that A&E “sent a strong message” about discrimination, but … did it? Or did it send a strong message about staying on message? Is Phil’s punishment for what he thinks, or for what he said, or for disregarding some understanding he has with the network that Certain Things We Do Not Talk About? (My friend James Poniewozik has written about this today as well.)

That a deep-South, white, evangelical would be against gays isn’t particularly surprising. That people see no hazard in rushing to the aid of a person who apparently longs for the days of segregation is.

It’s another day in post-racial America.

  • MrE85

    Sounds more like a Daffy Duck. Looks like Joseph Enterprises, Inc. is going to get stuck with a lot of unsold Duck Dynasty Chia pots this year.
    I’d like to see a follow-up interview with this (ahem) gentleman’s African-American neighbors and ask them if they thought the Jim Crow years were a barrel of laughs.

    • I don’t see why it would hurt business. Clearly there’s a sizeable market for what the gentleman represents.

      • MrE85

        That is true. More the pity.

  • John O.

    “But the suspension, Linda Holmes of NPR’s Code Switch blog writes today, doesn’t really accomplish anything.”

    Au contraire, madame. The outrage on the internets is generating buzz that A&E could not buy even if they wanted to. It would be interesting to see what happens to ratings and find out if they actually have increased viewership from people who have never even seen the show.

  • Jim G

    If A&E means what they say, the coming season, which is already in the can, would be cancelled. It wasn’t.

  • kevinfromminneapolis

    I don’t know that a lot of people knew about his racial comments at first. I’d also bet that most viewers or people who defending his other remarks wouldn’t go along with them.

    • John Campbell ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ ᵀʳᵘᵐᵖ

      That’s where you would be wrong because you let someone else tell you what he allegedly said and what to think about it instead of reading it for yourself.

  • Paul Weimer

    The comments about homosexuality have gotten more play…but the racial ones are even more loathsome.

    • dwp4401

      What did he say that was “loathsome?”

      Did he defend Jim Crow? He did not.

      • Paul Weimer

        C’mon Dwp4401. Don’t be a troll. Read that paragraph and don’t tell me its a paean to a shameful part of our history.
        “Oh it wasn’t so bad for them to live in Jim Crow South. They were godly and happy.”

        • Yes, it was a happy time despite what you may have heard. Why the blacks were singing, in fact. They didn’t seem to mind. It was good times for them, I tell you. Good times.

        • dwp4401

          What he was saying was that because they were godly they were happy. I understand what he means by that.

          Jim Crow (a Democratic Party construct BTW) was instituted long before he was born and deconstructed before he became an adult. The inference that he is a racist on the basis of this answer to this question about his childhood is simply outrageous.

          But not surprising. After all, this whole thing is nothing more than a disgusting smear of those of the Christian faith.

          Duke Powell

          • Ah, i didn’t recognize who i was speaking to until you signed the name.

            All Christians believe that the Jim Crow laws were much ado but nothing, do they, Duke?

          • dwp4401

            Your are purposely missing the point.

          • Because your point is closed in your attempt to create a religious victimization to obscure the reality.

            I give the guy credit for being honest, but, you know, it’s been a fair amount of time for the gentlemen to learn something about the Jim Crow laws and to be able to place his observation into some context. That’s why I see his story anecdotaly and symbolically.

            Lots of African Americans in the deep south were godly, and while they might have been happy being godly, they weren’t happy about police dogs, and separate rest rooms and water fountains.

          • dwp4401

            This whole national kerfuffle began because the Left Totalitarian mindset cannot tolerate guys like Phil Robertson. As soon as they decided to mis-read his comments concerning sin, specifically the Christian belief that sex outside of heterosexual marriage is a sin, they pounced.

            Not content with that, the Radical Left then decided to brand this CHRISTIAN!!! a racist for what he didn’t say about Jim Crow laws.

            Good God.

          • I don’t have cable. Never watched Duck whatever it is. Never heard of this guy. Just know that in 2013, pooh-poohing the Jim Crow laws is Al Campanis-like. So, yeah, it’s a conspiracy.

            By the way, it’s not that I didn’t notice your description of your beliefs as the definition of Christian. There are a lot of Christians, and a fair number of denominations who are Christian, who don’t hold your beliefs. The Klan thought themselves good, solid, god-fearing Christians, too in a war against the conspiracy against their “Christian” value. They still do.

          • dwp4401

            Well, while some Christian denominations may shrug-off the sex outside of marriage issue, I don’t know of any that would say that it is not sin.

            Just like bearing false witness….

          • I see.

          • KTN

            Are you saying that the Democratic Party during the Crow era is the same Democratic party as now. You might want to rethink that one.

          • dwp4401

            You are right, they aren’t the same. Over the years they have grown even more intolerant.

          • LoveAll

            As as intolerant as Christians are?

          • DavidG

            he was born in 1946. Jim Crow lasted until 1965. He was steeped in Jim Crow.

        • John Campbell ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ ᵀʳᵘᵐᵖ

          I hate coming into this so late, but I didn’t know about this article until just now. Fact is there was a lot wrong with Jim Cow and everything behind it, but that doesn’t take away from what Phil said. He was right. He spoke from a religious perspective and did so throughout. “They were Godly………”.

          This wasn’t even twisted into yet another issue until leftists discovered that their effort to pervert what he had said about sin wasn’t getting their desired results. That was just too much for them to take. They then began to scour anything they could find to pervert it in a vain effort to bolster their already failed attack. As a result they galvanized a nation against them and now will see they are about to reap what they have sowed. Let the backlash begin. Or should I say continue.

  • CTD

    “That a deep-South, white, evangelical would be against gays isn’t particularly surprising. ”

    Why are you bringing race into it? Do you believe that blacks raised in devoutly religious evangelical backgrounds would be more accepting of homosexuality? Why?

    • You’re asking me why I’m bringing in race in a discussion about the Jim Crow laws?


      • CTD

        Read the quote. The you assume that being a “white” religious person means that it isn’t “particularly surprising” that you’d be opposed to homosexuality. My question is: what does race have to do with whether one has a problem with gay people? Do you think deeply religious black people are more inclined to be supportive of homosexuality? Why do you think that?

    • It’s an interesting question. We know that 80% of white evangelicals are opposed to gay rights and that the region of the country most likely to be opposed is the south. Pew Research didn’t have it broken down by “black evangelicals”, instead breaking it down by “black protestant” and the figures are lower.

      As the gentleman in question is white and within the scope of the Pew Research data, I can comfortably say I’m not surprised he feels the way he feels. The odds and data suggest he likely would be.

      Were he a black man, I don’t have the data at the moment to say I’d be surprised. But he’s not a black man.

      • CTD

        Then you have nothing on which to base the assumption that whiteness has anything to do with it at all. You have no like datasets to compare.

        • Other than the ones I just provided. I’m not making a comparison of the races; you are. I’m making a comparison of this particular individual to the liklihood of his having certain views on issues of gay rights. They’re not surprising because they’re representative of deep south white evangelicals as measured by Pew.

  • Betty Tisel

    I just have to jump in here and remind everyone that in case we forgot, black folks and gay folks are not two totally separate groups. 🙂 Sometimes it feels like people don’t get that there are black gay folks / gay black folks.

  • davehoug

    Hmmmm, what I learned today is that it is hard to have a quiet conversation about race without it bringing in other attacks on other groups.

  • davehoug

    So for a guy to say the workers weren’t visibly complaining, yet it seems he never wondered why all the farm owners hiring were white, seems more a teachable moment than evidence of hatred. Kinda like: there is no female discrimination, they just don’t want to be CEOs. 🙂

    • One thing that was interesting in his limited description is how passive his experience was with blacks at the time. He tried to equate himself (white trash) with them but then he only mentioned working alongside, or hearing them sing, or that in the absence of hearing them — presumably while hoeing or singing — complain about white people,they were largely happy.

      Nothing about ever having sat and actually talked to them and asked them about the Jim Crow laws to ascertain this information in an active way.

      That a white man wouldn’t hear black people complaining about white people during the Jim Crow era isn’t that surprising, is it? Perhaps they were afraid to say what they believed in the presence of any white person.

  • John Campbell ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ ᵀʳᵘᵐᵖ

    Since this entire article has a premise based in countless lies it just doesn’t seem worth while to give this writer any credit for ever having bothered to read the actual transcript. Obviously either the writer didn’t read it for themesleves, or, if they did, has a politcal bent that doesn’t matter what they read, it has to be exploited for their own narrative. In other words, lying.

    Read the transcript for yourself. Don’t believe me and don’t believe this jerk for a writer of this article who invents words that Phil Robertson never uttered nor thought. Think for yourself. What happened today that you never heard about? Even in a day and age with near everyone has a television? Computers, fancy phones, the electronic media that still doesn’t capture ever moment of every day for everyone. Many people didn’t have TV’s back in the 50’s and 60’s. They didn’t frequent cities nor towns. They worked the fields, just as I did. Don’t fall into the leftist trap of thinking yourself so enlightened that you suddenly became smarter than everyone else. You’re setting yourself up for a fall and of a kind in the history books with the likes of others you likely wouldn’t want to be associated with.