Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson: Blacks were happy before “Civil Rights”

A&E cable network has suspended Phil Robertson, the main figure in the popular Duck Dynasty reality-TV series, supposedly — if you believe Fox News and CNN and most of the major news-media — because of comments that he made about homosexuality. 

I doubt that this was the real reason why A&E decided to stop presenting Robertson. It happens to be still respectable to disapprove of homosexuality. For example, a very large part of the Republican Party’s core constituency holds that view. It seems likely that the number of those who disapprove of homosexuality is greater than the number that categorically oppose abortion, a position that is not treated as beyond the pale of civil discourse. Robertson’s view of homosexuality as unnatural and repulsive is more or less mainstream.

Much more interesting was Robertson’s statement to the effect that the “Civil Rights” movement (organized by Jews) was unnecessary and has done more harm than good, even for Blacks who were supposed to be its main beneficiaries:

“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.” [GQ, January 2014]

A public statement like that would not have been unusual as recently as the 1970s. But in 2013 America nobody makes this kind of observation publicly anymore. It is a much more radical and unusual public statement than mere disapproval of homosexuality, which is commonplace.

A letter to A&E from the Human Rights Campaign and the NAACP, dated 18 December 2013, complains about Robertson’s “racist, homophobic, and ill-informed remarks.” Note that “racist” is first in the list. 

The letter also uses the word “revisionist.” When a firsthand witness to historical reality says that it wasn’t the way mass-propaganda portrays, he is “revisionist.”

Although Republican pundits will frequently say that social programs are not the best way to help Blacks, they always treat the “Civil Rights” movement per se as sacrosanct. Rush Limbaugh always speaks of “Dr. King” in a tone of emphatic reverence otherwise reserved only for Jesus Christ or God. What Phil Robertson has said is very different from the usual conservative blather, and that is because he spoke without their customary moistened finger in the breeze.

Apparently, in order not to call attention to Robertson’s radical critique of “Civil Rights,” in order to avoid publicizing the fact that somebody successful and prominent still believes that the country took a wrong turn decades ago — which, by example, would embolden others to express similar views — it has been decided to pretend that a disreputable fringe-group, GLAAD, wielded more influence in the matter than the NAACP, and that the real issue was not Robertson’s dissident view of “Civil Rights” but his mere disapproval of homosexuality. Thus, the revival of a seemingly dead issue is avoided.

There was a similar dissimulation of motives when Glenn Beck was removed from Fox News and Pat Buchanan from MSNBC. You can read what I wrote about that here.

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After a widespread negative reaction to what appeared to be A&E’s hostility toward traditional morality, and after the entire Robertson family made it clear that without Phil they would not continue on the highly profitable Duck Dynasty show — the most popular reality-show ever —  A&E reversed its decision. 

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