By Alan Bean
As you must know by now, Phil Robertson, the patriarch of the Duck Dynasty clan, has been suspended by A&E for making anatomically explicit anti-gay comments. Phil can’t figure out why a man would prefer a man’s anus to a woman’s vagina. Well, that’s a unique way of framing the issue.
Significantly, Robertson’s views on race have received far less attention that his comments about gays. Looking back on his early years, Phil told a GQ reporter that the black folks he worked with in the cotton fields were just happy, fun-lovin’, white-folk adorin’, hard workin’, God-fearin’ people until the civil rights movement and welfare messed them up. Here’s his full comment:
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.
This is probably too obvious to need saying, but I’ll say it anyway: African Americans in the pre-civil rights South didn’t complain to their white overlords, especially the poor whites who sometimes worked next to them. Uttering complaints about the way you were being treated or about the heartbreaking unfairness of Jim Crow segregation was an excellent way to get fired or, if the good old boys within earshot were so inclined, lynched.
Why can’t poor Phil understand that same sex attraction is about sexual orientation, not genitalia? And why can’t he appreciate just how offensive people of color will find his characterization of their blessed estate before visions of civil rights and welfare danced in their heads? It’s simple; Phil grew up listening to other white people tell him that blacks were perfectly happy back in the day. “Hell, they was always equal. All that segregation talk was just invented by liberals to make white folks feel guilty.”
If you don’t think white people in the rural South can think this way you haven’t been to places like Jena, Louisiana and Winona, Mississippi. Slightly more sophisticated versions of this welfare-ruined-the-Negro sentiment can be heard in the posh suburbs north of Dallas (to cite but one example).
As his supporters avidly maintain, Phil wasn’t trying to be hateful or malicious; he is honestly confused by gay men and people of color. (more…)