Monday, December 23, 2013

Phil Robertson, Duck Dynasty, and the White Trash Politics of the Republican Party

The “controversy” about the wildly popular reality TV show Duck Dynasty is both laughable and sad for what it reveals about the woeful state of American public discourse.

The manufactured fracas centers on Duck Dynasty actor/character Phil Robertson (who is an ideal-typical example of the worst sort of white trash) and his anti-gay bigotry as shared with GQ magazine during a recent interview.

In the same piece, Robertson discussed his White Supremacist yearnings for the “good old days” of African-American subjugation and oppression in the South, before the foul carpetbaggers, Civil Rights agitators, and the evils of Reconstruction, the New Deal, and the Great Society robbed the good simple Negro people of their innocence and white toothed, big lipped, toothy grinned, banjo playing, watermelon eating, cotton picking ways:
"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," he said.  "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.”
For people such as Phil Robertson, and the white conservatives who share his particular type of myopic and ahistorical whiteness, the full liberty and freedom of black Americans, especially as demonstrated through the use of our citizenship rights to redress grievances by struggling for full equality, is morally objectionable.

Robertson and his Duck Dynasty clan are a depiction of how a writer and show-runner have chosen to represent white trash America. How can a network then feign surprise when an actor gives the very performance it has solicited?

The following may be a surprise for those people who are not media literate or critical consumers of popular culture: reality TV is not real. It is a type of entertainment that is predicated on the cultivation and creation of an “irreality”.

The paradox is a simple one: actors pretend to be “real” people, who viewers invest themselves in, as a means of distraction from the pain and anxiety of the “real” real world.

Politics is a performance too. As I have written about on a number of occasions, the spectacle of American politics in the 24/7 news cycle--in an age when capitalism and democracy are conflated, and public policy does not serve the public good but rather a narrow set of private interests who win over voters in much the same way as how a computer company brands its goods to create consumer loyalty and a feeling of emotional attachment to a product--most closely resembles professional wrestling. There is an important difference: professional wrestling is much more honest and transparent.

As one more example of how a debased politics have become almost inseparable from the public spectacle that is the mass media, Robertson’s observations about how “lazy” and “complaining” black Americans have been “ruined” by “entitlements” are none too different from what prominent Republicans and the Right-wing media have being saying for decades about the black community.

The Republicans’ “Southern Strategy” was/is predicated on overt and covert signals to white racial resentment and bigotry such as those channeled by Phil Robertson. Ronald Reagan had his “welfare queens” and “strapping young bucks”. Romney had his "makers" and "takers" and lecturing the NAACP about seeking handouts. Newt Gingrich and other “compassionate conservatives” want to give black and brown children mops and brooms so they do not become lazy social parasites like their fecund, breeding, irresponsible parents. 

Bloviators like Limbaugh, Beck, Coulter, O’Reilly, and other Right-wing talkers are obsessed with a narrative of black insolence, laziness, broken homes, bad culture, and a return to the “good old days” before the Great Society and “liberals” made African-Americans into a group of ingrates and complainers.

“News” outlets such as Fox News, Right-wing talk radio, conservative social media and websites, as well as even once “respectable” publications such as the National Review, have at one time or another mirrored Robertson’s claims about black Americans.

Here, black conservatives are the worst offenders in perpetrating the White lie of a benign Jim and Jane Crow and slavery, in a political blackface routine wherein the Democratic Party is some type of “plantation”, and African-Americans--who of course lack any sort of agency or intelligence to act in their own political self-interest--have been ruined by the Civil Rights Movement.

Black conservatives have more than earned the ire of the African-American community because they are agents of White Supremacy who shamelessly help to legitimate the type of gross White lies offered by Phil Robertson and the many white folks (and some psychologically maladapted black and brown people) who are emotionally and materially invested in such fictions about happy black people during American Apartheid who were "betrayed" and made worse off by the Black Freedom Struggle.

The post civil rights era Republican Party is a neo-Confederate organization that (now) openly embraces the White Supremacist language and symbols of the antebellum south. Consequently, Robertson is a perfect spokesperson for the Tea Party GOP in the Age of Obama.

The reality TV lie that is Duck Dynasty is no excuse for Phil Robertson’s bigotry and ugliness as wrapped in some misunderstood reading of the Constitution and the right of free speech. Nor, does his boilerplate Christian Dominionist fundamentalism infused White Victimology make him a legitimate martyr.

Unlike the political professionals who crafted the Southern Strategy and the Right-wing’s focus group tested talking points, Robertson’s first mistake was forgetting to modulate his racist and anti-gay performance. Phil Robertson's bigger error was being a reality TV actor who was just a little bit “too real” in his GQ interview. 

There is no greater sin in post civil rights America than that of calling a white person a racist--even when it is earned and appropriate. Bigotry pays well in America. Racially resentful white folks will ensure that Phil Robertson will be even more popular than before. He, like the Republican Party, is their unofficial spokesman, and white racism always takes care of its own.


obamasucksreggielovesballs said...

So tell me, Mr. Negro, what degrees do you hold? You call Mr. Robertson 'white trash' yet he holds 2 degrees. He is a successful business man, married with a family who are decent people and contribute positively to society. Your entire article is absolute ridiculous insane drivel.

Your accomplishments????????

obamasucksreggielovesballs said...

wow, you are a deluded ignorant black.
But no surprise here.

Bryan Ortez said...

I was wondering if you would speak on this, how could you not? Did you know Phil Robertson was a teacher for a period of time. I wonder what curriculum Louisiana Tech provided him with in the 1960's.

I have been working on a little something called "history lessons for Phil Robertson." I was wondering if you would be interested in reading it. I should have it finished within a week.

lmao at your new troll here, maybe they are an old one.

Bridget McBruiser said...

Plantsmantx said...

He calls himself "white trash", even though he holds two degrees. He poses for a picture in an unfinished shack with exposed wiring and insulation for a ceiling, even though he has two degrees and millions of dollars. No, he's not a dumb redneck- he just plays one on TV. More accurately, he parodies one on TV. He plays down to the very stereotype that people like you accuse people like me of applying to working-class white Southerners...and you eat it up.

You all revel in and celebrate that cartoonish, bigoted parody, call it "authentic", and see it as some kind of cultural validation. That's pathetic.

You know what Phil Robertson and the others are doing? To steal a page from our host...they're engaging in white minstrelsy.

Learning Is Eternal said...

'Delusional' would have been better suited for that statement.
I love it when people like yourself release your insecurities. That's verification WE ARE doing everything right..
So basic.
Take a long walk off a short cliff.

E.C. 2 said...

Either the racist troll, or the coon troll, is an old one using a new name, or a new one. Either way, he's a racist white supremacist troll.

E.C. 2 said...

Well, Plants, this racist white supremacist trolling fool is either willfully ignorant, and/or is a bigger liar and fraud than Racist Phil Robertson and the rest of the bogus redneck duck hunters continue to be.

Wavenstein said...

That you Phil?

Michael Varian Daly said...

Schmuck Dynasty

Learning Is Eternal... said...

Now steve martin has released a racist tweet...then an apology.
Watching Louis Gates PBS special one of the interviewees were right. Everyone gets mocked, marginalized, caricatured but not in the volume as those of (black) African descent.
Cathexis in racism's end is a harder sell by the day.
People showing they true nature in droves.

Gregory Peterson said...

For some reason, Phi Robertson got under my skin, so I've tried to get under the skin of those who have tried to whitewash his reputation. Perhaps because I have a conservative Christian childhood in a rural area, and we enjoyed hunting, though we hunted the wily pheasant instead of the lust crazed drake lured to his untimely death by the siren call a Duck Dynasty horny hen-duck call.

For instance:

I see from Dr. Brown's Facebook feed, that he's still working hard at whitewashing a racist Jim Crow apologist who, being insecure in his Christianity or masculinity and/or something, has an unseemly compulsion to defame Gay men...and thereby, the minority employees and others at A&E who have worked hard to make his show a success. Ungrateful boor.

Dr. Brown really got on my suit and tie, far-right propagandist radar when I read him breathlessly quoting a turn of the 20th Century Southern Methodist (Methodist Episcopal Church, South) bishop, Charles Galloway. Galloway was a condescending type of racist and a "Lost Cause" nostalgist. He had a rather florid, homoerotic thing for the glories of hyper-masculine white manhood, as you can see in the quote Dr. Brown used in his piece, "The Black-Robed Regiment, Then and Now: A Fresh Call to Revolution." (Charisma Magazine website)

"Mighty men they were, of iron nerve and strong hand and unblanched cheek and heart of flame. God needed not reeds shaken by the wind, not men clothed in soft raiment [Matt. 11:7-8], but heroes of hardihood and lofty courage. ... And such were the sons of the mighty who responded to the Divine call.”

He got the quote from David Barton and his Wallbuilders. ("About the Modern Black Robe Regiment")

As you could predict from a David Barton website, he exhibited his trademark lack of intellectual integrity even in a short piece, this time in the footnote "[2] Charles B. Galloway, Christianity and the American Commonwealth (Nashville, TN: Publishing House Methodist Episcopal Church, 1898), p. 77" .

It was published by the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, not the larger, older, somewhat less racist
Methodist Episcopal Church. (The two later merged in 1939, which created a race segregated organizational structure until another merger with the Evangelical United Brethren Church in 1968)

The Methodist Episcopal Church, South was founded in 1843 to comfort and soothe the delicate sensibilities of Southern Methodist slave masters and wannabee slave

As you would also predict from Dr. Brown, he didn't bother to spend a few minutes to double check his well known to be unreliable source, and refused to take responsibility for his whitewashing of an earlier era of Jim Crow nostalgist, not even by correcting his piece as to the Bishop's actual denomination. It still reads "As expressed in 1898 by the Methodist bishop and church historian Charles Galloway..."

Also, I also commented on the Southern Baptist Convention's Baptist Press website, which published several articles on the oppression of a racist, homophobic multimillionaire Evangelical celebrity and businessman who just happens to have a masters degree in education.

kokanee said...

Rule #1: Don't feed the trolls.

This turkey's a caricature of himself. Ten to one he's a southern Republican. He's about as dangerous as a wet noodle. The more subtle northern racists (many who call themselves Democrats) are much more dangerous.

The really scary thing is that he has an average of 4 up votes for every comment.

Black Romulan said...

Mr. Negro sounds like a wonderful thematic concept for a late night talk show on TV One featuring Danny Glover. I'll get started on the treatment; you got an agent?

Black Romulan said...

Blindly lashing out from a place of fear and loathing is a sad way to live, Mr. Sucksreggielovesballs. Black Jesus and I love you nonetheless, Happy Holidays :)

Benjamin_check said...

Perhaps the best retort I've seen in a while. See how he had nothing to say to that?

Bryan Ortez said...

In many families, black Americans are the joke in the family. It only takes one person willing to make the joke for the rest of them to join in laughter at the expense of the always absent black community. Speaking up on behalf of black Americans makes you the buzz kill. You become the object of derision, the joker plays the defensive "it was just a joke, lighten up."

Eventually, if you speak up often enough they will stop making those jokes around you, but they never fail to find another exclusively white circle to make another attempt at white bonding.

OldPolarBear said...

Superb post as usual, CDV. It seemed as though many of the initial mainstream media accounts of this that I saw papered over Mr. Duck's racist comments and focused on the homophobic ones ... surprise! (it is totally not a surprise). I actually laughed out loud at his talk of anuses and vaginas and eww buttsecks! Maybe it was an example of inappropriate laughter as you have talked about before, or maybe as a gay man I am allowed to chuckle at that? It is the absurdity of it -- right-wingers are absolutely obsessed with assholes and sodomy and filth. It makes a fella wonder ... are they repressing their own desires?, or maybe it is a toilet-training issue, like they are still angry at mommy for flushing their caca.

But that racist shit about the happy negroes singing in the fields was just revolting. I went and read the whole GQ article and it actually made me queasy. That is some seriously racist, revanchist, white supremacist fuckedupedness right there. And not to even mention that he has a bad problem with women, too, reducing them to body parts and things. Way to call this stuff out.!

The Sanity Inspector said...

The immediate cause of Mr. Robertson's firing reminds me of something that G. K. Chesterton said, a century ago:

The old restriction meant that only the orthodox were allowed to discuss religion. Modern liberty means that nobody is allowed to discuss it. Good taste, the last and vilest of human superstitions, has succeeded in silencing us where all the rest have failed.

The Sanity Inspector said...

BTW, some rural white Southerners are quite capable of giving truthful and sensitive accounts of what things were like in the long long ago. In his memoir, the late rock drummer Levon Helm told how tough things were for all the dirt farmers in his Arkansas home, but he didn't omit the particular injustices suffered by the community black people. He records how ashamed he felt when he took his Canadian bandmates to a BBQ joint in the black side of town, only to be rousted by the police.

Buddy H said...

In the 1950s, Buddy Holly was shocked when he was booked to play the Howard Theater (promoters thought he was a "black act" based on his hit record "That'll Be The Day") and saw how the musicians of color were treated like shit compared to the white acts. They weren't allowed to stay in the same hotels, etc. But as a white man playing rock and roll, he faced some of the same hatred. In one of his letters home, he said "we'll all negroes now" and his Lubbock TX parents experienced an awakening.
But of course, to folks like ol' Duck, that was the golden age.

grokagain said...

excellently said.

Bryan Ortez said...

most cases of bestiality I have heard of involve men and women who are otherwise heterosexual

I remember a story a high school friend told me. after telling me how he tried to have sex with his dog, he told me a story of his redneck friend who shot a deer, then had sex with it. all with a smile.

Bryan Ortez said...

thank you. I'm trying to focus on Louisiana as my place. I am using the Southern education movement and the political disfranchisment of the 1890's Southern constitutions. I found some good sources on those aspects. Trying to tie it all into Phil's own experience into the 1950's and 60's since he was born in 1946.

Mr. sucksreggielovesballs was hilarious. He felt a need to try to put you in your place. your readers are excellent. Plantsmantx, Learning is Eternal, Black Romulan all had great responses. genius.

I wonder if Mr. sucksballs was afraid to come back. maybe he thinks you'll send the New Black Panther Party after him :)

Tom Vance said...

Good article, it makes me feel better for I complained about the lack of understanding to the issue, breach of contract. As a paid representative he should have kept his stupid mouth shut but maybe if there is an iota of Christianity alive he might get a revelation of his ignorance.

Learning Is Eternal said...

It's crazy you say that. Mr. Ortez not lying either.
I've also heard first hand accounts of bestiality, mostly w/horses & sheep. All w/a smile.
Now that I think about, I can't recall not one instance where they, at least, mentioned the sex of the animal.
Not that it makes a difference but if the sex of the animal doesn't matter then why the ruckus about humans.
How can you boink an animal in delight & judge humans in disgust?
Please read ^ in laughter.
Family, All@WARN & Don Julio... What could be better?
Whatever you celebrate/are into tomorrow, enjoy yourselves.

Miles_Ellison said...

There were post-slavery, pre-entitlement, pre-welfare black people who created thriving economic communities that were destroyed by white racist violence.

On another note, Robertson said that he voted for Mitt Romney in the last election because he would feel safer at 3am in Salt Lake City than in Chicago (where the "other guy" happens to be from. I wonder how safe any black person felt in Louisiana in the mid 20th Century, or during Reconstruction, or during just about any period in American history. Leaving aside the fact that Romney has a closer connection to places like Boston and Detroit than Salt Lake City, I wonder what people like Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, Renisha McBride, Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo, and the countless other victims of racist violence throughout American history would have to say about the comparative safety of certain urban areas? We can't ask them, because they're dead.

j.ottopohl said...

I don't watch any US television living in Ghana. But, one thing that strikes me after living the first 30 years of my life in the US is that Phil Robertson's views on homosexuality would probably be on the more liberal side in most of Africa. The very popular preachers here often single out homosexuality for condemnation and blame outsiders for introducing it into Africa. The militant opposition to gays in Ghana is rather disorientating because for the most part Ghanaians are very tolerant of difference. It is the least racist and xenophobic country I have ever lived in and I have lived on four continents (North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa).

SabrinaBee said...

Yes, yes. Those Godly black folks singing in the fields. Happy negroes! Not a bad word to say about the white man. Not aloud anyways. Not whilst there were poor white agents working alongside them looking for an opportunity to seek favor with the plantation owners.All was well. Everyone was paid equally and life was grand for the former drug addict turned preacher.

Note to self: Try not to sing along with the radio during your my morning commute.Lest, I give the impression of longing for the good old days.

notconvincedgranny said...

Preach. Please.

wewearthemasks said...

No other group dares to stand up to the Anglo master like
some in the African-American sphere, for which they continue to pay a dear (but
well worth it) price. Natives have been cast aside to the margins of
history while the Anglo master, in all his revisionist glory, placed his
devilish self in the role of pious warrior while the Native became the savage
beast that needed taming. Now, the Natives sits quietly and dutifully in his “reserved”
spot, content in his faux sovereign role, drinking and raping and keeping his
head down, not agitating like the blacks.
Mexicans/Hispanics are the new slave, only worse because they embrace
this role and proudly boast about how hard they work for peanuts, taking care
of the Anglo master’s babies and their homes; tending their gardens; picking
their fruit; begging to be let in by the Anglo master who looks upon him with
contempt; reaping the rewards of the black civil rights struggle but not
lifting a bone-weary finger or voice in defense of black abuse. As long as they
leave us alone…Asians, happily accepting the stereotype of their intellectual acumen
(though I’ve met some that couldn’t challenge a box of rocks) and many voicing
their disdain for black Americans – fed this hatred by the Anglo master who
appreciates the divide/conquer methodology.
Italians (thugs), Irish (lushes) and all other hyphenated Americans keep
hush-hush, knowing that if they dare open their mouths the wrath of the Anglo
master would turn on them quicker than they could beg for forgiveness. But the
worst offenders are possessed black conservatives. They relish in aiding and
abetting the enemy of their people, providing the tape that was to undo Shirley
Sherrod; feeding bogus history to the Klan (blacks were happy during slavery
because it kept the family together!); claiming they’ve “escaped” the
plantation where black liberals dutifully reside (what fools!); toeing the
white line so neatly and cleanly that they don’t need to “wear the mask”,
missing the point that they are the real slaves; they truly hate their own and are
proud of that hatred. Any black American who speaks out on behalf of the black
masses must be vilified and demonized because there’s nothing more the Anglo
master (and possessed blacks) hates more than an “agitator.” So they embellish the
role of the Black Panther, amplify the ills of the black community while
ignoring successes, and accuse those speaking out of doing what they themselves
are perpetrating. But we love our Anglo
masters, and how dare you say anything bad about them! To be “caricatured,” as
you say, by the Anglo Saxon American faux Christian is a badge of honor, not a
source of shame.

obamasucksreggielovesballs said...

You must be livid that A&E chose the $$ that Phil generates for their company rather than appease brainless subhumans like yourselves.

Must suck being stuck at an IQ of 70 for your life.

obamasucksreggielovesballs said...

That's because I am generally correct in my comments. Science, facts and statistics are on my side.

obamasucksreggielovesballs said...

Easy to say when you are an ignorant black.

Bryan Ortez said...

I don't give a damn what they do. they shouldn't have fired him in the first place. no one should have been surprised to hear that nonsense coming out of Robertson's mouth.

That he is your personal hero tells a lot about this nation. Just so you know, you are hilarious. keep trollin.