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The homophobic and racial obliviousness of Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson

UPDATE - Phil Robertson has been put on indefinite filming hiatus by the A&E Network, which produces Duck Dynasty.

Recently, Phil Robertson of the reality television show Duck Dynasty set off a firestorm in a GQ magazine interview with the following homophobic comments:

“It seems like, to me, a vagina — as a man — would be more desirable than a man’s anus,” (Phil) Robertson told GQ. “That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.” “Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong. Sin becomes fine,” he later added. “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men. Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers — they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.

Robertson’s comments were condemned by the Human Rights Campaign and GLAAD while those on the right, such as the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer and Fox News reporter Todd Starnes,hailed him as a great American and the lgbt community as intolerant and “anti-Straight.”

Then came Act II.

Robertson proceeded during the same interview to compound his vocal faux pas by implying that black folks were happier in the days before integration:

“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.”

I have yet to hear any defense of this comment from Fischer or Starnes.

It’s a testament to the greatness of this country that someone as racially oblivious and as homophobic as Robertson has his own television show. He reminds of a character from the novel The Color Purple who was under the false presumption that the black maid who took care of her family actually felt any sympathy or love for her or her parents. She found out that the woman had been forced to work as a maid for her family as the result of a ridiculous offense.

The fact that Robertson didn’t hear any complaints from the black farmers was a testament to them, but not for the reasons he described. I’m a few generations from those farmers and I can remember always being advised by those who lived back then to be careful as to how I behaved and what I said around white people. It was less about racism on the part of African-Americans and more to do with safety. You see, back then, a word or movement by blacks taken the wrong way by whites was the difference between being safe in your bed and swinging on a tree as a mutilated corpse with your “johnson” as a souvenir in someone’s pocket. And that included any white person – whether it be the owner of a store, a white woman you walk by on the street, or even the so-called “white trash” who worked the field with you and would probably snitch on you in exchange for more privileges or money from the other whites who could dole them out.

Of course, the big question regarding Robertson’s comments is not what will happen to his show. I have never watched it so I don’t care what happens to Duck Dynasty.

The big question has to do with the black and gay communities. Will we take Robertson’s comments to heart the next time we are fooled into playing the futile game of “oppression Olympics?” Or will we forget that more times than not, some people will put us both in the same boat and while drilling holes in the bottom.