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Duck and cover



Here's a piece I'm submitting to my local newspaper as an op-ed:

A sign on my hometown’s main street claims political correctness and intolerance are driving the furor over remarks by Phil Robertson, star of the A&E Network show Duck Dynasty.

A story found on the Fox News website provides a link to the GQ magazine article in which Robertson said, among other things: “I never heard one … black person say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’—not a word!”
This remark reflects a stunning ignorance of American history, the civil rights movement and race relations in the South during the era of Jim Crow laws.

Of course black people were not going to complain to white people about laws that tacitly enabled lynchings, beatings, firebombings and other forms of violence against black people. Of course black people were not going to complain to a white person about Southern social mores that led to:

• The murder of the Rev. George Lee, a black man who campaigned to expand voter registration efforts (1955, Belzoni, Miss.).

• The murder of Lamar Smith, an organizer of voting by black people. A white man shot Smith dead on a courthouse lawn in front of dozens of witnesses, but the shooter was never indicted because no one would admit they saw a white man shoot a black man (1955, Brookhaven, Miss.).

• The beating, shooting and murder of 14-year-old Emmett Louis Till, who reportedly flirted with a white woman. Three men beat him, shot him and dumped his body into a river. An all-white jury found the men innocent of murder (1955, Money, Miss.)

Some people may claim Robertson was only 9-year-old boy in Louisiana when these incidents in neighboring Mississippi occurred, so he probably didn’t know about them. In that case, let’s look at some incidents from when Robertson was much older:

• The shooting death of Medgar Evers, an NAACP staffer leading efforts for integration in Jackson, Miss. He was shot to death at his home in Jackson (1963).

• Four teenage girls—Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson and Cynthia Wesley—who died in a bombing at a Baptist church in Birmingham, Ala. The church had been a center for civil rights meetings and marches (1963).

• Civil Rights workers James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Henry Schwerner, killed by members of the Ku Klux Klan (1964, Philadelphia, Miss.).

• Three young black men—Samuel Ephesians Hammond Jr., Delano Herman Middleton and Henry Ezekial Smith—who were shot and killed by police who fired on student demonstrators at the South Carolina State College campus (1986, Orangeburg, S.C.).

• The assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King in Memphis, Tenn. (1968).
Further information on these and other crimes may be found at http://www.splcenter.org/civil-rights-memorial/civil-rights-martyrs.

In a region like this—a region where a 14-year-old black boy can be kidnapped and beaten to death for whistling at a white woman—is it any wonder that black people aren’t going to complain about their lives to Robertson, even though he is a Christian who embraces the Gospel and teaches Bible study class?

It’s still possible that Robertson is unaware of any of these incidents, and he very well may be unaware of race relations in the South, not only when he was growing up but also today. If true, this ignorance is a perfect example of white privilege. As a white man, Robertson didn’t need to care about black people being brutalized and killed. None of those crimes affected him. His whiteness enabled his ignorance. Black people had no such privilege.

And for those who think the A&E Network, which airs Robertson’s Duck Dynasty program, is quashing his First Amendment rights: Robertson can say whatever he wants; no one could stop him from doing so on his own television network. But the First Amendment does not require the A&E to let Robertson represent it. He works for A&E, after all.

If calling attention to Robertson’s myopia is being “politically correct,” then I embrace that tag. If speaking out against Robertson’s myopia is being “intolerant,” then I assert my right to be intolerant of ignorance.

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
anita_margarita
Dec. 24th, 2013 05:40 pm (UTC)
Well done. Prepare for fallout.
(Anonymous)
Dec. 24th, 2013 08:17 pm (UTC)






Whether it's Zappa or Jeff Foxworthy, "YOU CAN'T FIX STUPID!" The ignorant never argue on point...only to the right of it.













whether it's Zappa or Jeff Foxworty
patrick_vecchio
Dec. 24th, 2013 08:47 pm (UTC)
It can't be fixed, but that doesn't mean you can't call "bullshit!" when you hear it or see it.
nodressrehersal
Dec. 26th, 2013 03:24 pm (UTC)
"And for those who think the A&E Network, which airs Robertson’s Duck Dynasty program, is quashing his First Amendment rights: Robertson can say whatever he wants; no one could stop him from doing so on his own television network. But the First Amendment does not require the A&E to let Robertson represent it. He works for A&E, after all."

I think that is such an important point to make, that freedom of speech doesn't mean you get to say anything, anywhere, anytime. Good grief.

Good luck - think they'll print it?

patrick_vecchio
Dec. 26th, 2013 04:18 pm (UTC)
I think they'll print it. It's locally written copy, which is scarce on their op-ed page.

Thanks for pointing that section out. I had deleted it last night (haven't sent it in yet), thinking it was a distraction. I'm going to put it back in.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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