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Sounds Like Robertsons Are Gonna Walk

From the Duck Commander website tonight: We want to thank all of you for your prayers and support.  The family has spent much time in prayer since learning of A&E’s decision.  We want you to know that first and foremost we are a family rooted in our faith in God and our belief that the […]

From the Duck Commander website tonight:

We want to thank all of you for your prayers and support.  The family has spent much time in prayer since learning of A&E’s decision.  We want you to know that first and foremost we are a family rooted in our faith in God and our belief that the Bible is His word.  While some of Phil’s unfiltered comments to the reporter were coarse, his beliefs are grounded in the teachings of the Bible. Phil is a Godly man who follows what the Bible says are the greatest commandments: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Phil would never incite or encourage hate.We are disappointed that Phil has been placed on hiatus for expressing his faith, which is his constitutionally protected right.We have had a successful working relationship with A&E but, as a family, we cannot imagine the show going forward without our patriarch at the helm.  We are in discussions with A&E to see what that means for the future of Duck Dynasty.   Again, thank you for your continued support of our family.

This is a matter of honor for that family. Not surprising. This is going to hurt A&E far more than it will hurt the Robertsons.

I was just on a TV news show talking about this — it was Al Jazeera America; going on AJA to blast A&E for canning Phil Robertson has to be some kind of Drehergasm. One of the guests was a NYC Republican political consultant. I didn’t catch his name. He exemplified, though, both liberal intolerance and exactly the kind of myopic confirmation bias that afflicts Phil Robertson on race.

On the liberal intolerance front, he sounded like the Legion Of Decency, thundering against vulgarians like Phil Robertson who violate standards of propriety by talking about penises and anuses in such a way. This is a man who lives in New York City, and who is apparently innocent of the existence of Howard Stern, Dan Savage, and, well, popular culture post-1964. He thundered about Robertson’s harsh lines about the kind of people who will not inherit the kingdom of God. Apparently this man of the world is utterly ignorant of the Bible, which Robertson was closely paraphrasing. That doesn’t make Robertson right, necessarily, but Robertson’s opinion is hardly fringe. As I pointed out, Pope Francis holds the same views, though he wouldn’t likely express them this way — and he became The Advocate’s Person Of The Year. This is what I mean by parochial cosmopolitans. This guy went on about how everybody knows what Robertson said is just outrageous and immoral. Which is true if “everybody” lives on Manhattan, I guess.

I believe Robertson’s remarks about how happy blacks were in the segregated south are a more serious matter, and indefensible. But this is not at all unheard of among rural white Southerners of his generation. He ought to be called on it. As I’ve been saying in the comboxes, 20 years ago I interviewed an older white woman who was fighting hard to save a poor black church that was in the sights of a developer. She told me, on the record, something very close to what Phil Robertson said about black-white relations in the old days. It was crazy and offensive, but she really did believe it. She mentioned it as if it were common knowledge. I didn’t report those words because I had my own bias, and it was toward saving the church. If I had published this woman’s quote, uttered in innocence, it might have destroyed the (ultimately successful) move to save the church. She really had no idea what she was saying. If she were a simple racist, she wouldn’t have been going out of her way to help lead the fight to save a church belonging to a poor, powerless black congregation.

Does that make this old woman right? Of course not. But it does make her complicated, like most people. Thinking about how she could have come to believe that fiction, even though she must have known it was false, all I can figure is confirmation bias. She saw what she wanted to see; that is, what made emotional sense to her. My guess is that’s what Phil Robertson did in his ruminations on the Jim Crow South. Again: this is not an excuse. But we are all guilty of this sort of thing at times. We pick out the things we want to pick out, that confirm the narrative we use to explain the world to ourselves, and ignore anything that blurs the lines.

I think it was Nassim Nicholas Taleb, writing in The Black Swan, who said that confirmation bias is not taking seriously things you don’t see. As a young man, Phil Robertson lived among oppressed black people in the segregated South. But he didn’t “see” what was right in front of him, no doubt because to see what was happening would have meant confronting things about his culture and society that he didn’t want to confront. This happens everywhere, all the time. Why do you think the Catholic Church had this massive sex abuse scandal? Do you think people in the pews didn’t know something was going on in many of these parishes? People don’t see what they don’t want to see. I’ve been guilty of that, and so have you. Think.

Somewhere in the South, there is a black pastor who is right now praying for Phil Robertson, and who is going to reach out to him privately, away from the TV cameras, to talk about this. Bless that man, or woman. I don’t want Phil to walk away from his beliefs about sexuality, but maybe there are some gay Christians who will reach out to him privately to show him reasons to be more measured and compassionate in his preaching and understanding, even if he doesn’t share their views. Good will come out of this, because I believe the eccentric redneck Phil Robertson has a good heart, underneath all that hair and cantankerous bristle.

Anyway, those who think the Robertson family will abandon their patriarch for the sake of preserving money and fame don’t really understand the South, and its shame-honor culture. Good on ’em.



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