Thursday, December 26, 2013

Duck Dynasty Eats Jim Crow

OK, so I can't be the only one who noticed this quote from the infamous Phil interview:

"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."
So conservative Christians, please, for the love of all that is good and holy, stop saying that Phil is just defending the Bible! No matter what you think about homosexuality and sin, what Phil said in that quote is textbook historical revisionism. It's pure racism ala Gone with the Wind, My Old Kentucky Home, "where the darkies are gay" (heh). I grew up with this shit, and yes it is shit. Think about what he's saying for a second: 
1. "I'm with the blacks, because we're white trash." Yes, there were a lot of poor whites in the South during Jim Crow. My grandma used to pick up coal on the Atlanta railroad tracks for heat, most of us have moon-shine or lint-head ancestors, etc. But you know what? If Phil wanted to go to the movies, he could sit in the regular seats. He could sit up front on the bus; he could eat at a lunch counter without getting arrested; he could go to a public library and check out a book; he could attend white schools; he could use public restrooms and water fountains. Sorry, that whole "we may have been white but we were poor too" is bull, and it doesn't in any way recognize the fact that black Americans in the South were barely treated as citizens. 

2. "They're singing and happy... they were happy, no one was singing the blues." Yes, blacks were so happy before them liberal damn Yankees stirred them up. Here's a news flash: people can have momentary happiness in spite of oppression, because somehow you've got to deal. That's called the endurance of the human spirit. Smiling/ singing does not equal "I have no problems." People got to cope. And speaking of singing, did you ever wonder why most of those spirituals talk about Moses and Pharoah? Doggonit, there must be some symbolic significance there. 

3. "They were godly." OK boys and girls, let's play a word association game. I say shiftless, you say _______. Have you ever heard of a white person described with that adjective? No, because at every point in American history white propaganda has taught that blacks are immoral savages who need to be controlled for their own good. Sure, you had a handful of Mammies and Uncles - the "good blacks" that we still have around today in different costumes. But those blacks were only good because they knew their place.

In the white person's mind, black males were Coons who dreamed of raping white women, and black females were Jezebel gals who wanted to ensnare upstanding Christian gentlemen. In The Birth of a Nation, Gone with the Wind, and every other Confederate apologia, the KKK was necessary in order to rescue white women from the clutches from brutal blacks. That's why we "needed" Jim Crow, because those black people just couldn't handle their freedom. It went to their heads like liquor, and so the paternalistic, long-suffering whites had to take them in hand for their own good. So you tell me, what exactly has changed? 

Second of all, it wouldn't matter if every single black person during Jim Crow was a perfect saint and every single contemporary black person were a swinger, not when human rights are concerned. It does not follow that "they were more moral then, ergo we should have kept them in their downtrodden place." So whatever you think of an ethnic group's morals (because they aren't individuals, just a monolith, right?) it doesn't matter. You don't get to oppress people because it's somehow better for their eternal souls. Again, this is straight from slavery days, when Massa told his slaves how much better off they were in America going to church. Y'all, our morals really should not be on the level of a slaverholder's. Can't we do better than that? (This is ignoring the fact that Phil has absolutely no knowledge of another person's soul, let alone those of entire ethnic group. What kind of arrogance does it take to say something like that?) 

What happened when a black teen looked at a white woman
4. "I never heard one of them, one black person, say, 'I tell you what: These doggone white people' — not a word!" How about that - a black person during Jim Crow didn't complain to a white person about their lack of civil rights. That's so odd, because if I were part of a subjugated race I would make sure to complain to the elevated race at every opportunity. Because "grumbling" never ended badly for anybody in the era of Jim Crow and the KKK. And again with the arrogance: Phil never heard a black person complain to him, so there must not have been a problem. 

5. "Pre-entitlement": Here's what I've learned from growing up in the South. There are certain groups of people who can be entitled and certain groups who can't. If you're an elderly (white) person, you can expect Medicare without being considered entitled. If you're a middle class kid with educated parents, you can expect a college education without being entitled. But you know who's really entitled are those damn black people with their expectations of voting rights, equal wages for equal work, equal housing rights, desegregation of schools and public facilities, being allowed to matriculate at a state university, being able to marry someone of a different ethnic group. It's - what's that word? - uppity.

6. "Pre-welfare": yes, because what this country really needs to do is pull out every social safety net when there simply aren't enough jobs for the demand. That's statistical reality, folks, and that's assuming that everyone is healthy enough in body and mind to even hold down a full time job. You want to know how bad this economy is? It's so bad that when DC opened a Wal-mart the acceptance rate for applications was more stringent than the acceptance rate to Harvard. That's how desperate people are for work, any work. I'm sincerely happy for Phil and his family that they were able to escape grinding poverty. I wouldn't wish a hard life on anyone, no matter how racist they are. But don't turn around and give a good kick to the people who haven't had the same combination of skills/ luck/ support/ mental stability. 

And yet, even in this shit-hole of an economy, I would rather be a black person now than in any other time in American history, no competition. If you're white, take a minute and ask yourself that question: would you willingly prefer to be black now or in the 1950s South? 
In all the buzz about his talk about homosexuality, somehow the racist remarks got lost in the shuffle. Which is too bad, because it spotlights the dark underbelly of the Southern evangelical churches: that many white people, "fine upstanding Christians," in the South secretly think that maybe black people were better off, "happier" and more "godly," when they were living in shacks, working in white women's kitchens, and drinking at a fountain labeled colored. 

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