Robertson’s support, coming on the heels of his suspension from his show on the A&E channel, is more than a groundswell; it’s an explosion. For the first time I know of, the intolerant preachers of tolerance are being pushed back. Cracker Barrel sure learned its lesson. After pulling certain Phil Robertson items from its store shelves, customers revolted and made it clear that they can be offended too. Cracker Barrel reconsidered its selective sensitivity.
Also because of Robertson and his millions of supporters, the tolerance gospel has been duly challenged. For two decades media elites have told regular people to be tolerant, all the while looking down their intolerant noses at conservative folks who take their faith seriously. And just who is being intolerant now? Why, among others, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), the greatest proponent of all things tolerant, and the first group to pile on Robertson after his published interview in GQ Magazine.
The cultural divide between the elites and the regulars has been widening for many years. The current “Duck Dynasty” issue highlights that divide. On one side of this cultural gap are the elites: most, though not all television anchors, movie script writers, Hollywood celebrities, liberal editorialists and comedians and the gay lobby. On the other side are what I call the regulars, but what Fox News contributor Bernie Goldberg called “ignoramuses.”
Elitist ignorance of the regulars and how they live is astonishing. The elites know little or nothing about NASCAR, barbecue, mega churches, Hobby Lobby, Bible studies, rodeo, Truett Cathy, manual labor, Bill Gaither, Wal-Mart, corn bread, prayer meetings, Zell Miller, automotive mechanics, state fairs, fishing, hunting, revivals, horse shoes, pick-ups, cobbler, retail, blessings at meal time, swamps, guns, front porches or dogs (except for poodles). These aren’t just Louisiana things; they’re Middle America things.
Let’s not mince words. Elites are OK with Miley Cyrus; they’re not OK with Phil Robertson. They also don’t know the difference between a redneck and a swamp rat or river rat. The fact that I’m an educated redneck doesn’t diminish the fact that I’m a redneck. My neck stayed red every April to August from age 12 to 22. I was a field hand, not a swamp or river rat, though the “Duck Dynasty” clan is making me wish I could be one.
Of course the regulars (or the “ignoramuses,” if you’re a progressive) far outnumber the elites, but have still been losing cultural-values skirmishes ever since the divide emerged. That’s because television, movies, comedy and newspapers are powerful influencers and filterers of opinion. But this may be changing.
According to the Neilson ratings, 14 million people watch “Duck Dynasty” each week and are laughing with the Robertsons, not at them. And word is out that GLAAD is reeling from the biggest backlash ever. This is all getting so wonderful!
Had my son-in-law not told me about “Duck Dynasty” some months back, I might not be enjoying the happy, happy, happy Robertsons. When I told him I hated reality shows, he replied, “Oh, this one is different!” How different it was, not only from other reality shows, but from television programming generally. Surprise, surprise! Nobody cursed. Nobody disrobed seductively. Nobody lay in bed naked. And oh yeah, they prayed. Weird people, those Robertsons.
The crux of the matter is Phil Robertson fears God. A&E, like Lockheed Martin, UPS, and most other major corporations, fears the gay community. How strange that big corporations fear 2 percent of the population. Corporations don’t fear the regulars because the regulars, unlike the elites, are too busy making a living (and supporting their humongous government) to make time for social activism. That’s changing too.
Picture Bernie Goldberg, Piers Morgan, Chris Matthews, Matt Lauer or David Letterman sitting face to face in conversation with “ignoramus” Phil Robertson. Robertson, with his authenticity, savvy and simplicity, would put them to shame. Picture them working and sweating, shooting a gun, going to church, giving a day to MUST Ministries, or changing the oil in their car. You probably can’t.
Robertson didn’t use coarse language in the GQ article. He used explicit language. The elites would have us believe that sharing bacteria with just anybody, in any way we choose, is OK. Robertson, who does not have a squeaky clean past, knows better, and he had the guts to say so.
If Phil Robertson is an ignoramus, we need more ignoramuses.
Roger Hines is a retired high school English teacher in Kennesaw.