The Nation's Pulse

Phil Robertson: American Hero

“Duck Dynasty” shoots leftist playbook.

By 12.31.13

Well, that only took decades.

Who knew that the Leftist Playbook would finally get seriously winged by a duck caller?

By now, as even we holiday partiers have learned, the A&E network has sheepishly backpedaled. In direct response to a fierce public outcry the network un-suspended Phil Robertson, the patriarch of the wildly popular Duck Dynasty series. Robertson had been temporarily banned after an interview in GQ in which he colorfully pronounced his religious views on gays and Jim Crow laws, instantly launching demands from the left-wing Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Discrimination (GLAAD) and others that he be canned on the spot.

Huffed GLAAD to Fox News:

Phil Robertson should look African-American and gay people in the eyes and hear about the hurtful impact of praising Jim Crow laws and comparing gay people to terrorists,” the statement said. “If dialog with Phil is not part of next steps, then A&E has chosen profits over African-American and gay people -- especially its employees and viewers.


As the year ends, the un-suspension of Phil Robertson is exactly the moment to understand that what Mr. Robertson and his family — who rallied to their patriarch — have accomplished is no small thing.

This “controversy” in fact had nothing to do with gays or African Americans.

In fact, the Robertson-A&E dust-up was merely the latest in a long — very long — line of leftist attempts to impose supposedly sophisticated moral pretensions on the rest of the country.

This laughable air of moral superiority has been at the root of everything from the violence of the anti-Vietnam War rioters at the 1968 Democratic National Convention and Obama pal Bill Ayers’ Weathermen to today’s Occupy Wall Street crowd. And all manner of things in between.

In 1969 alone this seemingly bottomless well of sniffy moral arrogance and condescension propelled student strikes or shutdowns at some 400-plus universities. Cornell University, to name but one, was beset by armed black radicals demanding “black studies” programs run by themselves, along with segregated dormitories. Cornell administrators bowed the knee and let themselves be intimidated into agreeing to the demands. The first six months alone of that same year of 1969, according to Steven F. Hayward’s The Age of Reagan: The Fall of the Old Liberal Order 1964-1980, saw “nearly a hundred bombings, attempted bombings, or acts of arson on college campuses.” In 1970 a bomb went off at the University of Wisconsin and killed a graduate student working late at night inside the building.

The division of Americans into racial identity groups, ironically as Jim Crow was in its death throes, became the renewed staple of leftism known as “identity politics.” Now Americans were supposed to be divided as “feminists,” “white males,” “gays,” “Latinos” etc. etc. etc. ad nauseam to display precisely the same kind of moral superiority that almost cost Phil Robertson his television show. The underlying principle, of course, was identical to the Jim Crow laws — the original identity politics which themselves had been the backbone of the American Left for a century. It is safe to say that groups like GLAAD are the new proprietors of the Jim Crow mentality.

It matters not the immediate subject, either. At the UC Berkeley campus the issue that ignited these moral pretenders was a small piece of land that the University had targeted by purchasing and then razing several apartment buildings that sat on the property. For a soccer field, went the tale. Radical students brimming with moral superiority — in this case a haughty disdain for the bedrock American principle of property rights — took over the fenced-in vacant lot and started sodding and landscaping to their desires. They declared the University’s property to be “People’s Park” — a symbol, wrote Hayward, “of the evil of the Establishment.” The University of California’s regents had acquired a reputation for caving on these things, a reputation that in turn so infuriated Californians that they had elected Ronald Reagan governor of the state in a million-vote landslide. Governor Reagan would have none of this nonsense. He sent in the California National Guard, which promptly flew over the site and sprayed tear gas down below, driving the squatters out. Said Reagan: “Those who want to get an education, those who want to teach, should be protected in that at the point of a bayonet if necessary.”

At San Francisco State, the college president was presented with a set of “non-negotiable demands” by so-called “black activists.” As with GLAAD and its threats to the A&E network and Phil Robertson, they posed as moral superiors. The college president “temporized” — exactly like A&E first responded. He finally resigned after one of these moral presumptionists — a faculty teaching assistant, mind you — went to the president’s office and literally beat him up.

This resulted in a striking change with considerable consequence well-beyond San Francisco State. The college trustees appointed as acting president a 62-year-old semantics professor of Japanese descent named Samuel Ichiye Hayakawa — or as he was popularly known, “S.I.” Hayakawa. A “minority” himself, Hayakawa would have none of this intolerance parading as moral superiority. When protesters showed up to disrupt the school, the 145-pound professor jumped on their sound truck and ripped the wires out of the blaring sound system. At another point he showed up with a bullhorn to answer the bullies. On still another occasion, finding protesters disrupting classes, he called in the police. Said Hayakawa: “The police are there for the protection of our liberties. It is in a totalitarian society that police take away our liberties.” The protesters were removed and classes resumed. Hayakawa, perhaps fitting of a professor of semantics, minced no words. The protesters were, he said, “a gang of goons and neo-Nazis.” And he went after the liberals on his campus who had, just like A&E with the bullying LGBT community of today, expressed sympathy for the bullying tactics of the campus black radicals. The man who was by liberal lights a “minority” himself attacked:

…the intellectually slovenly habit, now popular among whites as well as blacks, of denouncing as racist those who oppose or are critical of any Negro tactic or demand. We have a standing obligation to the 17,500 or more students — white, black, yellow, red and brown — who are not on strike and have every right to expect continuation of their education. 

Californians applauded — and in 1976 S.I. Hayakawa was elected United States Senator.

What concerned Reagan, Hayakawa, and millions of other Americans in the day, was the realization that the so-called “Establishment” had caved to all of this intimidation-by-moral superiority. The so-called pillars of American society revealed themselves to be easily intimidated by the snooty claims of moral superiority put forth by those Reagan accurately called “cowardly little fascist bands.”


Like this Article

Print this Article

Print Article
About the Author

 Jeffrey Lord, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is a former aide to Jack Kemp and Ronald Reagan. An author and CNN commentator, he writes from Pennsylvania at and @JeffJlpa1. His new book, What America Needs: The Case for Trump, is now out from Regnery Publishing.