December 24, 2013

Native aspects of Duck Dynasty controversy

There are a couple of reasons for addressing the Duck Dynasty controversy in a Native-oriented blog. Educator Debbie Reese points to one in her American Indians in Children's Literature blog:

Phil Robertson: "The Almighty gave us this." Debbie Reese: "No. He didn't."In the many excellent critiques of Phil Robertson's comments about gays and African Americans, I haven't seen anything that pushes back on his "The Almighty gave us this [northern Louisiana backwoods]."

I read that line in the GQ article and, of course, thought "No. He didn't."

That land belonged to Native people.

Does Robertson (like those early Europeans who believed their god had a hand in disease that devastated Native peoples, rendering them and their homelands vulnerable to Europeans who wanted that land) think his Almighty rid the land of the Indigenous peoples of Louisiana so Robertson and his family could have it?
Also, there's a more general reason to discuss the issue:

I'd say these issues are fundamentally related. Dehumanizing Muslims = dehumanizing Indians = dehumanizing gays. It's all about maintaining white, male, Christian power.

Challenging one act of oppression--I mean Robertson's hate speech, not the response to it--means challenging all acts of oppression. The conservative white power structure is equally discomfited when gays marry, Indians oppose fracking and pipelines, and liberals oppose defense boondoggles (aka wars against Muslims).

As with most of the cultural issues I flog, I'm not saying Robertson's opinion matters. I'm saying it's an example of a deep-seated cultural mindset that pervades this country. That mindset matters, even if specific instances of it don't.

In other words, Duck Dynasty has given us another chance to debate the shape and direction of the country. Will it remain white/male/Christian/heterosexual, or can we share the power with others? And that debate affects pretty much everything: from violence against women to poverty on the rez.

For more on the subject, see Phil Robertson "Wrong with Honor"?! and Duck Dynasty Star is a Bigot.

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