December 21, 2013

What Phil Robertson and Megyn Kelly Have in Common

No, it's not "racism".  But close.

For those folks hiding under various rocks over the past couple weeks - or distracted by some kind of large, upcoming celebratory event of some kind, who knows what? - Phil Robertson is the fellow on A&Es "Duck Dynasty" who gave an interview with Drew Magary for GQ where he mentioned how homosexuality is the moral equivalent of bestiality.

Pretty sure you can imagine how that went over.

Thing is, he's a Born-Again Christian, which tends to be the most fanatical variety; so some straight up queer-fear is to be expected from him.  Even if his version of 'logic' is a little bit off:

“It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”

...which overlooks the fact that far more hetrosexual people than homosexual ones engage in anal sex as a simple matter of numbers (there are way, WAY more of us breeders than there are gays).  It is a pretty straight forward interview with someone who is a pretty dull guy: I'm far more interested in knowing more about the modifications to their land they've done to ensure the hunting there is good during the season.

If it weren't for an additional quote.

“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.”

Um.  Yeah, there's a problem with that version of history, and it's the same problem he has with the rest of history:

“All you have to do is look at any society where there is no Jesus. I’ll give you four: Nazis, no Jesus. Look at their record. Uh, Shintos? They started this thing in Pearl Harbor. Any Jesus among them? None. Communists? None. Islamists? Zero. That’s eighty years of ideologies that have popped up where no Jesus was allowed among those four groups. Just look at the records as far as murder goes among those four groups.”

His ideas only work if you only - ever - consider one view of history, and insisting that is the 'right' one.  This is a problem because there isn't just a single history that everyone accepts as fact.  Indeed, if you insist on a single view, it will almost certainly be missing huge chunks of the story, have revised those parts that might make the teller be seen in a worse light, or simply wrong.  There is an excellent TED Talk by Nigerian Authour Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie here if you've got fifteen minutes for it.  And you do!
And here is where we get to Megyn Kelly.

Ms. Kelly is a host on Fox News (sorry, I just can't bring myself to think of her as a 'anchor') who went on a little rant about Aisha Harris' idea that Santa could be another... well, not so much another race as another species.  A penguin, specifically.  Her rant was in finest "War on Christmas" form, angry and outraged and frustrated with the idea that Santa should ever change his appearance, including this lovely quote:

"Just because it makes you feel uncomfortable doesn't mean it should change."

Which, actually, is a pretty good indication when you should think of changing something.  Two days later, she tried covering her tracks by saying it was all in good fun, even if viewers couldn't find the humour in the video or in the transcript - where she also mentioned Jesus being white as a "verifiable fact" in the same sentence.  Perhaps she meant that in fun as well, because she included it in her explanation:

"By the way, I also said Jesus is white,” Kelly said, “As I’ve learned in the past two days, that is far from settled.”

The disturbing thing is that she found out about Jesus not being white in the past two days.  She had never heard otherwise, or even considered that it was possible: she had only heard one story, and that story, to her, was the truth.  Which is hilarious, because even The Oak Ridge Boys knew otherwise:

"If they heard He was a Jew and a Palestinian too,
Would they love Him down in Nashville today?"

Which certainly puts them a step further into the "thoughtful" category than Kelly manages.

So what do Megyn Kelly and Phil Robertson have in common?  I don't think they're racist for these comments (other comments can prove me wrong on this, of course), and I don't think either one is particularly stupid; what I do think they are is deliberately and willfully ignorant.  It's something that can change, but they will have to do it themselves.

And frankly, despite the season, I don't have the faith that either one will.

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posted by Erin Butler at 4:09 pm

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