Duck Dynasty calls, treasonous generals and the return of child labor - Los Angeles Post-ExaminerLos Angeles Post-Examiner

Duck Dynasty calls, treasonous generals and the return of child labor

There’s been a lot of controversy lately — which has all but pushed the War on Christmas out of the news! How can we let a holiday season go by without FoxNews claiming there’s a war on their favorite holiday? But it’s happening this year, with even bigger stories and of course, the fronts are drawn along political and social lines.

A post making the rounds on Facebook.

A post making the rounds on Facebook.

Confederate Generals and Their Pictures

The first big story that is getting the extreme right wing blogosphere going crazy? The Confederacy-loving, FoxNews watching crowd, extreme right wing — and it’s all President Obama’s fault, can’t leave that out …

It seems the U.S. Army War College in Pennsylvania has decided to remove all photos and pictures of Confederate generals from various places around the college where they were being displayed.

My first question — and this is based on me not knowing anything about the War College —  was: Why was the U.S. Army War College honoring traitors in the first place? Sure, they had all been fine U.S. Army officers before the Civil War, but when they spit on their commissions, the U.S. Army and their country to take an oath to lead troops into battle against the United States … that’s treason.

On April 23rd, 1861, when Robert E. Lee took over command of the Virginia state forces, any honorary plaques or pictures of Lee should have been removed from every place they were displayed — including West Point, where he had been the superintendent.

Forty percent of the officers from Virginia chose to remain loyal to the Union, including General Winfield Scott, Lee did not.

Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson committed treason when they took up arms against the United States. (Photos via Wikipedia)

Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson committed treason when they took up arms against the United States.
(Photos via Wikipedia)

Lee may have become an honorable man after the war, serving as the president of Washington and Lee College, but his act of treason forfeited his honors as an officer in the U.S. Army. Same with every other man that left the Union Army to join the Confederacy and fight against the United States.

Carol Kerr, spokeswoman for the War College, said, speaking about Lee directly, “There will be a dialogue when we develop the idea of what do we want the hallway to represent. He (Lee) was certainly not good for the nation. This is the guy we faced on the battlefield whose entire purpose in life was to destroy the nation as it was then conceived. …”

They all should have been put in front of firing squads and executed, but President Lincoln chose reconciliation over justice, so they got to live — and keep their horses and sidearms.

Most people will agree that was the wiser choice. Lincoln wanted to reunite the nation and that grand gesture was the first step. Besides, trying to execute that many men would have been a logistic nightmare.

But of course if you’re Todd Starnes of FoxNews, removing the pictures of a traitor like Robert E. Lee from the U.S. Army War College is sacrilege. Obviously Starnes is anti-American and pro-treason.

Iva Ikuko Toguri, aka Tokyo Rose, was convicted of treason after World War II. She was pardoned by President Gerald Ford in 1977 when it was learned some of the witnesses were forced to lie. (Photo via Wikipedia)

Iva Ikuko Toguri, aka Tokyo Rose, was convicted of treason after World War II. She was pardoned by President Gerald Ford in 1977 when it was learned some of the witnesses were forced to lie.
(Photo via Wikipedia)

Or at least the fans on his Facebook page think it’s sacrilege. I would estimate 99 percent of the comments were anti-Obama rants that also wanted to honor the Confederate traitors. Starnes’ comment when he posted a link to the FoxNews story is, “Obama’s Army considers removing portraits of Robert E. Lee, Confederate generals.”

Just a refresher for Starnes and the people who follow him: it isn’t “Obama’s Army,” it’s the U.S. Army and they do in fact make some decisions independent of the Commander-in-Chief.

Article Three, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution defines treason this way: “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”

Robert E. Lee and his fellow Confederate officers are guilty of the first part: levying war against the United States. They were traitors — case closed. Remove the fucking pictures.

Make Poor Kids Work For Lunch

Poor children should work for that free lunch at school — you know: child labor, just like Dickensian London. Don’t even have to go back that far in history or even leave our shores to find child labor horror stories.

Labor laws restricting child labor didn’t really get talked about with any serious intent until the end of the 19th Century and child labor wasn’t fully eradicated until 1938 when President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act that put limits on child labor.

So, we could have paper routes after the age of 12 or work on the family farm, but children weren’t allowed to work in factories, mills or other businesses.

Children working in a macon, Georgia mill at the turn of the 20th Century. (Photo via Wikipedia)

Children working in a macon, Georgia mill at the turn of the 20th Century.
(Photo via Wikipedia)

The reason companies employed children was that they would be paid less than adults. Such a good deal for the employers.

When Congress passed a law to ban child labor in 1916, the Supreme Court shot it down saying the law violated the child’s right to contract his or her employment. The Supreme Court at the time was down with child labor. You go, Supremes!

So, we have this amiable-sounding Congressman, Jack Kingston of Georgia, suggesting poor kids that get subsidized lunches … well, these are his own words:

“Why don’t you have the kids pay a dime, pay a nickel to instill in them that there is, in fact, no such thing as a free lunch? Or maybe sweep the floor of the cafeteria — and yes, I understand that that would be an administrative problem, and I understand that it would probably lose you money. But think what we would gain as a society in getting people — getting the myth out of their head that there is such a thing as a free lunch.”

The only myth these poor children are growing up with is that all people in the United States are equal … but not to worry: their living conditions and the lower quality of the schools they generally attend is quickly disabusing them of that myth.

Of course, if we single them out as different and require them to work for the other children in their schools, that will speed the process along of teaching them that “equality” is just one of the words politicians like to use to justify their inhumanity towards the less fortunate in our society.

These kids know there’s no free lunch. They pay for it by the abject poverty they face 24 hours a day, seven days a week, unremittingly.

Another right-wing kook took a giant leap … ahead of, or backward from, hard to determine … Congressman Kingston’s remarks by saying we don’t have poverty in America because the poor children in the U.S. don’t have bloated, extended bellies like the poor children in Africa.

Georgia Congressman Jack Kingston (Photo via Wikipedia)

Georgia Congressman Jack Kingston
(Photo via Wikipedia)

Now there’s a benchmark children should sink to in order to qualify for any kind of benefits from the federal government.

Let’s look at the irony of what Kingston said. Here’s a guy who thinks poor children should work for their subsidized lunches yet he earns a six-figure salary as a U.S. Congressman — but worked less than 150 days in 2013.

Well he and his fellow Republicans voted to either end or defund the Affordable Care Act over 40 times. That’s gotta count for something.

Crazier still is the number of people who agree with Kingston.

The irony of course being that the vast majority of people who agree with Kingston and his ilk are White folks, like me … only they’re nothing like me, other than skin color.

The perception of those White folks who agree with the Jack Kingstons of the nation is that it’s them Negroes who get all that welfare money, driving around in new Cadillacs, fat off the wonderful incomes they derive from collecting all dem welfare checks and benefits.

The actual reality being the vast majority of welfare is collected by folks of the Caucasian persuasion, i.e. White folks and the majority of federal dollars goes to Red states, i.e. those states that are solidly Republican, sending congressmen/women and senators to Washington, D.C. to rail against the very assistance that benefits a large number of their constituents — the people who vote for them.

Imagine you’re some poor white family in Georgia’s First Congressional District receiving food stamps and SSI disability. Your family is feeling content and happy because you just returned home after casting your votes to re-elect Republican Jack Kingston to the U.S. House of Representatives.

But wait! Isn’t this guy advocating to take away some of the federal benefits you receive each month? Including Mama’s Social Security and Medicare? And he thinks you’re lazy and Black and believe there’s such a thing as a free lunch. Awkward!

It’s amazing that poor White people still vote for the GOP after all the bashing of the 47 percent these politicians deliver to their constituents.

It is often said: we get the Congress we deserve. How much penance must we pay?

Phil Robertson in a screen shot from CNN doing a segment about his show Duck Dynasty.

Phil Robertson in a screen shot from CNN doing a segment about his show Duck Dynasty.

Duck Dynasty: Defend the Bigot or the Network

The granddaddy whopper of all stories in the extreme right wing blogosphere and news is of course the “indefinite suspension” of Phil Robertson, the patriarch of the A&E network’s Duck Dynasty.

Todd Starnes is helping lead the charge on this one too. Why, ole’ Starnes is wearing a Duck Commander tie — which is camouflage if you didn’t know — and writing columns twice a day (at least) in support of Robertson.

The poor old man (he isn’t poor) was just expressing his opinions in Gentleman’s Quarterly (GQ) magazine and doesn’t everyone have a God-given right to express their opinions, as guaranteed in the First Amendment of the Constitution?

Why yes they do, my young Constitutional scholar. But, the First Amendment doesn’t guarantee you won’t be fired from your job for expressing your opinions. In fact the Constitution is rather silent on the matter of employment — employers can pretty much do what they damn well please.

Well OK, there’s that whole minimum wage thing and that pesky Fair Labor Standards Act, but other than that, hire and fire as you see fit, businesses of America.

Old Phil wasn’t even fired, just “suspended indefinitely” for his remarks in GQ. What did he say that was so bad? Well for one, he compared homosexuality to stealing, swindling and bestiality.  I guess that’s all in The Bible somewhere.

This was actually posted on the Facebook page of the Chisago County (Minnesota) Republican Party.

This was actually posted on the Facebook page of the Chisago County (Minnesota) Republican Party.

“Yea all ye unclean souls, thou shall not lay one man down with another, which is the same as laying down with one’s cattle, or swindling one’s business partners and lying on your tax return …” or something like that.

Then of course he said that while growing up in the Jim Crow South he never saw an African-American who was sad about being treated like a second-class citizen. Blacks were much happier then, when they had to use separate (and hardly equal) restrooms, drinking fountains and classrooms.

“I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once,” he said. “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.”

They weren’t singing no blues, according to Robertson.

Well … besides the old bluesmen from the Mississippi Delta who invented the blues in the early part of the 20th Century and have continued to sing the blues right up to the present day.

That little historical discrepancy aside, well, those two historical discrepancies, what is the big deal about some old as dirt gay-bashing racist talking his shit to a popular magazine?

The A&E channel knew what they were getting when they hired the Robertson Family to star in a reality show. They knew this family was deeply religious; they even show the family praying around the dinner table as they sit down to enjoy a fine, Louisiana bayou meal.

Duck Dynasty promo photo (via Wikipedia)

Duck Dynasty promo photo
(via Wikipedia)

So it seems a bit disingenuous for A&E to suspend old Phil for expanding on his beliefs. Well, they probably weren’t fully aware of the old man’s longing for the good old days when Blacks knew their place and poor people were not seen and conveniently forgotten.

On the other hand, it’s easy to understand why civil rights organizations are a little upset about the remarks: gay-bashing and a rosy view of life for African-Americans in the South during the Jim Crow era — a lot of Americans have suffered greatly and died to end institutional discrimination in America. Giving a platform to a guy who thinks life was okay for Blacks in that era has to be a severe slap in the face.

Not to mention, it advances the stereotype that welfare and entitlements are primarily for the benefit of African-Americans.

A&E said it suspended Commander Duck out of respect for their gay employees and, one would imagine, their African-American employees as well.

The truth is, Phil Robertson speaks for a diminishing minority of Americans who believe as he does, that not all people are created equal, or at least should not be treated equally.

Despite the crowing of celebrity commentators and politicians who support Robertson—Todd Starnes, Sarah Palin and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal chief among them—Phil’s First Amendment rights were not violated. No one from the government went after Robertson or A&E and GQ, the FCC didn’t threaten the network or the Robertson family. Phil Robertson is free to express his views on sexuality and race whenever he wants — he just doesn’t get to be associated with A&E while doing it.

First she was for booting TV personalities off the air when they said something offensive, then she was against it. A Sarah Palin post making the rounds on Facebook.

First she was for booting TV personalities off the air when they said something offensive, then she was against it.
A Sarah Palin post making the rounds on Facebook.

And just a note to Governor Jindal and the others who are using the “Miley Cyrus” defense to defend the Duck Commander: Miley Cyrus is not currently under contract to any network (TV or radio). She’s no longer Hannah Montana and networks can choose to cover her … news? … or not and most networks pass on her daily life and … how does one explain what Miley Cyrus does when she’s not performing professionally? … but as I do recall Miley Cyrus was roundly criticized from all corners, liberal and conservative, for her performance on some awards show.

Nevertheless, Miley Cyrus isn’t under contract for any weekly TV series like Phil Robertson so there’s no comparison. Not to mention: she didn’t spew any racial or gay-bashing remarks, she just twerked on TV and hung her tongue out like Gene Simmons of Kiss. That was really the worst of it — the tongue. Please Miley, tweak all you like, but spare us anymore of the tongue.

The A&E network exercised its rights to disassociate itself from someone who not only held those extremely objectionable views, he expressed them in a very public manner.

And this is why A&E shares at least as much culpability as Phil Robertson for this controversy: Robertson has a history of making extremely offensive, gay-bashing comments. And yet the people at A&E gave him a reality show anyway. (Facebook post making the rounds)

And this is why A&E shares at least as much culpability as Phil Robertson for this controversy: Robertson has a history of making extremely offensive, gay-bashing comments. And yet the people at A&E gave him a reality show anyway.
(Facebook post making the rounds)

A&E can’t be associated with someone like that … which begs the question: why did they hire the Robertsons for a reality show in the first place? Fifteen million viewers for a cable network is a big deal, but at what cost to their reputation? This isn’t the end of this controversy for the network, which is owned by the Hearst Corporation and Disney –ABC Television Group.

But racists and gay-haters can take heart — FoxNews still has their backs.

That should have been the end of this, but this story only gets better. Charlie Sheen, you remember Charlie — tiger blood, winning, two live-in girlfriends — he got into the Robertson controversy when he tweeted, “You have offended and hurt so many dear friends of mine, who DO NOT have the voice or the outreach that I do, Well, news flash shower-dodger, I will speak loudly and clearly for ALL of them.”

Well OK then, I guess I’ll start taking more showers …

 

 

 


About the author

Tim Forkes

Tim Forkes started as a writer on a small alternative newspaper in Milwaukee called the Crazy Shepherd. Writing about entertainment, he had the opportunity to speak with many people in show business, from the very famous to the people struggling to find an audience. In 1992 Tim moved to San Diego, CA and pursued other interests, but remained a freelance writer. Upon arrival in Southern California he was struck by how the elected government officials and business were so intertwined, far more so than he had witnessed in Wisconsin. His interest in entertainment began to wane and the business of politics took its place. He had always been interested in politics, his mother had been a Democratic Party official in Milwaukee, WI, so he sat down to dinner with many of Wisconsin’s greatest political names of the 20th Century: William Proxmire and Clem Zablocki chief among them. As a Marine Corps veteran, Tim has a great interest in veteran affairs, primarily as they relate to the men and women serving and their families. As far as Tim is concerned, the military-industrial complex has enough support. How the men and women who serve are treated is reprehensible, while in the military and especially once they become veterans. Tim would like to help change that. Contact the author.
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