Duck Dynasty and the Virginia Flaggers

By now I’m sure you’ve hears all about the controversy surrounding what a “star” of a “reality” television show said and the reaction of A&E to that statement.

As you might suspect, opinions range across the spectrum, with some people deploring the comments of the star and backing A&E, some saying that regardless of what the star said, he should not be suspended from the show, and, as you might imagine, some people voicing agreement with what the star said.

Among those voicing support for the star’s statements and supporting the star against A&E’s reaction are many of our good friends at the Virginia Flaggers, including the person who does the group’s “heavy hitting,” as Susan Hathaway herself says.

None of this should come as a surprise. Indeed, it’s evident that many of the Flaggers share the star’s views on various issues, including the ones currently under discussion.

What does come as a surprise is that we have not seen the same outpouring of support for Susan Hathaway’s right to speak her mind about the absence of Confederate flags on the exterior of the Confederate War Memorial Chapel without fear of reprisal from either the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts or her employer, who has contracted with the VMFA to renovate the nearby Robinson House, another VMFA holding related to Confederate heritage.

Why is this? Why are the Flaggers so loud about supporting the right of a reality TV star to voice an opinion without fear of reprisal from an employer, and yet so quiet about the right of their very own leader to do the same? Why the cowardice?

This blog remains supportive of Susan Frise Hathaway’s right to express her own opinion without fear of retaliation from her employer. The Virginia Flaggers have failed to show such support for their own leader.

Return Susan! Restore the honor!

33 thoughts on “Duck Dynasty and the Virginia Flaggers

  1. Bert December 21, 2013 / 6:57 am

    Maybe they despise gays even more than Yankees? Or to use Ockham’s razor, cowardice would do it too.

    • Andy Hall December 21, 2013 / 11:33 am

      “Maybe they despise gays even more than Yankees?”

      Arguably, but it’s part-and-parcel with the way “Confederate Heritage” gets all rolled into modern politics/cultural/social disputes. Some of the more extreme members of the white nationalist/secessionist crowd have found a sudden new love for Vladimir Putin and the Eastern Orthodox church, in part because of their active role in passing anti-LGBT legislation in Russia. (Their bromance with the Russian president is also based on Putin’s populist, anti-immigrant rhetoric. So much about about Vladimir to love, apparently.)

      As for Phil Robertson, I’m kinda surprised at the surprise — it’s not like what he said about homosexuality is in any way surprising, given that his cultural/religious beliefs are part of the show. There is also reason to believe that A&E knew what Robertson said well before the GQ interview became public. I suspect, frankly, that executives at A&E were genuinely worried about that GQ interview for all of ten minutes, until they realized that those comments weren’t going to hurt them one bit with the show’s fans. A&E has already said the show is going forward, and I expect that this will all end with Robertson will make the standard non-apology apology (“if anyone was offended. . ,” etc.) and the show will be back on the air next month with higher ratings than before. I don’t believe anyone at A&E has lost any sleep over this story, at all, because it’s a win all around — a win for A&E, and win for the Robertsons, and a win for the folks who want to see themselves as upstanding, devout victims of the “gay agenda.”

      More worrisome to me were Robertson’s comments on race, which are completely in line with the “happy darkey” narrative that white Southerners have used to assuage themselves for generations:

      “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.”

      I find this view more problematic, personally, because it cannot be ascribed to Robertson’s religious worldview; no one (well, nearly no one) cites the Bible as justification for racial/social structure of the South in the pre-civil-rights era. I would also love to hear from some of the African American field hands he talks about, to find out if they saw themselves as “singing and happy.” My guess is that they have a more complex recollection of their own experiences, that doesn’t entirely square with Phil Robertson’s.

      I do have to say, though, this kerfluffle has got me to thinking — do you suppose that one of Phil Robertson’s ancestors went West to work as a construction boss on the Transcontinental Railroad? There’s evidence to suggest that he did.

      • Brooks D. Simpson December 21, 2013 / 11:48 am

        I think the difference is that the comments made about African Americans were placed in the framework of personal observation. If that’s the world he saw, that’s the world he saw. He may not have understood it very well.

        • Andy Hall December 21, 2013 / 11:52 am

          That’s another way of saying, “unable to perceive any other experience than his own.” It’s not a virtue.

        • Lyle Smith December 21, 2013 / 10:31 pm

          Amen, if he’s not discriminating against anyone, who cares what he thinks or understands. Some people just need to call other people racists to feel good about themselves though, or think themselves superior than others.

          • Brooks D. Simpson December 21, 2013 / 10:46 pm

            And then there are those people who deplore anti-racists. What’s up with that?

          • Lyle Smith December 21, 2013 / 11:25 pm

            I don’t know, but it could be the fact that anti-racists, if I know who you’re talking about, call some people racists who actually aren’t racists. Deplorable no?

            It’s like yelling fire, fire when there is no fire.

          • Brooks D. Simpson December 22, 2013 / 12:47 am

            Except sometimes there is a fire.

            It takes a great deal for me to characterize a person as a racist, although it’s not so hard to demonstrate the presence of racist attitudes. Sometimes the attitudes are simply ignorant. I suspect this is the case in the individual under study. Insensitive? Ill-informed? Ignorant? I think we can suggest that such is the case. But I’d have to see more. In some cases of people I’ve discussed on this blog, I have, and the conclusion’s based on what I’ve seen. Generally, however, I believe that exposing these views is enough, and readers can make up their own minds.

            I see some people who characterize themselves as defenders of Confederate heritage declare that those who criticize them are Marxist, homosexual, and all sorts of names (my favorite remains abolitionist). Do you think these people say those things to make themselves feel better? To feel superior? Or is something else at work?

          • Lyle Smith December 22, 2013 / 9:20 am

            To your last paragraph. Those people do say such things to make themselves feel better or because they think they’re superior, and/or because they’re ignorant or stupid. I’m not in disagreement with you with regards to such folk. If they falsely label someone a Marxist, they falsely label someone a Marxist.

            And yes there can be fire (like with some of the people you like to write about), but too often these days there isn’t any fire and yet college educated people are yelling racism at people they don’t know and don’t understand, and with absolutely no evidence. Just look at all the people, which includes elected officials and government officials, who call or imply the Tea Party is racist or a bunch of terrorists. Is there much, if any, evidence for this? I don’t think so.

            And the Christian duck hunter we’re talking about may be ignorant about a few things, but he’s not going around and saying he’s not ignorant, like the heritage folk you often confront. If only some of the people (you’re definitely not one of these people) calling him names or suspecting him of being a racist, could recognize their own ignorance and/or bigotry.

            To paraphrase Camille Paglia’s recent comments tolerance is a two way street. She knows it, you know, and I know it, but a lot of other seemingly educated and bright people don’t know it. Now this, I think, is a problem.

        • Jennifer December 23, 2013 / 11:50 am

          Pardon me for jumping in, but I’m going to play some devil’s advocate here:

          I’m not so sure that what Phil Robertson said about race should be taken from a “Southern heritage” perspective as a rural vs. city one. To the best of my knowledge he didn’t mention Jim Crow in that interview, and he’s not a stupid man, so there may have been a reason for that.
          In that case he’s bringing up working in cotton fields vs. living in housing projects; the bayou vs. Pruitt-Igoe (and I can see his point — I’m a “hillbilly” and can understand the bias against living in the cities and suburbs…not that either poor whites or poor blacks, well, poor people in general are ever welcome in the nice suburbs or in posh areas of a city).
          It’s a case, as many blacks have mentioned, of “we get to be equal, but we are not allowed close” vs. “we are not equal, but we are allowed close” — neither is perfect, and neither, and if you think about it, is one really better than the other?

          I think that in the matter of race relations and the discussions we have concerning that this is perhaps something that should be considered.

          And then there is the matter of thinking of the South (and Southerners) as one monolithic bloc, or hillbillies as a monolithic bloc as well…

          Just something that might be worthwhile to consider.

          • Brooks D. Simpson December 23, 2013 / 12:11 pm

            I really don’t care about the Duck Dynasty uproar (I don’t watch the show … give me the Kardashians any day). The fact is that if A&E doesn’t like what this fellow says, they can do what they want with him, and the show can go elsewhere. Viewers can make up their own mind as to what they want to watch. I don’t agree with what he said, but who cares? Such is life in America.

            (Although it amuses me that Connie Chastain seems to think I care. Whatever works for her. :))

            My point is that you will find that fans of the Virginia Flaggers, including spokesperson Chastain, have come out loud in defense of the show and the individual … and yet they are not willing to do the same for Flagger leader Susan Hathaway, who faces a similar issue (the possibility of employer retaliation for engaging in protest against the VMFA’s decision not to fly Confederate flags outside the Confederate War Memorial Chapel). Why not show one of their own … the visible face of their movement … the same support they show some TV show?

            Hathaway herself recently thanked Chastain as follows: “Your gift for using words and truth in such a powerful and effective way frees us up to continue the good work that has been started…that of defending the honor and memory of the Confederate soldier.” Yet Chastain has been silent on the threat to Hathaway’s right to protest (thus failing to use that “gift”), and Hathaway has not been visible doing her “good work” where it all started … at the VMFA. Instead, we have video of Tripp Lewis making a fool of himself. Is that how one goes about doing “good work”?

            (As for Hathaway’s sense of reality about Chastain’s effectiveness, well, that’s funny.)

            Susan Hathaway makes a much better face of the Virginia Flaggers than do the other visible Flaggers, from Lewis, Jennings, Isenhour, and Cooper all the way to the whiny Chastain and their best friend, Matthew Heimbach. Yet she can’t show her face at the ground zero of the Flagger movement. That hurts the Flagger cause, and suggests the rather limited notions of honor and courage that characterize the movement. As we leave 2013 and enter 2014, the question for the Flaggers is “What next?” The question for the rest of us will be “Why care?”

  2. Bob Nelson December 21, 2013 / 7:37 am

    FWIW, when Pete, Mike and I did our week in Virginia this September, I saw very few Confederate flags ANYWHERE. I would guess less than fifteen. Some were flying from trucks, others on restaurants like the “Dixie Restaurant” and a few on battlefields. It’s interesting, I think, that the visitor’s centers at Virginia battlefields do not fly the Confederate flag. Seems to me that even Southerners are distancing themselves from the flag and what it has come to represent over the past eighty years.

    • Brooks D. Simpson December 21, 2013 / 10:12 am

      I think most people understand that the Virginia Flaggers are a marginal fringe group that has a knack of drawing attention to itself, only to stumble at that very moment. A well-managed group would have had a far greater constructive impact. We’ll see if the group has any better ideas in 2014, or if it will be looking to put up another flagpole no one will see followed by changing hearts and minds at the VMFA. Same old same old.

  3. Schroeder December 21, 2013 / 7:45 am

    I’m speechless on this one. Hathaway abandoned her own group – and left it to Chastain and the rest of the group to attempt to make some sense of what they were doing – and quite a bit of hate spewed from them. Wonder why she didn’t elect Karen Cooper to do her “heavy hitting”? Hathaway and her cult followers seem to put Cooper front and center in their photos quite frequently – and Cooper lives in Richmond, VA, NOT Florida.

    • BParks December 21, 2013 / 10:27 am

      ‘Abandon’ is a great term to describe this situation. Failure after failure must have got to Susan so she grabbed a life jacket and jumped off the SS Flagtanic before it went down. Seems par for the course for this bunch. They idolize traitors so they become traitors themselves. I see a day when it’s just Connie shipwrecked on an island with a volleyball named NB Forrest. 🙂

      • Brooks D. Simpson December 21, 2013 / 10:34 am

        I really wouldn’t blame Susan about this. She continues to speak elsewhere and made sure she was featured at the flag-raising. But the fact remains that she’s no longer outside the VMFA. She went to Fort Monroe and had people take pictures of her to present a facade of flagging. That elicits a shrug.

        Susan’s made her choice. The Flaggers protesting A&E’s handling of the Duck Dynasty business simply refuse to do the same in standing up for their own leader. Let them explain that.

      • Andy Hall December 21, 2013 / 12:13 pm

        There are other elements here. At the same time as the new project to renovate the Robinson House was announced, there was also looming the second anniversary of the creation of the Virginia Flaggers, and the recognition that their protests/advocacy on their three original signature issues — the VMFA chapel, the MoC Appomattox, and the flag ordinance in Lexington — had achieved exactly nothing. Add in the Rob Walker fiasco — recall that Hathaway not only repeated the story, but embellished it with her own divine-intervention, “hand of God” interpretation — and you’ve got an organization that badly, badly needed to chalk up a W. The I-95 flag project was exactly that, an effort that (for all the sturm-und-drang it attracted in the media) had very little in the way of real legal or administrative obstacles in the way of being accomplished. The I-95 flag project was an easy and inexpensive “win” for them — though it turned out to be more complex than their collective wisdom anticipated. (Tyranny! Thy name is “Land Clearance Permits!”) So going forward, I expect the Virginia Flaggers to spend gradually less effort on situations they’re unlikely to change, and more on projects like highway flags where there’s relatively little of substance to impede their plans. Path of least resistance, etc.

        • Brooks D. Simpson December 21, 2013 / 12:42 pm

          I agree. However, the I-95 flag fiasco even took the shine off that idea. Down the road (pun intended) the response will be “Oh, another one of those flags!” No one will care. The project itself was akin to a major league club scraping out an extra-innings win against a low-level minor league club (or the Astros). Whoop-d-do.

    • Andy Hall December 21, 2013 / 12:15 pm

      I don’t think Cooper lives in Richmond, and neither does Hathaway. You have to admire their dedication to a city they won’t live in.

  4. Jefferson Moon December 21, 2013 / 10:24 am

    Are you ever going to return to the Civil War ?

    • Brooks D. Simpson December 21, 2013 / 10:25 am

      Who says the war is over? After all, we are still debating what it was about.

        • Brooks D. Simpson December 21, 2013 / 10:35 am

          Andrew Johnson also said black people were inferior. We don’t take his word for that.

          • Jefferson Moon December 21, 2013 / 10:43 am

            Linconl wasn’t to keen on equality either.But that doesn’t have anything to do with proclaiming the insurrection at a end.

          • Brooks D. Simpson December 21, 2013 / 10:51 am

            And, in a larger sense, it was more than just about that … but you now have your own opportunity to elevate the discussion by commenting on the very post that your query inspired. Be the change you want to see.

  5. Mark December 21, 2013 / 1:33 pm

    Who shares views with whom only has relevance if other links can be established (referring here to the linked article, and also it’s silly and tiresome bleating about how the CW didn’t solve all problems). We all share views with Hitler. Not his core and notorious views one hopes. But if we’re surprised that one’s politics affects how enthusiasticac or readily one defends controversial statements I’d say that is naive. At the end of the day at least grudging support is all that is required to defend traditional rights and declare ourselves united on this score as Americans. Nothing to see here. If they do it they’re one of us. Let’s not nitpick and find division where it isn’t.

  6. Thelibertylamp December 21, 2013 / 1:49 pm

    I am bewildered over how much attention an obvious publicity stunt by a fake staged reality show can get from the stupid American public.

    This Duck Dynasty show is about a rich family who are staged and set up to look like everyday rednecks and behave like bad cartoon characters of such.

    And of course the public buys into it, they are the Kardashians for the “country folk”.

    The show was starting to lose its luster, so what do they do?

    They set up a controversy to try to get the show free publicity on a national scale.

    All of a sudden he is the great hero of the racist and homophobic populous.
    People who don’t even watch the moronic show are posting his ugly face as their facebook avatars.

    Loons like Connie, who has even written a past article about how the mass killing on the show make her uncomfortable (and I agree 100% with her there!) are making post after post on how that nasty long bearded mug is the face of dying free speech.

    This is like watching the big hand of garbage TV pour hot lava on an ant hill of stupid.

    • Brooks D. Simpson December 21, 2013 / 2:27 pm

      To me the contrived controversy is not interesting … but the Flaggers and their supporters seemed willing to stand up for a distant “reality” TV star and not one of their own. That got my attention. Note none of them are willing to explain why they have chosen to act (and not act) as they have.

      Evidently they think Duck Dynasty is more important than Confederate heritage, which is pretty pathetic.

      • Thelibertylamp December 21, 2013 / 2:49 pm

        Brooks- That is because to them and the rest of the lumpenproletariat, Duck Dynasty IS their southern heritage.
        At least that is what the producers at the A&E channel tell them…and they are buying it!

        So, Brooks, if I ever become a TV producer, all I have to do is hire you as an actor, and then all you have to do is stop shaving, don yourself in hunting camo and make really ignorant racist and homophobic statements and we can get ourselves a big flagger cult following.

        Yes, it’s really THAT easy….

  7. Jennifer December 24, 2013 / 10:22 am

    I have to jump in again.

    I do hope that some people keep in mind that some of us “lumpenproletariats” do also wear camo (and the husband doesn’t shave during the winter), engage in the shooting of all manner of game (I do draw the line at shooting raccoons and possums to eat though) — hopefully it involves “mass killing” because then my freezer is full for the year and maybe some given to friends and family if we’re lucky, drive pick ups…and really don’t have anything in common with this Confederate Heritage stuff.
    Do have a Duck Commander call — one of the original ones; it was Dad’s…very nice call.

    The world’s a big place, and nobody fits into tidy little categories.

    • Thelibertylamp December 24, 2013 / 12:08 pm

      Jennifer hunting for the need for food is one thing, hunting for the joy of killing is mass murder.

      The Roberts family are millionaires, thus their mass killing is not based on need, it is hyped up stunts for the camera.

      Their statement: “if it flies it dies” is one of the most disgusting statements I have ever heard, it actually offends me even more than their ignorant homophobic and racist statements.

      I am one of the few ethical vegans who do understand how some people need to hunt to feed their families, but senseless killing of animals makes me very angry.

      Their senseless disregard for the lives of animals goes hand in hand with their senseless disregard for those of different sexual orientation and other races, or at least this latest publicity stunt was to reach out to that kind of demographic.

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