Different opinions about Phil Roberston’s comments in GQ are all over the place (pun intended). His one about how happy black Louisianians used to be during the Jim Crow era that followed the Civil War strikes me as illustrative of the type of rhetoric I wrote about in the preface to my latest book: Black Ranching Frontiers (Andrew Sluyter, Yale Univ. Press, 2012, ix-x).
Such revisionism counters characterizations of blacks in American history that emerged during slavery and have lasted until today, for example, the political rhetoric that asserts how much better life was for African Americans before the Civil War than now, black nuclear families supposedly living passively under the wise tutelage of beneficent masters.
Or, as Charles Blow, another Louisianian, put it in the NY Times today (which prompted this addition the day after I originally posted this yesterday).
Robertson’s comments conjure the insidious mythology of historical Southern fiction, that of contented slave and benevolent master, of the oppressed and the oppressors gleefully abiding the oppression, happily accepting their wildly variant social stations. This mythology posits that there were two waves of ruination for Southern culture, the Civil War and the civil rights movement, that made blacks get upset and things go downhill.
Read more via ‘Duck Dynasty’ and Quackery – NYTimes.com.
Below is what Robertson said, copied from the blog of another Louisiana prof., Bob Mann.
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.
Read more about what Mann has to say on the controversy via Something Like the Truth | Jindal, Duck Dynasty and the Homosexual-Bestiality Complex.