The flap over Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson and his comments is not about the gay lifestyle. It is not about whether Blacks in America were “happier” or “more godly” prior to the open struggle for civil rights. It is not about free speech or religious liberties either, though some ignorant commentators would have you believe that it is. It is certainly not about what celebrities line up behind the invectives that Mr. Robertson saw fit to spew during his interview with GQ Magazine.
No, ladies and gentleman, the flap over the Duck Dynasty debacle is simply the latest and most public skirmish in the larger cultural conflict that has been raging in America for decades, if not centuries, and which threatens to once again spill over into open warfare. Phil Robertson is being held up as an icon not because his views are well constructed or profound, but because he has clearly chosen a side. His allegiance garners him support, as is to be expected in a war. There is no room for tourists during such a conflict.
The forces for each side are aligned as neatly as columned Red Coats during the Revolutionary War, and the muskets are loaded, aimed and ready to fire. What is transpiring every night on the channels of cable news and the comment sections of thousands of blogs and websites is nothing short of the beginning of the middlegame of the Second American Civil War. That description may or may not be hyperbolic, depending on how the next few years of the conflict play themselves out. If the situation continues to escalate, it may become all too apparent that the lead-up to violence, the seeds of it, began with a war of words.
On one side are arrayed the forces of Traditional America, that bastion of male WASP hegemony that predates the formation of the nation proper. This is the power structure whose signature has been manifested in the popular mass-mediated culture as Leave it to Beaver, Father Knows Best, The Brady Bunch, and, of late, Duck Dynasty and Fox News. These are the men who have the Lord God as their cornerman, who bemoan the decline of the America of their forefathers, a degeneration for which they lay blame squarely on the sundry forces of the Left, who may as well be Satanists conjuring the Devil Incarnate to pop molly and party with a twerksome Miley Cyrus.
The list of the forces of the Left is extensive. Feminists, Blacks, immigrants of various shades of brown, Europeans, Socialists and European Socialists all make the cut. Obviously the secular humanists who wage their War on Christmas, as well as the gays and their allies who have declared war on traditional marriage are firmly on the other side. Democrats of all shapes and sizes are part of the insurgency, as well as Republicans who cannot past the latest purity test. One could assume that atheists are counted among the Forces of Darkness just as well as climate change advocates; sexual education counselors and high school biology teachers who decline to use textbooks featuring pictures of saddled dinosaurs are likely targets as well.
Anyone who speaks out about the mind-boggling economic inequality in this country is marked as an anti-American communist who hates success and needs to learn to be a real American. The supporters of the flawed and half-hearted attempt at reform that is the Affordable Care Act are participating in the worse American tragedy since slavery. Any discussion of the gun violence rampant in the streets, no matter how many children may die each month, is tantamount to wiping filth on the Constitution. Those who support women’s reproductive rights are rabid baby-killers who want abortion on tap. This is the level of the rhetorical weaponry, the degree of distance separating the warring factions on the field of battle.
The lines of demarcation are becoming increasingly stark in this culture war, with cable networks and pop stars playing the roles of militia companies and men-at-arms. Rush Limbaugh and Rachel Maddow square off against each other nightly like some cavalry officers from a bygone age, the lines of rhetoric spun out during their respective programs serving as field infantry and mortar. Once again this is a contest for the future of America, and once again it will be a bloody and gruesome affair waged on the home soil.
So don’t be distracted by the Duck Dynasty flap, or the row in Utah over same-sex marriage, or anything that comes out of the mouths of people like Phil Robertson, Ted Cruz or Sarah Palin. These represent small-scale confrontations between the marshaled forces, but the larger war still looms over America, like the shadow of dragon that has yet to find its perch. They are but the prelude to war. But make no mistake; the day when the violence and fire finds a place to once again touch down is coming. And there will be no room for neutral parties at that time.
By Mark Clarke