Phil Robertson’s Victory Over the Secular Theocracy
Editorial Note: This is the second installment in a two-part series on Duck Dynasty and what it reveals regarding America’s “secular theocracy,” from the inimitable David Theroux, President and CEO of the Independent Institute. If you missed it, read the first part here.
Duck Dynasty and the Secular Theocracy, Part II
By David J. Theroux
Phil Robertson himself is certainly no lightweight. The Los Angeles Times has called him“a man of legendary individuality, who once passed up an opportunity to sign with the NFL because it might interfere with his hunting.” One of seven children raised in a log cabin in northern Louisiana with no electricity, bathtub, or toilet, Robertson grew up in a poor family living off garden fruits and vegetables; deer, squirrels, fish, and other animals that they hunted and fished; and the pigs, chickens, and cattle that they raised. Nevertheless, in high school he became All-State in football, baseball, and track and received a football scholarship to Louisiana Tech University. At Tech, later football legend Terry Bradshaw was at the time benched as second-string to Robertson, who was star quarterback. And although Robertson chose to quit football in college for the freedom to hunt during duck season, he went on to receive a master’s degree in education, taught school, and became a commercial fisherman. In 1972, the young enterprising Robertson patented his first duck call and created the Duck Commander Company, which has been leveraged into today’s vast fortune and cultural phenomenon that includes Duck Dynasty. His autobiography Happy, Happy, Happy became a number one New York Times bestseller, and his new book for 2014, Phil-osophy, will share his philosophy of life, as he outlined in an interview before the release of his autobiography:
My message is to get human beings to love God, love their neighbor and for the life of me I just don’t see the downside of human beings not being so mean to one another and actually care for one another and not steal from one another and not murder each other for their tennis shoes. That’s the message I have. . . . America and the world, we have a love problem. I’m trying to get people aware of that. A loving person is not going to pick up a spear or a knife because when the Ten Commandments were written it was before guns, and God was saying, “Look, quit murdering each other.” Now I’m just trying to say, “Folks, let’s try to love one another no matter what the color of their skin.”
Indeed, Robertson and the family have repeatedly written, spoken, and preached against racism, and Phil’s adopted grandson Will is biracial.
While in the air force, I was stationed in northern Louisiana and took courses at Tech at the same time Robertson was there. Although a “damn Yankee,” I not only immersed myself in southern living, including good manners, faith-based communities, food, hunting and fishing, family, and friends, but ended up marrying as my first wife a young woman from Shreveport. I learned firsthand to understand and appreciate many core values that northern bigotry had blinded me to. As Magery’s GQ article notes, “The ecology here has been so perfectly manipulated that it feels as if two giant hands reached down from the sky and molded the land itself, an effect that I’m sure would please Phil. . . . [I]t’s hard not to gaze upon his cultivations and wonder if you’ve gotten life all wrong. This is life as summer camp. It’s gorgeous, in a way that alters you on an elemental level. I feel it when I breathe the air. I feel it when I survey the enormity of the space around me.”