Opinion: Columnists

The 'new McCarthyism' snags 'Duck Dynasty' star

Opinion,Gregory Kane,Columnists,Freedom of Speech,Duck Dynasty,Gay rights,Political Correctness

I really should have no dog in this fight, not even a Chihuahua.

Reality television isn’t my thing. I watch nary a so-called “reality TV show.” And until some network honcho somewhere decides to air reruns of “Candid Camera” — the original reality TV show that no reality TV show has topped — I won’t.

So I’m not a fan of either “Duck Dynasty” or Phil Robertson, one of the stars of the show. And it’s certainly no skin off my nose that A&E suspended Robertson after comments he made about gays and lesbians to GQ magazine.

But it turns out I do have a dog in this fight, after all. Any time any person, anywhere, for any reason, is a victim of what I call “the new McCarthyism,” then I have a dog in that fight.

And it’s not because I agree with Robertson’s comments, either about blacks or gays, because I don’t. Robertson puts gays and lesbians at the top of his sinners list. Even if I believed homosexuality were a sin, there would be so many sinners above gays and lesbians that they might as well not even be on the list.

And Robertson’s sincere belief that he saw no blacks mistreated in, of all places, Louisiana, during America’s Jim Crow era leaves me wondering if the man is spending way too much time in an alternate universe of his own creation.

“I never, with my eyes,” Robertson told GQ, “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. We’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person say, ‘I’ll 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.”

About the last thing I need at this point in my life is Robertson — or anyone else, for that matter — conjuring up images of singing, happy, contented darkies who meekly accepted Jim Crow and all its humiliations.

That does not — I repeat, not — mean that I think that Robertson should get the boot from whatever job he has. A&E suspending Robertson won’t change his views one iota. And his suspension helps not one black person — and not one gay or lesbian — anywhere in the country.

I’m against, in principle, the new McCarthyism, which is the notion that people who don’t conform to the current political worldview should be forever consigned to the unemployment lines.

I felt the same way when the late Al Campanis was fired from his job as an executive for the Los Angeles Dodgers back in 1987. Campanis’ sin, if you recall, was stating his sincerely held — if erroneous — belief that blacks didn’t have what it takes to succeed in the managerial side of Major League Baseball.

Later, Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder got canned from his on-air job at CBS for giving us his ill-informed take on eugenics and why black athletes are so “superior.” I thought Snyder’s firing was wrong as well.

Now we have, once again, the new McCarthyism rearing its ugly head because someone said something that offends gays and lesbians. That happened in Maryland — under Republican Gov. Bob Ehrlich’s watch, no less — when a public official was canned for saying that as a Roman Catholic, homosexuality for him, was a sin.

The new McCarthyism reared its head yet again when I tried to write a column defending that public official. My editor wasn’t exactly panic-stricken, but he was as close to the panic-stricken line one can get without crossing it.

He absolutely freaked, had me make all sorts of changes to the column and then, literally at the end of the day, killed the column.

How many other newspaper columns and stories haven’t seen the light of day because of “the new McCarthyism”?

GREGORY KANE, a Washington Examiner columnist, is a Pulitzer Prize-nominated news and opinion journalist who has covered people and politics from Baltimore to the Sudan.

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