When Judson Phillips of Tea Party Nation held his ‘convention’ in February of 2010 at the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, Tennessee, Sarah Palin was his obvious choice for headliner. Still riding on her turn as John McCain’s disastrous “game changer” in the 2008 presidential race, she was wildly popular with both libertarians and right wing culture warriors, a rare point of agreement between the two major strains of conservative activism in teapublican organizing.
Her speech was incoherent, but they ate it up, and when Sarah sat with Phillips afterwards for a televangelist-style interview her dumb ignorance was on full display. “I don’t think he’s ever watched C-SPAN in his young life,” she said of her grown son with a grin. The crowd cheered. Next to me, a 70-something grandmother sounded her delight and clapped. They were all very happy that her son was serving in a war about which he knew nothing.
Sarah Palin was clearly a blithering idiot, a woman who actually took pride in her children being as ignorant as she was. And it was exactly what that crowd loved about her.
Fast-forward to the present day. Sarah may be less popular than she was back then, but she still has fans, especially in the cast and viewer demographic of Duck Dynasty. As you can see in the above video, ‘Duck Commander’ Phil Robertson had a Labor Day cookout with the half-baked Alaskan to mumble some twee nonsense about America returning to God, at which point Sarah admitted what we have known about her for years:
And for simple-minded people like me, that’s what I crave. That’s what I want to know, that’s what I’m supposed to know. That’s the majority of people. It’s simple. (Emphasis mine)
(You can see more of this inane fun at The Daily Banter, where Bob Cesca has watched the whole thing so you don’t have to.)
Seldom has the Orwellian slogan “ignorance is strength” been restated with such clarity of conviction and dissonant honesty. As the patriarch of television’s number one family of fake rednecks, Robertson has become almost as famous for his duck calls as he is for comparing homosexuality to bestiality, drunkenness, and theft while encouraging straight men to marry teenage girls. In short, Robertson is the perfect minister of moral virtue to receive Sarah’s verbal offering.
Tying all of this together, of course, is the fact that Phillips’s organization was identified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2011. Bigotry and willful ignorance go hand in hand; in another clip from the segment, Robertson seems to have imparted some kind of pseudoscientific racialist babble that A&E has edited out for fear of giving away this game. It’s at the 0:12 mark below, and it speaks to just how awful these people would look to us if the ‘liberal’ media they claim to despise wasn’t scrubbing and editing their words to keep the sheen on their public images. Ignorance is ugly, and so are they.