Wednesday, April 23, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

In ‘Duck Dynasty’ hometown, local loyalty prevails

Duck Dynasty-Hometown

Phil Robertson, the patriarch of the "Duck Dynasty" TV series, center, leaves the White's Ferry Road Church of Christ in West Monroe, La. on Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013. Robertson was suspended last week for disparaging comments he made to GQ magazine about gay people. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)

By
December 24, 2013 | Leave Comment

WEST MONROE, La. — “Faith. Family. Ducks.” It’s the unofficial motto for the family featured in the TV reality show Duck Dynasty and that homespun philosophy permeates nearly everything in this small north Louisiana town.

It’s perhaps most on display at the White’s Ferry Road Church of Christ in West Monroe, where the Robertson family prays and preaches most Sunday mornings.

The family – including patriarch Phil Robertson, who ignited a controversy last week when he told a magazine reporter that gays are sinners and African-Americans were happy under Jim Crow laws – were in a front pew this past Sunday. And standing by beliefs they say are deeply rooted in their reading of the Bible.

The rest of the flock, decked out in Duck Dynasty hats and bandannas, stood by the family and the sentiments Phil Robertson expressed.

Alan, Robertson’s eldest son, helped deliver a Christmas-themed sermon. He started off by referring to last week’s controversy.

“Hope your week went well,” he dead-panned. “Ours was kinda’ slow.”

He was referring, of course, to Phil’s forced hiatus: TV network A&E suspended Phil last week after remarks about blacks and gays caused a public uproar.

But the controversy barely resonated above the choir at White’s Ferry Road Church, where some people wore T-shirts that said “I support Phil Robertson.” Son Willie – the CEO of the multimillion dollar Duck Commander duck call and decoy enterprise that inspired reality show producers to give the family a show – put on camouflage wader overalls and baptized three people, including one man with cancer.

“Who’s going to be the lord of your life?” he asked, before dipping the man back into the baptismal pool at the front of the church.

To the people of West Monroe, this is the Robertson family: honest, family-focused and filled with the love of God and Jesus. It’s the family that brought the spotlight to West Monroe, population 13,000, and in doing so put in sharp relief the cultural, political and religious differences that define – and often divide – America.

Folks here don’t care that Phil Robertson told a GQ reporter that gays are sinners who are going to hell. Or that as a youth he picked cotton with African-Americans and never saw “the mistreatment of any black person. Not once.”

They do care that A&E suspended Phil. The move, they say, was unfair and an affront to viewers, to the Robertsons and to Christians everywhere.

“The program and his comments take a snapshot and it doesn’t represent the totality of what the guy is all about,” said Richard Laban, the owner of Redneck Roots, a downtown West Monroe store that sells some ‘Duck Dynasty’ T-shirts and souvenirs.

“A&E reacted entirely too quickly,” added Laban. “They really treated Phil as if he was a terrorist.”

With its lakes and rolling hills and pine forests, West Monroe in northern Louisiana is Duck Country USA, a place where Robertson and his four sons built an empire on duck call devices and decoys before becoming wildly popular TV stars.

Politicians have taken a stand on the controversy – Sarah Palin posted a picture on her Facebook page of her with the reality show clan with the message, “Free Speech is an endangered species.” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal also lamented the suspension.

Even State Rep. Marcus Hunter – a Democrat and black man who represents West Monroe – issued a statement saying that “the faith and family structure exhibited by the Robertsons on the hit A&E show is part of the allure which makes it so special.”

Hunter did say he would like to “enlighten” Robertson about the “challenges and triumphs of black people during and after Jim Crow.”

To be sure, not everyone here agrees with the Robertsons.

John Denison, a former Monroe TV personality who is gay and the head of Forum for Equality, a group that advocates for the equality of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights, said he’s appalled by Robertson’s remarks.

“I want Phil Robertson and the world to know that what he said hurt me and many people here in our state,” said Denison, who wrote an open letter to Robertson, asking him to dinner to discuss “not what separates us but what brings us together.”

Denison said Robertson’s beliefs do not resonate with everyone in Louisiana.

“I’m a Christian,” said Denison. “No one wants to talk about my Christ, they only want to talk about their brand.”

Rev. Welton Gaddy, who preaches at the Northminster Baptist Church in Monroe and is the president of a national group called the Interfaith Alliance, said it saddens him to think that people would assume all Louisiana residents think the same as Robertson about gays and African Americans.

“There are some of us who are working hard every day for justice for everybody in this nation, for equality for everybody in this nation, and we don’t appreciate people tearing that down,” Gaddy said. “If Robertson wants to do that as an entertainer, go to it. But to do that in the name of religion crosses the line.”

But like many people across America who enjoy the show, Robertson’s fans here in West Monroe see something genuine about the reality TV family and believe he speaks his brand of the truth. Even though it’s a program about a group of wealthy business owners who hunt and fish, people say it accurately reflects life here, as well as its Christian and American foundations.

When outsiders in New York or Hollywood make fun of the show – or worse, criticize Robertson for his beliefs – it’s like part of the country is criticizing the essence of West Monroe. To the people here, it’s just proof that a segment of America doesn’t understand the rural, conservative, Christian part of this country.

They – the Northerners, the liberals, the non-Christians – don’t get us, people here think. Ironically, those Northerners are the ones who put West Monroe on the map in the first place by producing Duck Dynasty for TV.

Marilyn Lovett of West Monroe shrugs off the criticism. The “ducks,” as she calls them, reflect her and her people.

“Wholesome values,” she said. “The fact that they pray after every dadgum meal. I just think it’s wonderful. I wish there was more people like them.”

When asked about what people elsewhere in America thought when they read Robertson’s comments in GQ, she shrugged.

“I don’t really care,” she said. “They sure as hell don’t care about what we think down here.”

Duck Dynasty, which is one of the most-watched reality shows of all time, is naturally the area’s biggest tourist draw. The Robertsons not only own a large gift store and warehouse where they sell everything from branded body wash to “Bearded Blend” coffee to a camouflage recliner, but they have opened Willie’s Duck Diner and a women’s boutique called Duck and Dressing.

There are self-guided tour maps, so fans can visit places seen on the show – the church, hardware store and doughnut shop are on the tour — and people say that West Monroe, and the Robertsons, are popular because it’s all a throwback to small-town America.

“I’ve known Phil for 30 years,” said Mike Walsworth, the owner of the Gingerbread Shop, an antique and gift shop. “He hasn’t changed for 30 years.”

In the store’s window, there’s a miniature holiday village and model train in the window.

The tiny drive-in theater’s movie marquee shows “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and, indeed, West Monroe could perhaps be mistaken for a smaller Bedford Falls — if reality hadn’t come to town.

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

 
Delta barriers no longer needed

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1

 
Supervisors voice concern on state Delta plans

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Rotarians talk about running clinic to help Haitians

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Dental clinic coming Friday, Saturday

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A3, 4 Comments

 
Fairfield-Suisun Sewer District eyes new auditor

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A4

 
County honors Purple Heart recipients

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A6

 
Solano recognizes 1,300-strong volunteer corps

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A6

 
Kids fishing derby in Fairfield is part of Earth Day

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A7

 
Garamendi to host open house at Fairfield office

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A7

 
Highway 12 night work scheduled in Delta

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A7

 
County approves Icon agreements

By Barry Eberling | From Page: B9

 
Ceremony set to break ground for Suisun City Walmart

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B9, 19 Comments | Gallery

Dutch Bros. opening with free drinks

By Barry Eberling | From Page: B9, 7 Comments

 
Museum readies to host Sallie Fox Day in Vacaville

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

Golf tournament to raise funds for children

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

 
Mustangs and More event moved back to October

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A10

Rotary club to host clay shooting derby

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A11

 
Ghost Walk returns to Suisun City

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A11

Penalty decision looms in Winters homicide case

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A11

 
NAMI talk on reducing mental health stigma

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A11

 
.

US / World

In Internet TV case, justices show concern

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Michigan affirmative ban is OK, Supreme Court says

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

GOP candidate releases education policy overview

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

 
Ukraine orders new ‘anti-terror’ operation

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

In Ukraine’s east, mayor held hostage by insurgent

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
Acts of bravery emerge from pilloried ship crew

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

‘Piles and piles’ of bodies in S. Sudan slaughter

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
FedEx sued over deadly California bus crash

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

Obama views mudslide scene, mourns with survivors

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
Analysis: Putin likely to ignore West on Ukraine

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

Biden: Russia must ‘stop talking and start acting’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
Most Sherpas decide to leave Everest for season

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

Grieving borrowers told to repay student loan

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
Jet stowaway at hospital; security issues linger

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

SKorea ferry toll hits 146 as search gets tougher

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
IRS awards bonuses to 1,100 who owe back taxes

By The Associated Press | From Page: A15, 3 Comments

.

Opinion

 
Editorial cartoons for April 23, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A13

 

Groundwater becomes next big California fight

By Thomas Elias | From Page: A13

 
Fairfield’s main problem is the mayor

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A13, 4 Comments

.

Living

Solving and resolving life’s problems

By Barton Goldsmith | From Page: A2

 
Today in History for April 23, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Community Calendar: April 23, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
 
A healthy take on the very not healthy Scotch egg

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Horoscopes for April 23, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B7

 
How can I get my 12-year-old grandson to sleep in his own bed?

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B7

.

Entertainment

DeGeneres making design series for HGTV

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Discovery to chronicle Everest avalanche

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Bieber seeks delay in Fla. DUI trial

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Bon Jovi helps open low-income housing in Philly

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

 
.

Sports

SCC softball ends regular season with 29 straight wins

By Brian Arnold | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
5 Fairfield runners finish Boston Marathon

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

Sharks beat Kings 4-3 in OT, take 3-0 series lead

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Prep swimming update: Postseason looms on horizon

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Warriors announce new plans for SF arena

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Kentucky freshman Julius Randle to enter NBA draft

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

AP Source: N.Y. Giants’ Hill facing 3rd suspension

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Warriors’ Curry eager to erase Game 2 nightmare

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Spurs’ Popovich wins NBA Coach of the Year

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Raiders begin offseason workouts

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

David Moyes out as Manchester United manager

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Seahawks acquire QB Terrelle Pryor

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

NFL playoff game to air on ESPN for 1st time

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
MLB suspends 4 after Brewers-Pirates brawl

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Djokovic: Wrist better, will try to play in Madrid

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Armstrong coach Bruyneel banned for 10 years

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Pujols’ 500th HR helps Angels beat Nationals 7-2

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Rangers rally for two runs in ninth to beat A’s

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Beverly Hanson, forgotten pioneer in women’s golf

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Tech boom presents new wrinkles for Wrigley Field

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

NBA Playoffs: Raptors even series with Nets

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
.

Business

Valeant, Ackman make $45.6B Allergan bid

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
Novartis reshapes business with GSK, Lilly deals

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

McDonald’s 1Q profit slips as US sales decline

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
AT&T had strong 1Q on wireless installment plans

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

.

Obituaries

Norma O’Regan

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Robert James Carty Sr.

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Richard P. Horn

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Dondi Martin

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Anne Irene Elizabeth Fulgoni

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 3 Comments

 
Kyong Hee Maxwell

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Wizard Of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7