The moment Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson said to Sean Hannity, that, with regard to ISIS, you have to “either convert them or kill them,” it was obvious that others would pounce on those words and claim that he was no better than ISIS.
After all, haven’t these murderous terrorists done this very thing to the Christians and Yazidis, offering them conversion or death? How is Robertson any better?
A headline in the UK’s Daily Mail asked, “Isn’t it ironic, Phil Robertson? Duck Dynasty star’s stance on ISIS is ‘convert them or kill them’ as terror group wages bloody religious war across Middle East.”
A caption under the video of his conversation with Hannity was even more direct: “‘Convert them or kill them’: Phil Robertson takes radical stance on radical Islam but fails to acknowledge his solution sounds like the religious war being waged by ISIS.”
Hannity himself recognized that Robertson’s words could be controversial, beginning to inject the words, “That’s going—” before the Duck Dynasty patriarch continued. Later, Hannity said, “I know they’re going to be people that are always looking to jump on you and say, ‘Convert them or kill them.’ And they’re going to say, ‘There goes Phil Robertson again.’ I know the media. I know they how act.”
But was Robertson’s stance really comparable to that of the radical Islamic terrorists? Absolutely not, although he could have found a better way to express himself (in which case, though, he would hardly have been speaking and acting like Phil Robertson!).
To put his remarks in proper context, Robertson began by quoting a number of scriptures, including the highly appropriate verse from Proverbs 8: “All who hate me [speaking of divine wisdom personified] love death,” his point being that these are evil people bent on destruction and murder.
Hannity then stated, “I think they are at war with us,” and that’s what Robertson was responding to. How do you deal with people like this?
Robertson described the terrorists as “street thugs on steroids,” calling the conflict, “worldwide gang warfare, but this gang is well-armed and well-organized,” suggesting that “we’re going to have to deal with this group way more harshly than we have up to this point,” which is actually the sentiment of many respected leaders, not to mention much of the American populace.
Michael Brown holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University. He is the author of 25 books, includingLine of Fire. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.
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