'Duck Dynasty's' Phil Robertson on jihadists: 'Convert them or kill them'

'Duck Dynasty's' Phil Robertson on jihadists: 'Convert them or kill them'
Phil Robertson of A&E's "Duck Dynasty" sounded off on Islamic extremists during a Fox News appearance with Sean Hannity. (Karolina Wojtasik / A&E)

In an appearance Tuesday on Fox News' "Hannity," outspoken "Duck Dynasty" star Phil Robertson suggested the United States faced a simple choice in dealing with Islamic extremists:  "Convert them or kill them."

The duck-call inventor was ostensibly there to promote his new book, "UnPHILtered: The Way I See It," but following the news that journalist Steven Sotloff had been executed by the militant group Islamic State, Sean Hannity opened the conversation with the issue of radical Islam.

"If anybody could cut off somebody's head like that, and put children's heads on stakes, isn't that evil in our time and how should we deal with it?" he asked.

After quoting several passages from the Bible (and noting that he never leaves home without it or his "woman"), Robertson offered his solution: "In this case you either have to convert them, which I think would be next to impossible, I'm not giving up on 'em, I'm just saying convert them or kill them. One or the other."

Robertson also compared Islamic State to "street thugs on steroids."

"Most of the wars we've fought, they were not asymmetrical like this one. This one, it's not like a country with a standing army. This is more like worldwide gang warfare, but this gang is well-armed and well-organized. My opinion is we're going to have to deal with this group way more harshly than we have up to this point."

When Hannity suggested the media would pounce on Robertson for his comments, Robertson said that he'd "much rather have a Bible study with all of them and show them the error of their ways and point them to Jesus Christ. ... However, if it's a gunfight and a gunfight alone, if that's what they're looking for, me personally, I am prepared for either one."

Of course, Robertson is no stranger to such strong rhetoric. Late last year he was suspended from his hit A&E reality show after making controversial comments in GQ magazine about gay people and the conditions of African Americans under Jim Crow. After a backlash from fans and protest from his tight-knit family, Robertson was quickly reinstated and "Duck Dynasty" remains a hit -- albeit a diminished one.

Not that Robertson cares much either way. After Hannity said he sees the star, who's been known to give sermons at his local church, not as a controversial figure but as a kind of "minister," Robertson shared some spiritual advice that made it seem as if he was indifferent to his own celebrity.

"Here's a news flash for America: Fame cannot remove your sin and all the money you ever amass cannot raise you from the dead," he said, seizing the opportunity to make one last political point. "And contrary to what Obama has said about Obamacare, Sean, it's not going to keep you out of the ground, dude. And not only that, you're going to spend a lot of money to have it. What I'm giving the American people is eternal healthcare and it's free."

Twitter: @MeredithBlake