[Now that is a headline I never conceived of having to use.]
Paula Deen, Southern cuisine star of the Food Network, has been fired because of the public uproar after she admitted in a law suit deposition that she had, on occasion and in the past, used the term “nigger” and tolerated racist jokes. This outburst of honesty (she was under oath at the time) apparently justifies social network hatred being directed her way in waves, and Jake Tapper, on CNN (WHY do I keep watching CNN?) conducting an inquisition this afternoon in which he asked third parties whether formerly using “the N-word” means Deen is a racist.
I don’t give two hoots about Paula Deen or her career. I watch the Food Network about as often as I watch MSNBC or YES. She has always seemed more than a little bit silly and dim to me, and the reasons for her popularity elude me. But if there are many Americans who grew up in the South when Deen did who never used “nigger” and who never laughed at a racist joke, I’ll be shocked. That isn’t a “everybody does it” excuse. That is a “stop condemning people who reflected their narrow culture until they gained some perspective and wisdom” explanation. My father grew up in Kentucky in the 20’s and 30’s. Do I think he would have answered a deposition the same way Deen did? I sure do, and if one percent of those attacking Deen now possess sufficient integrity, honesty and essential fairness to be worthy of licking my Dad’s combat boots, I’ll be even more shocked. Dad is hardly the only admirable individual who spoke this way in his younger years. During his successful campaign for the U.S. Senate in Virginia, former Democratic Senator and war hero (and my classmate) Jim Webb bravely admitted that he had also used “nigger” when he was younger, and that crucifying his Republican opponent, George Allen, for similar, long-past indiscretions was unfair. He was right about Allen, and his defense applies to Deen as well.
Did Deen ever discriminate against someone because of race? Use racial epithets to insult them? Engage in any harmful conduct whatsoever, and no, I really don’t care to debate whether laughing at a guilty sexist, racist, or ethnic joke with friends not in spite of its awfulness but because of it increases tolerance of hate in the world. It doesn’t. If she was admitting to careless and insensitive words at a different time and place without any of those added, meaningful transgressions, then the fury being directed at her now is beyond cruel and unfair. It is a flashing neon orange Golden Rule violation. Who would think it was fair to be punished for admitting that they thought and uttered politically incorrect words in their past? Who believes their career should be ended because of what they might have laughed at years ago, or even yesterday?
What is being done to Deen is cultural bullying of the most despicable kind, by the elitist and intolerant race-grievance bullies who apparently hang out on the cable cooking shows.
Was it fair for the Food Network to fire Deen? I can’t fault the decision. If its management has reason to believe that the same crowd that is calling Deen a racist for what she said in the past will now regard the network as a Ku Klux Klan outpost with yummy sauces if Deen stays around, then it is just making a responsible business decision. It may think what is happening to Deen is unfair, but once she becomes radioactive, the Food Network can’t afford to be loyal. It’s duty is to its audience, jerks though they may be, and the stockholders.
Would this have happened five years ago? I can’t think of a similar incident, but I hope so. I hope so, because if five years of what was laughably once sold as “post racial presidency” has culminated in creating a culture of race-based thought-crime, it is one of the worst bait-and-switches ever perpetrated on America, and one of the ugliest.
Facts: NY Times
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