I don’t know if Paula Deen is a bigot; I don’t know what racial or ethnic animus she holds in her heart. But whatever the truth may be, perception is everything and Paula Deen, queen of Southern cuisine, is cooked.
Today the Food Network ditched her in response to her recent court deposition acknowledging she had used a racial slur “a very long time” ago. She also released an apology video, literally begging for forgiveness for her ‘inappropriate, hurtful language.”
The grievance vultures have wasted no time pouncing on the fresh carrion: Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow/PUSH Coalition is hoping to shake down her food empire, releasing a statement today that they “will determine whether the allegations are credible, and if so, do they constitute a widespread pattern or practice of illegal exclusion. It may also be relevant to determine whether the company has any state or federal contracts…”
Jackson’s response is no surprise. And the issue isn’t whether or not the food doyenne deserves the criticism—after all, she’s a public figure, and all’s fair in fame and fortune. But there’s another storyline here, one that stinks in its hypocritical selectivity, driven by cloistered elitism and fear of professional retribution.
Responding to Deen’s firing, the hosts on the Fox News program, “The Five,” not only agreed Paula needed to be dumped, they piled on: Dana Perino mocked her “Tammy Faye Baker make-up” calling it the “most insincere apology I’ve seen.” Eric Bolling supported the Food Network’s decision “to make sure that their viewers aren’t offended.” Greg Gutfeld called her an “oompa loompa.”
You see, the outrage from the same media so exercised about this is utterly lacking for less politically powerful groups like Native Americans. You don’t hear tut-tutting about the football team name “Washington Redskins,”—a slur every bit as offensive to Natives as the “N” word is to blacks. You don’t see Johnny Depp being publicly chastised for his buffoonish portrayal of Tonto—festooned with a live crow headdress—in the upcoming “Lone Ranger” film. And of course, there’s Senator “Fauxcahontas” Elizabeth Warren who, fraudulently posing as a Cherokee throughout her career, was rewarded by the good liberal voters of Massachusetts).
Bigotry should not conditionally acceptable. But in the world of both liberal and conservative media elites, it is.
Why is it okay for Depp and the Beltway’s favorite football team to perpetuate demeaning stereotypes? How can “The Five’s” Bob Beckel racially insult Chinese people and call Jews “diamond merchants” and have the audacity to call for Deen’s head on a platter?
Moreover, it was only two years ago that the knives were drawn on Eric Bolling for saying President Obama had a “hoodlum in the hizzouse.” He apologized; he kept his job. As a result of Beckel’s and Bolling’s past sins, a cynic might say both are trying extra hard to inoculate themselves from emitting even a whiff of racial insensitivity.
Well, call me a cynic. A decent person should reject hateful rhetoric targeting a person’s ethnicity, faith, age, sexual preference, social class, educational attainment—for any reason. When outrage becomes restricted to protecting those who hold power, however, it loses all moral authority.
No one is going to defend Paula Deen’s epithets, nor should they. How refreshing it would be to see the chattering class show similar indignation for others tarred by ugly stereotypes. I’m not holding my breath…
“The Five” debates the Paula Deen controversy:
Video courtesy of RightSightings