Weatherford Democrat

Columns

July 10, 2013

West: Is Paula Deen the worst American ever?

By DIANA WEST

As practically everyone knows by now, multimillionaire TV chef Paula Deen was yanked from the pinnacle of free-market success after admitting to a lawyer taking a deposition in a racial and sexual harassment lawsuit (already Orwellian) that she had used what is referred to as “the N-word” some 25 years ago. 

“The N-word”? Here we give the Victorians a run for their word-mincing money. The offending word, of course, is “nigger,” and no matter how ugly it is, it is hardly taboo when a quick search of iTunes pulls up 2,000 entries for sale featuring the term.

According to the deposition, Deen said the word when telling her husband about the man who had stuck a gun to her head during a robbery at the bank where she worked years ago. She also admitted to using the slur at other non-specific times but said, “It’s been a long time,” adding: “That’s just not a word we use as time has gone on” (unless “we” are in the music business).

So, like President Obama on homosexual marriage, Deen claims to have “evolved,” or at least learned some manners. Nonetheless, her admission disqualified Deen from further participation in public life — at least according to the titans of corporate America. En masse, they ended their lucrative business relationships with Deen. Food Network cut ties with her. Then Smithfield Foods. Major retailers — Wal-Mart, Target, Home Depot, J.C. Penney, QVC -- announced they would no longer sell Paula Deen merchandise. Random House also canceled Deen’s forthcoming cookbook even as it was already, in pre-release, the No. 1 top-selling book on Amazon.

Watching Deen’s long fall is almost unbelievable. Judging by these swift, unforgiving actions by corporate America, there is nothing worse than what Deen did (said). That would include, for example, giving aid and comfort to the enemy in North Vietnam while American POWs were being tortured by captors in Hanoi, and while other Americans were still fighting and dying during the Vietnam War. This, of course, is exactly what actress Jane Fonda did before amassing her own exercise-based media empire.

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