Lessons from Paula Deen, Chief Justice Roberts, and Harold Meyerson
This whole Paula Deen media feeding frenzy really irks me. I don’t condone what she said, or how she has handled it, and I especially don’t condone the stupidity of the people who are so outraged by it. If we go back through history we can’t help but find things that happened or language that was used at the time that is not accepted now.
Should we go back and scrub history to get rid of any record of slavery in the U.S., or the Nazi holocaust, or any war we every fought? Our best teacher is our past mistakes. If we go back and clean up our history books of events or language that we have since moved on from, how will generations to come after us know of the consequences? Won’t that make them more likely to repeat many of those mistakes?
When Paula Deen grew up in the south the “N-word” was not considered as offensive or as much of a racial slur as it is today. Hypothetically speaking, let’s say in 30 years the word Latino is deemed to be just as offensive to Hispanics. What will happen to all the politicians and journalists who are on record the last few weeks uttering the “L-word” when talking about the amnesty bill being batted around Washington? Will they lose their jobs, their companies, their book sales?
Paula Deen came forward and told the truth about something that was ingrained in the culture in which she was raised. Instead of vilifying her we should be thanking her for her honesty and for reminding us of a time when things weren’t as good for all Americans as they are now. We still have work to do and we still have wounds to heal, but we don’t have separate water fountains, bathrooms, or restaurants. Every legal citizen has the right to vote which wasn’t always the case.
This week the Supreme Court struck down portions of the voting rights act passed during the 1960’s as part of the civil rights movement declaring that you cannot use abuses that date back a half a century, but have long since disappeared, to justify indefinite federal discrimination against the American South. Some applauded the move while others, just as in Paula Deen’s admission, were so outraged they let their true bigotry shine through while ignoring facts.
Consider Washington Post columnist Harold Meyerson who wrote the South is the home of the “…virulent racism of the white Southern establishment. Its anti-unionism was rooted in more than right-wing antipathy toward worker rights; it was also underpinned by fear that industrial unions would be racially integrated and become vehicles for African American power, as they were in the North. Today, Jim Crow laws are long gone, but the Southern suppression of worker rights and incomes…” and he drones on and on with speech direct from his days from the Democratic Socialist Organizing Party.
In his opinion Chief Justice Roberts noted that black voter turnout in 2012 was higher in Mississippi than in Massachusetts. The truth is people like Paula Deen and Chief Justice Roberts are looking forward and trying to tear down walls that hold us back while small minded people such as Harold Meyerson make their living dredging up sins of the past.
In Meyerson’s editorial he suggested “…if the federal government wants to build a fence that keeps the United States safe from the dangers of lower wages and poverty and their attendant ills — and the all-round fruitcakery of the right-wing white South — it should build that fence from Norfolk to Dallas. There’s nothing wrong with a fence, so long as you put it in the right place.” Perhaps Mr. Meyerson should forego his native California tofu for a big bowl of shrimp and grits with a tall glass of sweet tea and a little Southern hospitality. That is if he can get over his fence.