There is an old song, “Fools Rush In (Where Angels Fear To Tread).” I feel as if I am about to be a fool by writing the following article.
Paula Deen admitted under oath recently that she used a word that is politically incorrect (it is also a racial slur, demeaning, and should never be used). However, she is under attack because the word is considered the ultimate sin in political correctness. I am not going to mention that the word is used in rap music and movies all the time and no one seems to care. But Paula stepped on the toes of political correctness. As a result of admitting to the use of this word (and possibly for telling inappropriate jokes at one of her businesses), the Paula Deen empire is collapsing. Walmart, Target, and the Food Channel are cutting their ties with her. She is no longer considered a “good person,” something our society seems to think is very important. I haven’t heard anyone comment (it may have happened, but I haven’t heard it) on how many people who were offended by her use of a politically incorrect word will lose their jobs as a result of what is happening. How many restaurant workers will be laid off because of reduced business? How many television production people will be out of work because her show is no longer being produced? What will be the impact on commerce in the State of Georgia. I’m not being funny–I suspect her enterprises paid serious taxes to the State of Georgia in various forms.
With all that on the table, I want to bring you back to a previous time in America. America has been, at various times in its history, a racist nation. I believe we are doing better now, but I also believe what is happening to Paula Deen is not helpful to the country.
PBS posted an article about Anti-Semitism in the 1930’s on their website which states:
By 1939, the anti-Semites had two causes: keeping America out of the European war, and keeping European Jews out of America. And they had two famous men in their ranks. Henry Ford was a true rags-to-riches hero. He was also an anti-Semite, who railed incessantly against “the Jewish plan to control the world” in his newspaper, the Dearborn Independent (circulation allegedly 700,000), which Ford dealerships distributed free of charge. A collection of Ford’s ghostwritten columns was published as The International Jew: The World’s Foremost Problem — a best-seller in Germany.
The other famous American was Charles Lindbergh, who may have been an anti-Semite, but most certainly claimed publicly that Jews were trying, partly through their ownership of the media, to draw America into the war. Lindbergh represented America First, the powerful isolationist organization that, in fact, ejected Henry Ford for his anti-Semitic views. (See The Isolationist Movement.)
Henry Ford was also know to be distrustful of black people–that is why he hired immigrants from the Middle East to work in his manufacturing plants in the mid-West. That immigration during the early days of Ford Motor Company is one reason for the large concentration of Muslims in Michigan. I am sorry that Henry Ford was a racist, but I still love my Ford Mustang!
So what is the point? Racism and racists will always be with us–whether they are rightfully or wrongfully charged with racism. I believe that in most ways we are a more integrated society than we were fifty years ago, but I also believe that there are people among us whose livelihood depends on keeping the illusion of racism alive. Paula Deen needs to be allowed to continue her successful business ways without being condemned for reflecting the views of the time and place where she was raised. There is a true double standard here–the word she used is used routinely in rap music and movies. The politically correct police need to take a deep breath and get over themselves.