Paula Deen used the N-word. So did Abraham Lincoln.
Paula Deen used the N-word. So did Abraham Lincoln. Judge people on their actions, not words.
Project Implicit found that “three-quarters of whites have an implicit pro-white/anti-black bias,” and even one of the professors involved in that project harbors that bias. Do the math: when three-quarters of whites are racially biased, that means more than a few liberals are, too. For additional evidence of that bias, consider the racial polarization in the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case: blacks overwhelmingly say the shooting was not justified (I agree, and did a good job proving it, IMHO), while whites overwhelmingly ally with Zimmerman. According to Rasmussen Reports (July 2013), more Americans view blacks as racist than whites or Hispanics.
Bias and racism are prevalent, and they are not—as some liberals assert for political reasons—problems primarily affecting whites; they affect most people to some degree. The PC police should get off their high horse and realize their efforts merely incentivize people to hide bias, not eradicate it, but sweeping this problem under the rug isn't solving it. The surprisingly easy solution isn't mentioned by the Left because they're either ignorant of research documenting its effectiveness or they prefer that this problem fester so they can score political points when their opponents transgress PC standards—conveniently overlooking PC gaffes made by liberals, including our Harvard-educated President.
Shirley Sherrod made remarkable strides in overcoming racism that she once readily admitted. For that, she was almost turned into a saint, yet Deen was massacred without mercy, thus manifesting a double standard of racial forgiveness. Double standards inevitably create resentment, and resentment fuels the racial fire, so the best way to bury the hatchet is to treat everyone equally—not instantly letting them off the hook if they have some explaining to do.
Deen has a lot of explaining to do beyond use of the N-word, but so does Sherrod. While she deserves great credit for her transformation, it may not be complete, and based on what she said, her prior racial animosity may have been replaced by class and political hostility. Furthermore, if videos of what seems to be her husband are indeed him, I wonder why her racial awakening didn't rub off on him, who is seen spewing racial invective. Instead of picking at past wounds, how about some racial healing for a change?
I'm no fan of Deen and certainly no apologist for her. Her cooking and past history suggests that she cares more about making money than people. I can make a super-healthy salad that even without dressing is likely tastier than anything you've ever had, yet because I'm not cute and don't exude fake Southern charm, no one cares to hear about my salad or my other yummy but healthy treats that can send your taste buds into overdrive while improving your health, mood, brainpower, appearance, and longevity. However, many millions of people are eager to lap up what Deen is selling. Go figure.
Deen is yet another sad example of how Americans flock around the wrong people, often celebrating ones like her who can give their taste buds a quick fix at the risk of an early grave or clogged arteries that necessitate Viagra or some other band-aid.
Friedrich Nietzsche advised others to “beware of those in whom the will to punish is strong.” Normal humans give others the latitude to be human and hence occasionally imperfect, so I'm willing to put up with a Deen, a Sherrod, or even a President with occasional past and even current imperfections, because we're all imperfect. But tolerance for imperfection isn't tolerance for evil.
The film Mississippi Burning is a great detector of racism. If you're white and can watch it without your blood boiling, you're a racist who is shockingly bereft of empathy. Since physiological responses can be assessed, that and a control film could be used to uncover latent racism. It would be interesting to assess Deen to see if the tears she is now shedding reflect the pain she feels for being labeled a racist when she may no longer be one, or if the tears flow because her corporate sponsors have no mercy for imperfect people.
Time for a reality check. Remember Project Implicit? That means most whites and thus most employees, even countless liberals, harbor racial animosity. That's not surprising. Xenophobia is part of our genetic heritage that once served us well in earlier times during human evolution, which is why it persisted. The genes predisposing us to xenophobia are still in us. We can deal with that fact intelligently, or we can sweep it under the rug, as we are doing, which is utterly childish and obviously ineffective.
Trayvon Martin is but one example of the tragic consequences of permitting this problem to continue. The tragedy is compounded because the fix is so simple: if you are white, imagine that you are black; put yourself in their shoes and imagine how you would feel if someone called you a “nigger” (sorry, but called you a “N-word” lacked impact) or otherwise treated you with contempt, not the respect all good people are due. You'd be furious, and rightfully so.
Research has shown that when healthcare workers are taught to put themselves in the shoes of their patients, they instantly give better care. That's not surprising. While humans are wired for xenophobia, we're also wired for fairness. The “put yourself in their shoes” fix works in everyone except sociopaths, children before empathy matures, and mentally disabled people. Everyone else—bam!—instant cure.
Thus corporations take note: since 75% of your white CEOs are probably racially biased, it smells like hypocrisy when you penalize Deen or others like her without offering a cure. CEOs are supposed to be leaders, and since most of them fancy themselves as community if not cultural leaders, they should act as leaders. Being punitive takes no brainpower and doesn't solve the problem, but it does tutor folks into being more careful to hide their racial bias—but buried problems are never solved.
Leaders know that problems need to be squarely addressed, so let's squarely address this one. Don't fire the three-quarters of racially biased white workers; educate them. In less time than it takes for a typical commercial or corporate puffery, Americans could be given the simple antidote to racial animosity and our nation could be a shining example of tolerance, understanding, and effortless respect, not the grudging fake veneer of it I see in people like Laura Ingraham when she discusses the Trayvon Martin case. Ingraham is very smart and carefully chooses her words, but as an ER doc adept at reading nonverbal cues and tone of voice, I sense more than a tinge of racial animosity in her. If someone that bright can be so ignorant of the simple solution to racism, it's not surprising that others need to be taught this lesson, too.
What did Abraham Lincoln say about people with figurative warts? “It has been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues.”
What did Friedrich Nietzsche say? “In heaven all the interesting people are missing.”
What did H. L. Mencken say? “The great artists of the world are never Puritans, and seldom even ordinarily respectable. No virtuous man—that is, virtuous in the YMCA sense—has ever painted a picture worth looking at, or written a symphony worth hearing, or a book worth reading.”
What did Aristotle say? “No great genius has ever existed without some touch of madness.”
Some of the most flawed people are also some of the most brilliant, so let's not throw the baby out with the bath water. If people have become so intolerant they cannot tolerate imperfection, they cannot tolerate their friends, neighbors, co-workers, and even themselves. Racially or otherwise, we're all imperfect, so let's get over this fantasy that we are. Discarding the facade of perfection primes us for becoming better people and growing, not stagnating in self-delusion.