The Missourian in its weekend edition asked the question “on the street” for opinions on the fairness of what has happened to Paula Deen, who had a food preparation show on the Food Network and has become a self-declared “victim” — damaged by the loss of sponsors because she said in a court deposition that years ago she used the N-word. That is politically incorrect. The deposition was taken because of an employee discrimination lawsuit. Without sponsors, a TV show is dead. Deen, 66, was fired.
The Missourian sampling of just seven people at the library who were asked, “Has Paula Deen Been Treated Fairly?” probably should be called a measurement of sorts of common opinions. Six of the seven, more or less, said her treatment has been unfair.
One respondent said the whole matter has been blown out of proportion. That’s an opinion many of us share. In that sense, Deen is a victim, but join the crowd of the multitudes of people who have been victimized by being politically incorrect. This is not to condone the use of the N-word. It’s bad, much like calling a white person a cracker. Have you ever heard of an African-American being called on the politically incorrect carpet for using the cracker slur?
We are not prejudiced toward African-Americans. Our first major exposure to people with dark skin was in the military, where probably 40 percent of our basic training company were of that color. We never heard a white guy call a black guy by the N-word. We did hear a few of the African-Americans use the N-word directed at one of their own. In OCS, we had only a few African-Americans in our class. The N-word was never heard by this writer. We did learn one thing about that minority: They wanted to be with their own. We would invite them to hang out with us in town, and they always rejected the invitation, preferring to be with their own.
Discrimination had ended in the Armed Forces by the time we arrived in that state of life, but there still were incidents we were aware of in which they were treated unfairly. Overall, however, no problems. There also were instances we observed of injustice toward whites, but not based on color. Having had roommates of another color on occasions in the military, it was no different than with the whites. We got along fine, became friends.
In my era in the military, African-Americans were no different than the whites — there were good soldiers and some who didn’t measure up. My experience told me the military was a “land of opportunity” for black Americans because of an almost total lack of discrimination.
What Paula Deen said years ago, should not be used against her today. This country has changed in its overall attitude toward African-Americans and she undoubtedly has changed also. She admitted using the N-word when slurs like that were more common.
The media is to blame for blowing politically incorrect words way out of proportion. If you are a person in the limelight, especially a politician, or a TV personality, you are a target. We’ve all made mistakes in judgment in the use of words. But we are judged on a much more modest level.
Because people think Paula Deen was treated unfairly, support for her appears to be growing. If she is the tough lady the media says she is, she will bounce back and may become more popular than ever before. Life goes on . . .