Deen delivers great taste in Southern cooking, without question; it is her personality that doesn’t always go down easy with me.
I don’t watch cooking shows, although I probably should as I do enjoy cooking. Instead I peruse magazines, newspapers, websites and cookbooks old and new looking for recipes that catch my fancy.
And Paula’s are right up there with any in the business. I have a stack of her magazines saved, and several of her cookbooks line my shelves.
But when I see her on television, chatting with Jay Leno or being interviewed for a morning news show, I am somewhat turned off. In my opinion, she does the South no favor when she turns it on so thick that it is sweeter than the iced tea most of us who live below the Mason Dixon line love to drink.
But even though I am not a fan, I think she is getting a bum rap. Not because I think what she said was all right. Beyond any doubt it was not, and she knows it. She has apologized profusely.
Not because that was just the way it was in the “good old days,” because that is not an excuse at all. We can all choose what we say in private and in public.
It is the double standard that cooks my goose, the ease with which a woman from the South who speaks with a thick Southern accent can be decimated because of a mistake she made, but those who constantly discriminate against Southerners are considered to be completely in the right.
And that is how I see this complete abandonment of Deen by all who were profiting from her before — racial discrimination.
When Martha Stewart with her elegant New England manners and her New York persona was found guilty of lying to investigators about a well-timed stock sale and sentenced to jail for insider trading, no on blinked an eye as far as I can tell. In fact, she actually profited from the affair.
Paula Deen told the truth when under oath, and the truth was not pretty. But she told it anyway. She didn’t sugar coat it or hide it under a pile of collard greens or dress it up like a Thanksgiving turkey.
She just served it up plain and unadorned.
The consequences for her have been devastating. But somehow, I think in the end she will come out all right.
Because there are very few people who have not at least thought unkind thoughts about others for their differences. And there are plenty who say or write unkind things all the time, even today when we are supposedly politically correct.
I myself have heard people make fun of Southern accents and really all things Southern, using terms like red neck, cracker, hick and others. I have heard that all my life from those who move to this region and find the natives, in their opinion, ignorant.
Paula did no one any favors by her use of racial slurs. In fact, she just proved a lot of people right about Southerners. But the punishment she is receiving seems harsh for the crime she committed.
Rebecca Johnston is managing editor of The Cherokee Tribune.