A Rope for Paula Deen

Politically Incorrect!

Time is a dimension of experience, one that cannot be recaptured. In that time the dynamic process of growth and maturity occurs.  In the words of T.S. Eliot,

Because I know that time is always time

And place is always and only place

And what is actual is actual only for one time

And only for one place…

RacismLynchSo, when I hear that Paula Deen is seeing her business taken down because she used the N word 30 years ago I’m disgusted.  First, I think she’s not being candid.  Thirty and 40 years ago we were living in a different world.  I grew up in NYC and words like dago, mick, kike, commie (ok, it’s not a racial slur), were commonly heard – in the urban North.  I imagine similar epithets (including “yankee”) were in common use.  The civil rights act hadn’t been passed, Jim Crow was in force and the South had not yet been “educated” about political correctness.

 

It was a tense time.  I had passed through the Deep South on a Greyhound bus and seen the grimy waiting rooms and water fountains for blacks.  Children don’t know much.  They accept the things they see and assume there is a reason for everything.  Rage at injustice to others is not innate in our character.  With growth and maturity comes empathy toward others.  Sometimes empathy does not develop, or does not extend toward those you have been raised to consider akin to animals.

RacismImagesChildren copy the language, attitudes, and prejudices of their parents and the society around them.  However, people change; people abandon the culture of their youth and embrace the new adaptive culture of maturity.  This does not mean that stupidity can be cured, it means that ignorance can be. 

Most of us, in the course of growing up have done things we regret.  I say most of us because there are evidently some who have lived such spotless lives that they are irreproachable.  Good for them.

Condemning Paula Deen for using the n-word 30 years ago is asinine.  At a time when freedom of speech is so much at risk, political correctness severely limits speech.  I, for one, am not shocked when someone uses racist slurs, it tells me something about that person and I can decide to avoid him or her as undesirables.  The polite, politically correct racist is safe from rebuke but is more undesirable than the vocal racist who signals his views.  In any event I don’t like southern food.

 

As to what was acceptable in the past I submit the following by one of my famous poets who evidently had not a kind word for my Irish kin.  I bear him no ill will.  After all, 1920 was the year that women got the vote in the U.S., prohibition was a year old, and WWI had ended only two years earlier.

 Sweeney among the Nightingales

By T. S. Eliot

Race~irishApeneck Sweeney spread his knees
Letting his arms hang down to laugh,
The zebra stripes along his jaw
Swelling to maculate giraffe.
The circles of the stormy moon
Slide westward toward the River Plate,
Death and the Raven drift above
And Sweeney guards the hornèd gate.
Gloomy Orion and the Dog
Are veiled; and hushed the shrunken seas;
The person in the Spanish cape
Tries to sit on Sweeney’s knees
Slips and pulls the table cloth
Overturns a coffee-cup,
Reorganised upon the floor
She yawns and draws a stocking up;
The silent man in mocha brown
Sprawls at the window-sill and gapes;
The waiter brings in oranges
Bananas figs and hothouse grapes;
The silent vertebrate in brown
Contracts and concentrates, withdraws;
Rachel née Rabinovitch
Tears at the grapes with murderous paws;
She and the lady in the cape
Are suspect, thought to be in league;
Therefore the man with heavy eyes
Declines the gambit, shows fatigue,
Leaves the room and reappears
Outside the window, leaning in,
Branches of wistaria
Circumscribe a golden grin;
The host with someone indistinct
Converses at the door apart,
The nightingales are singing near
The Convent of the Sacred Heart,
And sang within the bloody wood
When Agamemnon cried aloud
And let their liquid siftings fall
To stain the stiff dishonoured shroud.

 

 

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About carlos

I'm a curious person, of reasonable intellect, "on the beach" (retired) and enjoying my interest in anthropology, language, civil rights, and a few other areas. I've been a hippie/student/aerospace tech writer in the '60s, a witness to the Portuguese revolution in the ‘70s, a defense test engineer and witness to the Guatemalan genocide in the '80s, and a network engineer for an ISP in the '90s. Now I’m a student and commentator until my time is up. I've spent time under the spell of the Mesoamerican pyramids and the sweet sound of the Portuguese language. I've lived in Europe, traveled in Brazil, Central America, Iceland, New Zealand, and other places. My preferred mode of travel is with a backpack and I eat (almost) anything local. Somehow, many of the countries I have been to have had civil unrest (for which I was not responsible). I'm open to correspond with anyone who might share my liberal, humanist interests. I live in San Buenaventura, California.
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