Defending Paula Deen: what the national reaction can teach us about race

PaulaDeen
There has been a lot of press about the recent lawsuit filed against Paula Deen, alleging (among other things) that she tolerated blatant racism towards the staff in her company’s restaurants (including separate entrances for black employees) and referred to black men as “n*ggers” to another employee.  At this point, the case is a bit of a she-said, she said, with Paula denying most of the allegations. While I suspect the truth lies someone in the middle, I’m going to focus on the things that Paula Deen has said, and how I find much of it so troubling in terms of the way many white people approach talking about race.

For a lot of people, this controversy has been boiled down to whether or not Paula Deen has uttered the “N” word. She’s admitted to doing so . . . she admitted to using it multiple times under oath but was more vague with Matt Lauer. But for me, and for many others, it’s not just about the “N” word. It’s about the subtext of what she is saying. My point in this post is not to vilify her further. I know some believe that Paula is taking an unfair beating. But I think that her attitudes about race exemplify the covert racism that pervades in society today, and warrant discussion. Most of us recognize that walking up to a black person and calling them a n*gger would be absolutely abhorrent. But what white folks in the company of other white people is another matter. Paula’s admissions reveal that, in certain circles, racism against black people has simply gone underground, and given way to a more slippery version of racism that is harder to nail down. In a society where racism has (thankfully) become less socially acceptable, racism has gotten more obscured. And well-meaning white people are enabling it.

Let me explain.

I have noticed that many white people feel an innate need to either defend or deny that racism still occurs. I think this happens for two reasons: First, I think white people sincerely wish that we were living in a post-racial society, and would like to hasten to the time when we can be free of the sins of our fathers. We wish that the world was colorblind, so we pretend that it is . . . even when that involves dismissing the experience of others. Second, I think white people feel deep shame and embarrassment about racism and colonialism, and in order to avoid a shame-based racial identity, we pretend not to see racism, or minimize it, or rationalize it. I’m seeing this happen all over the place as people react to Paula Deen losing her Food Network contract.

When Paula Deen’s deposition first leaked, most people were pretty outraged by the contents. Someone who answers “of course” when asked if they’ve used the “N” word, someone who plays dumb about the impact of racists jokes, someone who acknowledges that both their brother and husband are in the practice of using jokes with racial epithets, who had knowledge of racist practices within her company but did not fire the perpetrator . . . it was all rather alarming. The accusations from the plaintiff were even more alarming. I wasn’t surprised that companies wanted to distance themselves from her, and I affirm the Food Network’s decision not to renew her contract.

Related: Nonviolence for White People – by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove

But in a matter of days, fans of Paula were taking to the internet, calling for a boycott of the Food Network and citing an insidious allegiance to political correctness as the reason for Paula’s demise. Jason Avant does a great job of addressing the pushback against political correctness in a post on MamaPop:

What you’re saying is that when some of us get upset when a rich and powerful white person uses the word “nigger”, we’re adhering to some sort of liberal nicety. And that when some of us recoil in horror at the thought of putting on a good ol’ fashioned Calvin Candie-style wedding complete with authentic-looking house slaves, we’re just following a manufactured and ideological way of placating oversensitive people.

Over the last week, in addition to the chorus of Deen Defenders, Paula has been doing her own damage control, issuing apologies(sort of?) and making appearances in which she speaks about her character. I’ve seen a lot of parallels between Paula’s defenders and Paula’s own apologies, and I think they highlight some of the deep denial our country holds about race. In fact, I think these statements are almost talking-points among people who want to deny that racism exists while simultaneously ignoring their own racist behavior. Here are a few patterns

“I find racism unacceptable”

Paula has repeatedly said that she finds racism unacceptable. Paula’s online defenders seem to start each protest with this disclaimer, too. But saying that we find racism unacceptable, without action when confronted with racism, means nothing. In the face of racism, we all have three options: we can participate, we can tolerate, or we can fight. Way too many of us engaging in the bystander effect of racism, and Paula’s deposition indicates that she is in this role with the people in her own life. Case in point: the lawsuit alleges that Paula turned a blind eye to her brother’s racist behavior in the workplace, and Paula admits that she was aware of this:

Lawyer: Are you aware of Mr. Hiers admitting that he engaged in racially and sexually inappropriate behavior in the workplace?

 

Deen: I guess

 

Lawyer: Okay. Well, have you done anything about what you heard him admit to doing?

 

Deen: My brother and I have had conversations. My brother is not a bad person. Do humans behave inappropriately? At times, yes. I don’t know one person that has not. My brother is a good man. Have we told jokes? Have we said things that we should not have said, that — yes, we all have. We all have done that, every one of us.

Deflecting . . . defending. Not fighting racism. If she truly finds racism unacceptable, she would not have tolerated it in the workplace, and her brother would have been fired. What Paula does with her brother is an eerie parallel to what Paula’s fans are doing for her. In another part of the deposition, Paula acknowledges that her husband makes jokes about people of other races:

Lawyer: Do the other members of your family tell jokes at home?
Deen: Yes.
Lawyer: And they told jokes using the N-word?
Deen: I’m sure they have. My husband is constantly telling me jokes.
Lawyer: Okay. And have — are you offended at all by those jokes?
Deen: No, because it’s my husband.

This is not the behavior of someone who finds racism unacceptable. If Paula wants to issue a sincere apology for her racism, it should involve acknowledging that she has tolerated it in her family and in places of businesses that she owns. If we want to be honest about racism in our country, we all need to acknowledge the ways in which we have tolerated racism by ignoring or defending or minimizing it.

“I am confused. Black people use the ‘N’ word so why can’t I?”

I have heard people use this defense for Paula all week so I was really dismayed when Paula herself used it as well.  In the deposition, when she acknowledged her husband told racist jokes, she said the following:

Deen: [Jokes] usually target, though, a group. Gays or straights, black, redneck, you know, I just don’t know — I just don’t know what to say. I can’t, myself, determine what offends another person.

Essentially, she played dumb . . . acting as if she can’t actually know whether or not a racist joke is offensive to others. When Matt Lauer held her feet to the fire on this one, and asked if she was really confused about whether or not the “N word” is offensive, she responded by talking about how distressing it is for her to hear what her black employees say to one another in the kitchen. She then went on to talk about the “problem” of black people using the word and how it has confused her.

PEOPLE.

NO. Just no. None of us are confused about the word n*gger being offensive just because some black people called playfully each other “nigga”. And I will tell you how I know Paula wasn’t confused: she does not go around using that word in public, or on television appearances. She knows well enough that it’s not something she should say in mixed company. If her confusion truly stemmed from black people using it, that would manifest by her walking into the kitchen and shouting, “Hey, nigga”!” to black employees, followed by a record-scratch moment where someone ushers her aside and explains social norms. The fact that this hasn’t happened indicates that she isn’t, in fact, confused. The fact that she has referred to black people using the word n*gger TO OTHER WHITE PEOPLE tells me that she knows the rules, and that she just (allegedly) picked the wrong white person to show her hand to.

Frankly, I’m a little disturbed by the number of people who have cited the use of the word “nigga” by some black people as some kind of defense or deflection for Paula Deen. First of all, it’s not the same thing. It’s pronunciation, spelling, intent, and meaning are wholely different than the racial slur. Whether or not it’s okay for black people to reclaim the word as a playful slang is a separate debate, but I think it’s a derail tactic to minimize the fact that some white people still use it. For the record, I’m not a fan, and my boys will not be using that word while living under my roof. But there are plenty of black people who agree with me on that one.

Related: Stop Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. – by Matt Rindge

Furthermore, why are white people complaining about the “unfairness” or double standard of using the word? If someone else is doing something you deem as wrong, the impulse shouldn’t be to cry that it’s unfair unless it’s something you want to be doing yourself. So white folk: please stop whining about how black people can use the “N word” but you can’t. It makes it sound like you’ve got a hankering to say it, too.  And let’s please stop pretending that a white person calling a black person a n*gger is happening because of hip-hop culture. We all know this problem stems from something else.

“I’m not doing it in a mean way”

Another disturbing aspect of Paul Deen’s deposition is that she seems to have the idea that there is a mean way and an “okay way” to use the “N” word:

Lawyer: Miss Deen, earlier in your testimony you indicated that one of the things that you had tried to — that you and your husband tried to teach your children was not to use the N-word in a mean way, do you recall that testimony?
Deen: Yes.
Lawyer: Okay. And could you give me an example of how you have demonstrated for them a nice way to use the N-word?
. . .
Deen: We hear a lot of things in the kitchen. Things that they — that black people will say to each other. If we are relaying something that was said, a problem that we’re discussing, that’s not said in a mean way. What about jokes, if somebody is telling a joke that’s got —It’s just what they are, they’re jokes.
Lawyer: Okay. Would you consider those to be using the N word in a mean way?
Deen: That’s — that’s kind of hard. Most — most jokes are about Jewish people, rednecks, black folks. Most jokes target — I don’t know. I didn’t make up the joke, I don’t know. I can’t — I don’t know.

Again, there is no nice way to tell a joke with the word n*gger in it. Paula’s underlying message: I find racism unacceptable . . . unless it’s in a joke, because jokes always target someone. It’s just more of the same dangerous rationalization and attempts to deflect from acknowledging racism. Racist jokes are just that: racist.

This line of reasoning (there is a nice way and a mean way to use the word) appears again, when she addresses the allegation that she referred to adult men this way:

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Lawyer: Is there any possibility, in your mind, that you slipped and used the word “n—-r”?
Deen: No, because that’s not what these men were. They were professional black men doing a fabulous job.

It’s never okay for white people to refer to black people as n*gger. Never. Even if people aren’t being professional. Even if they aren’t doing a fabulous job. Even if they are lower-class. Even if they are pointing a gun to your head. There are no exceptions that make racist behavior okay. Let’s stop making them.

“Nobody’s perfect”

This has been the most consistent thread for those defending Paula Deen, and while I can’t argue with the premise, I do think it’s an oft-used attempt at minimizing racism. Absolutely, no one is perfect, but in the workplace most of us are required to behave in certain ways lest their be consequence. Paula Deen failed to squelch overt racism within her company, and the consequence is that her “brand” is no longer a friendly face for the Food Network. There has been a lot of talk about the need for forgiveness and grace, but it’s important to note that those two things can be offered without removing the natural consequences of someone’s actions. It’s possible to offer forgiveness while still affirming that something is wrong. Yes, everyone of us makes mistakes. And most of us pay for our mistakes as well. When my children get in trouble for something, I do not lower the offense if one of their siblings was doing it, too. Paula has to reap the consequences of her own actions regardless of what others are doing.

“Slavery was not that bad”

Paula’s covert racism reveals itself in her fantasies of having a “plantation-style” wedding, complete with black men dressed up as slave caricatures, as she herself describes in the deposition:

Lawyer: Why did that make it a -– if you would have had servers like that, why would that have made it a really southern plantation wedding? …

 

Deen: Well, it –- to me, of course I’m old but I ain’t that old, I didn’t live back in those days but I’ve seen the pictures, and the pictures that I’ve seen, that restaurant represented a certain era in America.

 

Lawyer: Okay.
Deen: And I was in the south when I went to this restaurant. It was located in the south.

 

Lawyer: Okay. What era in America are you referring to?
Deen: Well, I don’t know. After the Civil War, during the Civil War, before the Civil War.

 

Lawyer: Right. Back in an era where there were middle-aged black men waiting on white people.
Deen: Well, it was not only black men, it was black women.

 

Lawyer: Sure. And before the Civil War –- before the Civil War, those black men and women who were waiting on white people were slaves, right?
Deen: Yes, I would say that they were slaves.

If black people happened to be the servers, that is one thing. But envisioning some fantasy where the servers are specifically black, dressed up to be “classy” as if they are house negroes, is not okay. Specifically hiring black people to serve as an “aesthetic”, particularly an aesthetic meant to evoke a throw-back to the time when blacks where owned, is not okay. Paula herself knows this is inappropriate, which is why she says the media would be critical.

Her minimization of slavery is also revealed in a televised interview. When asked about learning about her great-grandfather, she focused her empathy on him, rather than on the slaves. She lamented about how hard it was for him to loose all of his “workers” (avoiding the term slaves) and claims that back then, slaves were “like family”. This kind of revisionist history again serves to minimize the realities of racism. Slaves were NOT like family. Family eats at the same dinner table. Families are not bought and sold. Families are not property that are listed as belongings. To pretend they are is to whitewash history and deny the atrocity of slavery.

“I wasn’t raised to be racist”

Another way Paula exemplifies our national preference to minimize racism is her claim that her own family was not racist. In her interview with Matt Lauer she insists that her parents taught her to treat everyone as equals. Yet in her deposition, she acknowledges that in the 60’s, the use of the word “n*gger” was deemed acceptable. Judging by the behavior of her brother, couples with Paula’s own attitudes, I have a hard time believing that her parents did not exemplify some racist attitudes in her home growing up. And yet she insists they did not.

I teach a graduate-level class on diversity and every year, I have the students give a report on their own racial bias. This involves an inventory of the messages they heard about race from their own family. Without fail, a majority of my students describe their families as not being racist. And without fail, those very students go on to describe implicit racist attitudes held by their parents, most often manifesting around who they could date or suspicions surrounding black people in general.

Also by Kristen: The Biblical Definition of Marriage and its Relevance to Marriage Equality

I think this is where racism gets so tricky for people to talk about. It’s hard to acknowledge that our grandparents or parents, many of whom were sweet, loving people that we admired, also held very racist viewpoints. So we minimize or excuse or rationalize or ignore, because we don’t know how to hold this dichotomy . . . the dichotomy that kind, loving people can be racist . . . and that racists can be kind and loving.

In many ways Paula Deen is our national grandma in this situation. People love her. She’s funny and affable and relatable, and so it’s hard and confusing to view as someone holding some negative prejudice. And yet, it’s clear that she does. It’s not an overt, in-your-face brand of racism. But it’s there.

Most of the black people I know are not surprised or hurt to learn that Paula Deen holds these attitude. But they are quietly resigned in their frustration at her denial, and I share this frustration. Paula exemplifies the New Racism . . . someone who understands the talking points of Treating Everyone Equally, but who tolerates racist jokes in her own home, minimizes slavery, minimizes the racism of those around her, and fails to fire someone who is openly racist to his employees. She’s not an evil person. Her attitudes and behaviors represent many people in this country. But she’s also a television personality, and therefore her actions are held to a different standard.

Paula Deen missed an opportunity to be honest. She missed an opportunity to really, truly apologize for the attitudes that she holds, and for some of the ways her upbringing shaped the way she thinks. Instead, she went for minimization and denial. To me, a real apology from her would look like this:

  • I’ve tolerated racism in my home and family
  • I’ve failed to address racism in my business
  • I’ve minimized slavery
  • I’ve poked fun at an employee’s dark skin
  • I’ve feigned ignorance at the offensiveness of the term “nigger”
  • I suggested that slaves could be a quaint scenic touch at a wedding

If our country ever wants to heal from the racism of our past, we’ve got to stop denying that it’s still an issue. We need to own it. To step up and start a national conversation about race. That starts by being honest. We’re not being honest when we excuse the racist attitudes of Paula Deen, or our grandmothers, or our own parents, or ourselves.


Kristen Howerton is the mom of four children within four years via birth and adoption, and has been blogging at Rage Against the Minivan as a coping skill since 2004. Kristen is also an adjunct professor in the psychology department at Vanguard University, where she teaches on diversity, counseling skills and addictive behaviors. Kristen uses her background as a family therapist to write an advice column for the local family magazine OCFamily and is also a contributing author to The Huffington Post. She likes to waste time on Twitter at @kristenhowerton.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Jeff Christensen

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About the Author

Kristen Howerton

Kristen HowertonKristen Howerton is the mom of four children within four years via birth and adoption, and has been blogging at Rage Against the Minivan as a coping skill since 2004. Kristen is also an adjunct professor in the psychology department at Vanguard University, where she teaches on diversity, counseling skills and addictive behaviors. Kristen uses her background as a family therapist to write an advice column for the local family magazine OCFamily and is also a contributing author to The Huffington Post. She likes to waste time on Twitter at @kristenhowerton.View all posts by Kristen Howerton →

  • 22044

    Kristen,
    The evils/misbehaviors identified in the post are real, but the solution is misdirected. “National conversation about race?” Good luck with that when you’ve already projected assumptions of guilt on people you don’t even know.

    Also be careful that you don’t have a pride issue – people who write long blog posts about what celebrities did wrong often do.

    I never pay attention to Paula Deen, and most people I know don’t either.

    • http://www.rageagainsttheminivan.com/ Kristen Howerton

      The post was more about a pattern of denial than a list of what Paula did wrong.

      • Barb

        As the song goes..Walk a mile in my shoes, walk a mile in my shoes

        Hey, before you abuse, criticize and accuse

        Walk a mile in my shoes

        Now your whole world you see around you is just a reflection

        And the law of common says you’re gonna reap just what you sow

        So unless you’ve lived a life of total perfection

        You’d better be careful of every stone that you should throw -

        For the record, you used the name Paula and Paula Deen approx 42 times in this above post. That does not even include the word she and her. I think you need to walk a mile in Paula’s shoes.

  • jonathan starkey

    Reminds me of a Portlandia episode.

    • 22044

      If Jesus wanted us to just behave better, He would’ve left us His teachings and He didn’t have to die. But He sees the corruption in all our hearts and paid for that with His life. If we’ve been redeemed, we should know that God loves Paula Deen like He loves everyone, including me.
      Paula Deen’s sin isn’t such a deal breaker that God can’t welcome her home.

      • 22044

        Interesting. I post some basic orthodox doctrine on a Christian site, and get down voted 4 times. Fair enough, because gratefully, truth does not depend on consensus. :)

        At the foot of the cross, there are no favorites.

        • http://snommelp.tumblr.com/ Snommelp

          I would assume that the downvotes are for one of two possible reasons: (1) you seem to suggest that Kristen thinks Paula’s sin is too big for Jesus, when Kristen said no such thing, and/or (2) you seem to suggest that our salvation through Jesus means we can sin as much as we want, by downplaying the “behave better” aspect as you do. I’m sure you didn’t mean to suggest such (I know that you know that Paul explicitly discredits that notion in Romans), but I can definitely see how people might get that from your comment.

  • Curious

    Is there an editor who reads posts before they’re released? While I can appreciate the subject and the author’s point of view, the numerous spelling and grammatical errors do make it difficult to read without being sidetracked from the important issue at hand.

  • duff

    google and other sites are full of black jokes

    blacks call each other the n word , get off it already , there are ways of using it ,if you are friends,
    and they use you can to. leave paula alone!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ayinde-Truxon-Flores/1196187056 Ayinde Truxon Flores

      I’m black and my friends and I don’t speak to each other that way. Hip hop artists are not the arbiters of black culture. However, if you can find a way to shed your white privilege and live with the fun of institutionalized racism, feel free to use any words that you like.

      • Jennifer A. Nolan

        Including “black,” “African-American,” “Beninese,” or whatever word really applies. Some of us really DO make a point of avoiding the worst slurs of our ancestors. Problems arise with our feeble stabs at tackling the deeper attitude issues; this is why Deen could mouth off such trash this late in our history. I’m sorry you’ve had to listen to all of this.

  • http://kathyon.blogspot.com/ Kathy

    Excellent post, Kristen!

  • Amanda

    I’m wondering where the author believes Jesus fits into all this, as nothing was mentioned in the article.

    • Digger

      Unless Jesus is running against a Republican, He won’t be campaigned for here.

      • 22044

        thread winner

    • Drew

      Come on, you mean you don’t come to Red Letter Christians for secular news about current events? You mean you don’t want to hear the latest gossip on Paula Deen and Edward Snowden?

      • Amanda

        I don’t mean to be critical, I’d just like some practical application from a Jesus-viewpoint. Also I’m Canadian and don’t follow American news/politics too closely, so I’m not entirely certain who Snowden is anyways. If anyone wanted to write about Harper for an article, I’d definitely read that!

        • 22044

          Practical application from a Jesus viewpoint.
          That’s a good request, but it’s definitely not here.

          I’d be interested in any reports about Harper as well, though.

        • Valarie

          Racism is oppressive. Jesus loved the oppressed, and fought against oppressors.

    • http://www.rageagainsttheminivan.com/ Kristen Howerton

      Are you really unclear as to where Jesus stands on racism? I talked about forgiveness in the article, but I assume that most readers know racism to be wrong.

      • Amanda

        It’s about more than racism being wrong though. I’d like to hear how we can translate Jesus’ radical actions (such as in John 8) into a current context, or about how challenging racist jokes brings about the Kingdom of God. I was just hoping to see any sort of engagement with scripture.

  • bluecenterlight

    This reminds me of the episode of Louis when he takes his daughter to visit his racist aunt, lol, uncomfortable. Each progressive generation slowly rejects the hateful attitudes of the previous generation. We use to hate the Irish, we use to hate the Italians. The problem is, even though we correct ourselves over time, we always come up with new people to hate. Sad

  • Kristin-Leigh

    It’s a shame that this piece wasn’t edited for SPaG before posting because while Kristen makes many excellent points, there are several instances of incorrect verb tenses, “its”/”it’s” errors, and spelling mistakes. Please consider proofreading in the future – I have quite a few friends and family members I’d've liked to link to an article like this!

    • Jennifer A. Nolan

      I agree! And it’s a shame, too: this piece should be required reading about covert racism for every white North American, but those god-awful flubs…! But this is just part of a wider trend toward sloppy wording, sentence structure and punctuation, declining vocabulary, and growing reliance on catchphrases and trendy words. “While” for “although” or “whereas,” “multiple” for any number greater than one, “ongoing,” and “going forward” are just a few of my Millenial hipster-English pet peeves; and what in the world does “in terms of” mean? That piece of verbal plumbing has sucked down just about every good preposition in sight!

      All the same, I enjoyed reading this piece, and I learned a lot from it. Kristen obviously put a lot of thought and work into it, and there are much worse writers on the Net. Have you read some of those indecipherable word-salad blog comments?

      • Valarie

        Instead of commenting on incorrect syntax, and spelling mistakes (which all humans make). Try “reading the white”; reading the message behind the words on your screen. If you receive a good message, why criticize the manner in which it was delivered?

        • Jennifer A. Nolan

          Great thought — but those on the opposing side of the issue who know their little rules and technicalities will pounce on the writer’s grammatical mistakes, every time. I’ve done it; I’ve had it done to me; and I’ve seen it done to others. Simple typos ought to be forgiven in a blog column; but the truly awful slip-ups in this post take entirely too much away from an otherwise strong and valiant argument in defense of an oppressed minority. Good grammar and careful writing (and editing) really are worth the big bother.

  • TheodoreSeeber

    This just goes to the heart of the whole issue. The liberal way to deal with a racist family member is to shun him, the conservative way, to keep him in the family and keep engaging him.

    Is that backwards to anybody else?

  • Keith

    The authors genuine cocern can be measured in one question. “Where are you articles condemning black artists who encourage white genocide or killing whites or reverse racism”. It does not exist because in his world there are blinders. Years of guilt that scale the eyes when explaining black behavior. It’s pathetic and damning to the credibility of anything written on the subject. Call it both ways or shut the hell up

    • Jennifer A. Nolan

      Blah, blah, blah. Sure, black reverse racism is micro-minded and contemptible — but then, so is traditional white racism, not to mention white defensiveness. As a general thing, downtrodden Americans are short on dharma, remote from God, and this shows up in the way we answer stupid insults with other stupid insults, thereby shooting ourselves in the foot and defeating our cause. We will sow the wind, and reap the whirlwind. Getting mad at blacks for complaining after centuries of oppression won’t stop this.

  • SamHamilton

    Can someone please tell me what a “national conversation on race” looks like? I keep hearing this phrase, and it’s generally used as if it’s the cure for our racial problems, or at least part of the cure, but we never seem to have it. What would it look like? What is it?

    • 22044

      Maybe your questions are rhetorical, but I’ll treat them like straight ones (and risk a misunderstanding…):
      This site is supposed to be about Christianity and point toward Jesus. So I find it frustrating when a post discusses a subject from a secular humanist perspective and offers unfulfilling & fantastical ideas like “a national conversation on race.”
      I really like Barb’s comment above.

      • SamHamilton

        It was not a rhetorical question. I’m truly interested. I hear this phrase used all the time yet I have no idea what it means.

        And then people vote me down for asking a question. Yikes. Lame people.

      • SamHamilton

        Interestingly enough, I found this column by James Taranto today talking about perceived racism. He’s discussing a poll that found “Blacks are more likely (by 7 percentage points) to think most blacks are racist than to think most whites are. Moreover, they are 11 points likelier than liberals (regardless of race) to think most blacks are racist, and 9 points likelier than Democrats. And blacks are 3 points less likely than liberals to think most whites are racist.”

        His conclusion is “that the people likeliest to believe most whites are racist and most blacks are not are those who are both liberal and white. Which reinforces a point we’ve made often in this column: that a lot of what drives the futile debate over race in America is white liberals’ psychological need to feel morally superior to other whites.”

        I think this is pertinent to the Paula Deen kerfuffle.

        http://online dot wsj dot com/article/SB10001424127887324853704578587610461933172.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_MIDDLETopOpinion

        • 22044

          Then it’s definitely a fair question. People should leave it alone and not down vote if they don’t have an answer. Pretty lame – I agree.
          If I get to read Taranto, I usually like what he writes. Unfortunately, the link didn’t work, it took me to a column from 2011.

          • SamHamilton

            That’s strange…it worked for me just now. Take out the “dots” around wsj and use periods. Disqus won’t let me post a link directly.

          • 22044

            I see…I’m guilty of copying without looking. When I replace the “dots” I got to the column. Thanks. I’ll give it a read.

  • Pedat Ebediyah

    Okay, so it’s my first visit here, and I thought her article was outstanding.

    I’m not surprised to see apologists for lawlessness and racism on yet *another* Christian blog, but I’m surprised to see it on the responses to *this* article.

    Trifling racist apologist responses won on this one about 2 to 1.

    Sorry Kristen, I think you did great.

  • Michael E McDougall

    This has been done to death! Is there racism? Yes! Is it wrong? Yes! What people say in their private conversations is NOBODY’s business, but their own! Does that make it ok for them to say bad things? NO, but it doesn’t give anybody the right to crucify them for their 30 year old stupid behavior for political gain! There would be no “racism” if it wasn’t being propagated by godless, soulless race baters who gain from it politically/economically! I don’t and never will apologize for being white and nobody should ever have to apologize for being black or anything else, but Everybody (Christians) needs to grow up, forget about race and make the Golden rule of Jesus Christ the only rule. people are always going to have preferences of all different kinds, but nobody should ever get special treatment or be denied their inalienable rights because of the color of their skin!!!

  • Thijs Decker

    While I agree with most of this article, I find it troubling that the author thinks “it’s never okay for white people to refer to black people as nigger. Never… Even if they are pointing a gun to your head.” Really? I can think of a ton of things I’d say to the asshole with my life in his hands. Obviously, being polite is the smart thing to do, but I’m not entitled to say some shitty things to a person who might kill me? Come on. That’s stupid and ignorant.

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