20 June, 2013 - 21:02 — Bryan Lambert
Memo to Paula Deen: THIS IS WHY WE MOCK THE SOUTH.
A lot of the time, when educated, urban types make fun of the South for being a bunch of redneck racist pigfuckers, we hear the refrain that "there are racists everywhere". That it's a rural thing, or a class thing, or an education thing. And all these things are true, up to a point.
I mean, Boston. Major metropolitan city. Heart of the liberal Northeast. Crazy fucking racist. My own state is full of racists. But there's racism, and there's racism. And while garden-variety racism is everywhere, the South has its own unique take on it. And when you hear talk of how the South is racist, that's what we mean.
You remember that Brad Paisley song, a few months back? "Accidental Racist"? I tweeted about it at the time. Anyway, the song tries to explain why the Confederate Flag isn't really racist by Paisley saying he's "proud of where I'm from, but not of what we've done". But the Confederate Flag isn't where he's from. It's the symbol of a specific thing the South did for a few years so they could keep black people as property. So it's not accidental, it's deliberate, intentional racism.
Which brings us to Paula Deen, whose deposition in (what else) a racial discrimination case lit up the Internet yesterday. At issue? Deen's attitude toward the dreaded N-word, Now, the suit itself is against Deen's brother, "Bubba" Hiers, and, as is appropriate for a lawsuit against a guy nicknamed "Bubba", includes a heaping dollop of buttery sexual harassment, too.
The suit says that what Deen really wanted for her brother's wedding was... well, this is pretty fucking awful, so it's time for the distancing effect of ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!
"Well what I would really like is a bunch of little niggers to wear long-sleeve white shirts, black shorts and black bow ties, you know in the Shirley Temple days, they used to tap dance around. Now that would be a true southern wedding, wouldn’t it? But we can’t do that because the media would be on me about that.”
Deen denies using the word, but admits to wanting a "real Southern plantation wedding", inspired by a restaurant that represents Civil War era America. And she admits to using the n-word on other occasions, like referring to a black guy who held a gun to her head, or discussing conversations between black people. Oh, and her husband uses it all the time in jokes, but she's not offended, because he's her husband.
Related to that, here's how Deen views comedy:
"“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 jokes, I don’t know. They usually target, though, a group. Gays or straights, black, redneck, you know, I just don’t know..."
A nostalgic view of smartly-dressed black servants around the time of the Civil War. A belief that there are non-mean, historical/cultural uses of the N-word. A belief that most jokes target ethnic groups. A belief that rednecks are an ethnic group. This is Southern racism in all its frippery. Dressed up for the debutante's ball. Sipping a mint julep.
It's a racism that pretends to be gentility and respect and tradition. Look at them, dancing around in their fancy clothes and bringing us drinks. They think they're people! Weren't things so much simpler and more pleasant back then?
The most dangerous part of Paula Deen's racism is how convinced she is that it's nonexistent.