If celebrity cook Paula Deen is out because of her decades-old private use of the "n" word, what about its public AND private use by MSNBC's Al Sharpton? What about HBO host Bill Maher's use of the "c" word?
The crisis Deen must deal with confirms the observation of a former editor of the conservative magazine National Review. "White racism exists," said John O'Sullivan. "But its social power is weak; the social power against it, overwhelming."
Deen has -- so far -- lost her show on the Food Network and her spokesperson gig for Smithfield Foods. QVC, Sears, Wal-Mart and others are deciding whether to continue their relationship with the embattled chef.
What did the 66-year-old native of Georgia do that now threatens their enterprises?
In a deposition given in a harassment lawsuit filed by a white ex-employee at a Deen family-owned restaurant, Deen admitted using the "n-word" in the past, during a private conversation: "When a black man burst into the bank that I was working at and put a gun to my head," she said, "I didn't feel real favorable to him." Deen says she didn't use the word during the holdup, but "probably" used it later, "in telling my husband."
Asked if she ever used the word again, Deen responded, "I'm sure I have, but it's been a very long time." When pressed to recall specific instances, Deen could not, saying: "I don't know, maybe in repeating something that was said to me. ... But that's just not a word that we use as time has gone on. Things have changed since the '60s in the South. And my children and my brother object to that word being used in any cruel or mean behavior, as well as I do."
Deen has, so far, apologized, apologized and apologized.
That the ex-employee is white, not black, and worked for her for five years did not seem to matter. Nor does it seem to matter that others have not come forward to corroborate her alleged racism. Does she refuse to hire blacks? Has she mistreated them or paid them below the wages of white workers? And, for what it's worth, Deen supported and campaigned for President Barack Obama.
If Deen's crime is the private use of the n-word, why does the Rev. Al Sharpton, who hosts a nightly hour-long show on MSNBC, get a pass?
Sharpton, of course, rocketed to fame by falsely accusing two white men of raping and sodomizing black teenager Tawana Brawley. A New York grand jury investigation concluded that the whole case was fraudulent and that Brawley flat-out lied to avoid punishment for staying out too late. To this day, Sharpton refuses to apologize to former Assistant District Attorney Steven Pagones, one of the men Sharpton accused of rape, even after a jury found Sharpton liable for defamation.
One of Sharpton's top aides became so disgusted with the farce that he turned against his boss. Sharpton, the former aide said, could not have cared less whether Brawley was telling the truth because, according to Sharpton, "We beat this, we will be the biggest n--gers in New York."
Sharpton called the former Marine, magna cum laude graduate, lawyer, professor and then-Mayor David Dinkins -- New York City's first and only black mayor -- a "n--ger whore."
Apparently MSNBC and the Food Network see the "n" word differently.
Sharpton has called Jews "diamond merchants" and described whites moving businesses into Harlem as "interlopers." Sharpton helped incite three days of anti-Semitic rioting in Crown Heights, where two people died and over 100 were wounded. A Columbia University professor called Crown Heights "a modern-day pogrom."
Then there's Freddy's Fashion Mart. A Jewish store owner in Harlem was accused of driving a black record store subtenant out of business by raising his rent. At one of many rallies meant to scare the Jewish owner away, Sharpton said, "There is a systematic and methodical strategy to eliminate our people from doing business off 125th Street. I want to make it clear ... that we will not stand by and allow them to move this brother so that some white interloper can expand his business." Later, one of the protestors, a black man, stormed Freddy's Fashion Mart with a pistol, screaming: "It's on now! All blacks out!" In addition to the shooting, he set fire to the building, eventually killing seven before turning the gun on himself.
If Paula Deen is out because of the "n" word, what about HBO's Bill Maher and his use of the "c" word?
Maher, on more than one occasion, publicly called former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin the "c" word. He has called her a "dumb tw-t" -- a derisive slang word for female genitalia. He has described her son Trig, who has Down syndrome, as "retarded."
But, to be fair, neither Sharpton nor Maher -- at least to our knowledge -- has called Palin the "n" word. That must explain it.