Author of Adam and Steve, a novel about reexamining your prejudices

Who Will Protect our Children?

Photo coourtesy of: Photo courtesy of: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-rsSoAve3LsA/U_8tdHdYHoI/AAAAAAAANoc/XGm5Ls-_-T8/s1600/Rotherham%2B2.tiff

Photo coourtesy of: Photo courtesy of: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-rsSoAve3LsA/ U_8tdHdYHoI/AAAAAAAANoc/XGm5Ls-_-T8/s1600/Rotherham%2B2.tiff

Man’s inhumanity surrounds us. Technology has recreated a world in which we are unable to escape the cacophony of heartless atrocities affecting our children – mutilations and killings because of the “sin” a child commits when she seeks knowledge, fathers killing their victim daughters to restore honor to themselves, parents brutally beating their children, a church condoning pedophilia, and the terrorism, death and mayhem to our children caused by the Islamic State. The stench of violent intolerance inundates us. In the midst of this reality, I thought one story of child brutality wouldn’t shock me. I thought I had heard it all. I was wrong.

It took a professor to publicize to the world the atrocity of Rotherham, Great Britain, where over ONE THOUSAND FOUR HUNDRED children were systematically brutalized over a span of 16-years.* They were raped, sexually exploited and trafficked while police and government officials did NOTHING, but blame and be contemptuous of the child victims. Given the scale of the brutality and the utter lack of governmental concern, one might wonder if these events were merely the outpouring of someone’s psychotic imagination. No such luck. Although the authorities knew, Rotherham’s children were the victim of vicious and sustained sexual abuse.

Multiple men raped girls countless times and traded them for arms and drugs. Threats of violence to family members kept the children quiet. Those who spoke found their words punishable by the very authorities sworn to protect them. Those authorities fined parents for wasting police time, unaccountably lost bags of evidence making arrests and convictions impossible, claimed 12-year old victims “consented” to the brutality, and took from the child victims the babies born of the assaults who were never seen again. Little if anything was done to help the victims or to bring the perpetrators to justice while the years and carnage mounted steadily.**

Though the events of Rotherham are unpardonable, they are becoming more commonplace. Rotherham is merely the latest reported atrocity against children, evidencing the double-edged sword hanging over their heads. In every corner of the world, our children are unable to rely on those closest to them for security and protection, because it is those closest to them who are either causing or permitting their harm, a harm that will steal their youth and scar their lives. As UNICEF recently confirmed, “most violence against children occurs at the hands of the people charged with their care or with whom they interact daily – caregivers, peers and intimate partners.” ***

We cannot shut out the cacophony or let it become mere background noise to our daily lives. We must raise our voices above the din and demand of our public officials the safety of our children. If we cannot keep our children safe, we, at least, owe them a concerted effort to preserve their innocence. If the most vulnerable among us cannot trust their parents, their church or their government to keep them safe, then whom can they trust and what becomes of their childhood?

Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Rotherham, an investigation into child sexual abuse in the Metropolitan Borough of Rotherham in South Yorkshire, Jay, Alexis, August, 2014.

**  See, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/02/world/europe/reckoning-starts-in-britain-on-abuse-of-girls.html?_r=0, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/11066646/Rotherham-politics-imported-from-Pakistan-fuelled-sex-abuse-cover-up-MP.html, and http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/rotherham-child-abuse-inquiry-over-1400-children-raped-trafficked-by-men-pakistani-heritage-1462666.

*** Hidden in Plain Sight- A Statistical Analysis of Violence against Children, Unicef, New York, 2014, http://files.unicef.org/publications/files/Hidden_in_plain_sight_statistical_analysis_EN_3_Sept_2014.pdf

Convert or Face Death!

A modern-day exodus is occurring for the Christians of the Northern Iraqi towns of Mosul and Bakhdida.  “Convert to Islam, leave the city or face death” is the threat reportedly given Christians by Islamic State militants, a faction of Sunni Muslims practicing an extremist and intolerant version of fundamentalist Islam.  Christians are fleeing for their lives, leaving their ancestral homes to seek asylum in Irbil, the capital of the Iraqi region of Kurdistan, and in countries throughout the world.  It is said that the Iraqi Christian population once having reached 1 million, may now be no greater than half that size.* After centuries of wreckage caused by hatred and intolerance born from religious fervor occurring in all corners of our globe, we still bear witness to that hatred and intolerance.  We are now no closer to a world safe for people of all religions and faiths than we were in the unenlightened Middle Ages.

What is happening to the Christian population of Iraq is but the more recent horrendous face of religious intolerance.  We need not go far into history to realize that the Crusades and Pogroms of the past are alive and well in the modern era and that religious freedom is still way beyond our grasp.  We have seen:

  • the Muslim slaughter of Hindus  in India and Pakistan;
  • the German slaughter of the Jews based, in part, on the anti-Semitic teachings of Martin Luther;
  • the massacre of Sikhs as a response to Indira Gandhi’s assassination;
  • the Muslim against Muslim human carnage resulting from the Shi’ite-Sunni conflicts;
  •  the Bosnian massacre of Bosnia Muslims in the ethnic cleansing campaign carried out by Bosnian Serbs;
  • the carnage in Sudan between Christian and Animist forces in the south and the Muslim forces in the north, followed by the genocide of black Sudanese Muslims of Darfur inflicted by the Arab Muslims of the north;
  • the Sabra and Shatila slaughter of mostly Palestinians and Lebanese Shiites by Lebanese Christians; and
  • the current Islamic State displacement of the Yazidis,

to name just a few.  We have become so immune to the oh so common onslaught of violent religious intolerance that we take in the news and  go about our business believing that violent religious intolerance is someone else’s problem.  Today it is the problem of Iraqi Christians and Yazidis.  As history has proved, no person and no religion are immune.

It is time we honored and respected God’s diverse and wondrous creation. It is time we recognize that God would never require the religious to be violently intolerant of the differences existing in God’s own creation. What will it take to eradicate religious intolerance? God only knows.

*See, http://www.latimes.com/world/middleeast/la-fg-iraq-christians-20140721-story.html., http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/06/17/whats-happening-to-iraqs-christians-as-islamists-tear-across-the-country/, and http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/in-northern-iraq-gains-by-islamic-state-threaten-centuries-old-christian-town/2014/07/19/7088f3b6-0f53-11e4-8c9a-923ecc0c7d23_story.html.

Christians in Qaraqosh, Iraq

Photo courtesy of : http://www.latimes.com/world/middleeast/la-fg-iraq-christians-20140721-story.html

RAPE-master675 Photo courtesy of:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/20/world/asia/struggling-to-keep-afghan-girl-safe-after-a-mullah-is-accused-of-rape.html.

Four days ago, the New York Times reported that on May 1, 2014, in a mosque after Quran recitation classes mullah Mohammad Amin raped a ten-year old girl. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/20/world/asia/struggling-to-keep-afghan-girl-safe-after-a-mullah-is-accused-of-rape.html?_r=0. This was an abhorrent crime, the type of which we have heard about all to often – the religious violating the innocent.  However, this particular crime perpetrated by this particular rapist on this particular child took on horrific proportions, because it was committed in Afghanistan where many believe the child has dishonored her family simply by being raped. The young victim now fears for her life at the hands of her own male family members. An honor killing of this unimaginable sort is so steeped in the fabric of Afghani society and culture that even the young victim’s mother sees the cemetery as her daughter’s safe-haven.

And what of the mullah who confessed to having had sex with the 10-year old? He has none of the fears that now plague the child. In fact, other mullahs have come to his defense. They, together with militia members, the Taliban and government and religious officials have supported the rapist, with some going so far as to threaten those individuals attempting to keep the victim from harm.

But why does the mullah need a defense at all, if his actions are truly  punishable by killing the victim?  Why did he magnanimously offer to marry the 10-year old? Why would he claim that the child looked older than her 10 years, when she was clearly pre-pubescent, weighing 40 pounds? Why would he claim she consented when the rape was so violent that it broke the wall between her vagina and her rectum, causing the child to lose copious amounts of blood?  One answer comes to mind – both the rapist and the society in which he committed the rape know, in their hearts, that rape is wrong and that the rape of a child in a sacred place by someone who should be her protector is not merely criminal, but despicable and dishonorable.

So, what can we say about a society that would blame the powerless for the crimes of the powerful or the father that would rather kill his child than the person who violently harmed her.  One word comes to mind – cowardly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pope Francis
Image courtesy of: http://bit.ly/163k4lm

These are amazing times for the Catholic Church. Pope Benedict XVI resigned due to his advanced age and declining health, making him the first pope to relinquish the papacy on his own accord since 1294.  He left the Church reeling in scandal, with pedophile priests molesting young parishioners, money laundering through the Vatican Bank, and a widening gap between the Church’s teachings and its parishioners’ beliefs on issues such as homosexuality, abortion and a female’s place in the hierarchy of the church. Benedict apparently believed that another Pope could better lead the Church through these scandalous and difficult times. Benedict was right.

On March 13, 2013, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the 76-year-old Jesuit Archbishop of Buenos Aires and first Pope hailing from the Americas, was elected Supreme Pontiff. See, http://bit.ly/16VIYIs. His election was a bold move toward a new perspective as evidenced by the Pope’s extraordinary actions taken during his young papacy.

To combat the long-standing accusations that the Vatican bank engaged in tax evasion and money laundering, Pope Francis created a commission of inquiry to reform the bank, better harmonize the bank with the Church’s calling and eradicate the appearance of favor. The commission, which includes a female Harvard Law professor, reports directly to Pope Francis and has the power to obtain information without regard to the secrecy of the offices from which the information comes. See, http://bit.ly/18jrmqW.

In an attempt to align Church policy with international legal standards, Pope Francis dramatically changed Vatican law by issuing a decree making sexual violence against minors, including child molestation by priests and child pornography, a crime punishable by up to 12 years in prison.  Importantly, the Pope extended the reach of the new law outside the Vatican, making it possible for both the Vatican and the country in which the crime occurred to indict the alleged child abuser. See, http://bit.ly/10P09HS; and  http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/07/11/19420382-pope-francis-targets-child-abuse-leaks-in-vatican-legal-reform?lite.

The Pope’s recognition that the Church was “obsessed” with homosexuality, abortion and contraception, that it “marginalized” gays, and that it needed “to find a new balance [or] the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards” was also extraordinary. Http://nyti.ms/18dJO0s.  It was not necessarily a change in theology, but rather an unprecedented transformation of the discourse. We understood that a new day of inclusion and mercy had dawned when the Pope asked, “if someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” Http://news.yahoo.com/pope-says-gays-must-not-judged-marginalized-110838664.html and http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/455215/who-am-i-to-judge-pope-says-of-gay-priests.

We now have a Pope who will criticize his Church for putting dogma before love, who believes that his “Church …should be…the home of all, not a small chapel that can hold only a small group of selected people,” and who believes his Church has a mandate to serve the poor and oppressed. Pope Francis has washed the feet of prisoners, hugged disabled pilgrims and visited a refugee center. It is this Pope’s vision of the Catholic Church as a church of tolerance that is truly profound.  See, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/20/world/europe/pope-bluntly-faults-churchs-focus-on-gays-and-abortion.html?pagewanted=all.

Photo courtesy of Associated Press/Matthew Brown

Photo courtesy of Associated Press/Matthew Brown: – http://huff.to/17ZQuTF

Stacey Dean Rambold, a 54-year-old high school teacher, raped Cherice Moralez, his 14-year-old student.

Montana State District Court Judge, G. Todd Baugh, suspended all but 30 days of the rapist’s sentence.

Outrageous – yes, but it gets worse. In defending the 30-day sentence for the rape by a man who was in a position of trust to the child victim, Judge Baugh blamed the child, saying that:

  • Cherice seemed “older than her chronological age”;
  • Cherice was “as much in control of the situation” as her teacher;
  • the circumstances of the rape made the sentence appropriate; and
  • the rape “wasn’t this forcible beat-up rape,” that “people have in mind”.

No less than 58,000 petition signatories and several hundred protestors gathered outside the Yellowstone County Courthouse in Billings, Montana are demanding the removal or resignation of Judge Baugh. There appear to be grounds for removal. The Judge’s words and actions violate Montana’s correctional and sentencing policy contained in a book meant to sit on the desk of every Montana judge. That policy required Judge Baugh to “punish each offender commensurate with the nature and degree of harm caused by the offense and to hold an offender accountable.” Montana Judges’ Deskbook, Municipal, Justice, and City Courts, §400.902(a), revised 2003 (MCA 46-18-101). By every standard, the Judge failed his responsibility.

By fixing blame for a heinous crime on the child victim rather than the adult perpetrator, Judge Baugh did more than violate Montana’s court rules and statutes. He abdicated a judge’s seminal responsibility to protect the public, including Cherice, a child in desperate need of protecting. Montana Judges’ Deskbook, §400.902(b), (MCA 46-18-101). No defense or excuse can vindicate Judge Baugh. What he did and said was “victim shaming” at its worst and dangerous to our system of justice, a system that the Judge had sworn to uphold. He made it infinitely harder for children and others to come forward even when egregiously and personally harmed.

The Judge must go, if only to send a clear, unambiguous message that rape is not a crime of impunity. Unfortunately, that message will never afford any justice for Cherice who took her own young life while the case was pending. See, http://nyti.ms/16VypDp, http://slate.me/19qLkgV, http://huff.to/17ZQuTF, and http://bit.ly/1bn9xc2.

What does the name of Washington, DC’s football team and the 30-mile ridge along the Allegheny Mountains stretching from western Maryland into Pennsylvania have in common?  The names are considered by some to be offensive. For decades, Native Americans, with respect to “Redskins”, and African-Americans, with respect to “Negro” Mountain, have sought to rid the region of these lingering relics of a bygone era. Recognizing that each group’s separate efforts have resulted in little to no success, Cortland Milloy, a columnist for the Washington Post, called for African-Americans and Native Americans to pool their resources to create a stronger voice, one more likely to be heeded. Http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-01-29/local/36612601_1_offensive-names-washington-redskins-mount-davis.

On another front, Julian Bond and others are trying to forge “a national constituency for civil rights” that includes all Americans standing together to level the playing field for all Americans in our ongoing momentous struggle against inequality and injustice.  After all, as Mr. Bond says, “[lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] rights are civil rights” worthy of inclusion in our “historic struggle for civil rights” and justice. A critical mass having the power to cut short a politician’s career or detrimentally affect the finances of a reluctant team owner has a better chance of educating the more callous among us and effecting change.

To speak in one voice, however, requires identifying with another’s feelings. Because intolerance is an equal opportunity victimizer, targeting a wide range of characteristics, including race, religion, national origin, gender, sexual preference, age and disability, almost all of us have had the “slings and arrows” of intolerance leveled directly at us. One would think empathy would come easy. Yet, it is still in short supply where intolerance is concerned.

We feign a failure to notice. We stand apart as if we are safe while the “other” is victimized – a “better him than me” mentality. We defend our prejudices by blaming the “other’s” thin-skin. We may even participate in offensive rituals to mask our own fear of being targeted or to pump ourselves up into believing that we are better than “them”. Even if we can say with all certainty that we are not bigots, racists or homophobes, who among us can say we have not laughed at an ethnic joke or said something stereotypically stupid?

Yet, we seethe when vitriol is leveled against us, and are blithely unaware when vitriol spews from us.  Now is the time to walk a mile in their moccasins. Now is the time to feel someone else’s pain. To paraphrase Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on this the 50th anniversary of his historic March on Washington – “No one is free [of injustice and intolerance] until everyone is free [of injustice and tolerance]“.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For the most part, those macho white males who love their guns and their right to carry and use them whenever and wherever they please enacted in over 30 states “Stand Your Ground” laws. These laws permit individuals to defend themselves with deadly force when they feel threatened, an extraordinarily subjective standard affected by, among other things, prejudice, intolerance and racial profiling. Even in New York City where minorities make up more than half the population and racial profiling abounds, carrying a gun is a white man’s sport. The NYPD stops African-Americans and Latinos 84% of the time, although they comprise only 54% of the population. Of those stops, the NYPD is more likely to discover a weapon on one of 49 whites as compared to one of 93 African-Americans. SeeStop and Frisk and the Urgent Need for Meaningful Reforms, issued by the Office of Bill de Blasio, Public Advocate for the City of New York, 2013.

Under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, a jury acquitted George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, of murdering Trayvon Martin, an African-American youth. In doing so, the jury defined the parameters of the threat necessary to kill with impunity.  Although Zimmerman stalked Martin, Martin apparently caused his own death when he stood his ground and, although unarmed,  confronted an armed Zimmerman. A fight ensued with Martin overpowering the beefier and more out of shape Zimmerman. Zimmerman, more frightened of Martin than Martin was of Zimmerman, was then free to fatally shoot the teenager. See, http://wapo.st/18mnWVo.

The defense protested that race was not an issue. Yet, it was. Like so many Americans, including law enforcement professionals and wannabes, George Zimmerman racially profiled his target. A tall and strapping African-American youth walked before him after dark in a residential neighborhood, with hood covering his head. In Zimmerman’s world, he needed nothing more in order to fear the teenager.  Nonetheless, more could have been present. Because Zimmerman carried a gun, he might have had a heightened sense of paranoia – definitely not something George Zimmerman or Trayvon Martin needed on that dark, Florida street. See, Notre Dame Study referred to in: Study: Carrying a gun can make you more paranoid, http://smrt.io/GJWRYk.

We have heard a myriad of calls for calm directed at our African-American community, a community with the right to be angry. Because of racial profiling, one of their and our own was killed. Yet we have heard nothing directed at our non-African American community cautioning that the “Stand Your Ground” laws do not grant free rein to harass, hurt and kill those different from themselves.

Thanks to that Florida jury, we are all fair game to the possible unintended consequences of the Zimmerman verdict. To the victim of profiling, remember Trayvon Martin. The danger to your life from a man following you is very real. If you stand your ground and kill the stalker with your concealed weapon, Zimmerman’s jury may have handed you a tried and true defense.  To the woman who has always felt that chill of fear walking a dark street with a man too close behind, you might now have the right to stand your ground and take his life, making him the next victim of the “George Zimmerman” defense.  The white man’s hard-fought for right to carry and use firearms may very well have just backfired.

TrayvonMartinHooded

Image of Trayvon Martin courtesy of: http://trayvonmartinfoundation.org/about/

The Catholic Church has been beleaguered for a very long time, most recently in Milwaukee. For decades, victims of sexual abuse have claimed that the Church,

  • continued the employment of pedophile priests;
  • shielded them through reassignment;
  • permitted them to continue their sexually abusive behavior by failing to warn their new parishioners; and
  • protected the Church’s assets through various schemes, including, as alleged in Milwaukee, bankruptcy fraud, to prevent redress to the child victims.

Assuming the Church hierarchy is composed of holy and moral men rather than criminal co-conspirators, the Church’s response to its pedophile priests is bewildering to say the least, unless the hierarchy’s compassion is limitless. If the Church could find compassion for these “men of God” although they committed some of the more heinous crimes known to man, then surely the Church could find compassion for virtually every other situation. Unfortunately, the Church could not. See, http://nbcnews.to/12DEn67, http://bit.ly/15JPnVi, http://bit.ly/10Y0ZSM, and http://huff.to/17z205m.

The Church’s compassion was conspicuously absent from its decision to place Carie Charlesworth, a second-grade teacher at San Diego’s Holy Trinity School, and her four children, students at Holy Trinity, on “indefinite leave”. In light of the Church’s history of failing to fire sexual deviants, Ms. Charlesworth must have committed unspeakable acts to merit her and her children’s expulsion. Not so.

Ms. Charlesworth is the victim of her abusive husband’s domestic violence. Although the school stated, “at no time were the students or staff threatened or did Mr. Charlesworth gain access to [the] school grounds,” when Mr. Charlesworth appeared at the school parking lot, Ms. Charlesworth, apparently unlike the pedophile priests, became a danger to the Church’s children. As a result, the school felt compelled to fire her, as explained in the school’s termination letter.

 “In the interest of the safety of the students, faculty and parents at Holy Trinity School, we simply cannot allow you to return to work here, or, unfortunately, at any other school in the Diocese.”

Seehttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/13/carie-charlesworth-teacher-fired_n_3436716.html, http://bit.ly/148FeCr, http://bit.ly/16eFAFR, and http://bit.ly/123754y.

In firing Ms. Charlesworth and expelling her children, Holy Trinity School and the Catholic Church evidenced a callous disregard for the well-being of its teacher/parishioner and her family. At the least, a compassionate employer would understand that the loss of an abused and innocent woman’s livelihood because of her husband’s criminal behavior merely compounds her and her children’s victimization. They are victimized first by the abuse itself at the hands of her husband, and then by the firing at the hands of her employer.  At the least, a compassionate employer would also understand that the loss of a job could sever the lifeline needed to end the abuse. In the case of Carie Charlesworth, the Church was not such an employer.

In protecting its children, the Church has exhibited a two-faced approach – over-zealous compassion for its pedophile priests and cold-stone lack of compassion for the innocent, though abused, teacher and her children. The Church acted wrongly through both of its faces.

Cardinal of New York, then Archbishop of Milwaukee, Timothy Dolan
Image courtesy of: http://bit.ly/12OIlKF

Governor of New Jersey at a town hall in Hills...

Image courtesy of: http://bit.ly/11aCWSW

Governor Christy, the moderate Republican governor of New Jersey, has made his position on marriage equality abundantly clear. He is against it. Nonetheless, he is willing to accept same-sex marriage if a majority of the people of New Jersey, by referendum, tell him to. The granting of basic civil and human rights to a minority should never be left to the will of the majority.  These rights, including the right to marry someone of one’s choosing, are not the majority’s to “give”. It is the epitome of arrogance for the Governor to think otherwise, even if he is willing to go along with the majority on the issue.

Governor Christy has now compounded his error. On Wednesday’s Ask the Governor radio show on NJ 101.5 FM, the Governor condemned the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision voiding a key section of the Defense of Marriage Act. He said the decision was not only “bad”, but “just another example of judicial supremacy rather than … the government [being] run by the people we actually vote for,” and “incredibly insulting to those … members of Congress who voted for the Defense of Marriage Act.”

Governor Christy’s words are astounding in light of this country’s history. Majorities have abridged and, in some instances, obliterated minority rights. Surely, he needs no reminder:

  • of the Jim Crow laws, enacted by the majority, that relegated African-Americans to second-class citizens and assured that the White majority would never suffer African-American proximity in restaurants, movies, hotels, schools and bathrooms to mention only a few legislated locations;
  • of the miscegenation laws, enacted by the majority, that banned inter-racial marriage in many states so that the blood of the White majority would not be diluted;
  • of the sexist laws that gave control over females’ bodies to the male legislative majority who enacted those laws;
  • of the homophobic laws, like the Defense of Marriage Act,  enacted by the majority, that withheld rights and benefits because the sexual orientation of the affected individuals was different from that of the majority, and that

the Supreme Court of the United States protected the rights of the minority in all of these cases.

Governor Christy should be applauded for providing moderation at a time when moderation is critically important to the viability of our two-party system of government. However, the Governor is running for reelection and harbors Presidential aspirations, both of which may account for Wednesday’s blatant appeal to the Conservative faction of his party. His position on marriage equality, his re-election campaign and his political aspirations aside, the Governor’s denouncement of the Supreme Court’s role in insuring minority rights is foolish in light of the majority’s history of malevolence. Whether by referendum or by legislative enactment, the majority cannot be the ultimate arbiter of minority rights. Sadly, that reality should be apparent to all Americans, including Governor Christy.

See, http://www.advocate.com/politics/marriage-equality/2013/06/27/chris-christie-denounces-doma-ruling, http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/new-jersey-gov-chris-christie-rips-supreme-court-doma-decision-article-1.1384015 and http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2013/06/christie_gay_marriage.html

Paula Deen

Image courtesy of: http://tmz.me/11d4GWR

Paula Deen’s, “Yes, of course,” to the question, “Have you ever used the N word yourself?” exhibits the crudeness and cockiness of Paula Deen’s racism.  Because of her words, the Food Network, Wal-Mart, Smithfield Foods, and Caesars Entertainment have dumped Ms. Deen, as her many followers extol her virtues and forgive her improprieties, and her many detractors abhor her remarks.

Her apologists do not blame Ms. Deen. Rather, they blame history. Apparently, Ms. Deen’s racism is understandable in light of her Southern upbringing. We are to believe the hackneyed stereotypes that Southerners are too ignorant, stupid or racist to appreciate or care about the use of the N word and other slurs, racist and anti-Semitic jokes and a life time of inappropriate and hateful language.

Southerners, as a whole, are not stupid, ignorant nor racist. Many cringe at Ms. Deen’s words and attitude. They understand the brutal legacy of dehumanizing a race of people for financial gain. They know that slavery and treason to uphold slavery was not the South’s finest hour, and they take no pride in that chapter of American history.

Ms. Deen tearfully denies her racism. However, her offered explanations do not provide the exoneration she seeks.

  • It does not matter that Ms. Deen may love like a “son by another father”, Hollis Johnson, a man “black as that board”. Her words remain racist and intolerant.
  • It does not matter that Ms. Deen’s great-grandfather committed suicide at the end of the Civil War when he lost his son and slaves and had to work his plantation himself. History cannot alter today’s intolerance.
  • It does not matter that Ms. Deen transfers the blame for her situation to unidentified people who envy what she has accomplished. Her infantile attempt to shirk responsibility does not absolve her of culpability.
  • It does not matter that Ms. Deen is part of that enormous group of people who have said something for which they are sorry. Her sins are not justified by the sins of others.

The fashioning of Ms. Deen as an American cliché does not help her cause. She is of an age and worldly enough to know the hurt of racial slurs and intolerant language heightened by a callous attitude. She knows or should know better. Ms. Deen will now face the consequences of her folksy self-judgment – “I is what I is, and I’m not changing.”

See, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9PL02LMD8Gw, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKWCJUxXJ6E, http://www.uproxx.com/tv/2013/06/video-of-paula-deen-making-insensitive-racial-comments-surfaces/ and http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2013/06/paula-deen-racial.php.

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