As practically everyone knows by now, multimillionaire TV chef Paula Deen was yanked from the pinnacle of free-market success after admitting to a lawyer taking a deposition in a racial and sexual harassment lawsuit (already Orwellian) that she had used what is referred to as "the N-word" some 25 years ago.
"The N-word"? Here we give the Victorians a run for their word-mincing money. The offending word, of course, is "nigger," and no matter how ugly it is, it is hardly taboo when a quick search of iTunes pulls up 2,000 entries for sale featuring the term.
According to the deposition, Deen said the word when telling her husband about the man who had stuck a gun to her head during a robbery at the bank where she worked years ago. She also admitted to using the slur at other non-specific times but said, "It's been a long time," adding: "That's just not a word we use as time has gone on" (unless "we" are in the music business).
So, like President Obama on homosexual marriage, Deen claims to have "evolved," or at least learned some manners. Nonetheless, her admission disqualified Deen from further participation in public life -- at least according to the titans of corporate America. En masse, they ended their lucrative business relationships with Deen. Food Network cut ties with her. Then Smithfield Foods. Major retailers -- Wal-Mart, Target, Home Depot, J.C. Penney, QVC -- announced they would no longer sell Paula Deen merchandise. Random House also canceled Deen's forthcoming cookbook even as it was already, in pre-release, the No. 1 top-selling book on Amazon.
Watching Deen's long fall is almost unbelievable. Judging by these swift, unforgiving actions by corporate America, there is nothing worse than what Deen did (said). That would include, for example, giving aid and comfort to the enemy in North Vietnam while American POWs were being tortured by captors in Hanoi, and while other Americans were still fighting and dying during the Vietnam War. This, of course, is exactly what actress Jane Fonda did before amassing her own exercise-based media empire.
I couldn't help noticing that in the same People magazine issue that features a Deen cover story ("Inside Her Fall"), actress Winona Ryder offers readers a list of her favorite books. One happens to be "My Life So Far," a memoir by Jane Fonda. Ironically, Random House is Fonda's publisher. Another Ryder must-read is "Scoundrel Time," a memoir by writer Lillian Hellman, who admired and even shilled for Stalin, the Soviet dictator who killed some 20 million people.
Fonda and Hellman, however, make public-square-approved bedtime reading. It is Deen who is anathema, now and probably always. Why? Whether she is as far left as Fonda and Hellman, Deen is no conservative -- the most common cause of cultural leprosy. What gives?
The answer lies in the superpowers of the left to shape and guide our responses to all cultural stimuli.
Deen, 66, may have supported President Obama in 2008, but she is an old, white Southerner, which, in good, ol' fashioned Marxist-Leninist terms, is still a class of person best defined as "enemy of the people." Detestable. Expendable. Throw her under the "limousine liberals'" limousine while they, admiring enemies of the Constitution (or U.S. troops), whiz by us in cultural camouflage all the way to the reliably capitalist bank.
And speaking of the reliably capitalist bank, don't forget Alec Baldwin. The notoriously bad-mouthed actor (and left-wing People for the American Way board member) volcanically erupted on Twitter recently, hurling expletive-laced homosexual insults at a journalist. However, Baldwin, too, remains a public-square-anointed one, apparently secure as pitchman for Capitol One.
It gets more ironic. Also out this month is a Town & Country cover story about Armand "Armie" Hammer, the 26-year-old star of a new Lone Ranger movie. The headline is, "Lone Ranger in Love: He's from an American Dynasty, but for the New John Wayne, Money and Fame Aren't Everything."
American dynasty? The new John Wayne? Young Armie, of course, has nothing to do with the formation of said dynasty, and probably less to do with the writing of the glossy headline. In short, Armie is beside my point, which is this: The Hammer "Dynasty's" formation was anything but "American" given its deep, twisted roots in Soviet wheeling and dealing.
Armie's great-grandfather was Armand Hammer (1898-1990), a legendary Soviet "agent of influence" whose fortune began to accrue while in effect laundering money for Lenin's nascent Soviet Union -- no fan, of course, of the bourgeois likes of Town & Country. Then there's the magazine's invocation of John Wayne, a legendary patriot and anti-Communist. So outspoken was Wayne, film historian and Wayne biographer Michael Munn tells us, the actor was actually targeted for assassination by Stalin.
Town & Country's headline isn't just an example of tone-deafness. By such discordant chords, our history is written over and forgotten, leaving us oblivious to everything -- except, of course, that Paula Deen is a racist.
Diana West is the author of "The Death of the Grown-up: How America's Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization," and blogs at dianawest.net.