Ben Jones has given us a rousing defense of celebrity chef Paula Deen and of “Southern culture” as well [“I speak of the South and its people,” July 4]. Does he believe Deen, now shunned for racist associations, is emblematic of such a culture? It’s clear he condemns the media (especially the new-fangled, electronic variety), “Corporate America” and “Northern intellectuals.” But what exactly is he defending?
Did he happen to hear Deen deny using the “n-word” on one occasion because the group referred to was “professional?” Nobody but a true-blue racist could have said such a thing. Did he know she admitted in a deposition that she longed for Southern plantation-style events with black waitstaff?
He claims that every Southerner “of a certain age” has used the n-word in some context or other. Well, that grants a lot of leeway. I myself spoke out against the n-word when I was growing up in Georgia. Does that count as using it? Surely not. Jones comes off as offering a fuzzy apologia for those who’ve engaged in this particular racial slur.
I was a student at the University of Georgia when Charlayne Hunter, by herself, integrated that racist stronghold. I cheered her on, along with many others. My mother, a southern grande dame if ever there was one, gave up her seat on a bus in Augusta to an old black woman laden with groceries. The bus driver stopped the bus and told her to get off. Why? Because she was breaking the law! (She was.)
We both saw ourselves as acting against Southern culture.
I understand that Ben Jones is not defending racism. But he is splitting altogether too many hairs.