Despite the fact that it's the opposite of a slow news week -- an accused spy on the loose in Russia! historic Supreme Court decisions about gay marriage and voting rights! -- the media has doubled down on its coverage of Paula Deen's alleged racism. It admittedly hasn't been a good one for the celebrity chef, who's seen her contracts with the Food Network and Smithfield Foods terminated after she copped to using racial slurs in the past. But the All Paula, All The Time stream on social media and blogs like Eater has seemed a little hysterical, considering all that's going on in the world.
See also: Top 5 Racist Food Faux Pas
Enter former New York Times food critic Frank Bruni, who expertly parsed the story and drew out the reason that Deen's casual racism is particularly insidious:
Just how far have we trekked on our long road toward a more colorblind, equitable society? Just how hurtfully do we still stumble? Such questions are prominent this week, with the Supreme Court sidestepping an affirmative-action decision and testimony in the Trayvon Martin case set to begin. We're once again taking stock.
And it's this backdrop that's relevant to Deen's firing by the Food Network and, on Monday, by Smithfield Foods. In a world of pervasive insult and elusive consensus, she provided a discrete opportunity for a line to be drawn. She served up a teachable moment on a platter.
He also doesn't have time for the argument that Deen's age and Southern roots somehow make it okay for her to have the worldview:
If she can leave Georgia for the sake of commerce, she can leave Georgia in the realm of consciousness.
This isn't the first time the NYT writer has covered Deen. A few years back, Bruni wrote an editorial defending the Southern cooking queen, as as Eater is quick to remind us -- though on reading it now it seems less of a defense of Deen as a person and more of a not very focused attack on culinary elitism.
Anyway, his column today is well worth reading.