The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Meet WorldNetDaily’s Latest Cause Célèbre, Chef Paula Deen

By Leah Nelson on July 8, 2013 - 2:09 pm, Posted in Anti-Black, Extremist Propaganda

Paula Deen has had a crummy couple of weeks.

Since it emerged in late June that the celebrity chef has used offensive racial slurs, is fond of racist and anti-Semitic jokes, yearned to host a “real Southern plantation” wedding featuring black waiters tricked out as slaves, and doesn’t particularly mind if her employees watch pornography at work, Deen’s sponsors have dropped her like the hotcakes she’ll no longer be shown making on The Food Network. Wal-Mart, Target, Smithfield Foods, and pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk have cut ties with Deen, and on June 28, Ballantine Books canceled a multi-book contract, despite high presale numbers for Paula Deen’s New Testament: 250 Recipes, All Lightened Up.

But where some brands see a liability, WorldNetDaily (WND), the far-right supermarket tabloid of the Internet, sees an opportunity.

In a July 3 E-mail blast, WND announced exciting deep discounts on patriotic accoutrements and books about God’s plan for America (including a reboot of pseudo-historian David Barton’s The Jefferson Lies, which portrays Thomas Jefferson, a slave-owner and deist who famously questioned the divinity of Jesus Christ, as an ultra-Christian champion of civil rights), and, of course, Paula Deen’s Southern Cooking Bible.

“The rest of the media and corporate world may be running away from Paula Deen. … But the WND Superstore is running toward her,” burbled a “WND Exclusive” advertorial published on July 1. “She’s been abandoned by her TV network, Walmart, Target – even the publisher of her upcoming No. 1 bestselling book in the country. … So what is the politically incorrect WND Superstore doing? Stocking up on everything Paula Deen.”

WND is doing more than just adding Deen’s recipe books to its emporium of Armageddon- and antigovernment “Patriot-” themed paraphernalia. Since news of her racist indiscretions broke, the Internet tabloid has run almost daily articles lauding the celebrity chef and excoriating her detractors, with headlines like, “Paula Deen, Tell ’Em All to Go to Hell,” “The Deen Destruction Derby,” and “Black Racism Killed Trayvon … and Paula Deen’s Career.”

This last item, linking Deen’s ostracism with the ongoing murder trial of George Zimmerman, a Sanford, Fla., neighborhood watch volunteer charged in the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin, was authored by regular WND columnist Jesse Lee Peterson, a black minister and radio personality who once thanked God for slavery and has said that most black people “lack moral character.”

“I’ve been warning for the past 23 years that black racism is out-of-control – it appears black racism killed Trayvon Martin, and Paula Deen’s career!” wrote Peterson in his July 2 rant. Blacks and whites, wrote Peterson, must stand up to “race hustlers” and “thugs” before “racial intimidation” – by blacks – becomes the norm. “I hear from many white people that they’ve given up on trying to help or deal with blacks,” Peterson wrote. “If they hire blacks, they’re afraid to correct them because they may cry racism. … Whites have to overcome the fear of being called ‘racist.’”

Wondering which white people Peterson is hearing from? Self-described white separatist Virginia Abernethy, who sat on the editorial advisory board of the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens’ (CCC) The Citizens Informer, told Max Blumenthal of The Nation that she considers Peterson a friend. And CCC member Barbara Coe joined the reverend at a 2011 tea party rally devoted “to expos[ing] NAACP lies and their big government agenda.”

Another WND columnist whose defense of Deen is noteworthy is Ilana Mercer, who says Deen is being punished for “transgress[ing] against America’s many Orwellian Ministries of Truth” and laments the “typical invertebrate conservative pundit[s]” who have supposedly hung Deen out to dry.

Mercer herself is no typical conservative pundit. A U.S.-based writer of South African Jewish descent, she is an apologist for South African apartheid whose writings appear often on the white nationalist website VDARE, where they share space with material produced by professor Kevin MacDonald, America’s pre-eminent academic anti-Semite. VDARE founder Peter Brimelow, a British immigrant who frets that, due to immigration from non-European countries, “America will become a freak among the world’s nations because of the unprecedented demographic mutation it is inflicting on itself,” penned the introduction to Mercer’s 2009 book, Broad Sides: One Woman’s Clash with a Corrupt Culture.

In 2011, John Derbyshire, who was fired from the conservative National Review in 2012 after suggesting in an essay that white and Asian parents should warn their children that black people pose a threat to their safety, rhapsodically blurbed Mercer’s more recent book, Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons For America From Post-Apartheid South Africa.

Mercer, who has contributed articles to the CCC’s Citizens Informer, has also been quoted approvingly on the website of American Renaissance, a white nationalist journal that promotes pseudo-scientific studies and research purporting to show the inferiority of blacks to whites.

Peterson and Mercer are not the only WND writers to defend Deen. Erik Rush — who is black and the author of Negrophilia: From Slave Block to Pedestal – America’s Racial Obsession, which argues that “the undue and inordinate affinity for blacks” has led to a state of affairs in which “racism on the part of blacks is [considered] acceptable, or even proper” — voiced shock and outrage at the press’ treatment of the Southern celebrity chef. So did Barbara Simpson, a regular WND contributor who among other things blamed antidepressant drugs for the December 2012 massacre at Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary School.

WND founder Joseph Farah also weighed in, noting that while he detests the “media and corporate establishment” for its “vitriolic, unforgiving, ravenous wolf-pack reaction to her racial indiscretions,” he also kind of thinks Deen got what she deserves because she is a Democrat – which political party, Farah says, “was founded as the political wing of the Ku Klux Klan and fought desegregation and civil rights through the early 1960s.” (Not so, as we’ve noted before. (1) The Democratic Party was founded long before the Klan, and (2) After the early 1960s, Democrats embraced civil rights, and Southern Democrats who opposed desegregation switched parties, walking straight into the arms of the GOP, which took up the banner for civil rights opposition thereafter. But we digress.)

WND’s embrace of Paula Deen, and its over-the-top shrieks about white victimization at the hands of black bigots, should come as no surprise. The Internet tabloid, which claims to oppose racism in any form, has for about a year now been publishing the work of one Colin Flaherty, who specializes in reporting on “black-on-white violence.” Flaherty, whose fan base includes the professional racists at American Renaissance, argues that “black-on-white” attacks have gone through the roof and the only reason you don’t know about it is because the “liberal media” has colluded to keep the story under wraps.

Justifying his presence, WND precedes all of Flaherty’s reports with a prim editor’s note, stating, among other things, that, WND considers it racist not to report racial abuse solely because of the skin color of the perpetrators or victims.”

Based on its coverage of the Paula Deen affair, WND does not consider it racist to be racist. And for all its condemnation of supposed “race hustlers” cashing in on racial tension in the country, WND itself doesn’t mind reaping what rewards may come, in terms of Internet traffic and actual money, when the racial balance suits its purpose. Joseph Farah says he despises Paula Deen, but he’s all too happy to gin up outrage over her supposed victim status. And he doesn’t mind the prospect of making a quick buck doing it. As he wrote in his Friday commentary, “If Paula Deen is looking for a publisher who still believes in free enterprise and the First Amendment to distribute her new book, I’m just a phone call or email away. I’m obviously not sugar-coating it. I’m not sucking up or making excuses for anything Paula Deen has done. I just believe to preserve a free society, we have to guard vigilantly against witch hunts like this.”

  • Steve L.

    Hi all. Been looking thru the archives for a while and I thought I might join in.

    TBH, this is my opinion on Paula Deen: she may not be a truly, truly bad person; after all, she WAS raised in the ’50s when both outright racism and casual prejudice were still fairly widespread in the South.

    However, though, what she did was still quite wrong. And I’m quite disturbed, though not sadly surprised, at how many wingnuts, neo-fascists, and other malcontents jumped to defend her use of the awful “N” word.

    I do hope she’ll try to make a concerted effort to mend her ways and turn over a new leaf…..but will she?

    Well, anyway, that’s just my 2 cents. Thanks for reading. =)

  • Reynardine

    Blood in the street doesn’t do a damn thing but stink in the sun and get maggots. I’m a certified slob, Steve, but I don’t call that cleansing.

  • http://SPLC Steve

    Paula Deene is just a proverbial drop in the bucket. For those who think racism ever abated in the US, well, they are just deluded. Racism just hid in the closet for years waiting for the right time & place to go public again. That time is now. The malignant stain of racism will never go away no matter how many civil rights groups raise verbal hell about it. The only thing that will cleanse America of racism is blood in the street.

  • Bodhisattva

    We live in Augusta, and have friends in and around the Savannah area, including some that have worked for her and her sons. We have never been her fans. First, I can’t stand people talking with a fake Southern accent. She’s Southern so I’m sure she has somewhat of a real accent, but our friend who’ve worked there say what you hear is as phony as it gets. Second, ALL of the folks we know from down there say she and her sons are absolutely the worst employers they have ever had the privilege of quitting. Some are wait staff, some have culinary training but they all same the same. They treat everyone like dirt. This latest incident didn’t surprise us at all. Everyone is beneath her. That’s why we never watch her, have never eaten at her or her son’s restaurant, or spent one thin dime on any of her merchandise. Hey, we live in the South. We can get fried chicken that will blow hers out of the water any day of the week at dozens of little hole in the wall places for a fraction of the cost. As an added bonus, we don’t have to look at her or listen to her fake accent.

  • hunglikejesus

    I think Paula Deen kitchen will cause more damage then her mouth. WorldNutDaily has an audience to entertain and they do a pretty good job at that. Jeese Lee Paterson makes we wish Stockholm Syndrome was terminal.

  • Joanne

    This seems to me like a win-win situation for Progressives – the right embraces Paula and her cooking, and it will kill them, and it won’t be our fault.

  • Reynardine

    By the way, Rush Limbaugh has announced that healthy living, moderation, exercise, or even activity at all, are all liberal plots, with a special evil immanent in vegetables. He is encouraging everyone to live and eat like himself and Paula Deen, which gives me the hope that the next heat wave will see this whole ghastly crew melt.

  • Ithink

    How I could POSSIBLY give a …. less about this Paula Deen nonsense is beyond comprehension is beyond me but I wish all the chain of fools the best of luck milking this overblown ‘scandal’ for all its worth; its not as if the Republicans being the Party of (infrequently polite) White Nationalism wasn’t a firebrand reality already radioactive to minority and women’s interest or needs…they’ll be going the full trail of the Whigs and Know-Nothing parties around this date in 2024 elections or sooner if they keep up these tantrums of solitary mental confinement!

  • Erika

    The right wing media is becoming so formulalic and predictable – so once again we have some sort of minor “celebrity” who is basically famous for being famous* get caught displaying some sort of completely indefensible bigotry – its always either racism or extreme homophobia (or both). And naturally most people who are against that completely indefensible bigotry react by turning against the “celebrity” – in this case, her losing her TV show on something called The Food Network which i don’t think i have ever watched since watching someone else cook is not my idea of fun and some endorsement deals (we will address the book contract later).

    But while most people flee from the celebrity – after all, its not like she is the only person who cooks very likely lethal** butter saturated fried foods which really should not be eaten by anyone*** the right wing embraces her. After all, they do not see displays of racial bigotry as a negative**** – in fact, they likely see it as a positive – although most of them do have enough sense to not admit that they view racism as the positive. So they laughably try to claim that people objecting to bigotry is “bigotry” and claim that it is a “politically correct” attack on free speech.

    But of course, the right wing media – because they have to be always attacked – has to dramatically play up any victimization no matter how riduculous. And of course, because at heart they are all grifters looking to separate rubes from their money, they embrace anyone who can make them money. Hence, they buy up Paula Deen’s cookbooks (likely on the cheap in bulk) to sell to people who are so naive and stupid that they actually think they are annoying liberals by buying them. That also explains the rather pathetic plea to Paula Deen to publish more books with them. Because their only goal is to separate fools from their money they know that their fans will buy the books simply to “annoy liberals” See also, the downright ludicrous embrace of Chick-Fil-A following the relevations of their anti-gay activities.

    What they fail to realize is that we don’t care. i mean, if you want to eat a greasy fried chicken sandwich you can. if you want to buy a cook book of greasy fried foods you can. We don’t care how you spend your money. All we are doing is laughing at you. The only thing that buying a Chick-Fil-A sandwich says is that you want to eat a chicken sandwich. The only thing that buying a Paula Deen cookbook says is that you want a cook book full of recipes of calorie and fat ladened food that will kill you. Okay, if you are buying those items to “annoy liberals” it buying them also says that you are a complete moron. But really, all we are doing at this rather transparent money making scheme is laughing at it. i mean, when i was a child these people would probably be pretending to be preachers to separate rubes from their money by saying that God will cure their butter saturated food induced diabetes or something (okay, Pat Robertson still is working this scam) – but now, that the right is slowly but surely replacing God with Mammon (even though perversely still Christian Supremacists) they don’t even have to include religious motivation. Just spending money – “to annoy liberals” and “stand up for freedom” (well it does stand up for the freedom of scam artists to legally scam gullible people) is now sufficient.

    But perhaps the hawking of overpriced gold coins and freedom seeds isn’t going to well for the WorldNutDaily so they need to find some new revenue streams. in fact, i’m sure they would love to have Paula Deen come on to join their list of distinguished well informed celebrity commentators like Pat Boone (who honestly does appeal to the right demographics for the right wing media of angry elderly people – although they might find that his claim to “fame” being horrifically bad and hilarious covers of Little Richard songs makes him a bit suspect in the racist homophobe category). And depending upon Paula Deen’s degree of pathetic need for attention no matter where it comes from – not to mention the potential need for cash depending upon the amount of legal settlements that might have to be paid to sexually and racially harassed former employees – they might actually get her to join their little cadre in the fleecing of the sheep – although in her case it will more likely be drenching the sheep in butter and batter and deep frying them.

    * i’m still wondering exactly who Paula Deen is – from what i can gather she is someone who attempts to get Yankees to eat the basically unfit for human consumption “food” that has made the South the most out of shape and fattest region in the country.

    ** if the foods won’t kill you, they will at least severely limit your ability to find radiant joy

    *** seriously, you might be better off smoking than eating that stuff – smoking might also be less disgusting than that “food”.

    **** unless of course, it is racism against whites which for the right wing seems primarily to be white people objecting to other white people’s racism and of course, any black person who is to the left of Uncle Ruckus, oopsie i meant Jesse Lee Petterson, its an easy mistake to make.

  • concernedcitizen

    That’s funny Reynardine!

    It’s a clear display of a lack of moral character when you have people secretly engaged in racism all the while smiling and taking the money from those whom they despise behind clothes doors with their friends.

    Still the assignment of such traits to one race that are present in men and women of all color rings loud as testimony to the poisonous ignorance that clouds any type of sound judgment that would be present in the people who subscribe to such bigotry.

  • Reynardine

    Poor Paula. You are what you cook. She’s a fathead.

  • Gregory

    Personally, I hope that Paula is kept very busy as the personal chef for the staff and contributors of WorldNutDaily. Remember, if she scrimps on the butter and lard then the libs have won.

  • Kiwiwriter

    I’ll bet Paula Deen isn’t too happy with the folks who are on her side…now she knows why Napoleon didn’t like having allies.