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SIMMONS: Change takes its measure of the queen of TV cooking

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 26, 2013

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

OMG! The Supreme Court removes one of the linchpins of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

OMG! The Supreme Court swings wide the door labeled gay marriage with two separate but equal same-day rulings.

OMG! Paula Deen, my queen of cooking with butter recipes, who is scheduled to be in the District this fall, used the "N" word.

What's a body to do when you're standing on the other side of change?

Take a deep breath, count to 10 — 20, if you're really fuming — and think.

Think about the fact that the baseline for federal voting laws is nearly 50 years old — younger than the Supreme Court's landmark ruling on interracial marriage, nearly as old as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and definitely younger than Ms. Deen — whose learned behavior has some of you bubbling like hot-out-of-the-oven peach cobbler filling.

So simmer down.

Scorched tongues don't make for good tongue lashings.

You're not griping about the comprehensive immigration reform package that's speedily making its way through the Senate, which long ago was dubbed the "world's greatest deliberative body."

The Senate isn't so much being deliberative on immigration laws as it is being close-minded and determined to push a measure through come hell or no border security.

Same-sex marriage, it seems, is here to stay, and we knew that before the Supreme Court let loose its pronouncements Wednesday.

We knew because of the high court's instructive historical footnotes on miscegenation under Chief Justice Earl Warren, which skirted a potential landmark decision on interracial marriage prior to its Brown v. Board of Education ruling in 1954.

The court did act in 1967 on the Loving v. Virginia case, however, by striking down as unconstitutional Virginia's laws against interracial marriage.

Chief Justice Warren, writing for the unanimous court, said that "marriage is one of the basic civil rights of man, fundamental to our very existence and survival."

We also knew the moral argument against gay marriage was being kicked to the curb when then-D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty strode into a church, cocky as all get out, to sign the D.C. Religious Freedom And Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act 2009.

The rules aren't what they used to be.

Look at cook extraordinaire Paula Deen.

Hardly a Martha Stewart wannabe, Ms. Deen is a cook who found a foodie niche — Southern-style cooking, for all "y'all" — and jumped to the front of the line with her high-calorie, easy-to-make dishes that we often refer to as comfort food, or food for the soul you might say.

She started cooking as a way to pass time, because that was what she knew.

She used butter, because that was what she knew.

She used her family's recipes, because that was what she knew.

She used the "N" word, because that was what she knew.

A baby boomer reared in Albany, Ga. — or "Allbenny," as another Georgia peach, my mom, pronounces it — Ms. Deen didn't change even when the laws and times did.

What would you have expected her to say? Negro?

Does that make her a racist?

No — but we'll probably force her to make amends because of what happened in the past.

But, see, that's what the Supreme Court said regarding the Voting Rights Act: Don't judge states based on a history of past discrimination, when the "N" was as commonplace among conversations as seersucker, "colored" drinking fountains and separate-but-equal schoolhouses.

It's not my place to defend Ms. Deen, yet looking forward, I would like to see her in action this November at the Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining Show.

If you're still steaming about the direction America is headed, take a deep breath, count to 10 and think.

Deborah Simmons can be reached at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.

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