Posted on July 17, 2018

Papa John Burned at the Stake

Gregory Hood, American Renaissance, July 17, 2018

Under the Soviets, you could be punished for dissenting from the ruling ideology, even in private. Yet it’s hard to imagine being punished for expressing agreement. That level of tyranny had to wait for 2018 in America.

“Papa” John Schnatter, founder of Papa John’s pizza, has resigned as Chairman of the Board of the company he founded. He stepped down immediately after the appearance of a July 11 report in Forbes that he used the “N-word” during a conference call in May. He also resigned from the board of trustees of the University of Louisville, which quickly removed the Papa John name from its football stadium. The John H. Schnatter Center for Free Enterprise at the Louisville College of Business also promises to change its name. Philanthropy can take a man only so far these days. The Miami Marlins baseball team terminated a promotional relationship with Papa John’s.

Papa John’s founder and former CEO John Schnatter. (Credit Image: © Prensa Internacional via ZUMA Wire)

After the scandal had percolated for a few days, the company’s board kicked Mr. Schnatter out of his office at its Louisville headquarters, ordered him not to speak to the media, and said it would no longer use his image in advertising. The board also announced an “audit” of the company’s “culture” to make sure it is practicing “diversity and inclusion” with sufficient zeal. Perhaps the next step will be to rename the company Nelson Mandela’s Pizza.

Reporter Noah Kirsch bragged about the scalp he had claimed.

The story seems absurd on its face. Every white American knows saying anything that might offend a non-white or member of any other privileged class will bring on the media and nationwide hysteria. The idea that a CEO would call someone the N-word or refer to blacks that way on a conference call is absurd. It’s especially ludicrous because Mr. Schnatter was accused of racism in late 2017 when he criticize NFL players who refused to stand for the National Anthem. He apologized for that, which suggests he had learned his lesson.

It appears that Mr. Schnatter pronounced the forbidden word during an on-the-phone training session with a PR company called Laundry Service. The purpose of the training was to teach Mr. Schnatter how to avoid controversy. During the call, Mr. Schatter reportedly downplayed his earlier remarks about the NFL protests and noted that “Colonel Sanders called blacks n***ers” without getting in trouble.

As soon as the Forbes story appeared — three months after the conference call — Mr. Schnatter confirmed that “reports attributing the use of inappropriate and hurtful language to me during a media training session regarding race are true . . . .Regardless of the context, I apologize. Simply stated, racism has no place in our society.”

Now that the axe has fallen, Mr. Schnatter has changed his story. He says that Laundry Services pushed him to use the word: “They were promoting that kind of vocabulary.” He even claims someone at the PR company than tried to blackmail him, saying that unless he paid them $6 million they would report his use of the word to the media: “They tried to extort us and we held firm and they took what I said and ran to Forbes . . . .”

Obviously, we don’t know the full story. However, it’s clear that Mr. Schnatter was not expressing hatred of blacks. He was giving an example of something he thought people should not do. What’s more, even if he did this in a clumsy or offensive way, that was why he was getting media training.

The real implication is that the “N-word” — a word I’m not even typing here lest search engines and “safety” applications begin blocking this site — has a magical power all its own. The NFL, the NAACP, and the New York City Council have all tried to ban the word, but blacks use it all the time. You can hear it in virtually any convenience store or fast food joint in a “vibrant” part of town. But if a white person uses it, even in private conversation, it’s a national scandal. Every so often some hapless young white is caught on video using the word and the sky falls. It is now increasingly common to suggest that if a non-black calls a black person the forbidden word it certainly justifies violence and maybe even murder.

The rich and famous are particularly vulnerable. After he was caught on video using the word, “Hulk Hogan,” arguably the most famous professional wrestler in history, had his very name wiped from the history of World Wrestling Entertainment, the company he put on the map. The wrestler’s career-ending video came to public attention only because the website Gawker published a sex tape of him. The tape with the racial slur emerged because of the Hulkster’s lawsuit, bankrolled by Peter Thiel, to punish Gawker.

Mr. Schnatter’s case is even more shocking. No one’s private conversation should be aired publicly, but Hulk Hogan did use the word to refer to blacks. In a normal society, this wouldn’t be news, but we don’t live in a normal society. Mr. Schnatter not only had his privacy violated but has become a non-person — just like Hulk Hogan — simply for pronouncing the word out loud. Apparently, whites have the power to work terrible evil simply by vocalizing two forbidden syllables.

In his book Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt, Paul Gottfried calls the system emerging in the West a “secular theocracy,” and the reaction to Mr. Schnatter’s faux pas suggests he committed blasphemy. His apology and declaration of faith (“racism has no place in our society”) hasn’t saved him any more than prayers would save a man who cursed God in pre-Enlightenment Europe.

Yet faith in an absurd egalitarian creed does not fully explain what happened to Mr. Schnatter. Many people are no doubt sincere in their “anti-racism.” Yet the doctrine of equality can also be used as a powerful weapon in the competition for status. In ages past, it was possible to destroy a competitor in the battle for prestige by producing evidence of (or simply charging him with) heretical beliefs or sexual foibles. Today, a verbal slip that can be construed as “racism” serves the same purpose. Defining a competitor’s speech or behavior as “racist” is a source of great power. The rules of proper behavior change so quickly and have become so arcane that sophisticated “anti-racists” can convict practically anyone of this modern heresy.

As Mr. Schnatter has learned, “racism” is not meant to be eradicated — even as he, himself, was actively trying to eradicate it. The careers, self-conception, and moral purpose of millions depend on its eternal survival. Victory can never be declared in the war against “racism” lest anti-racists undermine their own priestly authority. John Schnatter — even while engaging in one of the religion’s tired rituals, even while reciting its sacred dogmas — uttered a forbidden word and was swiftly excommunicated.

Mr. Schnatter’s pleas for forgiveness and professions of unshaken faith served no purpose. The people he tried to buy indulgences from with his lavish donations have already denounced him. In liberalism’s church without salvation, even martyrdom serves no purpose — except as evidence of the power of dogma.