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"Each individual should allow reason to guide his conduct, or like an animal, he will need to be led by a leash."
Diogenes of Sinope


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Thousand Flowers tapestry (15th Century) - Beaune, France (detail)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Turkey meat as a political manifesto

It must be tough being a liberal; so many temptations to stray from the narrow path of leftist orthodoxy. Every day one is presented with hundreds of little decisions, the consequences of which could mean the difference between post-colonial political liberation or western hegemony, sexual and gender equality or patriarchal heteronormative oppression, racial harmony or white supremacy. Take, for example, the Thanksgiving turkey; American liberals sitting around the table on Thursday must have been paralyzed with indecision when asked by the hostess (oops - host person), "white meat or dark?"

Ron Rosenbaum of Slate.com outlines the dilemma in an article that almost defies parody titled The unbearable whiteness of white meat :
This is what I can't understand: Why does most of America want its turkey meat white? Why do people flock to the obscenely named Butterballs, which boast of overinflated breasts as unnatural as the silicone boobs of truck-stop strip joints or of the Kardashian sisters?

Why have we broken the chains of the whiteness that bound us to fatally tasteless white bread while still remaining imprisoned in the white-meat turkey ghetto?
...
Despite its superior taste, dark meat has dark undertones for some. Dark meat evokes the color of earth, soil. Dark meat seems to summon up ancient fears of contamination and miscegenation as opposed to the supposed superior purity of white meat.
I guess it shouldn't be a surprise that white meat remains the choice of a holiday that celebrates Puritans.
Indeed, the connotations of the pale and darker parts of the turkey constitute a meaty metaphor for the Thanksgiving feast itself. The allegedly more refined and daintier white parts, the wings and breast, have never touched the ground the way the earthier darker legs have done. And you know how dirty dirt is.
By the way, if you want to read a brilliant poetic embodiment of the real story of our "Pilgrim fathers," a chilling antidote to white bread, white meat, and Thanksgiving treacle, I recommend you take a look at Robert Lowell's amazing, chilling poem "Children of Light"(which could have been called ("Children of White").

Its opening lines represent the best unsentimental epitaph for the myth of Thanksgiving:

Our fathers wrung their bread from stocks and stones
And fenced their gardens with the Redmen's bones.
Maybe that's why I have a prejudice against the white-meat sacrament of the holiday that covers up the white man's crimes.
It's Lowell writing about his pilgrim ancestors who began the rolling genocidal slaughter of those nice Native Americans who made the first Thanksgiving possible.
The real Thanksgiving story is extremely dark, far darker than any leg and thigh meat.
Could fear of facing our dark history be behind the prejudice against dark meat? Or is there more to the darkness of dark meat that feeds that fear?
Not to mention the carbon footprint of those freakish birds!  Mr. Rosenbaum would probably be happier sitting down to a bowl of organic shade-grown fair-trade quinoa harvested by indigenous Peruvian native cooperatives.

You know, Mr. Rosenbaum - sometimes a turkey is just a turkey.

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