Friday, February 26, 2010

"LIberals Abroad, Invited to Dinner"

One of the cornerstones of the liberal belief system is an unequivocal respect for the diversity exhibited by other cultures, their mantra concerning those countries’ habits, as compared to what we’re used to at home: “It’s not better or worse. It’s just different.”

Accept people as you find them. Anything less reflects cultural superiority. And that, liberals believe, is wrong.

Okay, here we go.

Liberal couple, taking in the sights of some exotic foreign land. Totally lost, they stop a passing stranger and ask directions to some off the beaten path sacred…something, a location indicating that the couple has done their homework and are deeply interested in the country they have chosen to explore.

The stranger is gracious and polite. Feeling comfortable in his company, the couple asks for a dinner recommendation, an eatery specializing in “authentic cuisine.” The stranger immediately insists that the couple have dinner at his house. Since they are interested in the culture, here’s a chance for them to experience how the people actually live. At the same time – his wife being a wonderful cook – they can experience a gourmet version of the country’s most popular dish.

The liberal couple jumps at this opportunity. No exotic foreign land Burger King for them. Thanking him profusely, they enthusiastically accept his generous invitation.

After touring the sites of interest, the couple returns to their hotel to change. While there, they use their Blackberry, or whatever, to Google the country’s most popular dish, eager to learn what delicacy they’ll be treated to at their upcoming dinner.

The country’s most popular dish is dog.

There is little question about it. They’re going to have dog for dinner.

Now this is not a country that eats dog because they’re poor, or lack dining alternatives. In their culture, dog is a delicacy. They serve it at birthday parties.

As for the couple, we’re not talking about food extremists. They eat meat. Just not, you know…pets.

So what do they do?

They know what they want to do. They want to say, “No, thank you.” But they can’t. They’re liberals. They have an ethos to uphold, an ethos that requires them to be nonjudgmental and flexible.

“When in Rome…” Go with the flow. Eat what you’re offered. Even if it barks.

Looking for sunshine. Well, there’s this guy on the Food Channel whose entire act involves eating “unusual” foods from other countries. It’s usually not that bad. Maybe this won’t be bad either.

Wait, we’re missing the point here. It’s not a question of how the thing will taste.

It’s a question of what it is.

It’s dog.

There seems no way of getting out of this without offending your hosts. What are you going to tell them? “I’m sorry, we had dog for lunch”? “My doctor told me not to eat anything you can train to bring you your slippers”? “In our religion, the canine is believed to be the embodiment of God”? They’ll see right through it!

And by the way, “not offending your hosts” also misses the point, the point being you’re either true to your “diversity” principles or you’re not.

There is no way around it. This is definitely going to happen. Were the couple to be run over after their dinner, when the coroner performed the autopsy, they would discover, among the stomach contents, “substantial traces of dog.”

From then on, it’s pure agony. You dress as if you’re going to your own execution, you pick up some flowers, when you step into their house, you remove your shoes, because that’s what they do, and you do what they do, because that’s who you are, dammit!

You meet the family. You make small talk. “You have a beautiful home. And those exquisite carvings. Are they teak?” Your our mouth is on “automatic.” While your mind is aflame with a single thought:

“We’re going to eat dog. We’re going to eat dog. We’re going to eat dog!”

I wrote a chunk here, but it went too far, so I took it out. Not because I was afraid of losing your respect. I was afraid of losing my respect.

Dinner is served. The couple gets up and head for the table, their gait as unsteady as a sailor’s on a turbulent sea.

It begins with the salad. There’s a bug crawling around. But, suddenly, that’s nothing. Compared to what’s coming.

Then, there’s the soup. Consommé. No chunks at all. Why is it that color? Why to think about that? You’ve had soup. This is soup too.

Of course, you can’t really enjoy it. Because you know what will follow.

The Main Course.

I’ll leave you to imagine the couple’s barely concealed panic as their hostess backs in from the kitchen, carrying the object of their dread. What comes next? They eat it, they don’t eat it, they try to eat it and gag, it’s not dog after all, but an indigenous form of chicken, you can finish it any way you want. What’s certain is, the couple had a very difficult evening.

By contrast, a conservative’s response to this dining dilemma would be simple and direct:

“You want us to eat dog? Hell, no! What kind of people are you? Eat ‘Buster’? Are you kiddin’ me? You people oughtta be shot!”

Forget the “oughtta be shot” comment. That’s just the way they talk. The point is, in this matter, I side unapologetically with the conservatives, favoring honesty – minus the bombast – over “phony-baloney.”

When judging other cultures, there’s always a line, across which lies “Unacceptable Behavior.” It’s simply a question of where you draw it.


Anonymous said...

Although I agree about there being a line across which lies unacceptable behavior, I completely disagree with the idea that conservatives are uncaring and unaccepting of other cultures. I think you're way off the mark here. I can't be the only Republican that enjoys immersing myself in and experiencing other cultures.

bbot said...

Dog isn't bad, though the steaks tend to be small. Much better in stew, or on rice.

Also: Multi-band blackberries are colossally expensive, and data service abroad is even more expensive.

Anonymous said...

Anon, I'm pleased that you were offended as I thought the characterization of liberals was offending. I would have thought taht someone with a Jewish heritage would be more enlightened to the pitfalls of "us vs. them" characterizations. This type of caricature only inflates the hatred and bigotry.

MikeThe Blogger said...

I guess they brought flowers instead of wine. BTW, what kind of wine goes with dog? A good Alsation? Something with bite?

MikeThe Blogger said...

To ANONYMOUS . ..... To be fair to Earl, he never mentioned "Republicans" or any political party, only the personality of nature of two groups of people.

YEKIMI said...

There used to be a revered older newslady [so old she started when the TV station first went on the air back in the 40s] in our area. Eventually she started doing commentary and she was commenting on visiting Eqypt and she went on a harangue about having to stay at a hotel that "Didn't even have any elevators or escalators and I actually had to walk, TO WALK, up two flights of stairs to get to my hotel room and there was also NO AIR CONDITIONING, I just couldn't believe it." She continued on this rant for another 2 minutes and all I could think was "No wonder people in other countries call us 'ugly Americans'"

Jo said...

If you don't keep them as pets, then what is the difference between a dog and any other animal? It is only because we keep them as pets and therefore anthropomorphise them that we seem to have a problem with eating them. Intelligence (real or perceived) in the animal isn't the reason - after all, religious diets aside, we eat pigs, which are also very intelligent.

And I am speaking as a carnivore here - I will eat anything (that isn't endangered) once. If I like it, I will have it more than once! Snake is good :-D

Work In Progress said...

As if I needed on, another good reason to be a vegetarian

Pidge said...

Rover isn't the issue, here, folks.
Thinking you can tolerate anything in the name of liberalism because you're better than those who make their limits known is more what Earl is talking about, I think. Not about eating Chinese food.
What starts out as a generous and noble gesture can end up causing big mess. What happens to standards (anybody's) when anything and everything is acceptable and excusable?
It doesn't usually end well.

A. Buck Shortribs said...

I’m with Pidge on this one about the point of it all. But if vegetarians only eat vegetables, what do humanitarians eat? I’d also be careful about double checking the entrée’s ID. There isn’t a meat product on earth that mom didn’t try to convince us “tastes just like chicken.”

I once asked a Korean co-worker how some people could eat dogs over there. He replied, “Are you kidding? Have you ever tried kimchi?” This is the kind of dilemma one faces here, near or at the top of the food chain.

Brian Scully said...

Earl, I hope you got a paw. I'm a bit of a drumstick man, myself, so if I ate a dog, I would definitely be calling dibs on the paw.

Eric said...

The liberal view here, is that its acceptable for other people to eat dogs, even if I don't approve of it.

The conservative view is its not acceptable for other people to eat dogs because I don't approve of it.

Eating dogs isn't a great example to refute the liberal ideology. The problem is there are things (e.g. slavery or honor killings) which are acceptable by some cultures but are just bad.

Anonymous said...

Just because an exotic foreign culture does it (and that goes for us, if you're a visitor here from some other land), doesn't mean it's a good idea. All people do stupid things and have dumb ideas, and all other people are free to reject doing the stupid things or accepting the dumb ideas.