Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Blaze: Sanity Is Not Always on the Menu


I actually remember citing Glenn Beck’s website, The Blaze, a while back because, curiously enough, they had the best analysis of one of Andrew Breitbart’s scams (unfortunately, the links to video evidence no longer work). Ah, but it is Glenn Beck’s website, after all, so we can’t expect the tin-foil hat brigade to be entirely silent.

This week, you may recall, was the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. It got less hype than I would have expected—it wasn’t until I was chatting with one of my students before my 11:00 a.m. class that I even realized what day it was. Curious, really… as Americans, we’re good at remembering our defeats (Alamo, anyone?). Anyway, apparently I wasn’t the only one who sort of forgot that Wednesday wasn’t just Wednesday.

At Sidwell Friends School, the chichi private school attended by the Sasha and Malia Obama, the lunch menu that day included the following:
Asian Mushroom Soup
Oriental Noodle Salad
Classic Spinach Salad
Teriyaki Marinated Chicken Strips [the virulently un-American repast pictured above]
Szechuan Tofu & Veggies
Garlic Roasted Edamame
Vegetable Fried Rice
Fortune Cookies
O.M.G. It’s Arma-freaking-geddon. Or so our friends at The Blaze would have us believe. Some pseudo-journalist named Eddie Scarry sniffs, “It’s obviously not Sasha and Malia Obama‘s fault but Sidwell Friends School, the private school they attend in Washington, is serving Japanese food on Wednesday–Pearl Harbor Day.” After listing the menu, he pulls out the big guns for his big boffo conclusion, which reads, in its entirety, “Up until 9/11, the attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii by the Japanese in 1941 was the bloodiest day in U.S history.”

Anyone else find something a little flawed in this story? I mean, apart from the fact that Antietam was nearly ten times worse than Pearl Harbor in terms of casualties? Like the fact that the “Japanese” cuisine that’s so horrible to serve is mostly Chinese, for example? Most of the items on that menu are either generically Asian or specifically not Japanese. The exceptions would be the edamame and the teriyaki: but neither of them is Japanese-specific. Edamame is more Japanese than anything else, but is also used in Chinese and indeed in Hawaiian cooking. To call teriyaki intrinsically Japanese at this point is the equivalent of insisting that hot dogs are German.

Even if we grant the edamame and teriyaki as Japanese, however, that leaves the tofu (Sezchuan: inherently Chinese) and the fried rice and fortune cookie (both Chinese-American). Most “Oriental” salads have more in common with Chinese (or Thai or Vietnamese) rather than Japanese traditions. I do know it requires a 6th-grade education to know this, but perhaps someone might mention to the crack staff at the Blaze that the Chinese were the good guys during WWII. Not all Asians are the same, Eddie.

The leftie-leaning blogosphere (here are Gawker, DeathandTaxesMag and DCJunkies, for example) has been having a good time with this (ahem!) story, largely because it demonstrates so clearly that the Blazes of the world will say anything to try to denigrate Mr. Obama. Well, of course, they’re actually too chicken shit coy to say something offensive; rather, in their craven smarminess, they insinuate it. The ploy is transparently stupid, complete with the snarky admission that the girls aren’t really responsible for the menu at the school they attend. (Curiously enough, the parent of a student at the school does appear to be culpable in their eyes.)

It will come as no surprise that the intellectual giants who read the Blaze rose quickly to the bait. Duffer319 opines, “this is sad. leave it up to Obama” [I kept the original capitalization just for you, Gentle Reader.] ReaganThatcherChurchill (could I make this shit up?) proclaims “This is Meechelle’s Childhood Obesity Program. She wants kids starving while trying to use chopsticks.” PhilipZhao chimes in, “Under Obama, Americans will have to forget Alamo, forget Pearl Harbor and forget 9/11.” But it’s some cretinous yahoo who goes by SeeJaneMom who really gets to the point, calling Sasha and Malia “smugly a$s-ed First Rug Rats.” How dare those girls… um… whatever they did?

Not everyone who commented is a moron, however. There’s some sage commentary by FidelCashFlo44: “Pearl Harbor was almost a century ago. The Japanese are our allies. The menu is mostly Chinese food. You’re upset about.. a lunch menu. How insecure about your patriotism could you possibly be?” Charlots adds, “How is eating asian food going to somehow dissolve our identity as Americans. Do you eat Chinese or Japanese food? You sound like an idiot.”

The clincher, however, comes from WarrenFl:
Oh, Please.

Glancing at the school lunch calendar for the local Hillsborough County elementary schools, I see our students were served Teriyaki Chicken Rice Bowl, Stir Fry Vegetables, and Pineapple Tidbits. (Secondary students had Orange Pineapple Fruit Slushi instead of the Tidbits.)

There was no public outcry here in Tampa, Florida–and I don’t recall seeing any public outcry in years past. In fact, there was no public outcry anywhere in the country this year.
Sure enough, here’s the evidence. But gloriosky, that would mean there really isn’t a story there.

Let’s review the bidding, shall we?
• The Sidwell Friends School contracts out its meal services, and, by unhappy coincidence, that service scheduled Asian food on the anniversary of Pearl Harbor.
• A different contractor printed the menus to say “Pearl Harbor Day.”
• Most of the food in question is either generically Asian or specifically Chinese.
• None of the food is inherently Japanese.
• The Chinese were our allies in World War II; the Japanese are among our staunchest allies now.
• No parent, including the POTUS, has any say over the menu at Sidwell Friends.
• Other school systems served essentially the same thing without as much as a murmur.
• Speaking of menus, some people seriously need a little more bran in their diet.

None of this is to excuse a screw-up: the teriyaki could have waited another day, methinks. But this sort of mountains-out-of-molehills mentality is—consummation devoutly to be wished—going to be perceived eventually as the desperate, despicable, and often racist crap it truly is. May that day come sooner rather than later.

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