Harry Truman liked to say “If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.” That applies in a lot of fields, but perhaps nowhere more than in the field of humor and satire in these days where would-be censors and race-baiters slither across the landscape. If you are going to venture into these dangerous environs (what they endanger is free speech, expression, and freedom itself), you better have the courage of conviction and willingness to fight the adventure requires. If not, you will make things worse. You will become part of the problem, and it is a big problem.
Gene Weingarten is a longtime columnist for the Washington Post, I’ve written about one of his serious pieces here (also here) and had debates with him via email on occasion. He often writes humorous columns, and it was one of those that unjustly made him the target of the social media mobs.
I assume Gene was a little stuck for a topic, because his theme, foods he won’t eat, is a pretty hoary one. I have read very similar joke essays by other writers, going back to Robert Benchley. Clarence Darrow used to riff on foods he didn’t like: he once said, “I don’t like spinach, and I’m glad I don’t, because if I liked it I’d eat it, and I’d just hate it.“ Another of Darrow’s was “I don’t like turnips, and I don’t like anyone who does.”
So Weingarten whipped off a lazy column joking about all the foods he says he hates; remember, actually hating them isn’t an ethical requirement. The idea is just a platform to justify snarkiness and to make silly comments like ” Balsamic vinegar likely broke up the Beatles.” Among his targets: Old Bay seasoning (hate it), hazelnut (I agree), anchovies (it depends), blue cheese (yecchh), pizza with more than two toppings (I think that’s about right), “garbage sushi,” meaning junk like California rolls (not worth hating) and sweet pickles (absolutely). It should be obvious to a spaniel that all of his laments are tongue in cheek, but that spaniel might object to “Drowning good food in wildly disparate other tastes is — I do not mean to exaggerate — like drowning puppies in a toilet.”
But Weingarten dared to impugn Indian food in his fake diatribe…
…which signaled its gravitas by concluding, “And if you still find me immature, you are just a bunch of poopyfaces.”
Never mind. A hoard of race-baiters and “gotcha!’ addicts online decided this was an opportunity to attack him as a racist and prove their cosmic worth by making him grovel. Some of the attacks on Weingarten were really racist, like reality show star Padma Lakshmi’s “What in the white nonsense is this? On behalf of 1.3 billion people, kindly fuck off.” “This one spice nonsense is a straight up National Front propaganda point, is the WaPo literally platforming white nationalist discourse now?” tweeted writer Shiv Ramdas. “…how the fuck is he allowed to speak on food when his palate is so numb he thinks CURRIES are a single spice dish & why the fuck is WaPo publishing straight up National Front talking points disguised as food opinions?” Ramdas added.
Oh, now American shouldn’t be allowed to joke about food? Gee, I thought that censorship would be further down the list. “First they came for the samosa haters, and I said nothing…”
There were more broadsides from the nasty–but politically correct!—perspective of anti-white vilification.
“What is it with white guys with elite media jobs thinking everyone wants to read their dumb, very poorly informed rants about how much they dislike all Indian food? It is not cute. It is racist,” read a tweet from filmmaker Arlen Parsa.
“…seems to me once you go to Everything Those Bazillions of Brown People Eat Is Beneath Human Consumption it takes it into a categorically different place and suddenly it’s just not fun any more,” added actor Vince Gatton.
Oh, bite me. Saying one doesn’t savor a region’s food, in jest or honestly, isn’t racist by any definition of the word.
Weingarten, whom I thought was made of sterner stuff, initially refused to grovel, initially tweeted “I take nothing back,” but quickly reversed course. “From start to finish plus the illo, the column was about what a whining infantile ignorant dickhead I am,” tweeted Weingarten. “I should have named a single Indian dish, not the whole cuisine, & I do see how that broad-brush was insulting, Apologies.(Also, yes, curries are spice blends, not spices.)”
The “illo’? The drawing above showing Weingarted turning up his nose at a spoonful of Old Bay spice? That shows “ignorance”?
Then the Post absurdly added a correction to the article, stating that “A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Indian cuisine is based on one spice, curry, and that Indian food is made up only of curries, types of stew. In fact, India’s vastly diverse cuisines use many spice blends and include many other types of dishes. The article has been corrected.” Wait, does that mean balsamic vinegar really did break up the Beatles?
Yeah, I know what happened. The Post put a metaphorical gun to Weingarten’s head, saying, “Nice little gig you have here. Be a shame if anything were to happen to it.” Winston Smith-like, Gene declared that He Loved Big Brother, and never would challenge The Great And Powerful Woke again. He’s a weenie, and handed the censors, bullies and totalitarians one more victory on their way to crushing freedom of speech in the United States and creating a monolithic ideology.
Thanks, Gene. You’re not just a poopyface, you are a sniveling coward when the Bill of Rights is desperate for heroes.
Pointer: The Blaze