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Do social justice warriors have an ounce of humour left? The list of things we are allowed to talk or joke about seems to shrink every day. The latest in a long line of offence-riddled rants by activists in the outrage industry was cooked up by Shailja Patel, a real-life Titania McGrath (yes, she’s even won a slam poetry competition), who posted a tweet which started off a twitterstorm two days ago:
“Today in white male solipsism. From the school of ‘women comedians are terrible’ and ‘non-white literatures are terrible’ and ‘hip-hop is terrible’ and ‘anything that doesn’t cater to me and reinforce my conviction that I am the center of the universe is terrible.’ We who?”
The tweet was a response to Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom), who again had responded to another tweet by Jon Becker:
What followed was Patel’s indignation at how someone dared say they found Indian food terrible.
“(Nichols) trips over himself with eagerness to spew racist bullshit in the name of “I’m going to say something controversial tee hee.” Then chortles at the clapback: “People are tOuChY.” Why, yes, centuries of colonial slaughter, plunder, and mass starvation tend to have that effect.” She proceeded to talk about the 1943 Bengal famine, stating Winston Churchill had said Indians bred like rabbits. She said: “I guess @RadioFreeTom has never worked in a restaurant where he had to serve racist yobs all night, and be thankful for if they just insulted him, instead of killing him.”
Other presumed historical wrongs were also mentioned: anecdotes about children, presumably of Indian descent, living in the West, throwing away their mothers’ curries for fear they would be ridiculed by their peers, or Indian students in the West walking for miles in harsh winter weather to find vegetarian food, dressed in unsuitable clothes. The list goes on. Nichols was then accused of othering, bullying, and “punching down in the crudest and ugliest way.”
Really? Daring to state your opinion on a nation’s cuisine is “fuelling harassment” of “every South Asian call center worker, service industry or retail worker, cultural worker, student, (and) child on the playground”? As we’ve become accustomed to, in this brave new world of everything being racist, the tiniest micro-aggression can inflict the greatest of offence. Instead of tackling real issues of actual discrimination—of which there are many, even in India—Social Justice Warriors prefer to brew storms in teacups. Saira Rao weighed in too. A Democrat politician, long-time race-baiter, (or, as she calls herself, “racial justice activist,”) and co-founder of “Race 2 Dinner” (where white women “willing to set aside their white woman tears” are invited to dine with women of colour in order to be confronted with their racism), tweeted:
“Having white people trash Indian food is extremely triggering as an Indian who has been told that I smell weird, that my food smells weird and that Indians shit on the street which is why everything we are smells bad. My whole life.”
Her tweet has 72,000 likes at the time of writing, but to say that the Twittersphere was awash with only support for the aggrieved ladies I would be lying. The real Titania McGrath poked fun at the whole debacle:
“Any white man who doesn’t like Indian food is a genocidal racist. Any white man who likes Indian food is guilty of cultural appropriation and is no better than Hitler. Take your pick.”
And with that, she (or Andrew Doyle, the comedian behind Titania) nailed it. This is really what we’re being told now. This is Critical Race Theory in action. White supremacy means we’re all complicit in a system of structural racism, and there’s no way out, according to the believers. Even your food preferences are signs of white supremacy. Nuance and humour are dead, and you have to pick sides.
Speaking of Hitler, Rao is outspoken on her hate of Israel. She’s called all Jewish Israelis “combatants,” accused Israel of ethnic cleansing and called UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson a “notorious racist.” This is the height of far-left, woke activism: denouncing everything white people do and say, while also hating Jews, and claiming all people of colour are helpless victims and need protection from insensitive remarks about their cuisine. Her world view is so black-and-white that anyone who veers from her script is outright evil. Five-year-olds are frankly better at arguing their case than she is.
Of course, saying you don’t like someone’s food is not especially polite. It’s what we teach our children not to do. Hardly anyone would insult someone’s food at a dinner party, but as adults we’re still allowed our preferences. If you tell me you think Norwegian food is bland on Twitter, I couldn’t care less, although I am Norwegian. You’re probably partially right. Jamie Oliver, the British chef, is famous in Norway for mocking our goat’s cheese—a sweet, fudge-like brown cheese made from whey—when he visited the country back in 2008.
I think most Norwegians forgave him without throwing a tantrum saying he was the product of his ancestors’ colonialist past or something in that vein, but then this was before identity politics took hold and we all got along, more or less. It was simply brushed off as a bit impolite. And so it should be. Someone’s opinion of a type of food shouldn’t be noteworthy. Tom Nichols’ opinion on curries should not outrage anyone. He’s a professor of national security affairs and author with 287,000 followers on Twitter, not because he dislikes Indian food, but because of his academic merits.
In Britain, we love Indian food, but someone not liking it doesn’t need to be clamped down on from so-called anti-racist activists . Chicken Tikka Masala, once hailed the UK’s favourite dish, was recently beaten into the number two spot by another curry, the creamier Chicken Korma. I doubt Indians, in the UK or in other places, care whether a man on the internet thinks Indian food is terrible. I might cook a curry tonight.