Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tomato Soup Jihad

Greetings Friends,

Just when you thought you've heard it all...

My friends at The Perpetual Post were talking about the US boycott of Campbell's Halal soups last week, and I got a pretty good chuckle out of it. When I read about it this morning on Yahoo News, I had to choke down my coffee.

The nut of this story has to do with Cambell's Halal certified soups, maufactured and sold exclusively here in Canada. Some American Islamophobes got wind of the Halal certification, and decided to declare that the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), supports terrorism, and that Halal certification of an American culinary institution is a declaration of war. That's like saying Kosher chickens are unpatriotic.

Speaking of Kosher, Halal dietary restrictions are very similar. And to think, for generations, no one in the US has made a big deal out of foods being certified Kosher, but all of a sudden, Halal has become a dirty word.

Unfortunately, this is just another case of ignorance run amok. The boycott is the brainchild of Pamela Geller, the scribe behind the anti-Islamic web site, Atlas Shrugs (I am not even going to dignify the site by providing a link). Somewhere in the hereafter, author Ayn Rand is cringing.

In Fox News-esque style, the one pertinent bit of information that is absent in the ignorant blogosphere is that the soups are manufactured and sold only in Canada. Go to into a Shop Rite, Wal Mart, or Winn Dixie anywhere in the US, and there will not be a can of Campbell's Halal soups to be had. So why do all these people have their knickers in a bunch? Because the First Amendment allows them to. They are perfectly entitled to their opinions, but when you combine opinion with ignorance, the result almost always turns into hate mongering. Directing that hatred towards Muslims only fuels the fire because the majority of Americans believe that they are all terrorists. Plus, the added spectre of the "Ground Zero Mosque" allows everyone to up the ignorance quotient even higher.

I am a proud American and a proud Canadian. I would battle to the death to keep my right to free speech, and I believe in utilizing my right in a benevolent manner. Calling for the boycott of a popular food product because of a religious dietary certification is not only a waste of time, it's a waste of good bandwidth. Clearly, Pamela Geller and the rest of her ilk need to find themselves a hobby; needlepoint and quilting keep the hands quite busy. Or, as a 52 year-old mother of 4, Geller should be questioned as to whether she's raising a houseful of hatemongers who also believe in the dehumanization of Muslims. I guess there'll be no more grilled cheese sandwiches and Campbell's tomato soup served in her house. Shameful. What's next: a boycott of Kraft Dinner?

Extremism exists in every religion. Muslim, Jewish, Catholic, Baptist, you name it; we've all got our share of wack jobs to contend with. Food is meant to sustain and nourish us. Plenty of people don't have enough money to feed their families, let alone care about dietary certifications. In a society where you can consume mass quantities of genetically modified and chemical laden foods that will most likely kill you faster than a speeding subway train, choosing to boycott Campbell's Halal soups - when they're not even available in the country that's boycotting them - is monumentally stupid. I'd love to tell this woman to get a life, but the sad fact is, she already has one. I know; ouch. I just took my First Amendment rights out for a nice stroll...

RIP Mrs. Cleaver and Mr. C.: This week, we lost two of TV's most beloved parents: Barbara Billingsley, who played June Cleaver on Leave it To Beaver, and Tom Bosley, the actor who played Howard Cunningham on Happy Days, both passed away. I was never a huge fan of Wally and the Beav, but who didn't want to come home to a mom like Mrs. Cleaver? Happy Days was a staple of my TV viewing as a kid, and as fathers go, Mr. C. was pretty "cool".


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