Don't worry Senator Cornyn. Your pooch is safe with me (ASIAN 258)
This is my imaginary letter to Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas). Obviously tongue in cheek, just in case you are wondering...
Dear Senator Cornyn,
I am *so* sorry that the media has pounced on you. You were just giving an opinion when you blamed the COVID-19 pandemic on Chinese cultural practices. Don't worry. I commend your straightforwardness. It's not every day one reads: “People eat bats and snakes and dogs and things like that. These viruses are transmitted from the animal to the people, and that’s why China has been the source of a lot of these viruses.”
People are getting so touchy these days. Who cares if hate crimes against Asians and Asian Americans have surged recently? Or if swine flu actually came from North America? It’s clear that this virus has ruined your day. It must be hard watching our government get heat for its handling of the pandemic.
Most of all, I'm truly sorry that Chinese eating habits have made you lose sleep. I have learned from Instagram that you are a real dog lover. It must be difficult staying up at night knowing that those Asians next door may have designs on Fido.
But you'll take heart in knowing that I am a fan. I'd like to second your call to get tough on zoonotic diseases. You're right. People eat all sorts of unclean things. Yuppies in Michigan hunt and grill deer. Those idiots talk about it being organic and free range. Meanwhile, the limousine liberals of New York order civet coffee from Amazon. There are even people who make sausages out of alligators in Louisiana. If you don't believe me, have your staffers check out exoticmeats.com. They even sell the stuff to liberal bastions like Ann Arbor. And I’ve heard that in Nolan County, Texas there are rattlesnake roundups. Some folks down there even eat the slimy crawlers. I'm sure those people didn't vote for you, however.
Since human-animal contact is dangerous, I’m looking forward to reading your proposal to ban all hunting and industrial meat production. We can join forces with Bridget Bardot. The NRA and big business will just have to get over it.
With regards to your sleep, let me reiterate that I am very, very sorry. Those nineteenth-century stereotypes have no right disrupting your REM cycles. What's more, you have my personal assurance. Your pooch is safe with me and my kind.
You may take solace from the fact I've seen more pangolins on plates than dogs in China. Since I've glimpsed exactly one of those beasts, that would make less than one serving of dog. It's been awhile, though, since I've seen the scaly mammal. President Xi's crackdown has taken the fun out of adventurous eating.
Besides, my friends and relatives in Greater China have never devoured a pet. There’s now a ban in Shenzhen and Taiwan. The closest thing I have seen to dog meat in Asia is this puppy mousse. By the way, the sharpei mold’s available on Amazon.
I do apologize if these details make your head spin. Things would be simpler if we Asians all thought and ate the same things. Details tend to muddy black and white argumentation, and such fuzzy thinking is best left to universities!
But just in case you ever need to defend your comments again, may I offer you, sir, a few tips? Call it insider wisdom.
Next time someone attacks you as a racist, just cite a few ancient Chinese texts. Preferably out of context. It will help you establish their "mentality."
If you want, I can dig up a recipe for mashed dog à la winter melon. That will supply evidence that all Asians have eaten dog every day since time immemorial. You can ignore the fact that the recipe was from the fifteenth century, or for rich people. No American needs to know that it was supposed to revive tired people on hot summer days before air-conditioning and Starbucks.
Your team should also overlook all evidence of opposition to dog slaughter. Apparently, some 14th century doctor thought that eating canine meat would make you sick. He also concurred that dogs were man’s best friend. But never mind. After you have de-funded all foreign language study, no one will know the better. Americans don't need to think too hard -- for example, about the bad karma that Chinese Buddhists thought came from devouring dog meat and beef. Our meat industry is looking forward to the Chinese market. But maybe not. After all, you and I are in agreement about the importance of adopting veganism.
I would, however, urge you to suppress information. The New York Times did a bad thing recently. Its editors undercut stereotypes by publishing a video about the Yulin Festival, or the notorious dog and lychee feast in Guizhou. In late June, out-of-town agitators fly in from Shanghai and Beijing. They are louder than A.O.C., and they don’t even practice social distancing. Some people think these activists learned their tactics from South Korea, where there are memorial services for murdered dogs. I'm happy to refer you to a few websites that President Trump should close down. This is war, and it’s time to dehumanize!
Since we’re friends, you might like a tip about how to undermine NATO. Did you know that people in Alpine nations once ate dog? If you want the details, check out Robert Ji-Song Ku:
The Swiss, for example, dry the meat in varying temperatures for several months to prepare a dish called Gedörrtes Hunderfleisch. 'In fact,' Calvin Schawbe tells us, 'the only two cases of human trichinosis diagnosed in Switzerland in recent years resulted from the patients eating their dogmeat too rarely cooked! 'It has been a traditional Europe an belief,' he reveals in Unmentionable Cuisine, 'that dogmeat is a preventive of tuberculosis.' And less than a century ago widespread dog eating was reported in the German cities of Cassel and Chemnitz, as well as in the streets of Paris.
That should help shut up Angela Merkel.
Maybe, the French shouldn’t even be called frogs. In periods of privation, Parisians stuffed their faces with dog meat and wrote cookbooks for that purpose. No wonder the French have become socialists. They eat dogs and all sorts of things. Frog. Foie gras. Horse. Baguette.
You’ll forgive me if I have gone on too long. That woman from Michigan has put us all under house arrest. I haven’t been free to cough on a stranger for almost a month.
Robert Ji-Song Ku, Dubious Gastronomy: The Cultural Politics of Eating Asian in the USA (University of Hawai’i Press, 2014), “Dog Meat,” 120-155.
Vincent Goossaert, "The Beef Taboo and the Sacrificial Structure of Late Imperial Chinese Society." In Of Tripod and Palate: Food, Politics, and Religion in Traditional China.Edited by Roel Sterckx (Palgrave MacMillan, 2005), Chapter 11, 237-48.
Jia Ming 賈銘 (Fourteenth Century). N.p. Yinshi xuzhi 飲食須知 (Essential Knowledge About Diet). In Yinzhuan pulu 飮饌譜錄. Edited by Yang Jialuo 楊家駱. Shijie, 1962.
Zhu Quan 朱權(1378–1448). Shenyin 神隱. In Siku quanshu cunmu congshu, zibu, daojialei 四庫全書存目叢書, 子部, 道家類, vol. 260. Zhuangyan wenhua, 1995.