Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Red Turkeys

Only just recently came across this interview with the 1997 Booker Prize winning author Arundhati Roy (for The God of Small Things) in the current issue of International Socialist Review (calm down, there are worse things assigned in lit crit courses across America). The best part is an excerpt from a talk she gave entitled, "Do Turkeys Enjoy Thanksgiving?" which included this entertaining comparison:

The best allegory for New Racism is the tradition of "turkey pardoning" in the United States. Every year since 1947, the National Turkey Federation has presented the US President with a turkey for Thanksgiving. Every year, in a show of ceremonial magnanimity, the President spares that particular bird (and eats another one). After receiving the presidential pardon, the Chosen One is sent to Frying Pan Park in Virginia to live out its natural life. The rest of the 50 million turkeys raised for Thanksgiving are slaughtered and eaten on Thanksgiving Day. ConAgra Foods, the company that has won the Presidential Turkey contract, says it trains the lucky birds to be sociable, to interact with dignitaries, school children and the press. (Soon they’ll even speak English!)

That’s how New Racism in the corporate era works. A few carefully bred turkeys – the local elites of various countries, a community of wealthy immigrants, investment bankers, the occasional Colin Powell or Condoleezza Rice, some singers, some writers (like myself) – are given absolution and a pass to Frying Pan Park. The remaining millions lose their jobs, are evicted from their homes, have their water and electricity connections cut, and die of AIDS. Basically they’re for the pot. But the Fortunate Fowls in Frying Pan Park are doing fine. Some of them even work for the IMF and the WTO – so who can accuse those organizations of being antiturkey? Some serve as board members on the Turkey Choosing Committee – so who can say that turkeys are against Thanksgiving? They participate in it! Who can say the poor are anti-corporate globalization? There’s a stampede to get into Frying Pan Park. So what if most perish on the way?

Red turkeys. The whole world is watching.

1 comment:

Steve said...

A judiciously selected and appropriate quote. Gobble Gobble.