The Hampton Smoker

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Which Side Are You On?: bbq, food and community

My friends, this weekend I am getting out of town to spend some time locked in the meditation and tranquility of cherry wood smoke, trees brushed in the wind, and the smell of barbecue a’cooking.

Between being under the weather (blood pressure was about 150/110 the other night) and my crisis of bbq faith from a few days ago, this has been a tough week.

I generally try to avoid politics on this here site, and if you can’t stand politics—especially liberal politics, please skip this post and don’t leave a nasty comment, because it will be deleted.

Thanks to the shocking anti-muslim, anti-jew vitriol that I saw spewed on what used to be one of my favorite bbq sites, I’ve been left with a nagging feeling of disappointment and shame rolling in my head.

You see, I believe that hate is hate. When an American spews general blind hatred of another ethnicity or culture based on assumptions and stereotypes they are the same to me as the people in the world that would destroy our country with anger fueled by misconceptions manipulated to support malevolent agendas. Of course a rise in national esteem and patriotism is understandable when our country is under attack, but I don’t believe that falling into the traps of racism or bigotry makes someone a patriot. Nor do I only believe in the mere turning of a cheek. I believe there are things worth fighting for and against, and, yes, sometimes that means wars must be fought.

But, not only was I shocked to read these backwards xenophobic rantings, I was overwhelmed by how many people jumped in to voice their support of it. A cynic might say, "well, bbq bubbas, what'd you expect?" Well, I know how much more people are capable of and believe that that is just one more stereotype used to put people down. I've seen the generosity of the American spirit from all over this country and know the potential it carries and that it touches peoples' lives in tangible ways.

But, on the internet we are able to communicate across distances and with potential anonymity that enables great truth and honesty, but also fuels a sense of security that prompts people to vent their hatred and their loves with a false sense of power and invisible protection. This leads to the discovery of some incredible people and thoughts as well as some disturbing and hateful things as well.

I guess what I’m saying is that I’m shocked to encounter people from all over the United States that seem so intent on looking backwards to a time when women and minorities were openly harassed, beaten, scorned and thrown into a corner. This is what the hate preachers would want done to free American citizens today. Has anyone read Michelle Malkin’s book in praise of interment camps?

This isn’t a matter of political correctness, but rather a yearning to evolve, embrace tolerance and learn from our own mistakes and those made around the world.

You know what…..? Rant over. The song mentioned below was borne of union busting, but somehow it just seems right to me today.


THE ALMANAC SINGERS, 1941: WOODY GUTHRIE, LEE HAYS, MILLARD LAMPELL, PETE SEEGER
(left to right)

In 1931, coal miners in Harlan County were on strike. Armed company deputies roamed the countryside, terrorizing the mining communities, looking for union leaders to beat, jail, or kill. But coal miners, brought up lean and hard in the Kentucky mountain country, knew how to fight back, and heads were bashed and bullets fired on both sides in Bloody Harlan.

It was this kind of class war -- the mine owners and their hired deputies on one side, and the independent, free-wheeling Kentucky coal-miners on the other -- that provided the climate for Florence Reece's "Which Side Are You On?" In it she captured the spirit of her times with blunt eloquence.

Mrs. Reece wrote from personal experience. Her husband, Sam, was one of the union leaders, and Sheriff J. H. Blair and his men came to her house in search of him when she was alone with her seven children. They ransacked the whole house and then kept watch outside, ready to shoot Sam down if he returned.

One day during this tense period Mrs. Reece tore a sheet from a wall calendar and wrote the words to "Which Side Are You On?" The simple form of the song made it easy to adapt for use in other strikes, and many different versions have circulated.

Come all you good workers,
Good news to you I'll tell
Of how the good old union
Has come in here to dwell.

CHORUS:
Which side are you on?
Which side are you on?
Which side are you on?
Which side are you on?

My dady was a miner,
And I'm a miner's son,
And I'll stick with the union
'Til every battle's won.

They say in Harlan County
There are no neutrals there.
You'll either be a union man
Or a thug for J. H. Blair.

Oh workers can you stand it?
Oh tell me how you can?
Will you be a lousy scab
Or will you be a man?

Don't scab for the bosses,
Don't listen to their lies.
Us poor folks haven't got a chance
Unless we organize.

The above song information is taken from the Semi-Official Woodie Guthrie Site. Thanks so much.



6 Comments:

Anonymous Steppenwolf said...

Just saw a post on this(and a ton of appologies)and came to read your blog.
Just wanted to say I enjoyed your company on the board. Hope to hear from you again.
Steppenwolf

4:54 PM  
Blogger Backyard Chef said...

Hey there, Steppenwolf....well, right back at you. Who knows how things will shake out, but I do hope that you'll keep in touch and let me know how the smoke is treating you....

5:22 PM  
Blogger WhiteTrashBBQ said...

What you describe as "liberal" politics is neither "liberal" or "conservative."

It's what my mother taught me at her knee. It's a matter of right vs. wrong.

10:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a COMPLETE failure of the Bush administration and I for one will not stand for it. OK, I'm sitting down now.

11:43 AM  
Anonymous buck henry said...

BYC,

Your faith shouldn't be shaken in all of us. You're points are well taken. You never, really, know someone on the internet, until you maybe meat them and get to know them.

You do the same thing I do. You make a positive mental image of someone you don't know, but know you have at least one common interest, barbecue.

So internet friend and friend are two different meanings. But when an internet friend breaks your preconceived image of who they are, through words or actions, you feel let down by them.

That is where you and I are wrong. We shouldn't feel let down, we should expect that it might happen, and build that into our initial image.

I've never met you. Can't recall over the years if we even spoke on the phone. Plenty of late night IM sessions though. I think I consider you more than an internet friend, but just not yet an actual, see, feel, hear friend. I know I have a solid image of you and who you are as a person.

In fact, you are the first black jewish mormon woman from the South I ever met who even understands porteguise barbecue. How can we not get along! (I left out I think your hot!)

I don't have advice to give, and you're not looking for it. But we all need to review how we build an image of someone, and throw in a few grains of salt to the image for a reality check in case it goes sour.

As far as the blood pressure thing, that I can help with.

Now I know I have spewed plenty of anti-Spam vitriol over the years, guilty as charged, but the main page of www.spam.com packs so much comedic and relaxing value in it, that it must be shared with the entire family.

Just click on each character a couple times. Each one has like 10 different things built into them to say.

It pure blood pressure reducing fun, and is the Rx to cure your woes.

Have fun with it.

1:31 PM  
Blogger Curt said...

I agree with Robert... There's nothing liberal there. Not to completely rehash what's been said, I hope things settle down.

2:21 PM  

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