Hi, Mightygodkingers. My name’s Dan Solomon. I’m one of the new guest posters around while MGK’s ISP is down. I’m an American writer currently living in London. I keep my own blog at www.dansolomon.com. And I have all sorts of weird things to talk about.
Like, check this out! Toddlers Who Dislike Spicy Food Racist, Says Report… A government-sponsored body puts out a report that says that kids who don’t like food from other cultures must not like it because they’re racist. That’s so fucked up! Let’s check in with some bloggers and pundits and make sure that they’re aware of how crazy the “PC Police” have gotten.
The USA Today ridicules the fact British authorities are on the lookout for racist attitudes among the nation’s toddlers.
James Taranto, in the Wall Street Journal, agrees that the notion that one’s taste in food has anything to do with one’s attitude toward groups of people is far-fetched to begin with.
Instapundit thinks tar and feathers are too good for these people who claim that if your kid doesn’t like foreign food, it’s because you’re racist.
Even the BBC seems to think that telling nursery staff must be alert for racist remarks among toddlers, a government-sponsored agency report is fairly absurd.
And boy, who can argue with that? It’s really just common sense, when you think about it. Surely a government-sponsored agency has better things to do than demand that day-care and nursery workers tell toddlers that they’re racist because they think curry is yucky! We can all agree just how absurd this is.
Except take a step back. The “government-sponsored agency” in question is the National Children’s Bureau (whose name is decried as “Orwellian” and “Kafka-esque”, variously, by outraged bloggers). The “report” that they put out is 366 pages, and the bit about food appears in two sentences near the end. The NCB is indeed funded in part by government grants, but the Telegraph story that started this sweeping outrage throughout the Internet wrongly claims that its £12million annual budget comes “mainly from Government funded organizations”. The “report” is actually a book that was written by a woman who is not employed by the NCB, and it was printed on a variation of print-on-demand, where the profits from book sales fund the publication.
You can find the operating budget of any UK charity here. If you do that, you’ll learn that less than half of the budget from the NCB comes from government sources. If you go to the organization’s website, you’ll learn that, rather than being a product of big government, they’re actually a mid-sized charity that employs a staff of 20 (plus some full- and part-time fundraisers, who are paid a commission). They had an operating budget of £12million, which sounds like a lot, except that even the Donkey Sanctuary has a budget of almost twice that. The UK government awards grants to a very wide array of charities (what would be called non-profit groups in the US) and it doesn’t make the NCB a government body any more than it makes the Unicorn Theatre or the Oxfam one.
And the context of the quote that’s sent everyone’s blood pressure through the roof?
a child may react negatively to a culinary tradition other than their own by saying, ‘yuck!’. that may indicate a lack of familiarity with that particular food, or ‘more seriously a reaction to a food associated with people from a particular ethnic or cultural community’.
Why, it states outright that maybe the kid just hasn’t had it and doesn’t like it. It turns out you can actually not like foreign food because you don’t like it, so everyone can sleep easy.
The point of this section of the book is to examine the attitudes kids may be getting from their parents, and to be on the lookout for certain clues. It may be that a kid just doesn’t like curry, or it’s possible that the kid’s parents told him that Indians are dirty and he shouldn’t eat their food. This is listed as one of very many possible warning signs, and is meant to be examined in context- if a kid refuses to sit near or play with kids of another race, learned from his dad that it’s okay to call them “pakis”, and refuses to eat food from other cultures, then maybe it’s something to consider. Now who’s got common sense on their side?
And all of this is based on the notion that nursery care workers shouldn’t be bothering with stuff like this, that it’s somehow Big Brother stepping in and telling kids not to speak their minds. And you know what? That’s a fine opinion, and if it’s yours, you’re welcome to it. In that case, I strongly recommend not putting your kids into a nursery. Adults have every right to correct the behavior of children, and when they’re entrusted with the care of those kids, they’ve actually got a responsibility to do it.
So, just to summarize-
The book isn’t a “report” by a “government agency”. The woman who wrote it is an independent author who doesn’t even work for the charity that published it, and she wasn’t funded by any government money. The book never claims that kids are racist if they don’t like certain foods. Can all these people be outraged by something real next time?