Doug Smith: Discrimination versus Prejudice

13 Feb


Doug Smith: Author, historian, patriot and lead contributor to Free State Patriot

February 13, 2017

boones       chateau

When I was a wee lad, I once ate food off a dirty dish that had sat overnight. I took a brief, disgusting sip of turpentine. When I was a foolish lad of 16, one of my friends decided the time had come for me to experience a new vista. He bought me a bottle of Boone’s Farm Apple “wine” and a pepperoni and banana peppers pizza from a Huntington, WV pizza shop who shall remain nameless and blameless for what occurred. The wine, by courtesy only, in that it does derive from fruit, is more closely associated with embalming fluid and starter fluid, with artificial flavorings. Someday I hope to repay him for the favor, and the next day’s misery, and the violent rejection of all that horrible combination in my stomach.  With a hammer.

Some years later, when I was actually old enough to do so, I bought for myself a bottle of Chateau Lafite Rothschild Bordeaux, 1976. Produced in the Bordeaux Region of France from a mix of cabernet, merlot, and Malbec grapes, it has a high tannin content for a rich, fruity flavor and pairs nicely with lamb or beef dishes, and pungent cheeses.  I enjoyed a few glasses of it with a filet mignon, rare, coated with blue cheese crumbles, and slices of aged Sharp Cheddar.

Mind you I have not shifted from writing about politics, social issues, and history and taken up the Food Critic chair at Free State Patriot. This is personal history, and illustrates a point I wish to make.

In both cases I drank some wine and ate some food. While the latter was a gastronomic delight, the other was an object lesson on foolishness, or “Why we do not treat 16 year olds as adults. “ My stomach and head made the point very succinctly, both times.

In one case a friend paid 5 dollars for that foul liquid and the pizza (Ok, this was 1972) with a nefarious purpose. In the other, I paid, well, quite a bit more for an excellent meal.

The difference in the two experiences was my discrimination, born of experience and study. Because I had learned to be discriminating.

In our modern and poorly used lexicon, “discrimination” has become a bogey man, a veritable evil and flaw in character. But that is the result of poor understanding of the word, its meaning, and its vital importance in becoming an adult.

We all need to learn to discriminate between better and worse, wrong and right, wise and foolish, dangerous and safe, nurturing and destructive. Otherwise, not only do we miss out on some wonderful meals, but we continue to act from the same foolish notions as a child, with the same unfortunate results.

One discriminates between foods that are tasty and nutritious compared with that which is vile, and so eat better as we learn. I would happily have subsisted on peanut butter and chocolate ice cream when I was 8. I would not eat asparagus or okra, and wanted only the drumsticks from a turkey. Now, I understand that peanut butter is fine, but not the only real food on my menu. Chocolate Ice cream is wonderful, as an occasional dessert, but moderation is called for. Grilled asparagus is wonderful, and the breast meat from that bird is perfect for those after Thanksgiving sandwiches.

Okra, of course, is still a vile, slimy disgusting weed, that falls into the genre of food reviews by Dr Johnson who wrote in his dictionary “ Oats: a grain, eaten in England by horses, but in Scotland by people.”

But I digress. Where was I? Oh yes. Mature, adult humans learn to discriminate. On the food front, we learn, and in the arenas of life we learn as well. Or we stay children.

We learn that the man who lies to us about the little things will likely lie about anything. So we discriminate, based on experience, as to which people we will trust to repay a loan, or return a tool, or show up on time. Or we suffer the results.

We discriminate, based on experience and reading, the areas in a town that are safe or not to walk about at night. Or we suffer the results.

We discriminate about which places we would like to visit on vacation. I would love to travel to Ireland, but would never willingly fly to Iran or Somalia. Does this mean I hate Persians and Somalis? No. It means I can discriminate between a place where I can walk about and see sights and share meals and stand next to Molly Malone ( well, her statue), and places where warlords attack UN convoys of food and steal them, or Western citizens are imprisoned routinely and held for ransom. I discriminate between a country that is friendly and has good ties to my own, and those which demonstrate their hatred of my country, and by extension, me.

Common sense, or wisdom, or, discrimination, tells me I will never drink Boone s Farm, or eat okra (ok, on that one I concede some may differ with me, but yuck!) or put myself at the mercy of people who hate my country and my countrymen. To do these things would be foolish.

To avoid those places and people who hate me, to seek to keep them away from me and my countrymen, to love my own country and people, and put our interests foremost, these things signal reasoned, sober, discrimination.

They do not signal hatred, or unreasoned fear, or some character flaw.

These are the reasoned thoughts and actions of an adult. Those who insist on moral equivalence in everything and everyone, and refuse to learn and practice discrimination are still eating cold eggs from that dirty dish, and calling it steak.

Playing games with the words will not change what ends up in their stomach. Or their community.

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