Diwali sweets and the tofu-eating wokerati

I’m always fascinated by the way foods define people’s identities — their own and other people’s — and particularly how they are politicised, used to recognise one’s own folk and reject the Other. Bush-era attacks on “latte-sipping liberals” made a big impression on me (“sipping” was a good touch there — not just expensive coffee, but effeminate sipping), as did the scandalised mockery of Obama when he remarked in 2008 on the price of arugula. (According to some, arugula was also effeminate.)

I find the ethnic dimension particularly interesting. It is no coincidence that these two foods that lefties were ridiculed for consuming have Italian names. Jews, of course, have always been attacked for their exotic food preferences, as with the probably anti-Semitic attack on Ed Miliband for looking insufficiently natural when eating a bacon sandwich.

Nowhere is the political valence of ethnic foods more complex than with Britain’s Asian population. Whereas I grew up in the US thinking “Asian” meant by default Chinese and Japanese, in the UK the term refers primarily to the former colonies of Indian subcontinent. Hence the justified pride, in the whole country, in the Indian community, and particularly among the conservatives, in having the first prime minister from an Asian background.

Interestingly, this was emphasised by the King providing Diwali sweets (marking this week’s Hindu festival) when Sunak visited the palace recently. But these gestures of pride and acceptance are not extended to Asians and their foods when their heritage is not British colonial. Particularly striking was the attack in Parliament just last week by the Tory Home Secretary on the “tofu-eating wokerati”.

Hindus can be good Britons and eat Diwali sweets, but those who indulge in other Asian foods are foreign, most especially if they don’t even have the excuse of ancestry. At least the Chinese eat pork…

The Tories can’t get no satisfaction

Proving that despite having acquired UK citizenship I understand nothing about the country’s politics, chancellor of the exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng has been forced out after less than a month in office. I had loudly declared this to be impossible, given that his defenestration would be predicated on the entirely implausible notion that the government’s Three-Stooges-level economic policy had its origins somewhere other than the reptilian complex of Liz Truss’s brain. Apparently, she’s willing to make a play for that political fantasy.

Anyway, I note that there seems to be some hope that the predicament of the entire loss of confidence in this government jointly and individually might be evaded simply by making their policy announcements and changes sufficiently difficult to parse on a purely logico-grammatical level. It seems to be policy-making by double (at least) negatives. To wit:

According to the Times, Truss will abandon the cancellation of a rise in corporation tax from 19 to 25 per cent, as well as a number of other measures announced in the mini-Budget on 23 September. The government has already been forced into a humiliating retreat on scrapping the 45p top rate of income tax.

I had to read this multiple times to figure out whether the corporation tax would be going up or down, and I guess the Conservatives are hoping that in a few months’ time they can counter charges of “U-turn” with “You’re misremembering. We didn’t never change no policy direction turns.” They’re opposing Labour socialism with Marxist politics of the Grouchoist tendency. (See here and below.)