09.13.2018 • THURSDAY • M 1 100 YEARS AGO TODAY ON THE EDITORIAL PAGE
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH • A15
MR. DEBS FOUND GUILTY • Eugene Debs, four times a nominee for president, faces the penitentiary for utterances violating the Espionage Act. He asserted that he had only been exemplifying the Socialist platform adopted at St. Louis in 1917. Debs set an example of detraction, opposition, dangerous division when unity and cooperation are a duty. Access the full item at stltoday.com/opinion
New food label law is bad for economy, people Meat industry is clearly trying to push competitors out of the marketplace in Missouri. BY ELIZABETH ENOCHS
A bizarre new Missouri law went into effect last month. It states that if a meat product isn’t “harvested in the traditional manner”— that is, from slaughtered animals — it can’t be labeled with the word “meat.” Since my home state raises more cows and hosts more farms than any state besides Texas, it’s no wonder that the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, Missouri’s pork producers and the Missouri Farm Bureau have backed the legislation since its inception. But the new law isn’t going over so well. The ACLU, plant-based meat company Tofurky and The Good Food Institute, which represents companies that produce plant-based and cultured meats, recently joined forces to file a lawsuit against the state, saying the law violates the First Amendment and discriminates against out-of-state manufacturers. They’re right to try to overturn this bogus law. It’s clearly an attempt from the meat industry to push competitors out of the marketplace. Just look at the cattlemen’s justification for censoring plant-based food manufacturers: They claim that consumers will “confuse” plant-based meat made from peas, wheat and soy with meat from farmed animals. But the term “meat” has also been used immemorially to describe the edible parts of plants, such as coconut meat. And if they come for vegan meat now, what’s next? Peanut butter? Milk of Magnesia? Long term, this will hurt Missouri’s economy — and thus, Missourians — as plant-based innovation brings money and jobs to the state. For example, Beyond Meat — a top plant-based meat producer whose products are now sold in more than 10,000 restaurants, hotels and universities — has a plant in Columbia, Mo., that provides 200 people with full-time jobs. And a second distribution facility will generate more than 250 new jobs this year. Perhaps more importantly, Beyond Meat is beyond dedicated to the Show-Me State. Ethan Brown, CEO and founder of Beyond Meat, said the company first came to Missouri in 2009 to access the outstanding research being conducted at the University of Missouri. Brown expressed in July: “We have been investing in, and growing together with, Columbia, Mo., ever since. … Our expansion not only brings more jobs and opportunity to this special community but also furthers Missouri’s position as a leader in the production of plant-based meat.” By comparison, factory farms, which have been touted as an economic development strategy for depressed rural communities, actively harm Missourians. Missourians living near factory farms are forced to breathe dangerous gases, which could be part of the reason lowerrespiratory diseases are the third-leading cause of death in Missouri. And factory farms provide little, if any, economic stimulus to the state. Most local people are unwilling to work under the dangerous and degrading conditions that exist in factory farms, where the occupational injury rate is six times higher than the average for any other industry. (Tyson Foods reportedly averages one worker limb amputation per month.) Plus, most of the profits from factory farms go to outside corporate investors, not to local farmers or rural residents. In his paper titled “The Hidden Costs of Factory Farming,” John E. Ikerd, a professor of agriculture and economics at the University of Missouri, put it this way: “The promised employment turns out to be low-paying jobs, without benefits, that go primarily to people who move into CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation) communities.” At a time when hundreds of manufacturing workers in my economically insecure hometown of Poplar Bluff, Mo., live in constant fear of mass layoffs, why are Missouri lawmakers bullying the very companies that could help countless Missourians recover from the Great Recession? The new law doesn’t actually help Missouri’s consumers, who are more than capable of reading labels and ingredients lists — and whose health and local economies are benefiting from plant-based meats. This law will make it more challenging for vegan-friendly companies to market and sell their products in the state, which could make it more difficult for Missourians to access healthy plant-based foods. And when you consider that most Missourians die from heart disease or cancer, two diseases often tied to high meat consumption, the new law becomes even harder to defend. Clearly, our society — and our food system — is rapidly changing for the better. Plant-based meats reached $670 million in sales in 2018 alone, and Beyond Meat’s market research found that more than half of its consumers are actually omnivores. The Missouri Legislature can pass all the ridiculous laws it wants, but censorship alone can’t stop an idea whose time has come. Elizabeth Enochs is a staff writer at Mercy For Animals and a Missouri-based freelance writer.
Democratic norms are now weapons rather than guidelines The tit-for-tat dynamic of norm-breaking goes back decades, and Obama has played his part. and formal, that should bind everyone. Partisans are breaking them over their JONAH GOLDBERG knees like pool cues, ever confident that Los Angeles Times someone else started it. Last week, The New York Times violated norms when it published an anonymous op-ed. The author of that op-ed shattered an even stronger norm by announcing that “It was very disappointing to see Presihe works for the president yet struggles dent Barack Obama break with the tradiheroically (in his or her mind) to thwart the tion of former presidents and become so president’s anti-democratic impulses. political,” Vice President Mike Pence told To some extent, White House adminis“Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace. trations have always sought He was complaining about to limit a president’s worst Obama’s broadside against instincts (though this one is President Donald Trump. surely at the extreme), but Pence has a point. nobody has ever confessed Although it’s not unpreceto it, in print, while still dented, it is disappointing to serving. Unsurprisingly, see a former president attack the essay condemning the a sitting president. president’s erratic, normBut for Trump’s most relismashing behavior had the able defender to invoke tradieffect of intensifying it. tion — never mind a tradition Trump demanded the of presidential decorum — as Times turn the author over his lodestar is a very strange to the government immedithing. ately. He questions whether Pence went on to defend the author committed Trump’s criticism of Attortreason, and both he and his ney General Jeff Sessions for cheerleaders clamor for a indicting two “very popular” criminal investigation where Republicans, Rep. Duncan there was no crime. Hunter of California and When asked by Wallace Rep. Chris Collins of New about the internal hunt York, on the grounds that the for the op-ed writer, the Justice Department violated stalwart Pence dodged the tradition by bringing charges question of criminality, once so close to Election Day. (The again falling back on norms. department didn’t.) “Every senior official in any Pence’s shtick, so common administration takes an oath among defend-Trumpto the Constitution,” he said. at-all-costs partisans, is “To have an individual that tradition, custom and who took that oath literally norms should be observed by everyone but the president STEPHEN HAAS • The News-Gazette via AP say that they work every day to frustrate the president,” himself. Trump ran as a Former President Barack Obama speaks in Foellinger Auditorium on Pence went on,“is undemo“disrupter,” the logic goes, so the University of Illinois campus in Urbana, Ill., on Friday. cratic. It’s not just deceitful, he has a mandate to disrupt but it’s really an assault on as he pleases. Everyone else our democracy.” millions of immigrants living in the counshould adhere to the playbook. Again, Pence has a point. But he has little try illegally despite having insisted that he That’s not how this works. That’s not standing to make it. did not have the power to do so. how any of this works. The author of the op-ed may have taken And although Obama was passionate Obama was correct when he said that an oath, but the president took an oath in criticizing Trump’s attacks on the news this ugly chapter in our politics “did not too. Falsely accusing critics of “treason,” media, his administration was far from start with Donald Trump. He is a sympcastigating law-enforcement agencies for pure in this regard. tom, not the cause.” I’ve said the same prosecuting allies, and telling police they On both sides, our democratic norms thing for years now. should rough up suspects is inconsistent aren’t being destroyed so much as turned For Obama, and for millions of liberals, with Trump’s oath — and Pence’s. Trump is the fruition of years of right-wing into cudgels. It’s as if a rage virus from a But these days, oaths, like norms, are for sci-fi movie has broken out and people are perfidy. Obama has more of a point than grabbing anything — staplers, coffee mugs, everybody else. many of my colleagues on the right care to chairs — that can be used as a weapon. admit. Jonah Goldberg What’s being weaponized in the current For instance, I never subscribed to the crisis are the tools that leaders are normally email@example.com “birther” conspiracy theory that Trump Copyright Tribune Content Agency entrusted to protect: the rules, informal exploited to such effect, but I failed to appreciate the damage being done by letting it fester. But Obama also has a massive blind spot that many on the left share. The tit-fortat dynamic of norm-breaking goes back decades, and Obama has played his part. When running for president in 2008 and 2012, Obama let his lieutenants demonize John McCain and Mitt Romney as racists. In office, Obama violated not just democratic norms but also his constitutional oath by effectively granting amnesty to
The damage to the souls of white folks The abolition of slavery did nothing to end the ideas and conditions that made it possible. BY JOHN SAMUEL TIEMAN
Albert Einstein said racism is “a disease of white people.” Michael Brown. A Confederate memorial. Virtually segregated neighborhoods and schools. What do these mean to us? And by “us,” I mean white people. If racism is our disease, then surely its primary symptom is our inability to face the pain we cause. In 1894, a black man, John Buckner, was arrested in Manchester. In Valley Park, a mob formed. Buckner was lynched from a railroad bridge over the Meramec River. The Post-Dispatch recounted Buckner’s cries. “Ten feet of rope had been allowed for the drop, and the wretch’s last scream was choked off before it was fairly uttered.” There was a sadistic glee in the reporting.“After waiting five minutes the body was hauled up to see if life was extinct; a roll of the negro’s eyes showed that he still lived and it was lowered again. For a quarter of an hour it hung before the mob dispersed. … A verdict of suicide will be rendered if the citizens of Valley Park are put upon the Coroner’s jury.” A bridge on Woods Mill Road is in roughly the same location as the old bridge from which Buckner hung. There is no memorial to John Buckner. The Confederate memorial in Forest Park was erected in 1914. Bryan Stevenson, the founder of the National Memorial For Peace And Justice, says simply,“Slavery didn’t end in 1865. It evolved.” The abolition
of slavery did nothing to end the ideas and conditions that made it possible. In the years after the Civil War, the belief in racial hierarchy justified racial terrorism and systemic exploitation. “Slavery didn’t end in 1865. It evolved.” This cannot be said enough. As slavery has evolved, how has the damage, to the souls of white folks, evolved? In August, while in Montgomery, Ala., my wife and I visited the National Memorial For Peace And Justice, the Legacy Museum, and the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church from which that young martyr, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., organized the Montgomery Bus Boycott. We also visited The Confederate White House, the first executive mansion of the Confederacy. Jefferson Davis lived there in 1861. He held Cabinet meetings there. There were formal balls. I whispered to my wife,“It’s a Scarlett O’Hara Theme Park.” On display are gowns, frock coats, Confederate flags. It is the fantasy of The Lost Cause, the presumed virtues of the antebellum South. It views the Civil War as an honorable struggle to preserve those southern virtues. Such historiography operates as a form of intellectualization. It functions as a defense against all the pain white people cause. If there was any mention of slavery, we didn’t see it. In the souvenir shop, they sell Confederate kepis. I couldn’t help but wonder where someone would wear such a thing.
Markers bearing the names of lynching victims at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Ala.
I was also curious about the Southern Cross Of Honor on display. The Confederate government authorized medals for bravery, but never had a chance to award them. So, in 1899, the United Daughters Of The Confederacy created the Southern Cross Of Honor. The first such medal was awarded in 1900 to Alexander S. Erwin, who fought at Gettysburg. I wonder how folks would have felt if a Nazi would have been awarded a medal in 1980. The question is worth repeating. As slavery has evolved, how has the damage, to the souls of white folks, evolved? Frederick Douglass spoke of how slavery corrupted Mrs. Auld,“a pious, warm, and tender-hearted woman,” who suddenly found herself in possession of a slave, Douglass himself.“Slavery soon proved its ability to divest her of these heavenly qualities. Under its influence, the tender heart became stone, and the lamblike disposition gave way to one of tiger-like fierceness.” When white folks fly a
Confederate flag, ignore segregation, multi-generational poverty, the ghetto, inadequate education, unequal opportunity, the legacy of red-lining, when we justify mass incarceration, when we elect a racist president, how are we different from Mrs. Auld? And what is the damage to our souls? As we left Montgomery, as we drove north on Highway 65, visible for miles was a Confederate battle flag as big as a billboard. Below it was an enormous sign — ALABAMA DIVISION SONS OF CONFEDERATE VETERANS. I again thought of that souvenir shop in the Confederate White House. They sold Confederate kepis. I wondered where someone would wear such things. I no longer wonder. Folks wear them right here. And I am not speaking of Alabama. I am speaking of here. The United States. John Samuel Tieman of University City is an essayist, poet and a frequent contributor to the online magazine Vox Populi. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.