Perhaps the tradition was spawned by Abraham Lincoln, who may have allowed his son to keep a stupid pet rather than use it for the noble purpose that is Christmas dinner. Perhaps it arose with Truman, though it’s equally likely that he made the right choice. JFK’s poor decision-making is documented, though he didn’t make it official. No, it didn’t become a legal tradition until George H.W. Bush officially granted the White House Thanksgiving turkey an official presidential pardon and started a stupid yearly ritual to demonstrate classist privilege.
Maybe various presidents don’t realize it, being that they get chefs and never have to hunt, gather, or even shop for themselves, but food isn’t something that just magically appears. For the average family, two delicious turkeys definitely aren’t bred for the specific purpose of a theatrical production that ends with another turkey quietly being killed and eaten.
That’s right, this stupid tradition isn’t confined to pardoning just one stupid bird, but two. Two birds that could instead reach the next level of turkey existence and provide nourishment for a number of people, with estimates from a quick Google search ranging from 8 – 12 people for one 16-pound bird. With food insecurity hanging around 13 percent in 2015, if figures from the government, the same one the president is part of, are accurate. And that number is down from 2014. So in other words, our presidents make an annual tradition of letting a thing that is little more than a walking meal on legs go not be a meal instead of feeding some hungry constituents. Talk about being out of touch.
Well guess what, Mr. President, your privilege is showing, as was Bush’s and Clinton’s and Bush’s. Maybe you Ivy Leaguers don’t get this, but food is supposed to be eaten, not turned into a ceremony and then not eaten. What do they teach at our most elite institutions? Certainly nothing about what it’s like to be an everyday American.
On the other hand, there are some defenses to be made of pardoning turkeys rather than eating them. Namely, they are not geese or pandas, neither of which really have any redeeming qualities, though pandas are cute if suicidal and given to poor life choices. That’s really it, though. And turkeys being not a goose nor a panda is not sufficient cause for presidents to parade their wealth and status in front of the people they were elected to serve.
Obama is having his last Thanksgiving in the White House, so he has pardoned his last turkeys. We have no idea what President Trump, assuming he doesn’t get impeached before his first Thanksgiving, will do, but it’s probably safe to assume he will continue the senseless tradition. He is not known for his dedication to simple and reserved displays.
And as long as the tradition continues, the American people will continue to lose. The elites live in a rarified world, one in which they pretend stupid birds that fry up real nice are worthy of being pardoned and hanging out with school children, but not on those children’s lunch plates. America deserves better; it deserves new traditions that don’t rub our noses in classist privilege, but instead let our noses inhale deeply the delicious smells wafting from the kitchen.
For they are the smells of freedom and that is something actually worth being thankful for. Kill the bird and free the people. Amen.