By James Ochoa – Student Journalist
In April 2016, while I was a junior in high school, I wrote an opinion piece titled “The Ethics of Eating Dogs,” challenging and calling out the racism of my classmates, while justifying that it was ethical to eat dogs and criticizing the culture of pet ownership and testing the hypocrisy of America’s meat eating culture. I published it on my personal blog on Kinja and shared the link with a few classmates. Judging by the look on their faces the next morning, I managed to scare the living daylights out of a third of my junior classmates and one of my teachers.
Although the original article has been deleted due to the removal of personal blogs on Kinja, I am not going to use this platform to explicitly restate the points I have made, rather shift attention to the reason why I wrote the article almost six years ago—the age old “Asian people eat dogs” stereotype.
To this day, you still hear about it, a broken record that plays like it is brand new. East Asians like me are sick and tired of hearing it, answering the same ignorant questions of whether we really eat dogs and playing along with your equally dumb jokes about the spaniel I am petting being in my sandwich. We have fucking had it.
Yes, like every East Asian kid struggling with a whitewashed identity, I have played into the stereotype, I admit it, but we have to come to terms with where these things come from.
I specifically wanted to write about this topic after seeing that last Tuesday, Feb. 22, Tucker Carlson, on a commentary segment on his namesake Fox News show seemingly, but not explicitly compared the mainstream commentary of Russian president Vladimir Putin to that of Chinese president Xi Jinping stating.
“Has he shipped every middle-class job in my town to Russia? Did he manufacture a worldwide pandemic that wrecked my business and kept me indoors for two years? Is he teaching my children to embrace racial discrimination? Is he making fentanyl? Is he trying to snuff out Christianity? Does he eat dogs?” said Tucker Carlson in the show.
How did I know he was talking about China? Take a guess. That last part put the cherry on top of the whole “Western Civilization is superior” Tucker Carlson Swanson foods packaged sundae.
Now before I highlight his usage of ethno-nationalist language and promotion of white supremacist theories, we have to mention the real origin of this stereotype, which actually does have to do with said racist theories.
One of the earliest documented instances of this projection was at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, where “primitive” native Igorot people were used as props in a village diorama that featured them grilling dog parts over a fire to the shock of attendees at the Philippine Exposition. A report by the St. Louis Republic covering the fair stated that, “after nearly two weeks of enforced fasting from puppy steaks and dog soup, the famished head-hunters are at last to be regaled with their cherished viands… Six dogs have been obtained, where or how is kept a dark secret and the dog-killing time is contingent on how soon the canine victims shall have been fattened for the feast.” At the time, this display, alongside other equally racist depictions of Filipinos in American media and pop culture, was used to celebrate the recent win of the Philippine-American war and justify the imperialist occupation of the Philippines that would eventually last until 1945—“whipping them into shape” as “civilized” people, whatever that means.
Dogs are the outlier, the end-all, be-all for judgment. The stereotype reflects a fixation of Western ideals being normal, putting down others’ practices even if they are things that they used to do. Many East Asian countries, such as South Korea, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and my native Philippines have outlawed the commercial slaughter and processing of dog meat and have adopted a pet culture similar to that in America.
If we are really upholding “western ideals”, have we even considered the multi billion-dollar industrial scale processing of animals “culturally acceptable” to eat, like chicken, pigs and cows? The legendary musician and animal rights activist Paul McCartney famously said that “if slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian.”
Better yet, have we even considered why that thing we argue are sandwiches is called a hot dog? The frankfurter, as is named after the German city of Frankfurt, was subject to the scrutiny of the American palette amid a wave of German immigration in the late 19th century because of the knowledge of the German’s consumption of dog meat, among other general anti-German sentiment—coining the term “hot dog”. Good thing the youth call them glizzies these days.
This is getting ridiculous, but when you are dealing with hypocrisy and a fixation on norms that no one actually has set in stone, nothing is ever normal. East Asians like myself are sick and tired of the dog stuff —the unfunny jokes, the stereotypes that remind us of a terrible history when dog eating was used against us to justify white supremacy and the white savior complex that surrounds dog meat farm rescue missions in South Korea and other East Asian countries.
Think about what you eat, and do not look down on the cultures of East Asians because some of us or our ancestors have eaten dogs. I don’t judge your 4 for $4 or your chicken tendies or the sushi you plan on eating on a date.
As long as you are eating meat, everything you eat is unethical, not just dogs. If that disgusts you, I don’t know. Don’t eat meat, seriously start to consider salads.