VIEW FROM AFAR

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DALE SUDERMAN
The news about mad cow disease is making me a little nuts. One crazy Holstein in Washington State-and a tourist cow from Canada at that-has caused beef prices to drop 25 percent for producers.

(Not that my local Chicago grocery store is passing on these savings to me.)

The chattering class-the talking heads on CNN and NPR and network news-speak in somber tones about beef. But if one listens carefully, they really aren’t talking about mad cow disease at all. Rather, they are pimping their own personal agendas.

Some are simply closet vegetarians. They don’t eat meat. Never did. Never will. Even if the baby calf is born with an attending midwife in a birthing center, raised only on organic food, home schooled and listens only to classical music and has a private playground for its entire life, these folks still will not eat cow.

Vegetarians insist on eating plants.

Plants are the most passive, innocent, and benign organisms in all of nature’s creation. They stay in their place soaking up water and sunshine. Plants have feelings-mostly they feel picked on. (Particularly by vegetarians.)

Every apple they eat is an abortion; every celery stalk they nosh on is an amputation.

(I will acknowledge my own personal problem from childhood with plants such as pigweed and cockleburs-but I am working on overcoming these resentments.)

Vegetarians are killers of the most innocent part of creation-and for the most part don’t even offer thanks before a meal.

Cows, chickens, pigs, sheep and goats are natural born killers and deserve to be eaten. I have been attacked by all of them and I know.

The second talking head groups -the Mommy Class Experts- feel the need to make the world so ultimately risk free that even a 6-year-old kid can hitchhike alone from Wichita to Denver without danger.

They will not rest until we are all wearing seat belts in our beds, covered by hypo-allergenic, flame-retardant blankets and sipping unsalted, pureed carrots through a straw.

These zero-risk folks dither about mad cow being in the food chain and simply ignore the absence of human fatalities from mad cow for the past five years. They skip over that you are in more danger from hepatitis and e coli from the salad bar at your local restaurant than from the sirloin.

Risk-free living is impossible. The ratio of flu deaths to mad cow disease in America this year is 36,000 to 0. The 8,000 food-related deaths in America do not include mad cow disease.

The third talking head groups are economic idealists. Some want to smash agribusiness and replace it with low-tech organic farming. Others want even more regulation of agriculture until every farm will need three MBAs, two veterinarians and four lawyers present before the hogs are slopped in the morning. Others want more NAFTA or hysterically declaim the danger of NAFTA.

My impression is very few of these folks could tell a cow from a bull.

We need a scapegoat to pinpoint for mad cow disease. I nominate the Canadians.

For a century we have tolerated millions of people living on our northern border who are quiet (to the point of being boring.) They have free health insurance, cheap prescription drugs and wonderful retirement plans.

Secretly, Canadians are laughing at us. But if we mobilize the Rhode Island National Guard we could take over Canada in a week. (Their military consists primarily of weapons inspectors-making certain neither they nor anybody else has any.)

With patriotic fervor one could rename Canada, Kan., as Freedomville. After all, Canada sold us a sick cow.

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