Dining on Sacred Cow
Given that this is the final installment of two years of Dining on Sacred Cow, I ought to be butchering a big one this week. But all that’s genuinely worth flaying is too much to broadcast in a publication that will carry my name for the rest of my life—such is the world, and such is the reason why nobody ever takes profound risks on these pages; grant me that—and if you’d like to talk about dangerous things, we can do so more intimately.
Contrary to what I had wanted, this column has not become much of a shock generator. Despite my occasionally impish wish to upset people set in their ways, I strive painfully for nuance. I’ve talked about some quirky things, certainly—eating insects, fro-yo commerce, OKCupid/job application snafus, radical life extension—but it turns out that the real page turners are relatively boilerplate: affirmative action, the one percent, “the death of the humanities,” hook-up culture, drone strikes. On such issues, wrote Ecclesiastes, nothing is new under the sun. I would any day rather aim for unique value-add—a near impossibility when debating abortion, gun control, et al—than for outrage.
As far as I knew for the longest time, politics was my first adult love, dominating lunch table conversations and bar mitzvah decorations, spurning my advances with the cold reality of the faraway voting age.
Since my last column on the Crimean crisis, the plot has thickened considerably: from where National Geographic stands, the dangling Black Sea peninsula has joined the likes of Taiwan, Kashmir and Cyprus as an ‘Area of Special Status’. In terms of consequence to Eurasian politics and the U.S.-Russia bilateral relationship, Crimea has far outstripped Abkhazia or Transdniestria—marking the most glaring political geographic revision the Commonwealth of Independent States has seen since the end of the Cold War.
For us Gen Y-ers, children of America’s “unipolar moment,” it is nearly impossible to relate to the Cold War zeitgeist of desk drills, space races, and Daisy Girls. Except for some brief, frenzied moments in 2001-2, the jihadists lurking between the cracks of 21st century state authority have never seemed to threaten our collective existence; from where we stand today, the threat of Chinese ascendancy is distant and mostly economic.