The Era of Politicized Food

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Aug. 17 2012 9:06 AM

The Era of Politicized Food

The shooting at the Family Research Council's headquarters faded quickly from the headlines. Why? Optimistically, I'd like to think it was because a security guard stopped the would-be killer at the door, taking him down in a firefight. But Ryan J. Reilly has stayed on it, and was there yesterday when the FRC's Tony Perkins explained why the shooter might have had a liberal-driven political, terroristic agenda.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

Perkins did not offer any evidence that Corkins was acting as a direct result of anything the Southern Poverty Law Center has said. Instead he said that the fact that the gunman was carrying 15 Chick-Fil-A sandwiches along with 50 rounds of ammunition — “not something you bring out to the park for a picnic” — as evidence the shooter was motivated by his disagreement with the FRC.
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So Chick-fil-A is an immediate cultural signifier now. That would be an oddball story on it's own, but it's got company -- the tale of the Radford, Va. bakery whose owner told the Secret Service that he didn't want Vice President Biden to come there, and who was rewarded by an outpouring of business.

Gary Harris, a Vietnam War veteran and commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 776 who lives in Radford, said he picked up some "freedom cookies" to support Crumb & Get It. Like Moore, he said it was his first visit to the bakery.
"He spoke up for what he believed in," Harris said. "I heard somewhere that it may help or hurt his business. He shouldn't be penalized for speaking his opinion, I'm going to help him out all I can."

Nobody "penalized" Crumb & Get It for dissing the vice president. Secret Service agents gamely bought some goods at the bakery anyway (an action that has been interpreted as some kind of subterfuge, though i haven't seen reporting to back that up). But because the business's owner believed the phantom edit of "you didn't build that," and he got angry, his food became as politically vital as a chunk of the Berlin wall or the Bastille.

I think of stories like this whenever some D.C. hack wastes column inches bemoaning the "negative campaign." When you've got this level of back-biting and paranoia and loathing at the local level, what kind of campaign do you think we're going to get?

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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