During last night’s Democrat Debate Governor Mike Huckabee live-tweeted:
“I trust @BernieSanders with my tax dollars like I trust a North Korean chef with my labrador! #DemDebate”
Racist stereotype, or does Bernie Sanders really eat taxes for lunch?
Twitter immediately struck back with its version of “people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones,” because Huckabee’s own family has a dog incident of its own. “On 11 July 1998,” Snopes reports, “two young men working as counselors at Camp Pioneer in Hatfield, Arkansas, killed a dog at that Boy Scout camp. One of those young men was 19-year-old Clayton Frady of Texarkana and the other David Huckabee, the youngest son of Arkansas Governor Michael Dale ‘Mike’ Huckabee.”
Both teenagers were fired as a result of this incident. Beyond this, the details cannot be confirmed, but the Snopes report also notes that “anonymous rumors about how the dog was killed claim Frady and Huckabee hanged the dog, slit its throat, and stoned it to death.” However, they are just that—rumors.
In Hollywood films, “You killed my dog!” invokes a twisted worldview where the villain is completely depraved. Just in case anyone in the audience might be hoping to give diplomacy a chance because love will find a way, action films from “John Wick” to “Taken 3” make sure to show that the villain not only shot the puppy, he did it on purpose. It happens in real life too: that cop in Ohio who shot a 4-year-old in the leg was aiming for the family dog, but missed.
The real issue here isn’t whether South Koreans, North Koreans, or the Chinese eat dog—or, for that matter, why Americans, Canadians, and Europeans eat hotdogs. Pointing fingers at another country’s culinary habits, especially when the people are powerless and starving–is an easy way to affirm cultural superiority via the refinement of your palate. Intramuros, it’s a way to cast aspersions without offering substantive critique.
As an exchange student in a language program in North Korea, Dima Mironenko lived in the country for a semester and is a now Postdoctoral Associate at Yale University, where he is a historian of North Korea specializing on visual culture, film, and media. Mironenko writes in an upset email to me:
“Why is he [Huckabee] singling out North Korea–just to make an unpalatable comparison with Bernie Sanders for dramatic effect? Just for the record, he should really look into entrusting his lab to our South Korean allies or the Chinese. They make our iPhones and Samsung Galaxies and they make much better dog stew, too. Far superior than anything North Koreans would ever cook up, I would imagine (not that they have a reason to–they have enough white rice not to starve, unlike the unfortunate North Korean underdogs, they have plenty of white rice and they are hardly on the brink of starvation.”