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Friday, November 22, 2013

Talkin' Turkey (the Republic of) on Thanksgiving

(624 words)
This is the time of year I always find myself wondering if the Republic of Turkey has a national bird. 

I’m sure I’d find my wondering betrays a vast ignorance about a proud and noble people, residents of a staunch NATO ally and a bastion of secular democracy in a Middle East that seems forever enflamed by tyrants driven by deadly religious passions.

Only an idiot would sit down at grace every year and distractedly wonder during the blessing if the turkey is Turkish.

But I cannot escape the thought.

I dream of one day taking the kids to Turkey and promising it’ll be just like the summer we went to Hershey, only with Thanksgiving themes.

“We’re going to spend a couple of days at the Cranberry Sauce seaside resort before heading to the Stuffing Mountain Range. And I hear nearby Mt. Mashed Potato is great this time of year so we’re taking all our ski gear.” 

There’ll be pleasure boating down the Gravy River, sight seeing through Carrot Forest, and you’d have to think there’d be a dandy amusement park in Candied Yam Land.

To me, the nation’s name presents a classic chicken-and-the-egg question. Which came first: turkey or Turkey?

I encourage you to look it up because I won’t.

I’m charmed by the idea that the two are related and researching things like origins might demolish some of the naive pre-conceptions.

I like believing I could go to Turkey and greet the natives by saying, “Gobble! Gobble!” and they’d find it so original and hilarious, they’d say, “Gee, are all Americans as funny as you? Because if they are, we love America! USA! USA! USA!”

I wonder what people in Turkey think about Thanksgiving and I wonder if they eat turkey in Turkish restaurants in downtown Istanbul. I doubt it and I wonder how many businessmen got off planes with their mouths watering for a turkey dinner and left exasperated after a steady diet of pilav and lamb kebabs. 

Certainly some of them have access to Food Network programming, which for the next few days will be all about turkeys and Thanksgiving. 

So some people in Turkey will see smiling Americans of various ethnicities talking about how much fun it is to roast turkey, deep-fry turkey and shove various side dishes up turkey butts.

Much could be lost in translation. It all might sound completely different to people who live in Turkey.

It might sound like a declaration of war.

I know many U.S. patriots would go straight to DEF-CON5 if we saw a broadcast of a voluptuous dark-skinned woman saying, “First you want to tie America up, pour seasonings on it, fill its empty carcass with stale bread and then shove it in the pre-heated oven for four hours. When America’s cooked, slice it up into succulent pieces and feed it to your children. Oh, and be sure to thank Allah for all the America filling up your bellies!”

So being diplomatically-minded, I’m just trying to get out in front of this because I can imagine one day people in Turkey will become furious when they realize people in America have one day a year where everyone celebrates eating turkey.

There’s no reason to believe political correctness stops at our shores.

So this Thanksgiving, there should be some sort of educational outreach to reassure the Turks we are talking about consuming a delicious native bird and not one of our most essential  allies in a region vital to our national interests.

And I hope any Turks reading this will take no offense at my simple-minded jests.

The last thing I’d want to do on Thanksgiving is ruffle any Turkey feathers.


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