Saturday, August 2, 2008

tyson chicken, Eid al-Fitr, and idiocy

As part of negotiations over a new union contract, the Tyson chicken plant in Shelbyville, Tennessee, will close for the Muslim holiday Eid al-Fitr and the plant's workers will no longer enjoy Labor Day. The WorldNetDaily (Ed Brayton at Dispatches from the Culture Wars refers to the web site as WorldNutDaily; poke around a bit and you'll agree) posts the news story and includes a number of comments found at the Shelbyville Times newspaper forum page. The comments they selected for posting range from idiotic and 'how is it you don't fall down more often' idiocy, not that I expected anything less out of the WorldNutDaily camp.

One comment they cite: "If this holiday is that important to them, make them take it off instead of Christmas Day and allow ALL workers to be off Labor Day. Most AMERICAN families have some type of function on Labor Day," wrote one anonymous participant." I've often had to work (I teach) on Labor Day -- probably more often than not since entering academia (including my years as a grad student). Where was I teaching? State universities. In the United States. It is interesting to see that this reader suggests a holiday that should be celebrated May 1 (like everyone else in the world) is more important than Christmas.

This passage is especially idiotic. Let's count the logical fallacies:
It says union leadership made this request, makes you wonder who runs the union. I guess they are already working on a plan to replace Memorial Day, that means nothing to the Muslims so why should we have the right to celebrate it. Labor Day commemorates the plight of workers and the struggle of labor unions to improve working conditions for American workers. The Muslims will not stop until all of our rights and laws are changed to accommodate their beliefs. This will be a new America but it will be their America," said another.

Let's see -- slippery slope in the second sentence. Somehow the workers working on a given day means that "why should we have the right to celebrate it." So if some workers somewhere are working a given day then no one celebrates it? In that case, no one celebrates Labor Day because the university where I taught before still has classes that day. Staff is off, but I guess they can't celebrate it because the faculty still has to teach. Another slippery slope -- hard to believe that a minority of perhaps 1% of the entire population of the United States is going to transform the US. Dare to be stupid, I guess.

Not to be outdone by the stupid comments made by anonymous posters at a Tennessee newspaper website, the article reads: "Ironically, the company on its website also promotes a variety of traditional and customary Christian and secular blessings for food – its primary product." There is nothing ironic about this. They didn't change the holiday to "punish" Christians (that might have been the effect of eliminating Christmas as a holiday). They changed the holiday to accommodate the religious beliefs of over half their employees. The article notes that about 700 of the 1200 workers at the plant are from Somalia, who are mainly Muslim.

The article cites another commenter on the forum:

"This is America, founded by the blood of our forefathers and should not be challenged by Somalians, Hispanics, or any other immigrants. If they come to America, they need to learn our language and our ways. They can practice their culture in private if they so please, but not shove it down our throats. Would they let us go there and change there (sic) country? I have banned Tyson's products from my home for years because of the illegals they were hiring. I am sorry for the producers that are supplying them, but Tyson's has once again crossed the line with the American people. Labor Day was here long before Tyson's. What holiday will be next to be taken away and replaced to accommodate an immigrant. This stinks worse than the plant," said another anonymous forum participant.

This one is truly idiotic and downright offensive. How does what one plant does in one city (town?) in one state constitute "shov[ing] it [their culture] down our throats"? This person evidently does not work there and apparently hasn't even eaten their product for years -- and feels compelled to make his or her anti-immigrant bias known. It's hard to see how changing one holiday for another is somehow a "challenge" to our country by "Somalians, Hispanics, or any other immigrants (sic)." If the union negotiated for it, I assume it was something the workers discussed, with the possible trade off noted. The other holiday that would have been logical was the birthday -- if the non-Muslim workers had protested, I'm sure that that day would have been the trade-off.

This shouldn't even be in the news; it's only notable because Americans are petrified of Muslims -- look at how many emails have gone out about Obama being a Muslim (all false, check out -- and immigrants in general. They forget how many generations ago their own ancestors came and the culture that they brought.

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