GBK’s colonial burger isn’t cultural appropriation, and it’s not racist either
You can’t change history by pretending it didn’t happen
A 30 day dry-aged steak burger, Red Leicester cheese, crispy bacon, pickles and Bangkok slaw, all topped off with beef ketchup. This isn’t just food, this is racist food.
2016 is barely three weeks old and civilisation has already been punched in the face by the sheer idiocy of a few of my fellow millennials. Gourmet Burger Kitchen’s “Old Colonial” burger is causing a wave among Londoners (and by wave, I mean a few angry tweets) for no other reason than its “casual commodification of colonialism”.
By “casual commodification of colonialism”, the puritans objecting to it don’t mean GBK secretly profits from the Scramble for Africa or some South African diamond mine, what they really mean is that the offending burger’s name whitewashes centuries of atrocities at the hands of the European empires. No, this is not a parody.
Obviously GBK are trying to tap into the imperialist market. Just you wait, they’ll soon be serving barbequed rhinoceros to John Bull, Cecil Rhodes and Michael Caine. The bastards.
I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that being under European colonial dominance wasn’t a particularly pleasant experience. Hell, it was fucking horrendous for most people. In “German East Africa” people were sterilised and experimented on. In the Congo locals had their hands cut off for failing to meet rubber quotas so Belgians could have nice inflatable bicycle tubes. The British made sure the history of the Indian Raj was punctuated by bloodshed on a heart-breaking scale.
These are crimes that should never be forgotten but I’m afraid that if you equate the name a restaurant gives to over-priced animal meat put between two slices of bread with the backward, poisonous and evil atrocities of imperialism you’re trivialising the past and everyone who fell victim to that dark chapter of history.
Racism is vile, racism is a problem. Calling a burger racist means you’re an idiot. You’re taking the weight from the word and turning it into something childish to be thrown at anything that references the past.
What this debacle and to a lesser extent the Rhodes Must Fall campaign fail to grasp is that you can’t, with the wave of a wand, change history. A lot of the past is fucked up. We must learn from it and move on, so don’t dare try and hide it: you’ll only do a disservice to those who must be remembered, the living and the unborn who must one day look at the mistakes of the dead and move forward.