Most recently the Republican spokesperson Rush Limbaugh, who now claims he’s only an entertainer, has decided to defame a law student from Georgetown University (more about 'George' in just a moment) who spoke up for women’s health issues before the American Congress.
Instead of honoring the courage of Sandra Fluke, Limbaugh decided to slander this individual with such vile sexual language and imagery, it simply isn’t worth repeating here.
Starting with the President down to the average person on the street the response has been shock and outrage to such a vilification and a growing demand for an authentic apology from this nationally popular radio commentator.
Limbaugh in short, who claims to speak for liberty and freedom, does not.
One has only to remember the standards by which George Washington himself lived – it’s no small irony that Ms. Fluke attends a University whose name has come to be identified with America’s first president and who risk his own life and fortune to defend the young nation and its laws.
No book better highlights the high standards of civility, that Limbaugh has chosen to discard, than in the new book Dining with the Washingtons. Far more than a mere recipe book, this outstanding text edited by Stephen A. McLeod, lays forth for readers the feast of courtesy that George Washington and the first First Lady offered to all.
Those who dined at Washington’s Mount Vernon country estate represented the best and the brightest of their era– no matter their nation, political belief or sex.
French gentlemen dined with rebel soldiers and ladies spoke freely to the country’s leaders on matters of concern to the nation.
Diversity was accepted and encouraged – both in cuisine and conversation. And though the sad question of slavery was still to be resolved, Washington was proud of the talents of the nation’s first celebrity chef, Hercules.
Dining with the Washingtons is a must-have visual treasure and historical guide for any true culinary professional or informed reader.
It is a return, in these turbulent times, to a gentler and perhaps wiser age when civility’s value was better understood as a necessity and not a mere social frill.
Just consider for a moment a few of the rules that a young Washington hand wrote in his journal years before becoming famous in a section entitled Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation:
- Every action done in company ought to be with some sign of respect to those that are present.
- Use no reproachful language against any one; neither curse nor revile.
- Let your conversation be without malice or envy.
- Mock not nor jest at anything of importance.
- Speak not evil of the absent, for it is unjust.
Those of us who are lucky enough to be in the hospitality industry understand these principles by heart. Indeed, our very industry is named after the concept of graciousness – a graciousness that turns no one away, a philosophy that welcomes all, just as the first President of America did to his hilltop home.
In these difficult times, our hotels and restaurants should echo that understanding - that democracy is a feast that welcomes all and excludes none.
The dishes served at that feast of freedom may differ, given the history and heritage of each nation, but that fact should never alter the right of all to join in the feast to which each human is inalienably invited.
One can only hope that persons such a Rush Llimbaugh pause and consider the bitter fare of their words before they sour and soil their own souls.
There is a better wiser feast to serve, one Washington knew well – one of fellowship, respect and cooperation. The future is before us – let us never dine on or serve to others dishes created from past hates or future fears.
Your Culinary World copyright Ana Kinkaid/Peter Schlagel 2012