Sometimes inspiration hits like lightning. You sit bolt upright in bed, the smell of ozone in the air, static electricity making a nimbus of your four-months-uncut quarantine hair, and pure genius sizzling in your head.
"Boss, I've got it," I said over Slack — because after all we're in the middle of a pandemic and it's important to practice safe social distancing. But enough about the tired old coronavirus. On to my brilliance. "I want to write about an issue gripping the nation: beans."
"Beans?" my editor asked. "You mean the Goya thing? Do we really need to dignify that kerfuffle with a response?"
- (above) President Donald Trump; Ivanka Trump
"Sir, there's a war on free speech and individualism, and beans are the battlefield. Goya Foods CEO Robert Unanue is just a casualty caught in the crossfires of cancel culture. Some shortsighted individuals would tell us to fight the deadly disease that has cost us more than 138,000 lives, but I see the real fight of our lifetime. We must cancel cancel culture."
"Um," said my editor.
"Some people might say that voting with your dollars is as American as apple pie. Some folks might claim that every American has the privilege, no, the right to spend — or not spend — their hard-earned greenbacks on whatever beans they want. They'll cry that elected officials shouldn't use their platforms to promote products or brands, that it smacks of a dictatorship for a president to trot out businessmen to publicly praise him in some weird and performative press conference."
"Well, yeah," the boss said. "Anyway, don't you think that you should use your platform for something more productive? What about the ever-growing coronavirus case load? The millions on unemployment? Couldn't you at least suggest people wear a mask?"
"While Goya brand beans are sitting un-bought on grocery store shelves? I couldn't call myself a patriot without speaking out against these crimes against my country," I affirmed, patriotically.
"But how is people boycotting Goya any different than the folks who boycotted Nike after their tasteful ad featuring Colin Kaepernick?"
"The Deep State paid you to say that, didn't they?"
Okay. Thanks for playing along with my little charade. For those who have no idea what's going on, Goya Foods CEO Robert Unanue recently praised President Trump's leadership at a press conference to announce an advisory commission to create economic opportunities for Latinx Americans. Unanue's praise set off an avalanche of complaints, which then prompted Trump to demonstrate some of his "leadership" — by tweeting a photo of himself giving the thumbs up to some cans of beans. Some people might question that move or call it insensitive, using food as a prop when more than 32 million Americans are unemployed and another 3.5 million currently have COVID-19.
Lining up beans on the Resolute desk, stacking weights in color-coordinated trucks on the White House lawn, the endless parade of arguments in defense of traitors and slave traders — these are distractions we can't afford right now. People are dying. If our elected officials are tweeting about buying beans and saving statues, or sharing videos of themselves looking smug about signing unconstitutional anti-abortion bills (cough, Gov. Bill Lee, cough) in the middle of a deadly pandemic, they're showing us their priorities. And we, the people, are not the priority.
Jesse Davis is a Flyer copy editor and staff writer, and the host of My Morning Mixtape on WEVL 89.9 FM.