Robert Long Foreman comes from Wheeling, West Virginia. He teaches at Rhode Island College. His work has appeared in such journals as AGNI, Michigan Quarterly Review, and Massachusetts Review.
an excerpt from the essay
Hitler’s Table Talk, a meticulous transcript of statements Hitler made at meals, is, in the words of Hannah Arendt, “a peculiar book,” in which Hitler mostly speaks to military advisors, and often talks vegetables. In December 1941, Hitler spoke for the children, saying, “If I offer a child the choice between a pear and a piece of meat, he’ll quickly choose the pear. That’s his atavistic instinct speaking.” At lunch in the Reich Chancellery, on April 25, 1942, Hitler said, “the dog, which is carnivorous, cannot compare in performance with the horse, which is vegetarian.” Later that year, on the 8th of July, at dinner, Hitler told Wilhelm Keitel that his sheepdog Blondi was nearly vegetarian herself. He once concluded a dinner monologue by announcing, “There’s one thing I can predict to eaters of meat, that the world of the future will be vegetarian!”
Never do I speak of lettuce and carrots with such certainty. I lack a dangerous charisma like Hitler’s, as well as his oratory skills, and I cannot pres- ent my food preference as something crucial that should be written in private diaries. I am far too timid to rhetorically trample the diets of others, or even to prod eaters of meat to question what appears on their plates. I am interested in food, and must eat it several times a day, but I am not openly passionate about it.
I am also staunchly opposed to the use of torture, the overuse of cars, and the failure of some of my closest friends to vote or read newspapers. But I never so much as mention these problems to them. I keep my mouth shut, mostly out of politeness, and I wonder just how wrong and backward is this failure to voice my convictions.