Des Moines, IA - Citing the dangerous geopolitical climate, the National Pork Board has taken the unorthodox step of seeking an active role in the war on terror. According to Ramon Garciaparra, a spokesperson for the National Pork Board and father of shortstop Nomar Garciaparra (who was recently traded by the Boston Red Sox to the Chicago Cubs), the idea is not as far-fetched as it might sound.
The National Pork Board is basing its decision on original research on the structure of power relationships between nations, an assessment of the major zones of conflict around the world and the role of pork as a dietary staple. "According to our study," said Garciaparra, "which is available at www.porkboard.org, the region with the highest level of conflict and the lowest level of pork consumption is the Middle East.
"Our plan is to bring awareness of the health benefits of pork to the region and to promote the consumption of port and pork products through a series of educational and culinary events in major cities across the Middle East," continued Garciaparra. "Once people know that pork is an easy and tasty substitute to other meats, we expect to see the rapid adoption of the meat as a staple in the region with a concurrent lowering of tensions and hostilities."
Garciaparra and the Pork Board believe that if this were to occur, the Middle East would become a more stable and peaceful place. "We looked all over the world and this was the one place where the issue was just too obvious to ignore - no pork equals no peace, it's just that simple."
William A. Graham, Dean, Murray A. Albertson Professor of Middle Eastern Studies, and John Lord O'Brian Professor of Divinity at the Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, feels that Garciaparra's thesis ignores one very important point: two of the major religions in the region, Judaism and Islam, prohibit adherents from eating pork.
"In the Koran, in Al Ma'idah: 3," explained Graham, "this prohibition is made very clear, ‘Forbidden to you (for food) are: dead meat, blood, the flesh of swine, and that on which hath been invoked a name other than that of Allah'. Leviticus chapter 11 verse 7 and 8, which states, ‘…and the swine, as he divideth the hoof, and be cloven footed, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you. Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcass shall ye not touch, they are unclean to you,' form the basis for the Jewish ban on eating pork. I don't think a PR campaign is going to change people's belief systems."
Diplomats shared Graham's pessimism. UN Special Coordinator Terje Roed-Larsen, the UN's Middle East envoy feels that the move is presumptions and ill-informed. "One of the biggest mistakes that the West - and the US in particular - makes in this region is to assume that what works at home will work here. This has been illustrated again and again - often with few results to show for the effort."
Garciaparra and the Pork Board are undeterred by what he refers to the "negativity that always opposes creativity." "We are Americans. We are pork men. We know that pork, if eaten in sufficient quantities, can lower the threat our country faces from regional instability and potential terrorist attacks," continued Garciaparra, "The USA didn't get to be number one by listening to people saying ‘it won't work.' Just look at the job being done bringing democracy to the region - that's a hell of a lot harder to do than selling a few tons of pork chops."