People of sound mind do not rush to rehash folly. And if they do, it’s to condemn, not condone it. Lena Dunham is Not That Kind of Girl.

In an interview this week with Food & Wine, the writer and director of HBO’s “Girls” breathed new life into an old controversy by expressing her support for students offended by her alma mater, Oberlin College, and its alleged culinary cooptation.

In November, student activists at Oberlin started a food fight that garnered national attention. Having once received an email, also in November, from Barnard’s student government that read, “Thanksgiving is complicated. We urge you not to forget that this holiday commemorates genocide and American imperialism,” I’ve come to the conclusion that the 11th month holds special allure for would-be activists looking to especially embarrass themselves, and activism as a whole.

Bottom feeders exemplifying the worst sort of activism took particular issue with one cafeteria’s sushi bar; junior Tomoyo Joshi declared that “the undercooked rice and lack of fresh fish is disrespectful.” The same article quotes a Vietnamese student disappointed by the dining hall’s “ridiculous” decision to offer a “cheap imitation” of the Banh Mi sandwich. It takes a discerning palette to see the choice of offering coleslaw and pulled pork instead of fresh herbs and grilled pork as appropriation and not merely a cost-saving mechanism.

This battle is all frosting and no cupcake, which is to say that it evades even the slightest bit of substance.

Back in prehistoric times when people were grateful to have any food in front of them at all, misbehaving children were punished by being sent to bed sans supper. Not today.

Thus while calorie-free activism has become a hallmark of the millennial college experience, the sympathetic reactions to the complaints were shocking even if the complaints themselves were tragically unsurprising. Dunham’s is the latest, but not the most disappointing.

The New York Times quotes Michele Gross, Oberlin’s director of dining services, as having said, “in our efforts to provide a vibrant menu, we recently fell short in the execution of several dishes in a manner that was culturally insensitive.”

Where Gross really fell short was in thinking that she owed anyone an apology.

Dunham, on the other hand, does owe America an apology for abusing her pop-culture platform. “The press reported it as, ‘How crazy are Oberlin kids?’” she told Food & Wine. “But to me, it was actually, ‘Right on.’” Dunham has been handed a megaphone by her fans, and should use it wisely by offering real food for thought, instead of regurgitating a word-salad of meaningless activist catchphrases. Just between us girls—no one was hungry for seconds on this one.

And for those college students eager to get involved with food-related activism, why not start with the millions of Americans who grow up in food-insecure households? For all the left’s accusatory talk on privilege, there is no more shameful an example than Oberlin’s student body and one of its most prominent alumna.


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