Who Is Tom Nichols And Why Is He Dissing Indian Food?

I ran across this story earlier this morning when checking out food-oriented Tweets that came up on various hashtag searches. I have a sneaking suspicion that Tom Nichols – currently at the eye of a mammoth Tweet Storm – wasn’t totally serious when he dissed Indian Food…

Nichols - wide - © You TubeTom Nichols: Not really an Indian Food Hater?

First of all, who is Tom Nichols?

Wikipedia says: “Thomas M. Nichols is an academic specialist on international affairs, currently a professor at the U.S. Naval War College and at the Harvard Extension School. His work deals with issues involving Russia, nuclear weapons, and national security affairs.”

So why is he getting mixed up in – nay, stoking – a Tweet Storm over Indian Food? I think it’s because he’s a natural-born s**t disturber.

What he did

Actually, it was a Twitter-zen named Jon Becker who started the kerfuffle when he challenged other Twitter users to quote-post their most controversial food opinions to his account. He got answers like:

“French Fries and Ice Cream. Best ever.”

“The bad rap that Brussels Sprouts had up until recently was totally deserved. They suck. Their recent acceptance/popularity is the work of the deep state.”

“Walnuts taste like under the house.”

“Hershey’s tastes like a dairy milk that fell behind the radiator.”

“Lettuce serves no purpose, we just use it because no one is brave enough to stop.”

But Nichols dared to contribute this opinion:

“Indian food is terrible and we pretend it isn’t.”

Cue, the deluge

Other Jon Becker followers came back at Nichols with shots like:

“You’re going to Hell.”

“Doubt if you’ve been exposed to, let alone tasted, 1% of dishes Indians eat. Incidentally, there’s nothing called “Indian” food except maybe the limited fare labeled so overseas. Here we have a different cuisine every couple of 100 km.”

“The fact that you personally don’t like the taste of something, does not make it ‘bad’.

“There’s a difference between controversial and stupid.”

and:

“You’re wrong, and you should just sit in the corner and think about your wrongness.”

My take

If Nichols wanted to light a social bonfire, he succeeded admirably. And I believe that’s exactly what he intended. What a great social experiment, to take a ridiculous, extreme position and wait to see what comes down on. Nichols’ stunt produced and intriguing collection of comments providing an amusing and, at times, alarming picture of how strongly people feel about their food and those who would diss it. Just goes to show how essential we consider the food we know and love to our overall well-being.

Regard the photo of Nichols, above. He just looks like a natural-born imp, someone who revels in poking the establishment – or popular opinion – in the ribs. But that’s hardly scientific, and I’ve never met the man. I will say that his writing style is okay, for an academic, and from what I’ve seen on the Internet, he is a well-respected latter-day ‘thinker’. But I am also pretty sure he isn’t really a dyed-in-the-wool Indian Food hater.

In fact, he sounds like my kind of guy. And Wikipedia says he’s not married..

~ Maggie J.