Greatest Satan Barbecue

In 2008, I wrote a castigation of George W.  Bush disguised as a culinary effort titled Cuisines of the Axis of Evil and Other Irritating States: A Dinner Party Approach to International Relations. (Make no mistake: it’s a real cookbook and I cook from this thing all the time.) The final chapter was titled the “Great Satan Barbecue.” For some random-ass reasons, I had to consult this very well-cited cookbook and happened to re-read this concluding chapter because I needed a source I used.

I must admit that while this was published a fucking decade ago…these observations remain germane to the Era of the Xphobic, White-Christian-Male-Supremacist Pussy Grabber and the jackasses who support him.

By the way, if you like what you see the book at:

I’m working on a culinary castigation of the Pussy Grabber regime. Any pump up in numbers on this effort will help me get a contract for the new one which I am hoping to write with Joshua Foust. By the way: on the new cookbook, all proceeds are going to progressive charities.



Americans are frequently treated to lengthy expositions about the perfidy of other nations. But, as my fellow Americans have come to learn (the hard way, alas) in recent years, we really seem to irritate most of the world. Thus, in the spirit of embracing our inner hegemons and in the hope that Americans will wake up and smell the enmity and demand better leadership and saner policies, I offer this sarcastic glimpse into what the data say about “why they hate us.” (Hint: It’s definitely not our freedoms.) Ladies and gentlemen, pick up your pitchforks with patriotic pride and fire up those coals!


Let me say up front that I love being American. As a country, we have much to offer the world apart from, inter alia, interfering in other sovereign states’ domestic affairs, propping up and funding (often military and/or right-wing) dictators,249 toppling democratically elected folks we dislike, waging unpopular preemptive wars against countries that posed no real threat before being invaded, supporting countries that oppress all or parts of their populations, and bankrolling states that occupy people and appropriate their lands.

There are probably any number of good things we could do that wouldn’t foster global enmity—or at least as much as our current suite of policies. For example, if we took the cash that we squandered on these morally and ethically questionable programs and deployed those resources to educate folks, provide health care and robust feeding programs, and underwrite civil society institutions working within their legal structures for change, the U.S. of A. may have been spared the “Great Satan” moniker. Hell, we’d probably be in a better place than we are right now had we spent those same greenbacks educating Americans and providing sustainable and affordable health care rather than engaging in such dubious adventurism abroad.

I’d guess based upon my Midwestern experiences in Indiana and Chicago that prior to planes crashing into our buildings and suicide nutters attacking our embassies and naval vessels and before we saw our countrymen and allies being beheaded on the Internet, many Americans probably didn’t know how hated we are outside of our porous borders that are so easily crossed by the millions of illegal immigrants who still want to come here despite all the bad things said about us. In fact, some may say, if we are so bad, why is that any- where between 400,000 and 700,000 poor sons of bitches make their way illegally to the Great Satan every year? As they say, 10.3 million “unauthorized” immigrants since 2004 can’t be wrong!250 If I were to be adventurous and hazard a guess, I’d say this collective obliviousness to global animosity and its possible origins is likely due, in part, to the fact that Americans don’t travel that much. In fact, according to data from 2005, 80 percent of the American citizenry and 30 percent of U.S. congresspersons don’t even have passports.251 This is weird, given that we are the world’s only global superpower. This is even stranger when you consider how rich we are. Depending upon how you measure per capita wealth, the United States is either fourth or tenth out of 209 countries so ranked.252

“Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics”

Those of you who are convinced that Uncle Sam is a benign, avuncular man loved by all may be suspicious of my premise that Americans really are disliked and dismiss the claim as just a bunch of  tree-hugging  clap-trap.  However, dear suspicious reader, I fear that the preponderance of data—regrettably— confirms that we are, in fact, disliked and, in some places, we are downright loathed. And, it’s not just the terrorists who have bones to pick with us. The Pew Global Attitudes Project has collected scads and reams of data over several years that illuminate the ignominious truth that the United States has    few friends in the world and we lost many that we had before 9/11. While cookbooks don’t typically have charts, the gravity of our “dislikedness” necessitates one.


Take a gander at the chart on the next page, lovingly crafted with the aforementioned Pew data. Before 9/11 most of the below-noted countries had healthy majorities who saw the United States favorably, but by 2006 only in the UK and Japan was there a majority of folks so inclined.253 Take a look at Pakistan, to which the United States has given something on the order of twenty billion bucks since 9/11 in overt and covert funds. Now, to be sure, a few Pakistanis like us more than they did before that infusion of cash, but still only one in four view us approvingly. Of course, Pakistanis rightly ask, who got the cash and for what purposes?254

I know some of you don’t trust survey data, and why should you? As the wise British statesman Benjamin Disraeli famously quipped, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Maybe Pew is incompetent, you say, or even a foe of freedom. I doubt it, but I understand your concerns.

Unfortunately, there are slews of other data that paint the same ugly Ameri-can picture.

In March 2007 U.S-based, paired up with the British BBC to survey more than 28,000 respondents in twenty-seven countries who were given a list of twelve countries (including the United States) and asked whether the countries in question had a “mostly positive or mostly negative influence in the world.” Here’s the heartache: There were four countries that received mostly negative responses, and the land of the free and the home of the brave was among them. Of course, Israel topped the list with 56 per- cent of surveyed folks opining negatively about that state’s swagger. Iran trun-dled in with 54 percent of those 28,000 folks having largely negative views of the mullahcracy’s influence. The United States got the bronze medal in the execrableness contest, with 51 percent espousing unfavorable views of its role in the world. In comparison, only 48 percent of those 28,000 viewed North Korea so hostilely. Worse yet, there were only four countries wherein majori-ties thought the U.S. role in the world was a good thing: the United States (only 57 percent thought their own country’s influence was mainly positive); Nigeria (72 percent); Kenya (70 percent); and the Philippines (72 percent). The folks in Canada even disliked us too, by and large, with only one in three standing up for us.255

So, it seems to me that it’s pretty clear that folks are irked by the United States. The question, of course, is why. On September 20, 2001, President Bush famously addressed the nation and offered these prairie oysters of wisdom:

“Americans are asking, why do they [presumably terrorists and their supporters] hate us? They hate what they see right here in this chamber—a democratically elected government. Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms—our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.”256

Now a smart-arse person not unlike myself would note snidely that the

U.S. government has consistently supported “self-appointed” leaders when expedient, such as oil-purveying sheikhs and military and other right-wing dictators. But the Bush crowd is pretty fond of the bromide “They hate us fer [sic] our freedom,” and they have hocked this canard like hot dogs on the DC Mall on the Fourth of July for years.

Osama bin Laden was so irritated with this persistent nonsense that he “hates us for our freedom” that he drug his ass out of his cave and made a video on the eve of the 2004 elections in an effort to put all that silliness to rest. While bin Laden is a murderous, loathsome, scraggy-bearded aspirant despot, it is worth looking at why he says he hates us:

Before I begin, I say to you that security is an indispensable pillar of human life and that free men do not forfeit their security, con-trary to Bush’s claim that we hate freedom.

If so, then let him explain to us why we don’t strike, for example, Sweden? And we know that freedom-haters don’t possess defiant spirits like those of the 19—may Allah have mercy on them. No one except a dumb thief plays with the security of others and then makes himself believe he will be secure. Whereas thinking people, when disaster strikes, make it their priority to look for its causes, in order to prevent it happening again. But I am amazed at you. Even though we are in the fourth year after the events of September 11th, Bush is still engaged in distortion, deception and hiding from you the real causes. And thus, the reasons are still there for a repeat of what occurred.257

Clearly, bin Laden has a different explanation for why he hates the United States, and his views should count for something, as he is the arch-hater of the United States and evil terrorist mastermind that would like to drive our fine country into the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, and the Gulf of Mexico if he could. There are a few important takeaways from his minimus opus. The first is the utter nonsense of the “they hate our freedom” narrative. The man may be maniacal, but he’s right: Al-Qaeda didn’t target Sweden. In fact, Sweden is even freer than the United States, according to data from Freedom House.260 So if terrorists are anti-freedom-seeking missiles, then those freedom-dripping Swedes would be royally screwed. Second, bin Laden seems to be pointing out the obvious: The United States is a big bully, and there’s loads of evidence that suggest that publics—who are neither terrorists nor their sup- porters—may agree with him on this score. Third, he implies that we are not “thinking people” because some of us still believe they hate us “fer our freedom.”

Instead, we should embrace the fact that we are the world’s only global hegemon. The Soviet Union has gone. The United States is the only super- power standing, which means the United States gets to do whatever the hell it wants with scant regard to what other sovereign states think, as evidenced by our Cuba, Iraq, and Israel policies.


Anti-Americanism Is a Global Phenomenon

To state the obvious, anti-Americanism is a global phenomenon, but as the Pew nerds note, “It is clearly strongest in the Muslim world.”261 Within the five predominantly Muslim countries they polled in 2006, fewer than one in three persons queried had good things to say about the United States. More to the point, the Pew folks contend that with the Iraq war, anti-Americanism spread to Muslim countries that used to like us, such as Turkey and Indonesia.262 Muslims, like many people in the world, don’t seem to be buying the bull that Washington is selling. One T-shirt hawker on the Internet found a better formulation more in line with the empirics of the antipathy but retaining the pith: “They Hate US for Our Freedom . . . to Dominate Them or Kill Them Trying.”263

Curiously, Americans are also dubious about many of the same issues as their fellow global citizens. Most Americans disapprove of our mess in Meso- potamia and Washington’s approach to global warming. One in two Americans mercifully reject the way detainees are treated in Gitmo and other prisons as well. Americans are also split in their assessment of the way their government has dealt with Iran. A bit less than half (47 percent) of Americans are not fond of the way the United States handled the “Israel-Lebanon” war, and 43 percent disagree with Washington’s approach to Pyongyang’s nuclear hankerings. More than half (53 percent) even think the U.S. military presence in the Middle East makes more messes than it prevents.264 Moreover, most of my fellow Americans think we are “policing” the world more than we ought to be.265 So the question, of course, remains: If American don’t like this crap and ostensibly no one else does either, why is our purportedly elected government engaging in these shenanigans and why can’t we stop them?

U.S. efforts to put democracy on the march at gunpoint strikes some folks as curious given recent electoral follies in the world’s “oldest democracy.” When I wrote this chapter, I knew loads of sensible, educated folks of all class and ethnic backgrounds who still questioned the legitimacy of the 2000 and 2004 presidential rumbles. The issues stem from the ways in which the voters’ list is, or at least can be, manipulated and some of the groups of people who appear to be disproportionately disenfranchised either by not letting them vote in the first place or by excluding their vote once cast. African Americans—who are not typically Republican—seem particularly screwed over. Writing in 2004 for the San Francisco Chronicle, Greg Palast explained that in the 2000 presidential election, there were 1.9 million Americans whose votes were not counted because they were deemed “spoiled votes.” Curiously, 1 million of them (more than half of the rejected ballots) were cast by African-American voters, even though they comprise only 12 percent of the electorate!266

Of course, the vote shenanigans didn’t end in Florida in 2000. In the 2004 presidential contest, Ohio was the flashpoint of criticism, though relatively muted in comparison to the Florida hoopla. In several vastly Democratic and majority African-American districts, voters had to wait in lines for hours in the rain to cast their ballot, and many just aborted their electoral missions. Meanwhile, in vastly Republican and majority white neighborhoods, folks waited fifteen minutes or so to vote. One observer explained that it was “poor planning” and that “county officials knew they had this huge increase in registrations, and yet there weren’t enough machines in the city.” In fact, these electoral dysfunctions disenfranchised 5,000 to 15,000 frustrated would-be voting Columbus residents on November 2.267

While those “lost” votes would not have made a ding in Bush’s 118,000- vote margin, similar problems took place throughout state, galvanizing protest marches and hollering for a recount. Fueling doubts about Republican intentions, the foul-ups seemed to be most acute in Democratic-leaning districts. In Cleveland, for example, nincompoop poll workers reportedly pro- vided bogus instructions to voters, resulting in the disqualification of thou- sands of provisional ballots. As one would expect in this tale of intrigue, several hundred votes were transferred to third-party candidates. In Youngstown twenty-five electronic machines moved some unknown number of votes cast for the distinguished Vietnam War vet and senatorial “flip-flop- per” John F. Kerry to the incumbent George W.268

Many people around the world—including bin Laden himself—were baf- fled by the American polity’s willingness to reelect (or elect, if you are really riled up by the 2000 election) the Shrub. In his 2004 pugnacious diatribe, bin Laden ignominiously explains to the citizens of the United States that there indeed have been winners in this war, namely “shady Bush administration- linked mega-corporations, like Halliburton and its kind . . . And it all shows the real loser is . . . you.”269 Later, in 2007, in his oddest video yet, bin Laden expressed incredulity that the Americans, in spite of his various screwups, “permitted Bush to complete his first term, and stranger still, chose him for a second term, which gave him a clear mandate from you—with your full knowledge and consent—to continue to murder our people in Iraq and Afghanistan.”270 What can you say to this? Sometime the world’s nastiest terrorist mastermind makes good points.

It’s Definitely Not Bad To Be American

There are a few things remaining that I don’t quite understand about my nation’s predicament. As noted, by per capita measures of wealth, it’s not bad to be American. Measured by human development standards, we are not poorly off either. Using the United Nations Development Program’s notion of Human Development Indicators, the U.S. of A. is ranked eighth among 177 nations so ranked. 271 So we are rich and well developed, but we are oddly just clueless. I suspect that part of the problem could be the way in which we Americans get our news. Profit-motivated media, which has increasingly been consolidated in the hands of a few, have produced a sense of uniform, sensationalistic, dread-mongering “infotainment,” with little actual news con- tent and plenty of genuflecting to advertisement revenues. The über-liberal Mother Jones magazine estimated that there are only eight firms that dominate the huge U.S. media market.272

It is bizarre how all of the mainstream American media remain so captivated by Anna Nicole Smith in the backdrop of two wars and mounting casualties, while Iran gets nuttier, Pakistan melts down and the Palestinians still suffer under Israel’s metal-toed boot. If buxom blondes or purposeless “reality TV shows” are not hogging up your HDTV despite the hundreds of channels on cable, then it seems like any source of fright will do to lure in our channel-flipping attentions. Infotainment news programs have all perfected the formulaic fear-hocking with their freaky titles, such as “Terror in your medicine cabinet,” “Could terrorists be plotting to buy the Washington Red- skins?” “Could terrorists be running your HMO?” and “Terrorists in your septic tank.”


Who cares, you ask, if American media are mind-numbing? Well, I care, because there is evidence that Americans who get their news from commercial media sources are more likely to be wrong on important issues, and this state of “wrongness” permits politicians to do things that are not in our interests. In November 2003 researchers published an essay titled “Misperceptions, the Media and the Iraq War,” wherein they found that in the run-up to the pointless invasion of Iraq and subsequent occupation-related quagmire, a significant chunk of the electorate held several wrongheaded ideas germane to the Bush administration’s justification for its warmongering.274

First they asked, “Is it your impression that the U.S. has or has not found clear evidence in Iraq that Saddam Hussein was working closely with the al Qaeda terrorist organization?” (The answer, dear reader, is “has not.”) Large percentages, 45 to 52 percent, got that question wrong. Second they asked, “Since the war with Iraq ended, is it your impression that the U.S. has or has not found Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction?” (Again, the answer is “has not,” although suggesting that the “war had ended” was, in hindsight, absurd.) Americans did better on this question than on the first: Between 21 and 34 percent failed. Third they asked Americans, “Thinking about how all the people in the world feel about the U.S. going/having gone to war with Iraq, do you think the majority of people favor it, oppose it, or are views evenly balanced?” (Correct answer: “Mostly the world opposed it.”) Anywhere between 24 and 31 percent mistakenly believed that the majority supported the war, and another one in three incorrectly opined that international views were evenly mixed. (The good news is that 35 to 42 percent got the question right, depending upon when the poll was fielded.) Across all three of these incredibly basic, rudimentary, and straightforward questions, only one in three got all of them correct.275

How does this advance my contention that this widespread misinformation is related to the source of crappy news? That team also looked at the source of news consumed, asking respondents, “If one of the networks below is your primary source of news please select it.” The options given were ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News, PBS, and NPR. They were also allowed to identify “print media.” Lamentably, PBS and NPR had so few responses that the team combined them into one category, “public networks,” for analysis. They then examined those who got the above-three questions correct or incorrect and correlated their responses to the source of news. They found that the  folks who had all three questions correct overwhelmingly relied on NPR and PBS for their news. In what will no doubt not come as an earth-shattering surprise, only 20 percent of Fox’s viewership got them all right, which means that (shock!) 80 percent of consumers of Fox’s “fair and balanced” news got at  least one of the questions wrong.276

Apart from the public networks, people who relied mostly upon print media were second most likely to get all items correct and second less likely to get one of the questions wrong. For those who think CNN walks on water, 45 percent of the folks who identified CNN as their primary news source had no mistakes, while a majority (55 percent) got at least one item wrong. CNN was actually tied with NBC, but viewers of CBS and ABC were more likely to be wrong and less likely to get a perfect score than either.277

The final point that I’d like to share with you is the irony that the United States is dedicated (purportedly) to fighting “religious extremism” abroad— but we have a strong population of religious extremists at home. In November 2004 CBS did a poll of Americans to query their views on evolution. Astonishingly, a slim majority (13 percent) believed in evolution as most legitimate scientists would define it (e.g., no god involved). The biggest slice of folks (55 percent) said that they believe that “God created humans in their present form.” Another 27 percent said that they believe that humans evolved, but “God guided the process.”278 Note that since this involves a supernatural explanation (God’s involvement), it is not, strictly speaking, evolution. Overwhelmingly, white evangelicals, weekly churchgoers, and conservatives were most likely to say “God created humans in their present form.” Not surprisingly, that same poll found that a majority (71 percent) of people think that both creationism and evolution should be taught in U.S. schools.

The Men vs. the Monkeys (Is there really a difference?)

To be fair, there have been other studies of acceptance of evolution among Americans, and the answer differs depending on how you ask the question. In 2006 Pew found that one in four believed that humans evolved through natural selection and one in five believed that humans evolved under the guidance of a “supreme being,” while the largest chunk (four in ten) believed that humans and other living things have always existed only in their current form.279 In 2006 a study was published in Science magazine that measured the acceptance of evolution by Americans and the residents of Japan and thirty- two European countries. Folks in that study were asked whether they agreed with, disagreed with, or were uncertain about the statement “Human beings, as we know them, developed from earlier species of animals.” Whereas among most European countries, 80 percent or more agreed and 7 to 15 percent said it was “false,” in the United States, 40 percent agreed and as almost many disagreed. When Americans were asked about the same statement but were given a different set of choices (the statement is “definitely true,” “probably true,” etc.), only 14 percent said that evolution is “definitely true,” and one in three outright rejected it. The researchers, trying to figure out why Americans seemed to have more in common with (Muslim) Turkey than with the other countries examined, summarized their findings in the following terms: “The acceptance of evolution is lower in the United States than in Japan or Europe, largely because of widespread fundamentalism and the politicization of science in the United States.”280 In fact, American opponents of evolution are so gung-ho about creationism, they even built a “museum” dedicated to it in Petersburg, Kentucky, in May 2007.

Pew’s polls offer some more frightening, data-driven insights in the U.S. of A., which if evangelical Christians get their way, could be renamed Jesustan. Let’s begin with the scary fact identified by the reliable bean counters at Pew who found that Americans overwhelmingly consider the country to be a “Christian nation.” (That’s scary stuff for the Atheists, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhists, and other non-Christian Americans who are des- tined to burn in hell.) Fortunately, most Americans still believe that citizen preference should trump the Bible when it comes to law, except those white evangelicals, who comprise about one in four of the Pew sample. The majority of those wannabe citizens of Jesustan (60 percent) believe that the Bible should be the guiding principle in drafting laws. In partial explanation of the insane U.S. policies toward Israel, nearly 70 percent of white evangelicals believe that God gave Israel to the Jewish people and nearly 60 percent believe that Israel is the fulfillment of biblical prophecy—a view that is rejected by other Protestant and Catholic groups. Not surprisingly, those who see Israel as a gift to Jewry and a fulfillment of biblical soothsaying are more likely to sympathize with Israel in its “dispute” with the Palestinians.281

Obviously, evangelical and other religious Americans are also nuts over abortion, fetal rights (endowed with rights taken away from women), physician-assisted suicide, and the like. Evangelicals, along with their political and judicial proxies, have coined a moniker for their collective of purportedly Bible- based beliefs and efforts to stamp out the above-noted practices. They call depriving women of health care and stripping humans of the same dignity in death as afforded house pets and horses as “creating a culture of life,” embraced by the purported evangelical in chief, George W. Bush, who even publicly worked to found it from the Oval Office.282 Incidentally, there is no reference to abortion in the Bible and there are loads of examples demonstrating that God is not kind to children (killing all firstborn in Egypt, among other gruesome examples) and certainly not thoughtful toward women (damning them to painful childbirth and governance of husbands who can beat them).283

Our president seems to value fetuses over born children. In the fall of 2007 he vetoed a law that would provide the actual children of working, but poor, parents with health care. And I won’t even remind you of the huge of loss of life in Iraq. Apparently that culture of life excludes Iraqi lives and that of armed service personnel dying there daily. Indeed, every Republican presidential hopeful was out there demonstrating that every gamete is sacred. Monty Python couldn’t spoof these debates better than they spoofed them- selves. But once again, I’d like to point out why this is so funny to folks watching the American fish bowl.

While we decry grotesque practices of governments and wrangle them into apposite categories like Axis of Evil and Outposts of Tyranny, we are, in fact, criticized by many governments and international human rights organizations because we use the death penalty and have embraced torture in the war on terrorism, which are not terribly consistent with a “culture of life.” Across the world in 2006, Amnesty International says that at least 1,591 people are known to have been executed and 91 percent of these known executions took place in six countries: China (1,010), Iran (177), Pakistan (92), Iraq (65), Sudan (65), and the USA (53). The good news is if you divide the execution counts by population, the United States has the least per capita executions of these six states.284 Texas is the biggest American user of the “punishment”: Out of 1,099 executions in the United States since 1976, Texas accounts for a whopping 405! 285

While many Americans have moral qualms about the death penalty’s use,286 it is appalling that the world’s oldest democracy still uses capital punishment given the risk of killing innocent people, which often happens as DNA-based exculpatory evidence has shown, and given that race and class determine access to justice, as does the ability to afford a decent defense attorney.287

Folks, I love my country. But we can—and must—do better. We can all start by reading, demanding better news, and insisting upon accountability for stupid and deadly policies that advance anyone’s interests but our own. And with that lengthy, contumely, and outright intemperate outburst, let’s get back to food.

Welcome to the Great Satan Barbecue288


America is a big place, and its cuisines are varied. Notwithstanding the city slickers in L.A. and “The City” (as New Yorkers are wont to say), the United States and its foreign policies are driven by the Bible-thumpers in the “heart- land.” Thus, being a daughter of the soil of Jesustan, I am going to bring to you the food of my people—albeit a “reconstructed” variation. Traditionally, Middle Americans eat horrid “appetizers,” which tend to rely heavily on cream cheese, shoddy imitations of salsa, ranch dressing, “cheez” balls, and deli platters that include the oddity “pickle loaf.” In fact, they should not be called “appetizers” at all because they are not remotely appetizing.

Since I actually want folks to eat this food, I have had to innovate or at least improve upon the Tupperware platters of inedibles that I recall from my sordid youth. I wish I could say I am sharing with you the recipes of the women of my family, lovingly handed down from generation to generation. That did not happen. My mother unloaded trucks for a living in Indiana, and began her day at o’dark thirty. When she came home sweaty and exhausted, feeding the family—me, my brothers, and my step-monster—was a chore akin to slopping hogs. It was a duty to be performed with the greatest ease, minimal time, and the least cleanup. She preferred things that cooked themselves. This usually involved perpetrating various culinary crimes with cooking bags, canned mush- room soup, and cheez products. Mother had many talents—swearing, speeding, decking obnoxious husbands—but cooking was simply not in her repertoire.

Understandably, I went through college with the belief that stirring a can of tuna into a mix of macaroni and cheese teetered on sophistication and that special occasions called for wrapping cream cheese and a pickle in a piece of dried beef and slicing the roll into swirled wedges, each pierced with a plastic-fringed toothpick and arranged thoughtfully on a Tupperware platter. Mom made a mean corn dog—oddly, however, without cornmeal, which is the hall- mark ingredient of the “dish.” She also made a wonderful breakfast called “shit on a shingle,” which was constructed by boiling thinly sliced chipped beef in water to impart flavor and mixing in milk and flour to make a delicious gravy. This delicacy was often served hastily over usually singed white bread. On special occasions, Mom would make my favorite, sausage gravy and biscuits. Of course, she did not make her own biscuits—that would be absurd. She used the handy “biscuits in a tube” that you find in the margarine section of your super- market. When she died, I unsuccessfully scoured her kitchen for the cornless– corn dog recipe. They really were delicious—especially with French’s mustard.

While you more sophisticated folks may be cringing, I love the food I grew up on. When I come across a restaurant that serves up fried green tomatoes or okra, I am overcome with nostalgia and twenty minutes after consuming the same, implacable heartburn. I squeal with delight if I see dandelion greens on a menu. As a child, I helped my grandmother pick the greens from behind her trailer, and she’d wilt them with bacon fat and season them with a bit of vine- gar. I can still remember the smell of those greens breaking down and the pun- gent aroma of real pig fat sizzling in the pan. Grandma made cornmeal mush—a hilljack’s take on polenta. She even poured leftover cream of wheat into a buttered loaf pan and kept it in the fridge until the next morning, when she would slice it, fry it up in butter, and serve with (faux) maple syrup. To this day, a gussied-up TFC (as I call tuna fish casserole) is my comfort food of choice—and you can’t go wrong with a fried Spam sandwich on white bread with mustard.

Family reunions, while not enjoyable, were always memorable. On my grandmother’s side, the family farmed pigs. I mostly recall the succulent roasted pig and the hideous and strange fruits of the pawpaw trees that grew along the Wabash River. Salads consistently were dressed in Miracle Whip with frozen peas and bacon. Sometimes someone would get fancy and substitute spinach for the lettuce, which left some folks disgruntled. Cakes were reliably made with Jell-O stirred into the batter to make funny colored swirls. And the beer was invariably Pabst Blue Ribbon. I considered myself lucky if someone made a tuna fish casserole with real cheddar cheese—not Velveeta— or if someone bothered to make a real macaroni and cheese.

The folks on my first step-monster’s side were also pig farmers of German heritage. Great-grandma Weber would cook anything that moved. She would fry up rabbit caught in her own garden, make a “Swiss steak” out of anything rendered into her kitchen, and seemed to have a personal philosophy that if it grew, she could pickle it. Grandpa Weber—her son—was and is fond of making strudels and schnitzels and eating them in one sitting. He also had a distinct sense of humor. Loads of people in Indiana hunt deer, and while it’s commonplace to get the “rack” mounted, Grandpa Weber had the ass of a doe mounted. The “deer ass” hangs proudly in my home, both shocking and amusing guests at once.

This meal is centered on the Beer Butt Chicken barbecue. Yes, as the name suggests, it involves cooking a chicken with a beer can. You simply insert said can (appropriately sized for the bird in question) and stabilize the chicken atop it. You cook the bird upright, as if it were sitting on the can. While you may be dubious, the science of this is impeccable. It steams the bird from the inside while allowing it to get crispy on the outside. You can cook the bird on the barbecue or in your oven. (Since I have generally been a city girl since leaving Indiana, I generally use my oven for this. Although I did grill up a mess of these birds in Kabul.)

Further Reading

Allard, Patricia, and Marc Mauer. Regaining the Vote: An Assessment of Activity Relating to Felon Disenfranchisement Laws. New York: Open Society Institute, January 2000.

Amnesty International. “Death Penalty Statistics 2006,” April 2007.

Barber, Benjamin R. Jihad vs. McWorld: Terrorism’s Challenge to Democracy. New York: Ballantine Books, 1995.

BBC News Online, “Rice names ‘outposts of tyranny,’” January 19, 2005.

Bin Ladin, Usama. “The Solution—A Video Speech from Usama bin Ladin Addressing the American People on the Occasion of the Sixth Anniver- sary of 9/11—9/2007.” SITE Intelligence Group. http://www.counterterrorism-

———. “Speech on the Eve of the U.S. 2001 General Elections,” November 1, 2004. B21F-2BC36E87F61F.htm.

Bush, George W. “Address to a Joint Session of Congress and the American People,” September 20, 2001. 2001/09/20010920-8.html.

CBS News. “Poll: Creationism Trumps Evolution,” November 22, 2004.

Cohen, Craig, and Derek Chollet. “When $10 Billion Is Not Enough: Rethinking U.S. Strategy toward Pakistan.” Washington Quarterly 30, no. 2 (Spring 2007): 7–19.

Critzer, Greg. Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World.

New York: Houghton Mifflon, 2003.

Dean, Cornelia. “Scientific Savvy? In U.S., Not Much.” New York Times, August 30, 2005. 30profile.html.

Death Penalty Information Center. Innocence and the Crisis in the American Death Penalty. Washington, DC: Death Penalty Information Center, 2004.

———. “Number of Executions by State and Region Since 1976,” September 28, 2007.

Dieter, Richard C. A Crisis of Confidence: Americans’ Doubts About the Death Penalty. Washington, DC: Death Penalty Information Center Report, 2007.

Dobbs, Michael. “In a Global Test of Math Skills, U.S. Students Behind the Curve. Washington Post, December 7, 2004. wp-dyn/articles/A41278-2004Dec6.html.

The Economist. “Keeping the word: The triumph of faith over experience in Kentucky,” May 31, 2007.

Elsner, Alan. “America’s Prison Habit.” Washington Post, January 24, 2004. “Felony Disenfranchisement Removes 1.4 Million Black Men from the Voting Rolls,” Journal of Blacks in Higher Education 22 (Winter 1998–1999): 61–62.

Fletcher, Michael A. “Bush Hails Progress Toward ‘Culture of Life’: Limits on Abortion, Stem Cell Use Cited.” Washington Post, January 25, 2005.

Freedom from Religion Foundation. “What Does the Bible Say About Abor- tion?” Contract #7, 2007.

Freedom House. “Freedom in the World 2007 Sub-Scores.” http://www.freedom

Gattuso, James. “The Myth of Media Concentration: Why the FCC’s Media Ownership Rules Are Unnecessary.” Heritage Foundation #284, May 29, 2003. Gove, Michael. “Putin’s Bare Chest Is a Display of Power Best Kept Secret.”

Times Online, August 21, 2007. columnists/michael_gove/article2293856.ece.

Granitsas, Alkman. “Americans are Tuning Out the World: When the world comes to their shore, U.S. citizens are increasingly less interested in for- eign affairs.” Yale Global, November 24, 2005.

International Federation of Journalists. “Media Concentration.”

Klinenberg, Eric. “Breaking the News.” Mother Jones 49 (March/April 2007). Kull, Steven, Clay Ramsay, and Evan Lewis. “Misperception, the Media, and the

Iraq War.” Political Science Quarterly 118, no. 3 (2003–2004): 569–98. Loury, Glenn C. “Ghettos, Prisons and Racial Stigma,” April 4, 2007. Ec%20137/Ec%20137%20spring07/LECTURE%20I.pdf.

Masci, David. “Twenty Years after a Landmark Supreme Court Decision, Americans Are Still Fighting about Evolution.” Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, June 13, 2006.

Miller, John. “Numbers Crunch—Using Sampling in Year 2000 Census Is Mistake.” National Review, July 20, 1998. articles/mi_m1282/is_n13_v50/ai_20977845-31k.

Miller, Jon D., Eugenie C. Scott, and Shinji Okamoto. “Public Acceptance of Evolution.” Science 213, no. 5788 (August 11, 2006): 765–66.

National Center for Educational Statistics. International Outcomes of Learning in Mathematics Literacy and Problem Solving: PISA 2003 Results from the U.S. Perspective. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, 2003.

Owen, James. “Evolution Less Accepted in U.S. Than Other Western Coun- tries, Study Finds.” National Geographic News, August 10, 2006.

Palast, Greg. “1 Million Black Votes Didn’t Count in the 2000 Presidential Election: It’s Not Too Hard to Get Your Vote Lost—If Some Politicians Want It to be Lost.” San Francisco Chronicle, June 20, 2004. ING2976LG61.DTL.

———. “Florida’s ‘Disappeared Voters’: Disfranchised by the GOP.” The Nation, February 5, 2001.

Panel on Alternative Census Methodologies, Committee on National Statis- tics, National Research Council. Measuring a Changing Nation: Modern Meth- ods for the 2000 Census. Edited by Michael L. Cohen, Andrew A. White, and Keith F. Rust. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1999.

Passel, Jeffrey S., and Roberto Suro. Rise, Peak, and Decline: Trends in U.S. Immigration 1992–2004. Washington, DC: Pew Hispanic Center, Septem- ber 27, 2005.

Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. “Many Americans Uneasy with Mix of Religion and Politics,” August 24. 2006. index.php?DocID=153.

Pew Global Attitudes. “America’s Image in the World: Findings from the Pew Global Attitudes Project: Remarks of Andrew Kohut to the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs; Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights, and Oversight, March 14, 2007.”

Powell, Michael, and Peter Slevin. “Several Factors Contributed to ‘Lost’ Voters in Ohio.” Washington Post, December 15, 2004. http://www.washington

Roach, John. “Fossil Find Is Missing Link in Human Evolution, Scientists Say.” National Geographic News, April 13 2006.

Roberts, Alasdair. “The War We Deserve.” Foreign Policy, November/ December 2007.

Rottinghaus, Brandon. Incarceration and Enfranchisement: International Practices, Impact and Recommendations for Reform. Washington, DC: International Foundation for Election Systems, 2003. 4bbcc7feabf9b17c41be87346f57c1c4/08_18_03_Manatt_Brandon_Ro ttinghaus.pdf.

Schmitz, David F. The United States and Right-Wing Dictatorships, 1965–1989. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

Shields, Rachel. “Americans celebrate a national symbol as the Big Mac turns 40.” The Independent, August 25, 2007.

Simon, Roger. “Giuliani Warns of ‘New 9/11’ If Dems Win.”, April 26, 2007.

Telhami, Shibley. “America in Arab Eyes.” Survival 49, no. 1 (Spring 2007): 115.

United Nations Development Program. Human Development Report 2006.

U.S. Government Accountability Office. GAO-06-770 Illegal Immigration: Bor- der-Crossing Deaths Have Doubled Since 1995. Washington, DC: U.S. GAO, August 2006.

U.S. White House. “Promoting a Culture of Life: The Accomplishments,” November 5, 2003. chap15.html.

USA Today, “The Big Mac Turns 40, Gets a Museum,” August 24, 2007.

Walmsley, Roy. “Global Incarceration and Prison Trends.” Forum on Crime and Society 3, nos. 1 and 2 (December 2003): 65–78.

World Bank. “GNI per capita 2006, Atlas method and PPP.” From the World Development Indicators database, World Bank, September 14, 2007. GNIPC.pdf. “Israel and Iran Share Most Negative Ratings in Global,” March 2007. BBC_ViewsCountries_Mar07_pr.pdf.

———. “Muslim Public Opinion on U.S. Policy, Attacks on Civilians and al Qaeda,” April 24, 2007.

———. “World View of US Role Goes From Bad to Worse,” January 2007.


  1. David F. Schmitz, The United States and Right-Wing Dictatorships, 1965–1989 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006).
  2. Estimates calculated by Jeffrey S. Passel, in United States Government Accountability Office, GAO-06-770 Illegal Immigration: Border-Crossing Deaths Have Doubled Since 1995 (Washington, DC:  U.S.  GAO,  August  2006), See also Jeffrey S. Passel and Roberto Suro, Rise, Peak, and Decline: Trends in U.S. Immigra- tion 1992–2004 (Washington, DC: Pew Hispanic Center, September 27, 2005),
  3. Alkman Granitsas, “Americans Are Tuning Out the World: When the world comes to their shore, U.S. citizens are increasingly less interested in foreign affairs,” Yale Global, November 24, 2005.
  4. The U.S. has the fourth-highest per capita gross national income (GNI) when calcu- lated in “purchasing power parity” or “international dollars” and tenth using the “Atlas method,” measured in American greenbacks, according to World Bank, “GNI per capita 2006, Atlas method and PPP,” World Development Indicators database,” September, 14 2007, sources/GNIPC.pdf.
  5. This chart presents many of the countries in Pew, but some are not included. Spain, Egypt, Jordan, Nigeria, India, and China were excluded due to too few years or be- cause there were no data for 1999–2000. Of these, in 2006 only two states had ma- jorities positively disposed towards the United States (62 percent of Nigerians and 56 percent of Indians). Only 23 percent of Spaniards, 30 percent of Egyptians, 15 percent of Jordanians, and 47 percent of the Chinese liked the United States.
  6. Craig Cohen and Derek Chollet, “When $10 Billion Is Not Enough: Rethinking U.S. Strategy toward Pakistan,” Washington Quarterly 30, no. 2 (Spring 2007): 7–19.
  7. The survey queried 28,389 citizens in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, Nigeria, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Russia, South Korea, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and the United States between November 3, 2006, and January 16, 2007. See also WorldPublicOpinion.Org, “Israel and Iran Share Most Neg- ative Ratings in Global,” March 2007, BBC_ViewsCountries_Mar07_pr.pdf.
  1. George W. Bush, “Address to a Joint Session of Congress and the American People,” September 20, 2001,
  2. “Usama bin Ladin’s speech on the eve of the U.S. 2004 general elections,” November 1, 2004, 6E87F61F.htm.
  3. For a fascinating take on globalization (and jihad), see Benjamin R. Barber, Jihad vs. McWorld: Terrorism’s Challenge to Democracy (New York: Ballantine Books, 1995). For a not-so-funny take on the health impacts of eating supersize McDonald’s meals every day for thirty days, see Morgan Spurlock’s flick Super Size Me (2003).
  4. Rachel Shields, “Americans celebrate a national symbol as the Big Mac turns 40,” The Independent, August 25, 2007, article2893894.ece; “The Big Mac turns 40, Gets a Museum,” USA Today, August 24, 2007,
  5. Freedom House, “Freedom in the World 2007 Sub-Scores,” template.cfm?page=372.
  6. Pew Global Attitudes, “America’s Image in the World.”
  7. Ibid.
  8. You can buy a T-shirt from Contepl8 T-Shirts, our-freedom.htm.
  9., “World View of US Role Goes from Bad to Worse.”
  10. Gallup Organization, cited by, “US Role in the  World,”  Au- gust 3, 2007,
  11. Greg Palast, “1 Million Black Votes Didn’t Count in the 2000 Presidential Election: It’s Not Too Hard to Get Your Vote Lost—If Some Politicians Want It to be Lost,” San Fran- cisco Chronicle, June 20, 2004. archive/2004/06/20/ING2976LG61.DTL.
  12. Michael Powell and Peter Slevin, “Several Factors Contributed to ‘Lost Voters’ in Ohio,” Washington Post, December 15, 2004, cles/A64737-2004Dec14.html.
  13. Ibid
  14. “Usama bin Laden’s speech on the eve of the U.S. 2004 general elections.”
  15. “The Solution—A Video Speech from Usama bin Laden Addressing the American Peo- ple on the Occasion of the Sixth Anniversary of 9/11.”
  16. United Nations Development Program, Human Development Report 2006,
  1. Eric Klinenberg, “Breaking the News,” Mother Jones 49 (March/April 2007), www; also see Interna- tional Federation of Journalists, “Media Concentration,” For a contrarian view from the Heritage Foundation, see James Gattuso, “The Myth of Media Concentration: Why the FCC’s Media Ownership Rules Are Unnecessary,” Heritage Foundation #284, May 29, 2003, InternetandTechnology/wm284.cfm.

  1. Cornelia Dean, “Scientific Savvy? In U.S., Not Much,” New York Times, August 30, 2005,
  2. Steven Kull, Clay Ramsay, and Evan Lewis, “Misperception, the Media, and the Iraq War,” Political Science Quarterly 118, no. 3 (2003–2004): 569–98.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid
  5. Ibid
  6. CBS News, “Poll: Creationism Trumps Evolution,” November 22, 2004,
  7. David Masci, “Twenty Years after a Landmark Supreme Court Decision, Americans Are Still Fighting about Evolution,” Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, June 13, 2006,
  1. Jon D. Miller, Eugenie C. Scott, and Shinji Okamoto, “Public Acceptance of Evolu- tion,” Science, vol. 213, no. 5788 (August 11, 2006): 765–66,,706,Public-Acceptance-of-Evolution,Science-Magazine-Jon-D-Miller- Eugenie-C-Scott- Shinji-Okamoto.
  1. Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, “Many Americans Uneasy with Mix of Religion and Politics,” August 24, 2006,
  2. Michael A. Fletcher, “Bush Hails Progress Toward ‘Culture of Life’: Limits on Abortion, Stem Cell Use Cited,” Washington Post, January 25, 2005, wp-dyn/articles/A32959-2005Jan24.html. Also see the White House, “Promoting a Culture of Life: The Accomplishments,” November 5, 2003, infocus/achievement/chap15.html.
  3. See Freedom from Religion Foundation, “What Does the Bible Say About Abortion?” nontract #7, 2007,
  4. Amnesty International, “Death Penalty Statistics 2006,” April 2007, Population data to calculate per capita executions is taken from the CIA World Factbook, publications/the-world-factbook/index.html.
  1. Death Penalty Information Center, “Number of Executions by State and Region Since 1976,” updated September 28, 2007, Also see Death Penalty Information Center, Innocence and the Crisis in the American Death Penalty (Washington DC: Death Penalty Information Center, 2004), For those of you who think  I am being biased, go to to get a dose of those who spend their time defending the practice.
  1. Richard C. Dieter, A Crisis of Confidence: Americans’ Doubts About the Death Penalty (Wash- ington, DC: Death Penalty Information Center Report, 2007),
  1. Death Penalty Information Center, “Number of Executions by State and Region Since 1976,” updated September 28, 2007, Also see Death Penalty Information Center, Innocence and the Crisis in the American Death Penalty (Washington DC: Death Penalty Information Center, 2004), For those of you who think  I am being biased, go to to get a dose of those who spend their time defending the practice.
  1. Thanks to Clay Ramsay for suggesting the title for this chapter while lunching over a plate of chicken mole in DC with our wonderful spouses.
  2. Glenn C. Loury, “Ghettos, Prisons and Racial Stigma,” April 4, 2007, Ec%20137%20spring07/LECTURE%20I.pdf; Roy Walmsley, “Global Incarceration and Prison Trends,” Forum on Crime and Society, vol. 3, nos. 1 and 2 (December 2003): 65–78; Alan El sner, “America’s Prison Habit,” Washington Post, January 24, 2004, cited by Loury.

Beyond #HimToo: With Allies Like These, Who Needs Misogynist Men?

Some years ago, I met  Valerie Hudson at a conference at Indiana University. She is the author of The Hillary Doctrine and proclaims to be a progressive advocate for women. And maybe she is in her public life.  But I had a different experience and it still bothers me in her professional. In part because she is such a public feminist, I revered her as an academic version of Gloria Steinem. As a consequence I hold her–perhaps unfairly–to a higher standard than other women who don’t self-advocate as she does on feminist concerns.

On the sidelines of that conference on Indian foreign policy, we discussed her work and my interest in gender in Afghanistan, which I aver should not be understood as “female.” So many “gender projects” in Afghanistan seemed to center around helping women make and sell products that nearly Afghan woman already knows how to make and thus, would be uninterested in purchasing.   Moreover, many of he victims in Afghanistan are not just women; rather young boys who are often kept as catamites of warlords or otherwise sexually exploited as “bacche baazi” (literally “playing with boys”).  She seemed persuaded.

Coincidentally, some weeks later, I saw that Minerva –a DOD-led research initiative–released its funding priorities, one of which was gender.  I sent the solicitation to her and persuaded her that she should collaborate on a submission.  She gathered her own team while I worked on the Afghan portion along with my colleague, who is one of he foremost qualitative scholars on gender issues in Afghanistan, Sippi Azarbaijani-Moghaddam. Sippi and I worked many hours–days in fact–on that proposal, focusing upon the Afghanistan case study.

Ultimately, Valerie got the grant. But the client wanted to cut the budget and they decided to cut the Afghanistan part of the project.  Rather than consulting with us and figuring out a way to include us on a grant we helped secure, Valerie simply cut both of us out without even an apology or note of gratitude.   I can’t speak for Sippi, but my labor is free because my salary is paid for and I could’ve easily worked on other parts of the grant with no budgetary consequences. Valerie understands this because she too is an academic.

Valerie wasn’t even apologetic about her behavior. She made no effort to engage us on what would be a reasonable way of proceeding forward. It didn’t even seem to occur to her that this is what a reasonable person would do.  She treated us like her minions.

When the Minerva proposal solicitation came out this year, I was again reminded of how churlish I found her behavior. The interaction also made me think less of her as a scholar because she didn’t seem to put her personal conduct where her public politics suggested others should do.  Maybe she is a true advocate for women. But she wasn’t in this case: she was exploitative of junior colleagues.

Rather than continuing to nurse grudges in private about this, I decided to send her an email about this matter…and blog about it.  I regret that I didn’t raise this issue with her at the time. I should have done what I tell women I mentor to do: self-advocate. I am mostly disappointing in myself for not calling her out on her behavior at the time. But based upon her behavior,  I did not think that engaging her made any sense because I didn’t think she would understand why I thought her personnel decision was unethical. And thus I held my peace.   I should have given her a chance to course correct. But then I knew myself too well: I knew I would resent that I had to tell her to do the right thing when she, of all people, should have known. 

I suspect that other women have found themselves in my place.  We tolerate–no endure–unacceptable behavior from women when we would immediately be outraged if a man did it. Why do we give women a pass who mistreat us just because we share gonads?

Let’s see how she handles the note. Maybe she’ll do the right thing ex post facto…whatever that may be. It’s up to her to make it right. (She did invite me to a conference on gender where I had to hear her opine about a principle I had seen her dishonor in her own professional life. I was not flattered at the invite: I was insulted. I even considered not going at all. . Ultimately it was the appeal of Ambassador Chester Crocker that compelled me to accept. In the end I went and  I met interesting other women and men who made the schlep to Texas marginally rewarding; however, being polite to her was a challenge.

If women are going to be brazen in calling out the men who have made our  professional lives difficult, we also need to have a discussion about how shitty many women are to other women.  (When I was a young aspiring chemist, some of the most unhelpful colleagues were senior women who resented how hard they worked and were hell-bent on not making it easier for younger women.) We cannot pretend that other women treat other women well as a rule just because we share a chromosomal configuration or genitalia.  This is not simply true.

I also hope that if I have behaved similarly to other women, that they will let me know because I strive to put my personal life where my politics and loud mouth are.

Dear Valerie

When this year’s Minerva solicitation came out, I was again reminded of how disappointed and even disgusted I was with your handling of the Minerva grant a few years back. I still resent it. Worse, it made me think less of your publicly professed commitment to feminism because feminism should should start with ourselves and our own treatment of other women.

As you know, I am the one that brought the solicitation to your attention and convinced you of the importance of the gender appeal. You would not even have applied had it not been for me.  As you also know, I put a lot effort in that proposal.

Even though I worked on the part that you decided along with the client to cut, the decision you made to simply cut me out of the grant was appalling. This decision was particularly discomfiting given that my labor and contribution would have little or financial impact upon the amount of that grant.

You could have and should have handled it differently. Had I been you, I would have created space for me on another part of the grant because that would have been the ethical thing to do–not to mention the feminist thing to do.

It’s one thing when men treat women like shit. It’s another altogether when women treat other women like shit.

I decided to get this off my chest and put it where it belongs; on your chest.

Warmest Regards,

Christine Fair, PhD


A Totally Not Ironic “Jefferson Obama Dinner”

If you’re a fellow Democrat who cares about racism, social justice, who is sick of the DNC pandering to the Old White Pantheon of Great Men who contributed to our nation’s first sin (slavery: if you need a refresher), can you kindly email these fools in our party? 

Charlotte Mitchell sent this to me last night and we both were like “are you fucking kidding me?”

Feel free to use my note as a template. Just let them know that this is complete bullshit. Also, this is a recipe for failure…morally and politically.
Good Morning
I am writing to express my utter dismay at this “Jefferson Obama Dinner.”  That this is the second “Jefferson Obama Dinner” suggests that no sensible person disabused you of this noxious concept.
Whether or not I am sensible, I defer to your judgment. But I want to register my utter contempt at this concept as well as dismay for at least four, albeit inter-related, reasons.
First, it is tone deaf. Many Americans across this country are tired of these anachronistic figures being heralded as unquestioned heroes. What part of this movement and message are you choosing not to hear?
Second, it does violence to our efforts to achieve a more just and equal America. As you surely know, Jefferson imagined an America for and by free white men. Women and people of color were chattels to be owned by white men. Yet you cannot even fathom the grotesque image that you have formed by juxtaposing –apparently without irony or even self-reflection–the image of an unrepentant slave owner and author of while male America to that of this nation’s first black president.
Third, Jefferson was a known rapist. Surely you know that Jefferson raped his slaves. (I don’t want to hear about how “complicated his affair” with Hemings really was. How can there be genuine consent between an owner and the owned?) He could not even bother freeing his own offspring upon his death.
Obama’s presidency was a triumph over the image of Jefferson. Obama moved into the white house which had been built by slaves…the very slaves that Jefferson’s government permitted.
I also wish that you had some understanding that the white voter is not going to save this country. You cannot bring those people back.  Frankly, if a white person voted for Trump, the GoP can keep them. They do not represent the values of any party to which I want to be associated. The way forward is by reaching out and appealing to and representing people of color, young persons who have not voted, independents and Republicans who can no longer vote for the current GOP. These folks–many of whom are people of color– are the political future of this party. What part of the Alabama election did you not understand? What part of the HRC voter pattern do you not understand still? And by “reaching out to” I do not mean “pandering to.” I mean fielding candidates who look like the voters you wish to reach and who are willing to forge inclusive policies that are aimed at social justice for all.
Pandering to those who want to make America white again is not going to defeat Trump.  Pandering to the pantheon of Great White Men who are at the roots of country’s first sins will not fix our current malaise. Rather bringing together all of us who want a better America based upon social justice for all (and that means reproductive justice) is the way forward.
I’m not going to bother to spell checking this missive. I’m blind as a bat, won’t catch the mistakes, and I am too angry to bother. As a reminder, here is the flyer in question: I have also placed the image below.

Even Murderers’ Moms Love Them

My mom’s birthday was on February 28. For some reason, I missed her even more than usual. Maybe it’s because my uncle is out of prison. Maybe because I am “menopausing” without any biologically-related female to explain to me what the fuck is going on. Maybe, because, as I grow older I understand her better. Perhaps…as I’ve become older…that stick up my ass has disintegrated and I better appreciate her addiction to Fuckitol, which is now an over-the-counter drug.
Whatever it is: her absence becomes more apparent with each passing year.
If your mom is still with the shit out of her. When she’s gone…your life changes no matter how fucked up she was or how terrible her parenting was. Whatever problems remained unresolved become ossified. Fix it now if you can…My regrets are too numerous to list.

Even Murderers’ Moms Love Them

How many times have we witnessed bereft mothers choking on their profound lamentations while being interviewed by their local news channels, explaining amidst teary gasps how their sons could not possibly be that very murderer who abducted obese teen-aged girls, starved them in his crawl space, strangled them with his high-school-football-era-jockstrap, skinned them and stitched their pelts together with fishing line to fashion himself a “girl suit”? Between wails of confused sorrow, such mothers explain how her son always, for example, rescued injured squirrels and tried (unsuccessfully) to nurse them back to health in a shoe box which he kept in his closet. Such mothers usually omit the crucial detail that their mischievous boy broke the back of said squirrel in the first instance for the purpose of confining in a box in his closet.  And, when pushed on the “nursing” issue, such mothers may even niggardly concede that perhaps—just perhaps–he may have wanted to watch the innocent squirrel suffer until it finally succumbed to its injuries. But why dilate upon such morbid particulars? These virtuous Madonnas, without a shred of doubt, loved their homicidally maniacal sons—girl skin suit—and all. That’s unconditional love. That kind of love is hard to come by unless you have a pack of dogs, as I do.

How about those teenaged or college “scholar-athlete” rapists’ mothers? We’ve all seen them too.  [Actually, we’ve seen too many of these assholes.  Apparently, rape is a sport for American males.  I’d like to send them to Afghanistan for a while with a sign that says in Dari or Pashto “Fresh, Young Virgin Ass” and see how they fare. But that’s just me and I’m a well-known, angry, femzilla.]  Let’s just say that one particular set of young men described themselves as “rape posse.” Let’s further posit that the po-lice report specifically indicates that the boys called themselves a “rape posse” and boasted that they laced the milkshake of fourteen-year-old girls who were socializing at the local Christian youth ice cream shop with roofies (chemically known as “Flunitrazepam”). They, according to their own admission to the po-lice, then raped her while recording it on their evidently-not-so-smart smartphone and then posted the ensuing video with their faces clear as day along with the drugged girls in question in succession. They even victoriously proclaimed “Yeah. We raped that under-age, milkshake slurping, Jesus-loving virgin and posted the video to this here YouTube.”

But what do their mothers do? They get themselves a lawyer and charge the virginal hussy and her parents variously with slander or perhaps accusing them of launching a sting operation upon these fine, upstanding, aspiring scholar-athletes. Of course, the rapists’ parents decry the evidence-laden video to be little more than a Feminazi ruse to ruin the college prospects of their precious, innocent sons who wanted to save fetuses from brain cancer by becoming pioneering obstetrical surgeons. They even try to sue for scholarships lost and future wages from their collectively ruined careers.  We see it all the time…usually in states like Ohio, Indiana, Flori-duh, Texas, Massachusetts and also in New Zealand. Usually, there is some emaciated woman with limp blond hair who resembles a meth-addicted zombie blabbering away on Faux News and opining in the Daily Failer in a full-throttle defense of the rapists and their supporters. As hard as it may be, these mothers too love their –evidently crucified, almost Christ-like—rapists sons. Boys, after all, will be boys.

All of this brings me back to my mom. My mom is dead and she can’t defend herself. She can’t interrupt me and say “You little bitch. That’s a pack of lies. Goddamnit, you little fucker, go cut me a switch.” I don’t even want to approach the New Jersey psychic to hold a séance on this or any other subject involving her because mom might possibly blurt out that entire expression from the grave on national television. That would only compound my decades of exponentially accumulating humiliation.  Upon witnessing such celestial outbursts from my mother, the New Jersey psychic may even refer me to Nancy Grace, which would be even more odious and humiliating. Nancy Grace would’ve had a field day with my mother. In fairness, my mother probably would have punched her. So…glass is half full? I guess it depends on what the glass is half full of? A glass half full of cow piss is still half a glass of cow piss.

The contrast between the mothers of serial murderers and rapists and my own mother has resulted in years of psychotherapy for much of my adult life.   Also, thanks Dog for serotonin uptake inhibitors that I have taken every dog-damned day since some time in late 2001 when I finally figured out that my serotonin receptors are not firing at all receptor sights. Also, I’m grateful to the producers and purveyors of bourbons, single malt, and most red wines. Mostly this shrinkage comes back to the basic thing that my mother would say—perhaps with probably less frequency than my reconstructed memories of her suggest: “Chrissy. I love you. But I sure don’t like you.” That’s a self-esteem builder if there ever was one. At school, I was mocked for being all those things that even my mother didn’t like. And my own mother didn’t have the common decency or sense to lie about it.  When I graduated from high school as the class valedictorian, she remarked of me and my associates as we all pulled into the gravel parking lot “Here comes the nerd mobile.” It should be noted that my graduation cake misspelled valedictorian. Of course. We were nerds. So her characterization, while unhelpfully descriptive, was not inappropriate and actually accurate. But it would have felt better had she at least made the slightest effort to be on our team. I’m sure she meant well.

There were some things however that mom did well. In fact, very well.  First, if you ever had a Peeping Tom, you would want my mom in your corner. She was effective in contending with such contingencies. During one summer in high school, we had a team of Peeping Toms. After a regularly scheduled peeping, one of them would even call our home to report their peeping and their satisfaction with the same enterprise. Mostly just to boast. My mother and I sounded identical on the phone. So we never knew if the PT was talking about me or her or whether he even knew to whom he was speaking. I will give it to the Toms. They knew what they were doing. Until, that is, the night when they fucked up. I heard them re-arranging the “patio furniture.” (We didn’t have a patio. But we did have a multipurpose concrete slab that variously served as a parking space, a basketball throwing area and, also it seems, a Peeping Tom staging area.) I discretely left my room and informed mom that I believed the Toms were outside my room, stacking up the furniture beneath my window to enable said peeping.

Upon asking my lazy, pusillanimous Second Step Monster (aka “Rick Seitz”) to do the needful and after he rebuffed her request, my mother got out of bed. She was in one her various ankle-length, red flannel nightgowns. Also, her gowns always had the appropriately demure amount of white lace, which always struck me as ironic.  She grabbed her favorite, rusty butcher knife from the kitchen drawer and we both quietly sneaked towards the concrete slab in the back through the garage. Whereupon she grabbed a softball bat from the floor of the garage, foisted it upon me, and said quietly but with complete seriousness “Let’s get those fuckers.” And we began, I shit you not, chasing them under the full light of an Indiana fall moon.

She led the charge. She threw open the back door to the garage, hurtled over the concrete slab, and raced into the moonlit night towards a slight crest behind our home, with her usual battle cry of “Goddamn it, you fuckers!” As we chased the three figures over the hill in the back, you could hear me imploring somewhat pathetically “But what will we do if we catch them?”

The Toms had a head start. And mom was in a long flannel nightgown and flip-flops. After all, there was no time to put on proper footwear. I wasn’t really into the chase at all. While the Toms absconded, they never returned. I later learned that the Tom Pack was led by the father of a classmate named Roy. (His name isn’t Roy. It may have been Roi but I’m not saying.) His father had been a navy seal. Although in those days he looked like a retired navy walrus. With tusks. The other two included Roy/Roi and his little brother.

For context, it may be useful to know that Roy/Roi was himself a potential rapist or murderer. I have all confidence that with a family like this, his mom would still love her rapist, homicidal Peeping Tom spawn nonetheless.  Once during freshman gym class, he asked me “If you are so smart, why do they call it a blow job instead of a suck job?” I had to concede that I did not know. Later that day I asked my mom what a blow job was. She told me straightforwardly that the task consists of putting a penis in your mouth and sucking it until it squirted.  The next day I told Roy/Roi that his question was well-founded. It is a bad name for that activity.  Earlier, in the eighth grade, he went through a phase of dressing like a priest and hitting people on the head on the school bus with a bible while declaring, in an eerily convincing, evangelical voice “Be touched by the word of god.” Roy/Roi scared the fuck out of me and anyone with any common sense or a litter of small, innocent kittens which self-stylists Satanists in our neighborhood liked to sacrifice. Roy/Roi would’ve totally sacrificed kittens. I have no doubt.

Second, my mother was a Feminine Hygiene Product MacGyver. She usually had tampons or maxipads stashed in her car, sweatshirt pocket and purse.  She did this not for the expected purpose; rather, for getting out of speeding tickets or other socially awkward imbroglios. She usually left late for just about every engagement because she had too much to do. (It is true. Women really do become their mothers.) This meant that she always drove in excess of any posted speeding limit. And she would often get pulled over by a cop. In all the times I witnessed this drama, I never saw her get a ticket.  Before the cop made it over to the car with the usual cocky saunter, she’d have that ginormous, super absorbent, quicker-picker-up tampon or pad in hand and would waive in the air at the cop with some feigned embarrassment: “officer, I’m having a feminine emergency. I’m just trying to get to that gas station ahead before I gush all over the seat. Geez! This is so embarrassing.” And I’ll be damned if she didn’t manage a convincing blush. Sometimes the cop would escort us to the indicated gas station where she’d run in and pretend do the needful.  Sometimes he’d release us with some awkward expression “I understand mam. Just try to get there safely.” And off she’d go. She would also produce these products when men of indifferent intentions propositioned her. She would brandish a pad or a tampon and say very charmingly with her ornery and gorgeous smile despite, having false uppers and lowers, “Not this week, sweetie.”

These were inspiring lessons.

I had the chance to practice this in a south side Chicago jazz bar in 1992 where my then boyfriend was playing the piano. A geriatric African American man asked me with serious vapor breath “Would you be my little white lady for the evening?” This was a leading question. I did not want to say yes. But if I said, “No,” to which part of that question would he apply the “No”? For “the evening” part? Or the “my white lady” part?  I didn’t want him to conclude that my rejection was based on his race or age.  Nor did I want him to mock my chubby, short and very Caucasian boyfriend who was trying his best to be a competent jazz musician on the southeast side of Chicago. In short: there was no good answer. So… I pulled my Tampax Super Absorbent Period Wand and said “Not this week. But thank you for asking.” He slinked away as my mother’s extensive experiences predicted he would.

Her skills were not limited to period-related feints.

Before she unloaded semi-trailers at a large chain store on the north side of Ft. Wayne, she bartended until late at night and would walk home through a rough part out of wretched Midworst city. One evening, a gentleman approached her in a car and not so politely suggested that she get in. She always had various objects in the pockets of her zip-up sweatshirts, as previously detailed. On this particular evening, she had a hairbrush. She positioned the handle of the hairbrush through her pocket in such a way to make the perp think she had a gun. She said in her “I’m a really mean cunt, you stupid fuck” voice: “I don’t think you want to fuck with me.” He considered the possibility that she may, in fact, be armed and drove away to find another victim without mom’s predator-intimidating McGyver resourcefulness.

This too was a skill that came in handy while a student on the south side of Chicago and while doing fieldwork in places like Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and India. I came up with my own tools. After years of improvising with a variety of items, I finally settled upon two indispensable dual-use products: alligator-jaw letter opener (or, if you prefer, shiv) and a very pointy pen. The jaw bone shiv is ideal because it passes through metal detectors AND it’s pretty unsettling to a would-be haranguer to see a woman-cum-potential victim cleaning her nails with such a thing while glowering at said aspiring assailant with an expression that said “I am really am that cunt who would stab you if you try anything. Also, that’s Dr. Cunt to you.” I also am fond of the Uni-ball ONYX Rollerball Pen, Micro Point (0.5mm) which can do serious harm when shoved through the upper thigh of an asshole who abducts you in a Middle Eastern country with no diplomatic ties to the United States. Both get the job done when you have an adequate determination to weaponize ordinary stationery.

My mother had a third skill: she was an entrepreneur. Perhaps an unconventional one. But an entrepreneur nonetheless. For example, she could move a mess of Girl Scout cookies. At a profit.  My mother was fond of telling me that she should have given me up for adoption. (More about that in the essay titled “I should have given you up for adoption.”)

This proclamation of ambivalence towards being my mother (she never said this shit to my brothers who were younger and who could do no wrong. Even when they actually did do wrong) was inevitably followed by “I never wanted a daughter. I wanted five sons. Each would have names beginning with a J. Such as, Joey, Jarred, Johnny….” I forget the other two names. In any event, she got three out of five but Johnny died as an infant because he was, in the parlance of that period, a “mongoloid.” She would continue “But if I had to have a daughter (no we were not Chinese or Indian) I wanted her to be pretty, skinny, popular, blond, a cheerleader.”

If you haven’t guessed it, I was none of those things. If on the odd chance, I would begin to cry after being told I was the obverse of my mother’s dream child, she would continue with some strange exculpatory tale about how I am a “rose” instead of a “butterfly.” I’m not sure how that was supposed to do anything except confuse me and turn me off to horticulture and entomology simultaneously. That was likely the point. It was a ruse intended precisely to distract me. It worked. Many decades later I would observe a similar behavior in Donald Trump.  I was prepared for his fuckery because I had seen it before. Long before.

My mother made me join the Brownies and then the Girl Scouts. She probably thought that it was a “high status” thing to do. Since we were, for all intents and purposes, “white trash,” “rednecks” and the like, being in the Brownies and Scouts may have signaled some kind of social mobility to her.

It was torture for me.  It turns out that if you are pudgy, bespectacled from the time of gestation, forced to wear boys’ shoes and pants because they are cheaper, you are not likely to thrive in the Brownies or Girl Scouts at the Huntertown Elementary. Everything in the Huntertown Elementary Brownies and Girl Scouts required money in one way or the other, which mom misjudged. For example, there is the uniform. We purloined my various uniforms from the downtown Fort Wayne Salvation Army, which meant that my uniforms were also more than ten years old and just made me seem like a poor, pathetic, rural urchin stuck in a 1960’s time warp. This point was never lost on me at Brownie and Girl Scout gatherings when the other girls asked why my uniforms were so distinctly different.

Despite our relative poverty, my mother was very competitive: she wanted me to “earn” every possible badge.  There were about four problems with here agenda. First, it required her time. After all, someone had to supervise each badge-earning project in question—if not provide guidance or instruction—in the first place about how one should go about making, for example, a macramé chandelier scented with cinnamon and nutmeg or the perfectly-mounded muffin. In fact, there was no star council whose members would scrutinize the fruits of these labors. Just one supervising adult had to confirm that the task was done. And I had no other possible “supervising adult” other than her.  Second, every dog-damned task required money to buy the things from which one would make the macramé chandelier or muffin in the first place. Third, there were the fees associated with the badges themselves and the sash on which the varied badges were to be festooned. (My sash was also purchased used from the afore-noted Salvation Army with about the same vintage if possible as my uniform.) Finally, someone had to sew the badges onto the sash. Mom worked full time all the time and never had time for any of this Jane Foolery and money wasn’t exactly growing on sconces in our home. Yet badges had to be earned, bought, and sewed onto that god-damned sash. We were, it seemed, at an impasse.

Mom came up with the best possible solution: she’d sign for the badges anyway and make me sew on the badges which she managed to afford. I am sure sewing on Girl Scout badges should have been easy for anyone who obtained the “I can embroider a three-dimensional Bengal tiger on a cooking apron that I made from fabric I wove on the loom I built” badge. But then, I didn’t really earn that badge either. The crazed, zig-zag stitching of my badges to that sash should have been a clue that something was amiss at least in the earning of the “sewing badge.”  But, it turns out, the American Girls Scouts were never going to send someone to our house to inspect the macramé chandelier or the embroidered apron, neither of which did I make. But I did have the badge.

As was the case with mom, she was not patient. Soon signing for tasks associated with badge acquisition at appropriate (read believable) intervals came yet another badge-earning accomplishment signed on a nearly daily basis. Sometimes she could not be bothered with signing for the badges herself and she taught me to forge her signature. I am pretty sure I can still forge her signature although she’s been dead since 1993. And I hadn’t forged it since I had to defend myself against the anti-geek aggression of that bitchy twat Angie Smethers (not her real name, right?)  in the eighth grade at Miami Middle School.

I should make it clear that forging her signature for badges I did not even want was the most humiliating set of experiences in my life until the “Girl Scout Cookie” episode. There is perhaps no more ignominious thing for a nerd with integrity than to be basically forced to forge signatures on absurd tasks for the sole purpose of obtaining a pointless badge conferred by an organization which I loathed to place on a sash I hated more which bedecked a uniform that didn’t fit and underscored our relative poverty.

But the “cookie episode” made those quotidian and frequent humiliations of pimping out of my dignity and integrity for a useless badge seem almost bearable.

Every Girl Scout has to, at one point or another, show her entrepreneurial skills by selling those fat and carbohydrate bombs called Girl Scout Cookies.  I was (and still am) shy around strangers because I am fat, bespectacled, permanently uncool with hair that looks like a feral cat cut my hair…with his teeth. (Recently, on one obnoxious site called Political Science Rumors, a purported graduate student described me as being “ready for the spit.”)  The idea of going to door to door in my 1960’s era-Goodwill-acquired Girl Scout uniform and sash bedizened with ill-gotten badges, sewn on with fishing wire, to sell cookies was, in a word, mortifying. (I had no problem selling other things…but that is another entry titled “I Sold Porn in My Club House.”)

My mother, always ready with a solution, had an idea. She took the cookie order form and began filling it out with random orders, in different pen colors with different styles of writing which were in fact variations of her own writing. She wanted to win. She wanted to sell the most cookies of the pack or whatever we called ourselves.

There was one problem with her strategy, I pointed out meekly and fearing her wrath: To actually win, we had to sell all of those cookies. Ordering was a necessary but insufficient condition to win. She was not deterred. Mother was never deterred. Even cancer didn’t deter her.

When the freight of cookies arrived, I was horrified and frightened. There was—I thought—no way in hell we’d offload these cookies. But mom was a woman with a plan.

Mom, who was still attractive in her 30s if a bit plump, poured herself into her “Daisy Dukes” and cork mules. I may add that this was roughly contemporaneous with the actual emergence of Daisy Duke.  Mom sometimes resembled a beach ball with legs, but she had pretty awesome fucking legs and there was no denying that. I attributed this to all of the boxes she unloaded at the dock and riding a bike all of her life.  Mom then put me in a pair of shorts and a tube top. I must have been no older than 11. And I had no business in a tube top. With mom and me both suitably attired, we piled those cookies into her red Pinto. We made the drive from our Huntertown cul de sac and arrived at a bikers’ bar somewhere between Laotto and Avilla, Indiana.

My mother sauntered in, literally dragging me behind. My mother made nice-nice to the various alcoholics already assembled at the bar at this early morning hour and we stayed until the very last box of cookies was offloaded to the various drunken, rural lotharios that made their way through the establishment that morning and late afternoon.

I was chagrined by this entire spectacle.  In the end, we did not win. One of the popular girls made a killing—I suspect at her Mega-church. That’s always a more winning strategy than peddling cookies to lecherous drunks in obscure small town bars. While mom was disappointed that we did not win, she pointed out that in fact, we had.

She proudly pronounced that she sold those cookies at a profit.

Mom died in September 1993. As I’ve grown older, I’ve become less of a tight-ass. I’d like to think that my adult self and my mom would have terrorized any bar that we sauntered into together. It’s also possible that we would’ve been arrested. You can’t do the shit today that she did then. Unfortunately, I’ll never know.   All I know is that I miss her terribly despite the passage of twenty-five years since her death.

The University Chicago is Okay with Dipesh Chakrabarty Propositioning One of Graduate Students?

#TimesUp for Sexual Predators in Many Places: But Not at the University of Chicago

March 9, 2018

In October 2017, I wrote a piece titled “#HimToo: A Reckoning,” in which I described the life-changing sexual harassment that I endured at the University of Chicago as well as the financial and other burdens that I shouldered as a consequence. One of the individuals that I name is a famous scholar, Dipesh Chakrabarty, who is ironically associated with the subaltern school of history in which historians endeavor to reclaim the history of oppressed groups. Later several Indian feminists crowd-source a list of male scholars in Indian institutions who allegedly harassed women. In the intervening months, some of these Indian institutions have held their male abusers to account. For example, recently, the Ambedkar University Delhi established a committee and found that Professor Lawrence Liang, the dean of its School of Law, Governance and Citizenship, sexually harassed a doctoral student at another university. He was asked to step down from his administrative post.  Even Harvard University recently found that a prominent scholar of Latin America, Jorge Domínguez, was guilty of “serious misconduct.” However, the University of Chicago, a world-renowned scholarly institution, has remained steadfast in defending the predators in its ranks.

This has not been a surprise for many of the students who have come and gone. The U.S. Department of Education opened cases against the University of Chicago for mishandling sexual violence under Title IX in 2016 and 2013. In May of 2017,  Sarah ZimmermanJamie Ehrlich, and Emily Feigenbaum wrote an extensive account of the university’s record on sexual harassment and sexual assault and demonstrated a remarkably crass continuity in the hostile environment endured by women since 1952. Whereas powerful men across the country are being toppled for their past and current abuse of power as the #TimesUp and #MeToo waves continue to crest, the University of Chicago continues to protect its predators unapologetically.

In 2004, I finally graduated with my Ph.D. from the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. I was an unusual student because I completed my Ph.D. remotely after being sexually harassed by a revered scholar, Dipesh Chakrabarty.  During the winter quarter of the 1993-94 school year, Chakrabarty asked me “are you looking for sexual pleasure” while handing in my final paper.  I followed the appropriate procedures to complain to no avail even though Chakrabarty did not deny asking me this absurd question. Instead, I learned that the university did not proscribe such propositions. In fact, I was told by a dean in the social sciences that the onus was upon me to explain to Chakrabarty that his advances were unwanted. How else could he possibly know that such a solicitation was undesired?  It took considerable gumption and effort to track him down and explain that his behavior was repugnant. I then spent the rest of my time in the Ph.D. program fending off his efforts at retaliation.

I could not have attained this degree without the unstinting support of my ally in the department, Professor Steve Collins. Collins protected me from Chakrabarty while enabling me to finish my doctorate from Santa Monica, California where I began working full-time at RAND. I flew into Chicago to take my orals, to defend my thesis proposal and ultimately my thesis and quickly returned to Los Angeles as quickly as I came in. I received a half-rate PhD in comparison to my classmates who could avail of the mentoring of the superb faculty and incomparable language training there. Instead, I completed remaining coursework, including my study of Persian, at the University of California Los Angeles.

I was devastated to learn that this month Collins died while lecturing in New Zealand. I lost a mentor, a guardian and a witness to what I endured.

Ultimately, I sought professional refuge in a discipline far removed from that of my dissertation and related doctoral training. It would have been impossible to obtain a comparable job in South Asian Languages and Civilizations with Chakrabarty as a nemesis. And for this very reason, many of his victims choose to remain silent because they fear retribution from him or his wife, Rochona Majumdar, who has been a beneficiary of his behavior and an enabler.

In 2013, Chakrabarty again came to my notice after a student at the University of Chicago wrote a pseudonymous account of the sexual harassment and assault she endured doing student-related work in India for CNN and the lack of support on campus for her ensuing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Unsurprisingly Chakrabarty minimized her experiences and cast aspersions upon her account. It is difficult to articulate my rage at seeing a known predator comment upon the experiences of an assault survivor. The University of Chicago could demonstrate no less indifference if it actually tried to do so.

After BuzzFeed published my experiences at the University of Chicago in October 2016, many of his current and past victims wrote to me both to thank me but also to share their experiences. I wrote to the office of the president at the University of Chicago in which I explained that I wanted an apology for what I experienced, a modest donation to RAINN, which runs the largest crisis network in the United States, and an investigation into his ongoing abuse of power. Ms. Briget Collier from the Title IX office responded and assured me that she would re-examine my experience with Chakrabarty as well as those of previous and current students who had courageously reached out to me and, in turn, agreed to speak with her. We all trusted her with our stories with the strained hope that this time, things would be different.

On December 22, 2017, I received a formal response in which she wrote: “In evaluating your allegation that Professor Chakrabarty made a comment to you sometime during the winter quarter of 1994, I have concluded that the comment would not have constituted sexual harassment under the University policy in effect at that time.” On January 2, 2018, I drafted a follow-up email requesting clarification about whether or not the University of Chicago still considers it acceptable in “the 2017-18 academic school year for a professor to ask his student in his class ‘Are you looking for sexual pleasure?’? That email went unanswered. In fact, I emailed her twice before giving up. What could possibly be the reason for her silence other than the most obvious?

As a tenured faculty member at a prestigious university in the Washington DC area, I am flummoxed at the insouciance about these matters at the University of Chicago. Chakrabarty has, by my account and the accounts I have received from others, has enjoyed a 25-year spree of sexual harassment without censure or abatement. Whereas the rest of this nation is concluding that this kind of behavior is not acceptable, the University of Chicago continues to protect the predators on its payroll.

The University of Chicago and similar recalcitrant bastions of misogyny will not change until public outrage forces it to do. We need to raise our voices and make a clarion statement that tenure was meant to protect intellectual freedom, not to provide a socio-political sinecure from which vulturine faculty can safely harm students with impunity and immunity.

Christine Fair

Provost’s Distinguished Associate Professor, Security Studies Program Georgetown University


Communication from the University of Chicago’s Title IX Office



2017-12.22- C. Fair (2)-page-0012017-12.22- C. Fair (2)-page-002

My Follow-Up Email Asking for Clarification, which went unanswered.


The Continuing Saga of the Dirty Cop Ostrav, the Perjurer named S. Kapoor and the Complicit Polizeipräsidium Frankfurt am Main

To: Polizeipräsidium Frankfurt am Main

Polizeidirektion Flughafen

Südpassage, Gebäude 194

60549 Frankfurt am Main

Phone: +49-69-755 42008

Fax: +49-69-755 42009


Re case file number: ST/0042100/2018.

Dear Sir or Madam;

I am writing with respect a case that was filed against me on false charges on 11 January 2018. My case number is ST/0042100/2018.

Summary of Key Points

  • Police Lieutenant Ostrav threatened to arrest me because I wanted to file a customer service complaint against him in response to his unprofessional and needlessly rude behavior.
  • I was falsely accused and arrested on the charge of calling officer Ostrav a Nazi (among other epithets) despite the copious amounts of exculpatory footage that all police officials refused to review.
  • I was denied the right of filing a counter-charge of defamation against my accusers.
  • I was falsely relieved of my assets.
  • After the arrest the police published an account of the event (in response to my own in the Huffington Post) that was explicitly misogynist and intended to depict me as an ill-behaved, out of control, entitled American female who was outraged over her “seized cosmetics.” In fact, I was pleasant and professional throughout the encounter despite being called a hippie, treated to excessive rudeness and threatened with arrest over seeking to file a customer service complaint.
  • The police appear to have violated Germany’s own privacy laws: I observed that several German newspapers published the police’s account with my name and photo. This constitutes a further defamation campaign waged by your own police forces.

I am requesting that these fraudulent charges be dropped, that my seized assets be returned, that lieutenant Ostrav is investigated, and that defamation charges are filed against Mr. S. Kapoor, who perjured himself in testimony against me.

This missive describes the events leading to the unjust arrest and defamation and their sequelae.

The Event in Question

On 11 January 2018, my carry-on baggage was screened for explosives and came up positive. I became concerned about this when I asked the baggage screener about the process for resolution. She answered only “the police will come.” In the United States and other places I visit frequently, baggage screeners are generally willing to explain the process for resolution of baggage-related issues. I found this person’s refusal to answer my question to be puzzling and disconcerting. Worse yet, it took some time for the police to arrive.  I asked her to call the police again because I had already missed one flight thanks to United Airlines and was likely to miss the flight on which I had been rescheduled. She explained that this was “not my problem.” I asked another inspector to call the police, after which the police finally came.

As a somewhat frequent visitor to Afghanistan, which I explained to lieutenant Ostrav, I was worried that perhaps my bag had come into contact with ambient amount explosives in the air. My colleagues in the armed forces report that this does happen on occasion owing to the pervasive amount of explosives in the ground-level atmosphere. I wanted to know what I should do about this: should I throw the bag away? Can I clean it? I tend to trust Germany technology and operated under the assumption that this was not a false positive.

Without explanation, officer Ostrav began removing my belongings from the bag. In the United States, this typically would happen in a private place rather than the public. When no explosives were found, he made a considerable scene over two tubes of antibiotics that he found in various pockets of my bag. As someone who flies about three to four times a month, I have not actually emptied the contents of my bag between trips in a very long time.

However, he continued belaboring these excess liquids. (I did not feel the need to engage on the facts that those tubes he threw away were, in fact, medicinal and are allowed even if they exceed the “one baggie” rule.)  Next, Ostrav seized upon my solid deodorant. (See Pic 1.) Ostrav’s deputy, apparently of junior rank because Ostrav chastised him for weighing in on the issue despite his junior rank, also understood it was a solid but was told that his opinion did not matter because Ostrav “outranked” him.

I pointed out that this was, in fact, a solid. It was evident from visual inspection it was a solid and the description on the container made it clear it was a solid. Ostrav was simply being noxious because his authority permits him to be obnoxious. Ostrav offered various preposterous explanations for why it was a liquid. For example, he claimed that the “solid mixes with the body and becomes a liquid” and thus it is a liquid after he first argued incorrectly that the container had fluid in it.

At this point, I asked to speak with a manager. Ostrav said “I am the manager and I say it is a liquid.” I countered politely that he is not a manager, he is a police officer. At this point, I asked for his name because I wanted to file a customer service complaint about the basic rudeness of the entire process inclusive of the scene he made about the ostensibly excess liquid and ultimately the seizure of a solid for no apparent reason other than he could.

He told me pointedly that if I filed a complaint about him, I would have a police record. Precisely, he said “If you file a complaint, I will arrest you for being an unruly passenger. Do you want a German police record?”

I thought he was bluffing. I could not possibly imagine a German police officer being so crudely abusive of power. But he was not bluffing. I repeated my polite request for his name. He then asked me for my passport and boarding passes and withdrew a notebook from his pocket, in which he wrote my information and repeated that I would have a police record if I wanted to complain about is behavior. I repeated my request for his name and told him that I would specifically mention this threat in my complaint. Finally, after requesting his name several times, he wrote his name and rank on a piece of paper and tore it from the notebook described above. See Pic 2. At no point did he actually show me his police credentials to verify that this is in fact his name. (This is, of course, customary in most of the democracies in which I have lived or traveled.)

At one point in these various exchanges, I was called a “hippie.” This was obnoxious. I presume I was dismissed as a hippie because I am a female with long hair and was wearing an Indian shirt and jacket? For the record, I am a tenured professor at a major research university in the Washington, DC area, whose specialization is international terrorism and other national security affairs. Not only do I have a clean criminal and driving record, I also hold a security clearance, and have advised German officials on Afghanistan! I am a fastidious upholder of the law wherever I have traveled. I am the obverse of a “hippie.”

During the entire process, I was polite although I was very worried about my bag and what I should do with it; not to mention worrying whether or not I should call the conference organizers in New Delhi about yet another missed flight. Ultimately, no one answered my question about whether I should discard the bag or clean it. I presume it was a false positive. But no one could be bothered to even answer that basic question, which I posed not to be obnoxious but because I am in fact a national security professional who takes these matters seriously. Nonetheless, Ostrav barked at me to “shut up” when I tried to understand whether the positive test was a false positive.

During this process, three American men came through the same line. One of whom had a distinctive haircut of the Hitler Youth. Had anyone bothered looking at the footage, they would have seen that I frequently looked back at these gentlemen in disbelief.

After Ostrav left and as I packed my bag, I muttered to myself “The crack German police have seized my deodorant…but they don’t seem to care about that Nazi-looking dude over there!” A baggage screener, whom I learned later was named Kapoor accused me of calling Ostrav a Nazi. He then called officer Ostrav back to the screening area whereupon I was arrested and falsely charged with defaming Ostrav. (By the way: I know it is illegal to call someone a Nazi in Germany, which is why I would never do so. I also personally oppose the gratuitous use of the word “Nazi” and only use it when the evidence merits its use as is the case in contemporary American politics under the Trump regime, which has empowered and normalized these elements..)

At first, I assumed that this was a linguistic misunderstanding on the part of Kapoor and explained “I think you misunderstood me. I referred to the gentlemen behind me, who is an AMERICAN, not your police officer.” I asked Ostrav and Kapoor to replay the security footage to confirm my account. He and officer Ostrav refused to refer to the footage noting that their surveillance tools do not record sound. I countered that the footage would show the three men behind me, my repeated astonished glances at the fellow, and the hairdo which was strikingly redolent of the Hitler’s Youth well-groomed pompadour. Not to mention, the video would confirm my lip movements to be consistent with my account rather than their account. No one was interested in reviewing that footage. (I hope that the prosecution will at least bother to do so, although I fear it is long gone.)

I am aware that this “haircut” may not mean anything to you or many others who are unacquainted with the state of affairs in my country generally of my state, Virginia, specifically. However, the coiffure did and does mean something specific and worrisome to me for several reasons, which are germane to this case and why I was concerned about the gentleman in question.

First, I live in Alexandria, Virginia.  Very near my home in Alexandria is the residence and national office of the most prominent leader of the American Nazi movement: Richard Spencer. Richard Spencer first came to national notoriety in November 2016 when his leaders gave the Sieg Heil salute to President Trump in the Ronald Reagan Building in nearby Washington DC after his election in November 2016.[1] Mr. Spencer specifically adopts the hair-style of Hitler’s Youth and he encourages his followers to do the same.[2]

Second, Mr. Spencer has caused havoc in my community with his night-time torch-lit rallies deliberately intended to conger images of similar rallies convened by the Ku Klux Klan (KKK)[3]; his calls for “peaceful ethnic cleansing,” which he readily admits it will not likely be peaceful; as well as his demeaning insults of racial and religious minorities and women.[4] In August 2017 he convened a so-called “unite the right” rally to protest the removal of Jim Crow-era statuary commemorating slavery and the treasonous soldiers who fought to maintain it under the banner of the Confederacy. At that rally, one of his supporters deliberately rammed his vehicle into a counter-protester and killed her.[5] Spencer had a previous rally on May 14, 2017.[6] Within a week of that racist rally, one of Mr. Spencer’s fellow white supremacist murdered Lt. Collins III, an African American young man in our community who had distinguished himself as a scholar and as an air-borne qualified soldier.[7]

Third, after that rally in May, I worked to oust Mr. Spencer from my private health club because several of the gym employees asked me to do so.[8] The gym had been indifferent to their pleas even though most are members of minority communities specifically impugned by Spencer’s hate speech. The ouster of Spencer and my centrality to it became national and even international news.[9] His followers obtained and published my home address and phone number. For nearly one month, I was subjected to death threats, threats of sexual violence, and harassed by his followers who used crude anti-Semitic abuses through all means possible. They harassed me at home and they harassed my colleagues at their place of employment. I received voice mail at my home in which the caller said, “Fat, kikess, get into the oven” among other similar examples of anti-Semitic hate-speech. His followers made and distributed hateful fliers in my neighborhood calling me among other things a “Zionist terrorist” along with numerous other flyers that articulated anti-Muslim and racist messages.[10] (See pic 3.)  Because of my long-ago process of converting to Judaism, my local police treated this matter and subsequent harassment and threats as a hate crime.[11] While the Hitler Youth haircut and the likes of Mr. Spencer may mean nothing to you, it means and meant a lot to me. I still receive occasional abuses from his acolytes.

Once in the small police station, an officer whose name-tag read “Mehrinj,” arrived from the state police. I had expected this ostensible professional to resolve the matter in the most obvious way, allowing me to rebook yet another flight. It was not to be.  The man who accused me of calling Ostrav a Nazi  (Kapoor) was now repeating his account to Mehrinj. As Mehrinj took his credentials, I saw his name: S. Kapoor. Kapoor was furious that I learned his name. (See Pic 4). After much polite insistence, Mehrinj finally wrote his first initial and family name on a piece of paper along with his organizational affiliation.

As I stood there, Mr. Kapoor augmented his initial accusation with additional fabricated details. I don’t know German but I did hear Kapoor say this: “Fucking Nazi German police.” Mehrinj confirmed that, according to Mr. Kapoor, I had called Mr. Ostrv a “Fucking Nazi German police.” I may note that this is not standard American vernacular English, which is an important point since Kapoor was adamant that this was a direct quote. In the mendacious and deliberately misleading press release issued by the state police, it appears as if Mr. Kapoor further added yet more lies to his perjurous account by accusing me of calling Ostrav (or it seems German police in general) “fucking bastards.”[12] Instead of reviewing the footage, Mehrinj simply believed what he heard and wrote that I was “strongly suspected of having committed” the offense of defamation.

  • I want to draw your attention to several irregularities I experienced at the airport police station:
  • I was never given a copy of the police report or even of my own statement. This is important because it serves as a record of what happened while I was there. It appears as if Mr. Kapoor continued to add further fictions to his fraudulent testimony, as noted above.
  • I specifically requested to file charges of defamation against Mr. Kapoor, but I was denied this. (The refusal to take my complaint against Mr. Kapoor happens in countries like India and Pakistan where ironically I study police reform. I did not expect this to happen in Germany.)
  • I had to demand Mr. Kapoor’s name. I was not given it freely. In what democracy is a person denied the very name of her accuser, much less the name of a person who has made false accusations?
  • I was told that the prosecutor requested 300 Euros after the paperwork was complete. (Note that I was not given the complete paperwork with the exception of the forms provided below (Pics 5 and 6).) I asked about the purpose of this payment and was told that this was to avoid going to jail. However, I told them explicitly that I wanted to go to jail, that I wanted to meet a German judge and explain how this fiasco started with me wanting to file a customer service complaint and being threatened with arrest by lieutenant Ostrav and then, finally, I was charged with an outrageously false charge.

At this point, Mehrinj told me that he was empowered to “confiscate my assets.” I again requested to know the grounds for this only to be told that it was because I was “avoiding going to jail.” However, I was not avoiding going to jail. They were avoiding taking me to jail. Ultimately, Mehrinj forced me to remove my wallet and the cash therein. (I asked him if he wanted my Indian Rupees, which he derided.) He organized the bills by denomination and arbitrarily removed $260. In my experience as a well-traveled person and as a scholar of police corruption in South Asia, this is what we call a “shakedown.”

At no point did anyone review the exculpatory footage, despite my repeated requests. In fact, I suspect that the exculpatory footage is long gone.

Kapoor and Ostrav described me as a “hippie.” This is a peculiar appellation for me and I can only attribute their deployment of it to the fact that I was wearing an Indian shirt. I explained that in fact I am a professor who specializes in national security affairs and I am not a hippie, whatever they meant by that.

To add to the general lack of professionalism in the police at Frankfurt, I had to reach out to the German Embassy to identify the appropriate contact information. I obtained the information for this correspondence from Mr. Holger Scherf, the Consul General and Legal Adviser at the German Embassy in Washington D.C.

The Police’s Behavior After the Event

After I left Frankfurt for New Delhi India, I wrote a detailed account of what transpired in The Huffington Post and shared it on my social media.[13] I also emailed an official complaint to the police department. The police refused to entertain my complaint against Ostrav until after the prosecution. This was preposterous because I am being prosecuted on the false testimony of Ostrav and Kapoor, the objects of my complaint. (See Pic 7).

The police department even attempted to bully me for my account. (See Pic. 8.) I found their post to be outrageous given what had just happened to me. I was not given due process. I was falsely charged with a crime I did not commit, I was denied the right to press counter-charges of defamation, I was never given a police report, and I was “relieved of my assets” for reasons that were not as stated.

After my piece in the Huffington Post ran, The Bundespolizeidirektion Flughafen Frankfurt Am Main ran a press release that published several lies and helped to create a gendered narrative that I was the “ugly American” who made a scene over my “cosmetics.” Consistent with their desire to depict me as an unreasonable American woman, they claimed that I was irate over my “cosmetics.” The use of this gendered word is absurd: I do not wear cosmetics because I am allergic to the vast majority of cosmetics. (The only time you will see makeup on me is when I have been forced to do so while doing television interviews.)

The only person who made a nuisance of himself over liquids was Ostrav, who was obnoxious, impolite, capricious and abusive. The report blatantly lied about the substance of the deodorant by calling it a “roll-on,” which is a specific product that is liquid deodorant distributed on the skin through the use of a rolling ball. My product, which Ostrave decided to create a scene over, was not a roll-on; rather a solid. The press release also reported erroneously that I was traveling to Istanbul. I strongly suspect this inaccuracy was a deliberate effort to mobilize the less-than-salubrious sentiments in Germany about Turks and Turkey. (After all, I was going to Delhi not Istanbul which Ostrav knew since he took my boarding passes.)

Moreover, it appears as if the police violated Germany’s own privacy laws. When I reached home I found that several German newspapers published their “press release,” with my name and photo. At no point did anyone ask me if the Huffington Post account referred to the same person as their press release. Here are some of the links that friends and colleagues in Germany sent me:

Germany’s police demure from releasing the full names of terrorists; however, they seemed to have released my name in an effort to besmirch my name and reputation. A more litigious person than myself would also seek reparations for this outrage. Notably, in each of the above accounts, the papers rely upon the account of the police, not mine.

My Requests

  •  In short, I am requesting the following:
  • To be cleared of this outrageous charge and to be issued an apology for the police’s outrageous behavior at the airport and for the smear campaign they launched against me afterwards.
  • My money to be returned to me.
  • That officer Ostrav to be investigated for threatening to arrest me because I sought to file a customer service report about his behavior and my experience with baggage screeners.
  • For a case of defamation to be opened against Mr. S. Kapoor. Whether he initially misheard me I do not know or care because. in the end. he continued to add fabricated details which could only have been a deliberate attempt to further defame me because they in no way resembled anything that I said. For example, at no point did I use profanity as Kapoor’s perjured testimony suggests.

In closing, I have no actual expectation that you will even receive this missive as I was informed by Mr. Scherf that I must send this to the very organization which refused to take my complaints seriously in the first instance, charged me with a crime which I did not commit, and refused to file a counter-charge against Mr. Kapoor for perjuring himself with his false, defamatory testimony.

In the odd event that this missive does reach the desk of the prosecution, I hope she or he will treat me with more fairness and judicious consideration than I have received thus far.

Warmest Regards,

Christine Fair, PhD
Provost’s Distinguished Associate Professor
Georgetown University
Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service


Pic. 1: The Actual Deodorant, Which is Clearly a Solid (not a roll-on)



Pic. 2: Ostrav’s Name and Rank (in his writing)


Pic. 3. Photographs of Flyers Posted in My Neighborhood by American Nazis, featuring those that targeted me.


Source: Various photographs from the event.

Pic. 4 Name and Title of S. Kapoor as Given to Me by “State Police.”


Pic. 5. Statement which Falsely States the Reason for My Asset Seizure


Pic. 6. One of Only Two Documents I received.  The other is shown in Pic. 5.


Pic. 7. Email Exchange with the Police


Pic. 8. Tweet from the Police



[1] Mr. Spencer is also wont to use the vernacular of the Third Reich such as “Lügenpresse” among other expressions. See Daniel Lombroso, “’Hail Trump!’: White Nationalists Salute the President-Elect,” The Atlantic, November 21, 2016.; Joseph Goldstein, “Alt-Right Gathering Exults in Trump Election With Nazi-Era Salute,” The New York Times, November 20, 2016.

[2] Ruth Perl Baharir, “From hipster fad to neo-Nazi tag: How America’s Alt-right Got Its Signature Hairstyle,” Haaretz, Feb 08, 2017.; Monica Hesse and Dan Zak November, “Does this haircut make me look like a Nazi?,” The Washington Post, November 30, 2016.

[3] If you are unfamiliar with this hateful organization, see Southern Poverty Law Center, “Ku Klux Klan,” n.d.

[4] Ben Schreckinger, “The Alt-Right Comes to Washington,” January/February 2017,

[5] Phil Mccausland, Emmanuelle Saliba And Moira Donohue, “Charlottesville Rally Turns Deadly: One Killed After Car Strikes Crowd, NBC News, August 13, 2017.

[6] “White nationalist Richard Spencer at rally over Confederate statue’s removal

Spencer says torch-wielding protest in Charlottesville, Virginia – which evokes memories of the KKK – was ‘a way to communicate with the dead’ The Guardian, May 14, 2017.

[7] Dave Zirin, “A Lynching on the University of Maryland Campus,” The Nation, May 22, 2017.

[8] C. Christine Fair, “I confronted Richard Spencer at my gym,” The Washington Post, May 25, 2017.

[9] See inter alia, Faiz Siddiqui, “Georgetown professor confronts white nationalist Richard Spencer at the gym — which terminates his membership.” The Washington Post, May 21, 2017.–which-terminates-his-membership/2017/05/21/d3ff6512-3e51-11e7-8c25-44d09ff5a4a8_story.html?utm_term=.dcfe032872e7; “White Nationalist Richard Spencer Loses Gym Membership After Brush With Professor,” Haaretz, May 21, 2017.; Andrew Buncombe, “Richard Spencer has gym membership revoked after woman confronts him for being ‘neo-Nazi’,” The Independent, May 22, 2017.

[10] Remy Smidt and David Mack, “A Bunch of Racist Posters Were Plastered Around This Neighborhood And Now Police Are Investigating,” Buzzfeed, May 27, 2017.

[11] Sam Kestenbaum, “Professor Branded ‘Dirty Jew’ After Confronting ‘Nazi’ Richard Spencer,” The Forward, May 23, 2017.

[12] “BPOLD FRA: U.S. Passenger insults Federal Police Officers at Frankfurt Airport,” January 19, 2018.

[13] C. Christine Fair, “Framed, Arrested and Robbed by the Police in Frankfurt: A Not-So Funny Thing Happened on my Way to the Forum in Delhi,” January 12, 2018.

Afghanistan’s Future Nationhood

Sarah B. Grace

by Sarah Grace

While there are many similarities between the United States’ wars in Afghanistan and Vietnam, the inherent differences between these countries mean that their trajectories after a US departure could not be more different. Many factors inhibit the building of an effectively governed, peaceful and secure Afghanistan, but for the United States to remove itself from the conflict would be devastating for this country and its people, the surrounding region, and likely the world at large. Instead of abandonment by the United States, the path to success for Afghanistan requires a concerted and thoughtful military resurgence to motivate a peaceful settlement; this can then be solidified with culturally-competent restructuring and partial decentralization of the Afghan government so that it has the legitimacy it needs to operate unchallenged by further insurgencies.

During his presidency, Barack Obama rejected the comparison between the American wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. There are…

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