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 here..buy the book at: https://www.amazon.com/Cuisines-Axis-Other-Irritating-States/dp/1599212862.
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 WorldPublicOpinion.org, 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.)
Allard, Patricia, and Marc Mauer. Regaining the Vote: An Assessment of Activity Relating to Felon Disenfranchisement Laws. New York: Open Society Institute, January 2000. www.soros.org/initiatives/justice/articles_publications/publications/regainingthevote_2000011.
Amnesty International. “Death Penalty Statistics 2006,” April 2007. www.amnestyusa.org/document.php?id=ENGACT500122007&lang=e.
Barber, Benjamin R. Jihad vs. McWorld: Terrorism’s Challenge to Democracy. New York: Ballantine Books, 1995.
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———. “World View of US Role Goes From Bad to Worse,” January 2007. www.worldpublicopinion.org/pipa/articles/home_page/306.php?nid=&id=&pnt=306&lb=hmpg.
- David F. Schmitz, The United States and Right-Wing Dictatorships, 1965–1989 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006).
- 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), www.gao.gov/new.items/d06770.pdf. 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), www.pewhispanic.org/files/reports/53.pdf.
- 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.
- 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, www.siteresources.worldbank.org/DATASTATISTICS/Re- sources/GNIPC.pdf.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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, www.worldpublicopinion.org/pipa/pdf/mar07/ BBC_ViewsCountries_Mar07_pr.pdf.
- George W. Bush, “Address to a Joint Session of Congress and the American People,” September 20, 2001, www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/09/20010920-8.html.
- “Usama bin Ladin’s speech on the eve of the U.S. 2004 general elections,” November 1, 2004, http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/79C6AF22-98FB-4A1C-B21F-2BC3 6E87F61F.htm.
- 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).
- Rachel Shields, “Americans celebrate a national symbol as the Big Mac turns 40,” The Independent, August 25, 2007, http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/ article2893894.ece; “The Big Mac turns 40, Gets a Museum,” USA Today, August 24, 2007, www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2007-08-24-big-mac-at-40_N.htm.
- Freedom House, “Freedom in the World 2007 Sub-Scores,” www.freedomhouse.org/ template.cfm?page=372.
- Pew Global Attitudes, “America’s Image in the World.”
- You can buy a T-shirt from Contepl8 T-Shirts, http://contempl8.net/they-hate-us-for- our-freedom.htm.
- WorldPublicOpinion.org, “World View of US Role Goes from Bad to Worse.”
- Gallup Organization, cited by WorldPublicOpinion.org, “US Role in the World,” Au- gust 3, 2007, www.americans-world.org/digest/overview/us_role/hegemonic_role.cfm.
- 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. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/ archive/2004/06/20/ING2976LG61.DTL.
- Michael Powell and Peter Slevin, “Several Factors Contributed to ‘Lost Voters’ in Ohio,” Washington Post, December 15, 2004, www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/arti- cles/A64737-2004Dec14.html.
- “Usama bin Laden’s speech on the eve of the U.S. 2004 general elections.”
- “The Solution—A Video Speech from Usama bin Laden Addressing the American Peo- ple on the Occasion of the Sixth Anniversary of 9/11.”
- United Nations Development Program, Human Development Report 2006, www.hdr.undp.org/hdr2006/statistics.
- Eric Klinenberg, “Breaking the News,” Mother Jones 49 (March/April 2007), www
.motherjones.com/news/feature/2007/03/breaking_the_news.html; also see Interna- tional Federation of Journalists, “Media Concentration,” www.ifj.org/default.asp?Issue=OWNER&Language=EN. 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, www.heritage.org/Research/ InternetandTechnology/wm284.cfm.
- Cornelia Dean, “Scientific Savvy? In U.S., Not Much,” New York Times, August 30, 2005, www.nytimes.com/2005/08/30/science/30profile.html.
- Steven Kull, Clay Ramsay, and Evan Lewis, “Misperception, the Media, and the Iraq War,” Political Science Quarterly 118, no. 3 (2003–2004): 569–98.
- CBS News, “Poll: Creationism Trumps Evolution,” November 22, 2004, cbsnews.com/stories/2004/11/22/opinion/polls/main657083.shtml.
- 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, www.pewforum.org/docs/?DocID=222.
- Jon D. Miller, Eugenie C. Scott, and Shinji Okamoto, “Public Acceptance of Evolu- tion,” Science, vol. 213, no. 5788 (August 11, 2006): 765–66, http://richarddawkins.net/article,706,Public-Acceptance-of-Evolution,Science-Magazine-Jon-D-Miller- Eugenie-C-Scott- Shinji-Okamoto.
- Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, “Many Americans Uneasy with Mix of Religion and Politics,” August 24, 2006, www.pewforum.org/docs/index.php?DocID=153.
- Michael A. Fletcher, “Bush Hails Progress Toward ‘Culture of Life’: Limits on Abortion, Stem Cell Use Cited,” Washington Post, January 25, 2005, www.washingtonpost.com/ wp-dyn/articles/A32959-2005Jan24.html. Also see the White House, “Promoting a Culture of Life: The Accomplishments,” November 5, 2003, www.whitehouse.gov/ infocus/achievement/chap15.html.
- See Freedom from Religion Foundation, “What Does the Bible Say About Abortion?” nontract #7, 2007, www.ffrf.org/nontracts/abortion.php.
- Amnesty International, “Death Penalty Statistics 2006,” April 2007, http://www.amnestyusa.org/document.php?id=ENGACT500122007&lang=e. Population data to calculate per capita executions is taken from the CIA World Factbook, www.cia.gov/library/ publications/the-world-factbook/index.html.
- Death Penalty Information Center, “Number of Executions by State and Region Since 1976,” updated September 28, 2007, www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/article.php?scid=8&did=186. Also see Death Penalty Information Center, Innocence and the Crisis in the American Death Penalty (Washington DC: Death Penalty Information Center, 2004), www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/article.php?scid=45&did=1150. For those of you who think I am being biased, go to www.prodeathpenalty.com to get a dose of those who spend their time defending the practice.
- Richard C. Dieter, A Crisis of Confidence: Americans’ Doubts About the Death Penalty (Wash- ington, DC: Death Penalty Information Center Report, 2007), http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/CoC.pdf.
- Death Penalty Information Center, “Number of Executions by State and Region Since 1976,” updated September 28, 2007, www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/article.php?scid=8&did=186. Also see Death Penalty Information Center, Innocence and the Crisis in the American Death Penalty (Washington DC: Death Penalty Information Center, 2004), www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/article.php?scid=45&did=1150. For those of you who think I am being biased, go to www.prodeathpenalty.com to get a dose of those who spend their time defending the practice.
- 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.
- Glenn C. Loury, “Ghettos, Prisons and Racial Stigma,” April 4, 2007, www.econ.brown.edu/fac/Glenn%5FLoury/louryhomepage/teaching/Ec%20137/ 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.