Lazy Saturday Reads: These Days I Often Cry While Reading NewsPosted: June 9, 2018
Many of you know that I was born in Fargo, North Dakota. My Dad was also born in Fargo, and my Mom was born in the tiny town of Hope.
Dad’s father grew up Salk Centre, Minnesota. His childhood friend Sinclair Lewis later angered Salk Centre residents when he wrote a book about the town, Main Street.
My mother’s dad grew up on a farm and ended up going to dental school in Indiana, where he met my grandmother and brought her back to the north country. He was the dentist in Hope for part of the week and worked in another small town the rest of the week.
Even though I only lived there as a small child, I still have a strong attachment to North Dakota. We went back often when I was a kid, and as and adult, I went back a couple of times with my parents to visit all the old places and listen to their memories. We visited Fargo, Hope, Grand Forks, where my Dad got his masters degree at UND, and Lisbon, where my mom’s family lived for years. When I was in North Dakota I felt a real sense of place and belonging–that is where my roots are and always will be.
Eventually, Mom’s parents moved to Columbus, Indiana, and our family ended up in Muncie, Indiana. Like many young people, I couldn’t wait to get away from the town where I mostly grew up. But I don’t like it when people who have never spent time in the Midwest look down their noses at Midwestern people. So when I heard about Anthony Bourdain’s tragic suicide, I immediately remembered the time he stood up for Marilyn Hagerty, a food writer and columnist in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
In 2012, Hagerty wrote a review of the newly opened Olive Garden in Grand Forks. Somehow the piece went viral and Hagerty became an object of ridicule for on-line snobs. Bourdain had a similar reaction at first, but he thought twice about it and realized that Hagerty was doing a service by recording the history of food and dining in a small Midwestern town. He ended up meeting her in New York, helped her get a book deal, and wrote the forward to her collection of restaurant reviews.
After Grand Forks Herald dining critic Marilyn Hagerty went viral in 2012 for a review she wrote about Olive Garden (she called it “impressive” and commended the “generous” portion of chicken Alfredo she received), Bourdain quickly stepped out of the hordes of people who gave her a lot of snark for taking a chain restaurant so seriously. Instead, he met with Hagerty and published a book of her columns to which he wrote the foreword.
Bourdain, who died Friday at the age of 61, left a lasting impression on Hagerty, who met him once in New York City after her viral article. Hagerty, 92, told TIME she didn’t know Bourdain at all before her story drew widespread attention online, but that he supported her at an important time.
“People were saying what a funny strange thing it was for anyone to write about the Olive Garden, and all of a sudden Anthony Bourdain came to my side,” she said. “He said he agreed with the people at first, and as he thought about it more, he seemed to appreciate the fact that for people in middle America, it’s part of how we eat.”
Bourdain’s appreciation extended through much more of Hagerty’s work. Grand Forks, North Dakota, doesn’t see many of the food trends or small restaurants that specialize in particular dishes that pop up in places like New York or San Francisco. But for Hagerty, writing about food just means going everywhere, including fast food chains like McDonald’s and Taco Bell, and buffets frequented by truck drivers.
It was Hagerty’s ability to notice such things that prompted Bourdain to suggest she write a book of her columns when they met for coffee at a hotel in New York in 2012.
Hagerty became so well-known that she recently was invited to write a review of a Grand Forks restaurant for Bon Appetit Magazine. Here’s a piece she wrote for The Grand Forks Herald after she returned from another trip to New York for an interview with Anderson Cooper: MARILYN HAGERTY: Teaching Tony and Anderson to play bridge.
I wish I could just keep on reminiscing; but we live in dangerous times, and we have to pay attention to what’s happening in our world today. The worst thing right now IMHO, is Trump’s policy of separating immigrant families and the horrendous damage he is doing to countless parents and children. Charles Pierce wrote a powerful piece about it yesterday: I Don’t Need to ‘Understand’ Anyone Who Still Supports This President*.
The New York Times had a story on Friday that should’ve brought shame and derision upon anyone who voted for the racist monster in the White House, and upon the racist monster that the other racist monster installed at the head of the Department of Justice. The United States government is now committing human rights atrocities within its own borders and against the most vulnerable people it can find. I don’t need to “understand,” much less take seriously, anyone who still supports this president* and his administration* because, if you do, you’ve taken the idea of America and run battery acid through its veins.
An American government escort handed over the 5-year-old child, identified on his travel documents as José, to the American woman whose family was entrusted with caring for him. He refused to take her hand. He did not cry. He was silent on the ride “home.” The first few nights, he cried himself to sleep. Then it turned into “just moaning and moaning,” said Janice, his foster mother. He recently slept through the night for the first time, though he still insists on tucking the family pictures under his pillow.
José’s separation from his father is part of the Trump administration’s latest and most widely debated border enforcement policy. Last month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the government would criminally prosecute everyone who crosses the border illegally, a directive that is already leading to the breakup of hundreds of migrant families and channeling children into shelters and foster homes across the country.
There are more stories of children who have been taken from their parents at the link. Please go read them, even if you have to force yourself. These horrors are being perpetrated in our name.
From today’s Washington Post: A family was separated at the border, and this distraught father took his own life.
A Honduran father separated from his wife and child suffered a breakdown at a Texas jail and killed himself in a padded cell last month, according to Border Patrol agents and an incident report filed by sheriff’s deputies.
The death of Marco Antonio Muñoz, 39, has not been publicly disclosed by the Department of Homeland Security, and did not appear in any local news accounts. But according to a copy of a sheriff’s department report obtained by The Washington Post, Muñoz was found on the floor of his cell May 13 in a pool of blood with an item of clothing twisted around his neck.
Starr County sheriff’s deputies recorded the incident as a “suicide in custody.” [….]
Soon after Muñoz and his family were taken into custody, they arrived at a processing station in nearby McAllen and said they wanted to apply for asylum. Border Patrol agents told the family they would be separated. That’s when Muñoz “lost it,” according to one agent, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the incident.
“The guy lost his s—,” the agent said. “They had to use physical force to take the child out of his hands.”
Read it again. Border Patrol agents forcibly ripped a three-year-old child from a father’s hands. This family had done nothing illegal; they were seeking asylum. Now the father is dead and no one knows where his wife and child are or whether they know of his death. These days I often find myself in tears when I read about what our government is doing.
We did get a little peace this morning–no ugly tweets from Trump.
That’s because he’s out of the country using every opportunity to insult our allies and provide aid and comfort to dictators.
QUEBEC CITY — The world is getting a good look at the two faces of the Trump administration at this week’s G-7 meeting in Charlevoix, Canada: One is that of a team of government officials working hard to find common ground with like-minded nations on a wide range of policy issues, while the other is that of a president who at times seems bent on taking a hammer to the whole process.
The U.S. still hopes to be a party to the traditional end-of-summit joint G-7 agreement Saturday, even as President Donald Trump spent much of the week jabbing other world leaders, threatening to raise tariffs on U.S. allies and arguing that America would be better off if the conference didn’t produce a new deal.
On Friday, he upped the ante just before heading to Canada: Russia, he said, should be allowed to rejoin the G-7.
That remark was “not planned,” according to a National Security Council official.
Oh yeah? I’ll bet it was planned in one of Trump’s frequent phone calls with Putin. A bit more:
Indeed, it was taken by foreign diplomats, veterans of American foreign policy and lawmakers of both parties in Congress as yet another sign that Trump — who also boasted this week that he doesn’t need to prepare much for his nuclear summit on Tuesday with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un — is winging it with potentially dangerous consequences.It “gives the Kremlin one more opportunity to take advantage of divisions” between the U.S. and other G-7 nations, said Bob Hormats, who worked in high-level jobs at the National Security Council and the State Department in several administrations.
While new Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte backed Trump on Russia, the rest of the G-7 has little interest in rewarding a nation that was expelled in 2014 for annexing Crimea.
One more before I wrap this up.
John Harwood at CNBC: Trump is helping Putin with a key goal when he spurns US allies.
Vladimir Putin tried to help Donald Trump win the presidency. As president, Trump is helping Putin achieve a top strategic goal.
And the question is: Why?
That mystery deepened Friday when Trump, as he openly attacked U.S. allies while heading for meetings with them, called for Russia to be readmitted to the G-7 club of advanced industrial democracies. The U.S. and its allies ejected Russia after its 2014 seizure of Crimea.
With that concession, Trump capped a whirl of activity advancing Russia’s objective of splintering the alliances undergirding the Western world’s security and prosperity for the past 70 years. French President Emmanuel Macron, incensed by the trade conflicts Trump instigated, declared that G-7 partners gathered in Canada this weekend might cut out the U.S. for purposes of the summit communique.
This followed the president’s earlier reluctance to embrace North Atlantic Treaty Organization commitments safeguarding Europe against Russia, his delay in implementing new congressional sanctions against Russia and his praise of Putin himself. Those actions, according to U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials, followed criminal interference by Russian operatives to help Trump defeat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.
The starkness of Trump’s words — he stated no conditions for returning Russia to international favor on the same morning he impugned Canada’s honesty — unsettled observers across the political spectrum.
Journalists and politicians keep asking why? But isn’t it obvious at this point? Trump is working for Russia, not for us.
What stories are you following today? Please share in the comment thread below.