Say what you will about the US, her gluttonous foreign policy, central role in global economic marauding, unnatural affection of citizens for synthetic fibres etc etc. This country may well be an internationally unrivalled producer of both paternalism and static cling. Her citizens do, however, know how to prepare barbeque with full-fat aplomb.
The Cook Out, as you may be apprised, is generally a central feature of the Independence Day festivities just past. It was my great fortune to once attend such a July 4 feast. Despite a distaste for giddy nationalism and an irrational fear of tinsel, I have to allow that I had a very nice time. It was, perhaps, after a fourth ladle of cream gravy, before a third serve of chicken-fried steak and simultaneous to a swan dive into a vat of Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing that I had a fleeting if overwhelming suspicion that This Is The Greatest Country In The World.
I awoke after a sixteen hour post-prandial nap swathed in streamers, a lard hangover and an overwhelming sense of shame. I had been seduced to US nationalism, if temporarily, by cholesterol and fixins.
Now, as ASIO might tell you, I am a difficult test case for the potency of the July 4 barbeque. In my ethical past, I have marched in solidarity with Palestinians and consumed more Sandinista produced coffee than an entire Managua postal district. I have acquired a knee-jerk mistrust for all things US in my adult life and so, one would think, would be relatively impervious to the lure of fat and convivial July 4 spirits.
Not so. For a good ten minutes after my first USA style Cook Out, I was suggestible, content and perfectly happy to consider the editorial on Fox News an enlightened and well-balanced diversion. Further, I would defy even the most vegan anti-globalisation protestor to resist the charm of US suburban cheer when amplified by a tasty batter redolent of celery salt, cayenne and First World glory.
This is the heinous truth: America is propelled in her quest to conquer and forget by baby back ribs, velveeta and soporific desserts. Before you dismiss my hypothesis regard (1) US supermarket aisles stocked entirely with antacids, laxatives and other dangerous medication that allow citizens to maintain a near impossible but powerfully hypnotic diet and (2) the trace of chicken grease that is nearly always dribbling down G W Bush’s ill-defined chin.
On July 14, a mere ten days after the North American Festival of the Gut, Iraq will enjoy her first ‘liberated’ anniversary of revolution since Saddam first publicly waxed his mo’ in 1979. It is indeed fortuitous that Iraq’s National Day, commemorating the 1958 revolution, is celebrated so close to Independence Day.
As anyone who has survived an American Cook Out will attest, the Lard Over is intense and one might not evacuate the barbiturate effects of pork dripping for a good month or so after dosage. Any post-bellum guilt caused by little things like, say, Iraq’s unfortunate lack of utilities, hope or even, perhaps, provision of a real reason for the invasion in the first place, will be MUCH easier to deal with after a huge national meal.
That the US remembered their day with fireworks and that Iraq will spend theirs locating unexploded cluster bombs is a fact so much more palatable with a fry up under one’s belt.
On Iraq’s July 14, , the customary display of military vigour might be diminished somewhat. A sense of national pride or attainment could be slightly allayed by, for example, the lack of decent plumbing.
Fortunately, for Americans at least, that extra slice of Key Lime Pie might just tip the serotonin balance in favour of forgetting.