...it's not dark yet, but it's gettin' there...

May 19, 2005

The Middle Finger

Celebrity blogger and annika's journal visitor, Hugh Hewitt, spent the major portion of his radio show today talking about the Pepsico middle finger controversy. Here's the professor's summary:

The President and CFO of Pepsico gave a speech at Columbia Business School's commencement. In the speech, Indra Nooyi compared the fingers of the hand to different parts of the world. The United States got the middle finger. What a surprise! How courageous for Ms. Nooyi, how daring, and such soaring rhetoric.
The key passage from Ms. Nooyi's address is this one:
As the longest of the fingers, [the United States] really stands out. The middle finger anchors every function that the hand performs and is the key to all of the fingers working together efficiently and effectively. This is a really good thing, and has given the U.S. a leg-up in global business since the end of World War I.

However, if used inappropriately --just like the U.S. itself-- the middle finger can convey a negative message and get us in trouble. You know what I'm talking about. In fact, I suspect you're hoping that I'll demonstrate what I mean. And trust me, I'm not looking for volunteers to model.

Discretion being the better part of valor...I think I'll pass.

What is most crucial to my analogy of the five fingers as the five major continents, is that each of us in the U.S. --the long middle finger-- must be careful that when we extend our arm in either a business or political sense, we take pains to assure we are giving a hand...not the finger. Sometimes this is very difficult. Because the U.S. --the middle finger-- sticks out so much, we can send the wrong message unintentionally.

Unfortunately, I think this is how the rest of the world looks at the U.S. right now. Not as a part of the hand --giving strength and purpose to the rest of the fingers-- but, instead, scratching our nose and sending a far different signal.

Here's the lady's half-assed apology:
Following my remarks to the graduating class of Columbia University's Business School in New York City, I have come to realize that my words and examples about America unintentionally depicted our country negatively and hurt people. I appreciate the honest comments that have been shared with me since then, and am deeply sorry for offending anyone. I love America unshakably - without hesitation - and am extremely grateful for the opportunities and support our great nation has always provided me.

Over the years I've witnessed and advised others how a thoughtless gesture or comment can hurt good, caring people. Regrettably, I've proven my own point. I made a mistake and, again, I'm very sorry.

Apology not accepted, babe. Mainly because i'm not, as she said, hurt or offended by her speech. Don't get me wrong, i think the lady hasn't the faintest idea what a great country she now lives in. Her viewpoint has been tainted by hanging around America-hating New York intellectuals. But what she sees as an American negative - the fact that we stick out, that the "world" thinks we're too arrogant - is actually a source of unabashed pride for me.

the finger

i believe in American exceptionalism. i don't think America needs to be more humble. If my country has ever flipped anyone off in the past, that's something i want to see more of. Look at the scoreboard. Was America "scratching its nose" with the middle finger when we saved the world from tyranny three times in one century? Like the song says, fuck yeah! Was it arrogance when our fifth president declared "hands off this hemisphere" to the superpowers of his day? Or when T.R. said "let's build that fucking canal!" (paraphrasing). Or when Jack promised we'd walk on the moon within the decade? Sure it was. And so what?

Egypt of the Pharaohs. Imperial Rome. Spain in the siglo de oro. Napoleon's France. Victoria's Great Britain. Name a superpower in history that hasn't been arrogant. You can't. Name a superpower that's done as much good in the world as America has in the last two centuries? You can't do that either.

We are different. We are better. And i'm sick and tired of our own people getting on a public stage and telling us we should bow and beg and be meek in front of the rest of the world. When was that ever an American trait? i hope it never is.

So let the America-haters and the timid intellectuals whine. Call me a jingoist, i won't be offended. i'm proud to be a flag waving, middle finger sticking, American.

p.s. All real Americans drink Coke anyways.

Posted by annika, May. 19, 2005 |
Rubric: annikapunditry


Hell fucking yeah! Standing applause for Annika!

Brilliant...simply brilliant. I think I'll post my own middle-finger salute tonight, and link to your brilliant rant.

Posted by: Robbie on May. 19, 2005


Posted by: d-rod on May. 19, 2005

Ok, I've posted my own graphical response to Pepsi.

I've dubbed my post: Annie's Meme: Giving Pepsi the Finger.

Posted by: Robbie on May. 19, 2005

i'm not sure what else you can do to earn the big fat smile i have on my face. i'm gonna go have a coke and keep on smilin...

Posted by: scof on May. 19, 2005

Well of course you're right. I thought we all understood that.

As for this culturally illiterate third world mutherfuckette whom we've taken to our breast, how else to remind people that Michael Jackson was once a Pepsi flack.

Posted by: Casca on May. 19, 2005

If America is so bad, why is she here?

This country isn't heaven. No place is. They aren't sneaking across the border to get to wherever she came from. That pretty much says it all.

Posted by: Mark on May. 20, 2005

For a bunch of toughguys you're a sensitive lot. My God, it was a speech asking international businesspeople to be respectful of other cultures- for the sake of their _businesses_ as well as their country. What's next- an analysis of the political meaning of the latest Star Wars?

For the record, this was also part of the speech:
“As the longest of fingers it really stands out. The middle finger anchors every function that the hand performs and is the key to all of the fingers working together efficiently and effectively. This is really a good thing, and has given the U.S. a leg-up in global business since the end of World War I”

“This land we call home is a most-loving, and ever-giving nation- a “promised land” that we love in return”

I guess the next act in the 'sky is falling' culture wars has begun: cue tape on Fox News' round-the-clock coverage on this woman that none of us had ever heard of a week ago.

Posted by: Preston on May. 20, 2005

FUCK YEAH!! Totally agree with you Annika. "i'm proud to be a flag waving, middle finger sticking, American." New tagline for my e-mail, if ya don't mind me borrowing it.

Posted by: Joe from jersey on May. 20, 2005


We just need to give the finger back to her, apology or no.

I say, begin a boycott against Pepsi and pass the word around the web:

When they dump Indra Nooyi, the boycott is off, otherwise we keep it in effect and cause it to spread. She has a right to speak her mind, and we have a right to spend our dollars.

If she loses her job, well, I'll apologize, that ought to make her feel better.

No one has mentioned this in the posts, so I will:

She is one of the "Blame America First Crowd"; if they don't like living and working here, they can live and work somewhere else where the govenment is not so objectionable.

I suggest she try Iran; she'd look better in a burhka anyway.

Posted by: shelly on May. 20, 2005

this finger.

Posted by: louielouie on May. 20, 2005

You can tell liberals are ultra-tolerant because they only dominate 95% of the media, and with no sense of shame, attack the lone network that gives time to conservative views.

That's "tolerance" alright.

Posted by: mark on May. 20, 2005

Love the finger!

Preston - I'm sooo happy the Pepsi lady pointed out that it is ok for America to be exceptional. Thank God she cleared that up!

This is a good time to whip out one of my favorite quotes of the last few years - from Mona Charen:

"Is it really arrogance to believe that the system and the culture we've inherited is superior to others? Or is it ingratitude to deny it?"

Also, here's the words to "America, Fuck Yeah!":

That song might be good for a Wed poetry day.

Posted by: gcotharn on May. 20, 2005

I hope Mrs. Falcon doesn't read this because I was twitterpated by that post.

Posted by: goldfalcon on May. 20, 2005

Not that I am a fan of giving the middle finger, I wholeheartedly agree with you Annika! We'll kiss the world's butt when we are on our knees, but not before then!

Posted by: javaslinger on May. 20, 2005

Annie, you're a goddess.

And you're absolute right about Coke.

Posted by: Matt on May. 20, 2005

Shit! Absolutely right.

Explanation for my stumbly fingers, here.

Posted by: Matt on May. 20, 2005

Fuck yeah! We should be proud, being all "we're so sorry for having a system that allows us to become rich and powerful" is a bunch of crap. We worked damn hard as a nation to get where we are and we shouldn't apologize. It would be like Lance Armstrong apologizing for kicking ass in the Tour De France. This is right up there with those shirts that apologize for being American in ten languages. If you want to do crap like that go to one of those ten countries and stay there. My family immigrated here legally in the 1930's from Norway and I'm damn proud of what we have acheived, and I'm damn proud of my country. So if they want to think of us as giving them the bird then so be it because in a way we are and I'm glad we are doing it.

Posted by: Andy on May. 20, 2005

you had me, then you lost me, then you had me, then you lost me.

to answer your question, Jesus was a superpower who wasnt arrogant.

or if thats too highbrow for your supporters, think about it this way, name a guy youve met with a huge... uh... advantage

think about how much more you respect him when he doesnt shove it in the faces of others who werent so blessed.

walk softly with your big - finger, ms annika.

regards from your diet pepsi drinking, C2 swigging pal down here in intellectual yet untimid LA

Posted by: tony on May. 21, 2005


I don't think your Jesus analogy gets you very far.

The rest of the world considers it arrogant that we do what we believe needs to be done, even when most of them consider it to be wrong, scandalous, shocking or what-have-you. Well, so did Jesus. From eating with the tax collectors and prostitutes to cleansing the temple, He always did what He knew to be right -- regardless of what anyone else thought. Even his own disciples rarely understood his actions and teachings at first. He didn't let that stop him. Nowhere in the Bible do you see Jesus bowing and scraping to his disciples, saying, "you're right; in the future I'll tone it down. It was wrong of me to shock your sensibilities." If the disciples failed to understand him, if they found his actions scandalous, it was up to them -- not Jesus -- to change.

Of course Jesus had the advantage of being God, and therefore conclusively right in all He did. But the point is that there's nothing arrogant about doing what's right, even when it puts you in the minority. (If there were, we'd have to conclude that Jesus was indeed arrogant.)

I believe this country is right about most of the things it does that so greatly upset so many people. That being the case, I cannot bring myself to care if the rest of the world is too foolish, craven or corrupt to see that we are right. Like the disciples, they're the ones who need to adjust. Of course, unlike Jesus, we don't have the luxury of knowing to a certainty that we're right. He didn't make mistakes; we have, and will. But we're right a lot more often than we're wrong, so I'm willing to live with that risk.

Posted by: Matt on May. 21, 2005

I would humbly dispute the contention that Jesus never made mistakes. Mistakes can be of omission as well as commision and after all He was human too. He could have been clearer in denouncing say the death penalty against homosexuals as proscribed in the OT and made clarifications to many texts which could have saved millions of innocent lives later and avoided religious atrocities like the Inquisition. This place was pretty messed up when Popes ruled the world.

Posted by: d-rod on May. 21, 2005

Jesus is not responsible for what the Popes did. As far as the Inquisition, I think he covered it by saying "Love your neighbor as yourself" and "Judge not, let ye be judged." Do you need any more clarification than that?

Posted by: javaslinger on May. 21, 2005

Yeah probably, since Jesus was not the first person to pronounce these ideals - Buddha and Lao-tse were saying these things 500 years earlier. But if popes are not followers of Jesus, who is?

Posted by: d-rod on May. 21, 2005

Just because you profess to be a follower of Jesus and do things in his name does not mean you are a true follower. Because of free will, God cannot be responsible for man's actions. This is one thing I have had a problem with the Catholic church; that the Pope viewed as almost devine and infallible. They may profess to be followers, but one way to know what is in a man's heart is to see how he acts. "By their fruit ye shall know them." Christ warned of many that would come in his name and do things in his name, but he stated that they would be judged accordingly on judgement day. Like anything in life, you gotta walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

To be more on topic, Christ was (and still is) a superpower, but his mission was not to dominate the world, but to save it. Being a Diety is a definite advantage in this area. Men on the other hand have limited options. As far as being arrogant, I think that it is justified, only if you can back it up. Christ could back it up, but he chose not to. He would have never connected with his disciples, or the poor, if he had projected such an attitude.

And concerning the advantage, Tony; most guys big enough to push others around aren't exactly loaded for bear, if you get my drift. Whenever I hear a guy bragging about having a big winkie, I automatically think he is lying anyway. If you got it, you don't have to brag. If you are worried about this, I would suggest you have some inferiority issues to deal with. Ever hear of good things coming in small packages?

Posted by: javaslinger on May. 21, 2005

You know I was informed by a rather smart lady that its not that Pope is divine/infallible in whatever he does, its just when he makes pronouncements on doctrine.

...as far as d-rod's comments, well its clear he doesn't have a grasp of christianity, which of course distorts one's view of humanity as well. Not to be mean about it, it's just he doesn't understand, and I don't know that a comment box is the place to remedy that...but what the hell, i'm bored and its too hot to go outside, so we'll see

Posted by: scof on May. 21, 2005


You said, "This is one thing I have had a problem with the Catholic church; that the Pope viewed as almost devine and infallible." Let me clarify.

Divine - no.

Infallible - yes. But only (1) in his teachings; (2) on matters of faith and morals; and (3) under narrow circumstances. There is absolutely no question, in Catholic teaching or elsewhere, that the Pope is a man and thus fully capable of all sorts of terrible sins, just like any other man.

However, we also believe that he is Christ's direct representative on Earth, and Catholics therefore believe (or at least many believe, and the Church teaches) that the Pope commands great obedience and respect even when he is badly flawed.

By the way, I generally agree that "one way to know what is in a man's heart is to see how he acts." However, the fact that a man sins -- even badly -- does not mean he is not a Christian. It means he's human. Even devout Christians sin. Remember: Peter denied Jesus three times before the cock crowed -- and this after following Him and witnessing his miracles first-hand. All I'm saying is that I think it's rather tricky to judge who is or isn't a follower of Christ based on outward appearances.

Posted by: Matt on May. 21, 2005

What does Jesus have to do with Pepsico official trash talking the USA?

He doesn't drink Pepsi or give anyone the finger, let alone the USA.

He's not stupid enough to want to be nuked by Rummy. One crucifixion ought to be enough for anyone.

Posted by: shelly on May. 22, 2005

With you on the Coke.

On the historical side, America is indeed exceptional, but not entirely unique. Rome and Great Britain cared for their empires in a way other powers have not. On the other hand, they were empires, where America's empire is freedom itself. Um, on yet another hand, Britain left democracy behind in almost every place it once ruled.

Posted by: Pixy Misa on May. 22, 2005

As someone in the field of religious studies, I'm often amazed at how theological discussions spring up in the strangest places, like beautiful nipples suddenly hardening in a grocery checkout line.

Yes... that's how this discussion makes me feel.

Pardon me, now, while I fondle myself.


Posted by: Kevin Kim on May. 22, 2005

You might try hanging out at the freezer aisle, if that kind of thing turns you on.

; -)

Posted by: annika on May. 22, 2005

I'll stand by my point that Jesus made mistakes. For Christsakes, He had to choose twelve disciples to spread the Gospel, and one of them not only turned out to be a dud, but an enemy. And consider what we know about Him as a teenager - NOTHING. He surely made a few mistakes then as well, but unfortunately none of us will ever know because there is no historical record of the most important teenage being ever to have visited this planet. I grieve about the untold numbers of innocent women who died in agony, which found justification in Biblical quotes on witches as well as the highest authorities on the moral teaching of Jesus at the time. That was Hell then. Was Jesus himself culpable in any way? Possible.

Posted by: d-rod on May. 22, 2005


Yeah, I can imagine hanging in the frozen food aisle all day. Kevin Dynamite.

With my luck, my own nipples would be blue and ready to fall off before I saw a chick with headlights.

South Korea, of course, is the WORST country for nipple-age. Women here don't show much skin and are only beginning to discover body-hugging clothing. And you can forget about ever seeing a braless woman. Such a creature exists only in Korean folklore. Alas.

On the bright side, it does mean that any little exposure of skin becomes something of a major event for starved senses calibrated to Western standards. I'm always happy to see a bare midriff, for example... and then there's Miss Panties, about whom I blogged.

Dirty Old man

Posted by: Kevin Kim on May. 22, 2005

whoa -- stumbled on this site by accident.

what the hell is happening to people these days?

annika - lighten up. i think even you would admit that anyone who thinks they're better than everyone else has, er, a problem. no?

Posted by: remotedevice on May. 22, 2005

"...anyone who thinks they're better than everyone else has, er, a problem. no?"

Only if they're wrong.

Posted by: Dave J on May. 22, 2005

No. i would not admit that.

Posted by: annika on May. 22, 2005


I think the point was that the Stranger From a Strange Land who went abroad and insulted the natives was her... Talk about putting your foot in it. Nobody needs that crap from a hypocrite, especially not at their college graduation.

Posted by: Mark on May. 23, 2005


She's an American. If certain Republicans are salivating at the idea of Ahnold being *President of the United States* after 30 or so years is it really out of bounds for an American citizen who has been here 35 years to as recent graduates not to be jackasses when they go to foreign countries?

Posted by: Preston on May. 23, 2005

It's the anti-American assumptions that drive it all "preston". she's not asking us "gee be nice when you travel" (as if college grads are so stupid not to perhaps already grasp this) she's saying be humble because your country sucks and everyone else thinks so. but whatever, that has been made abundantly clear, you still disagree. So as these comments have ranged from middle fingers to Coke to Christ, I shall hopefully end this thread thusly: if you disagree with me, you're a nazi.

Posted by: scof on May. 23, 2005

I don't see how the speech was inspirational at a commencement. Provocative? Fuck yeah! Inspirational? Highly suspect!

My .02 cents:) Although this country's history is replete with arrogance on a multitude of issues, there *MUST* be a reason why people flock to our shores, ostensibly for a better life, for better opportunities, et al.

And if we're going to spiral out of control about "Superpowers," anyone here jazzed about "The Fabulous Four," due out in theaters soon?

Posted by: NuggetMaven on May. 23, 2005

PS: oh G-d, someone just used the n-to the a-to the z-to the i word. Good use of hyperbole!

Posted by: NuggetMaven on May. 23, 2005

I think you have said something very important in this,"I believe in American exceptionalism." I really do think that is something that many do not want to forgive us. It offends many to see American Individualism celebrated.

Yet, we know it makes us what we are, and has supported the ideals of freedom and progress.

Posted by: ilona on May. 23, 2005

Ok- if you want to argue that her warning against mocking the plumbing in Third World countries was a critique of US foreign policy: was the strategy implemented after WWII of maintaining strategic alliances to contain and defeat communism worth scrapping? Was it unsuccessful? Did it undermine 'who we are'?

Nugget: "there *MUST* be a reason why people flock to our shores"

Yeah, I'm surprised that so many people have difficulty distinguishing US foreign policy and domesestic freedom. Clearly the US has _sometimes_ been a force for democracy and freedom worldwide and _sometimes_ it has been a force for oppression: it depends what suits our national interest- or more typically economic interests.

Like Athens and Great Britain before us we have democracy on our shores yet an agressive foreign policy that does not always adhere to our democratic ideals. For Ms. Nooyi to state the obvious does not mean she doesn't love her country, fer crying out loud.

Posted by: Preston on May. 23, 2005

Speaking of oppression... I'm amused at our history. The Puritans came here for religious freedom, however, they only supported religious freedom as it related to the Puritans. The Native Americans, or the Anglicans, Huguenots, and all the other groups that followed immediately? Yer on yer own. Oppressive? Darn tootin'.

The United States, much like a single human being, is made up of many different components. If we were to all dwell upon one or two aspects of it (either human or the US, take your pick), and dwell ONLY on those two aspects of it (say for argument's sake oppression/slavery and colonization/globalization), we would essentially be throwing the baby out with the bathwater to discount every other positive thing which makes up these United States.

Posted by: NuggetMaven on May. 23, 2005


Nice ring you got there. Hehe.

Posted by: Mark Nicodemo on May. 23, 2005

Like Athens and Great Britain before us we have democracy on our shores...
C'mon, Preston! GB had a monarchy when we kicked their rear, and Athens was some freaky kinda precursor to democracy, using a lottery to determine who got to help make decisions.

Posted by: Victor on May. 24, 2005

It's not good enough for us to be democratic- we have to have invented it now?

Posted by: Preston on May. 24, 2005

My name is annika 2 that is sooooooooooooo kool!!!
when is ur b-day?

Posted by: Annika Schick on May. 29, 2005

I think someone is confusing secularism for democracy.

Believe it or not, this is a secularist country--despite what Dubya and his theocrat thugs want us (middle of the road-to-liberals) to believe.

Posted by: NuggetMaven on Jun. 2, 2005

Wow, your a moron! You do know that song is a parody of bushies cronies? Dumb dumb

Posted by: chris mankey on Sep. 23, 2005