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The Militant Wing of the Anti-Abortion Movement.

Journalists James Risen, investigative reporter for the Los Angeles Times, and Judy Thomas, reporter for the Kansas City Star. The two have collaborated on the new book "Wrath of Angels: The American Abortion War" (BasicBooks) about the rise of the anti-abortion movement. They'll talk about the movement, and about recent events, like the bombing of the women's clinic in Birmingham, Alabama in which a security guard was killed.

37:38

Other segments from the episode on February 11, 1998

Fresh Air with Terry Gross, February 11, 1998: Interview with James Risen and Judy Thomas; Interview with Jean Anderson.

Transcript

Show: FRESH AIR
Date: FEBRUARY 11, 1998
Time: 12:00
Tran: 021101NP.217
Type: FEATURE
Head: Wrath of Angels
Sect: News; Domestic
Time: 12:06

TERRY GROSS, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

Less than two weeks ago, a Birmingham abortion clinic was bombed, killing a security guard and critically injuring a nurse. Letters taking credit for the attack were signed by someone claiming to be from the "Army of God," a name which has been attached to several other anti-abortion attacks.

My guests are the authors of "Wrath of Angels," a new book investigating the history of the militant wing of the anti-abortion movement. The book also examines one of the lasting, but unintended legacies of Roe. v. Wade: the mobilization of a religious social protest movement that has profoundly affected American politics.

James Risen is an investigative reporter for the Los Angeles Times. Judy Thomas is a reporter for the Kansas City Star. I asked Thomas what she knows about who is behind this latest abortion clinic bombing.

JUDY THOMAS, REPORTER, THE KANSAS CITY STAR, CO-AUTHOR, "WRATH OF ANGELS": Well I think the name Army of God -- it's obviously popped up again in connection with this most recent bombing. It also came up -- the Army of God or someone calling themselves that claimed responsibility for the Atlanta bombing in early 1997.

I've heard some talk among -- some of the investigators are looking right now at whether there is a possible tie to the right-wing extremist groups or maybe a militia group, or even there's talk of "Christian Identity," which is a race-based theology that's popular among right-wing extremists. It's a white supremist theology.

JAMES RISEN, REPORTER, THE L.A. TIMES, CO-AUTHOR, "WRATH OF ANGELS": I think one of the really interesting things that has happened very recently in the last couple of years in the anti-abortion extremist fringe is that as anti-abortion activism died out, and following the violence of the 19 -- early 1990s, you saw some of the extremists move into the militia -- the anti-government militia movement, because I think they felt they had -- they had seen how, they believed, the government had cracked down on anti-abortion activism. And that fed into their anti-government beliefs.

So now some of the people -- so there is some crossover from the anti-abortion extremist wing into the new militia movements.

GROSS: The Army of God has taken responsibility for this, but it seems that it's very unclear whether there really is a group called Army of God or whether freelancers just use that name.

RISEN: Yeah, I think -- I would say that that's an important distinction to make because as we make -- we kind of detail in the book, the history of that name. And I think today a lot of the federal investigators and law enforcement people who are looking at this, and as well as the media, are -- have come -- are new to this issue, and they're not familiar with exactly the history of the Army of God name.

And in fact, it goes back 15 years to the first kidnapping of a doctor in 1982 -- a man named Don Benny Anderson (ph), and the couple other accomplices kidnapped Dr. Zuvalis (ph) in Illinois, and used the name Army of God.

And that name kind of stuck, and other extremists over the years picked up on that name and used it, even though they were not connected to Anderson. They saw it as a convenient device to make it look like there was more of an organized underground than there really was.

And so, it's unclear to me today whether or not that there is any -- any real organized effort behind these bombings, more than just one or two extremists; or whether or not, you know, they're just using the name in the same way that it's been used in the past.

GROSS: Actually, Harry Blackmun, who wrote the Roe v. Wade majority decision, received a threatening letter that was attributed to the Army of God, signed by someone saying Army of God.

THOMAS: Yes, that's correct. Back in October of 1984, Justice Blackmun did receive a death threat. It said something to the effect that "I'm going to watch you die, and then come and laugh at your funeral." And the FBI investigated that letter and never did find out who had written it. But it was signed by someone that said Army of God.

And then in the following February of 1985, a shot was fired through Justice Blackmun's apartment window in Virginia. And they investigated that as well, but never found out if there was any connection to anyone involved in the violence movement.

GROSS: Now, the Army of God has a homepage on the Internet, and there's an Army of God manual, so if the group doesn't really exist, who would be behind the manual and the homepage?

RISEN: Well, it's unclear who wrote it. I mean, it was anonymously written, and it appeared -- it did appear for the first time in Wichita in 1991, when -- and then later some extremists began passing it around. The acknowledgements page of the Army of God manual suggests -- is filled with code words and in -- inside references to Operation Rescue and other anti-abortion groups that suggests that whoever did write it was involved in either the leadership or in some role in the inner circle of some of these activist groups.

But it's unclear who wrote it and how widely disseminated it has been exactly. But it is clear that it has been disseminated in an underground.

GROSS: And the Army of God manual is -- what? -- a how-to manual to destroy abortion clinics?

THOMAS: Yes, it talks about -- the manual that we're talking about was first discovered in the fall of 1993 in Shelley Shannon's (ph) backyard. She's the woman who was convicted of trying to kill the abortion Doctor George Tiller (ph) in Wichita. And she had written a letter to her daughter from jail saying: "whatever you do, don't dig up the backyard" -- which led authorities directly there.

And they found two copies -- two editions of this manual. That's when they first began a grand jury investigation into the clinic violence. But the manual suggests 99 covert ways to stop abortion. And some of those ways include arsons, bombings, the use of buteric (ph) acid inside the clinics and other toxic chemicals, and quite a few types of vandalism.

RISEN: There is some fairly specific technical information in the manual as well, about bomb-making and related vandalism. And so it is rather dangerous, but as you said, it's gone out over the Internet; it's gone out in wide, wide dissemination. So, it's difficult to trace back exactly where it came from. But I do believe that whoever did write it was intimately familiar with the anti-abortion movement and with the -- perhaps with the leadership of Operation rescue.

GROSS: If you're just joining us, my guests are James Risen and Judy Thomas, co-authors of Wrath of Angels: The American Abortion War.

Your book is a history of the contemporary anti-abortion movement. And you say that the movement actually has its roots in the Catholic left, through someone named John O'Keefe (ph), who's considered one of the architects of the movement, although, you know, politically and in terms of his religion, he came from a very different direction.

How did he become an anti-abortion activist?

RISEN: O'Keefe in -- really, the beginning of his transformation into an anti-abortion activist began in 1968 when his brother was killed in Vietnam. His brother Roy O'Keefe was killed in Vietnam during the Tet offensive. And as John -- after the death of his brother, he went off to Harvard and found himself immediately in the middle of the anti-war movement.

And he kind of moved from there kind of in a slow, emotional, and psychological transformation to what was the -- then called the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, which was a -- kind of a Catholic fundamentalist movement that was beginning to attract anti-war and other '60s dissidents. And he became kind of an anti-war -- not exactly an activist, but a deep thinker about the process by which people had come to oppose war and killing.

And eventually that led him to an opposition to abortion, which he saw as another form of killing. And he felt that if you opposed war and killing, you should oppose abortion.

GROSS: Now, you write that when John O'Keefe sought out the anti-abortion movement, he found he didn't identify with the movement. Why not?

RISEN: He was -- he -- he saw that he had come to this movement from the left; from the '60s and from the anti-war movement. And that he saw this movement dominated by Catholic priests and middle-aged and middle-class house -- Catholic housewives and Catholic doctors and other professionals; kind of the way -- that was the old anti-abortion movement.

And so -- and they were totally uninterested in what he wanted to bring to the movement, which was the tactics of the left of the '60s, in order to change the terms of debate on abortion.

GROSS: Like civil disobedience.

RISEN: Civil disobedience -- he wanted to bring the kind of sit-ins and building-occupations that he'd seen at Harvard to this movement. And no one else in the movement, at least not the established leadership and certainly not the Catholic Church wanted anything to do with that.

GROSS: He was hoping to attract other people from the left to his branch of the anti-abortion movement and wasn't able to really find many takers.

RISEN: No.

GROSS: But who did he influence?

RISEN: Well, it was interesting because it was I think one of the great ironies of the movement was this guy who was deeply committed, at least at first, to pacifism, eventually had an impact on conservative -- other conservative Catholics and then ultimately on conservative fundamentalists -- Protestant fundamentalists who by the 1980s picked up on the tactics that he had brought to the movement, of sit-ins, and turned it into a -- kind of a right-wing tactic of -- in order to regain attention and national kind of re-stir up national debate again on abortion through groups like Operation Rescue.

And Randall Terry, who was kind of the most -- one of the most notorious public figures of the 1980s, I think, in the United States -- the founder of Operation Rescue -- really is almost a direct descendant of John O'Keefe, who was this Catholic leftist.

GROSS: Judy Thomas, you write that if -- if John O'Keefe was the father of Rescue, then Michael Bray (ph) was the father of a more violent approach to anti-abortion activism. You say he provided a theological justification for violence. What was his justification?

THOMAS: Well, what Michael Bray and then some of the later people who were supporters and advocates of his philosophy believed in was that if abortion is murder, then you should act like it is murder. Randall Terry said that as well, with Operation Rescue, but -- but Bray and his followers took it a step farther and said -- they created this philosophy called "justifiable homicide" which meant that if you -- one of their analogies was that if you were walking by a burning house and you saw the house on fire and there was a child inside or anyone inside, it would be justifiable to break in and trespass into the house to go save this life.

And that was what their theology was. And they said that because abortion is murder in their minds, and they knew that a doctor was about to commit a murder, then it was justifiable to kill that doctor. They don't call it murder. They call it -- what they're doing -- homicide. They see a distinction between murder, which is killing -- a person who is not innocent, I guess in their eyes -- and homicide which is justified.

Now, he was a follower of a theologian named Francis Schaeffer (ph), as were several of the other leaders of the anti-abortion movement. What is Schaeffer's place in the fundamentalist thinking and in helping to shape the thinking of several leading anti-abortion radicals?

RISEN: Well, I think it's -- Schaeffer, really, is someone that the mainstream press and the mainstream academia have really ignored, and I think that's a shame, because I think he's played a dramatic role behind the scenes in creating what we now call "the religious right" in America.

He was the -- really the intellectual force behind people like Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and other leaders of the 1970s and 1980s in creating a new kind of fundamentalism in which they believed -- they kind of emerged from generations of isolation -- of political isolation.

You've got to remember that in 1925 with the Scopes trial, fundamentalists felt totally humiliated by that experience in their essentially political defeat in that time period. And so they -- after 1925, they went through about 50 years of isolation.

And in the 1970s, Schaeffer began to write very stinging essays and books calling on fundamentalists to take back the culture, as he would say, and to come back out of their church pews and begin to fight what he called "secular humanism."

He believed that fundamentalists had gotten off-track theologically onto something that was onto a -- a fundamentalist theology called "pre-millennial dispensationalism," which is a fancy way of saying that fundamentalists believed that the second coming was at hand. And that if -- that the second coming would be -- that the signs that the second coming was about to happen were that chaos would rule on Earth.

And so, fundamentalists who believed in pre-millennial dispensationalism came to believe that the worse things got on Earth, the better it was, because Jesus was about to come back. And so that kind of led them to a belief -- it kind of was a rationalization for staying out of politics.

And Schaeffer's role really was to destroy pre-millennial dispensationalist thought, and to convince fundamentalists that what they really should do is go back to the early thinkers of the Reformation, like Calvin and Knox, and begin to see that the -- their Reformation roots called on them to actually dominate in the world and take control of government and society.

THOMAS: One of Schaeffer's most powerful works was when he collaborated with former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop in 1979, and they came up with a book called "Whatever Happened to the Human Race?" which was made into a film series. And that stirred lots of people. If you talk to most of the leaders in the anti-abortion movement today, they will tell you that that was one of the things that got them off their seats and out into the streets.

GROSS: If you're just joining us, my guests are Judy Thomas and James Risen, authors of Wrath of Angels: The American Abortion War.

Let's take a short break and then we'll talk some more about the history of the militant wing of the anti-abortion movement.

This is FRESH AIR.

Back with Judy Thomas and James Risen. They're both reporters who have written extensively about abortion. They've collaborated on the new book Wrath of Angels, which is a history of the militant wing of the anti-abortion movement.

Now, you credit someone named Joseph Scheidler (ph) with being a co-founder of the militant wing of the anti-abortion movement, and with splitting that movement in two. How did he split the movement in two?

RISEN: Well, I think the -- one of the things that Scheidler really did was he brought the -- kind of the violent wing of the movement that Michael Bray represented, together with the sit-ins that O'Keefe kind of represented, and ultimately kind of combined that into a new militant wing that was completely separate from the mainstream right-to-lifers who were just making, you know, writing letters to Congress and picketing and kind of not really having much of an effect on the national debate.

He created out of the violence and out of the sit-ins, kind of a new militancy that became the alternative for many people in the movement to the mainstream, National Right-To-Life Committee-type activities.

GROSS: And what year -- what years are his years of activism?

RISEN: Primarily from -- in the mid-1980s were the time when he was most dominant and most powerful. But he began in the 1970s, immediately after Roe versus Wade, first starting in the mainstream through the Illinois Right-to-Life Committee, and then moving down over the years more and more into a radical militancy. He created the first national organization of militants, called PLAN -- Pro-Life Action Network. And that was kind of the precursor to Operation Rescue.

Ultimately, he also was important, because he began to recruit a whole new network of young militants who were frustrated with the inability of the mainstream, like the National Right-To-Life, to have any impact on nationally on the political situation on abortion. And so, he was the one who kind of brought people together, like Randall Terry and other activists around the country, into the loose confederation that ultimately turned into a network of activists.

And that's why finally, many of the pro-choice organizations, the abortion rights organizations, finally filed a RICO lawsuit against Scheidler, arguing that he was a racketeer behind many of the most egregious acts of militancy and harassment against their clinics.

GROSS: But Scheidler finally had a big split with Randall Terry, who was the head of Operation Rescue. What was their split about?

THOMAS: Yes he did. In 1988, when Randall Terry was getting ready to hold the big clinic blockades in New York City, which would be their first major event, Joe Scheidler was -- went out there and he was going to help with the protests. And then the plan was that Operation Rescue would have the big event in New York, and then they were going to have a big event in Chicago as well.

And Joe Scheidler and Randall Terry had a falling out over the tactics that were being discussed prior to the New York City protest. Randall Terry had brought out lots and lots of people and they were planning major arrests and massive blockades.

And Joe Scheidler thought that Randall Terry was going a little bit too far. He told Randy in a meeting prior to the protest that "you're asking little old ladies and housewives and people to come out here and get arrested, and they could spend lots of time in jail, and you're not being upfront with them."

And they ended up in a little argument over the tactics. And after that, Joe Scheidler and Randall Terry both told us that they just never really -- the protest in Chicago never -- never got off the ground and there was a split in the movement between Scheidler and Terry.

GROSS: And it's Terry, really, who became the -- the star of the anti-abortion movement after that.

RISEN: I think what happened, really, was that Scheidler's -- Scheidler's cowardice kind of -- Terry forced him into a corner and forced him -- forced out the fact that he -- that Scheidler was a coward. Scheidler had always asked other people to get arrested and asked -- and called on others to do the militant acts. But he had always tried to avoid getting arrested himself and -- 'cause he was -- he feared jail.

And through Operation Rescue, he saw that he was kind of being backed into a corner; that they were getting even more radical than he had ever tried to be. And so, he eventually lost his place as a leader and had to give up that to Randall Terry.

GROSS: And what do you see as Terry's main contributions to the direction of the anti-abortion movement?

RISEN: Well, I think Terry was really the man who brought out a whole new youth movement in fundamentalists. I think there was a real surge in the growth of fundamentalism -- in the fundamentalist churches in the 1970s and early 1980s, and they were mostly young people who had been converted into -- had born-again experiences and left the mainline denominations and moved into these small charismatic churches.

And they were coming to the fundamentalism by the millions. And Terry was part of that youth movement. And they moved into anti-abortion activism and took over in the mid-1980s through Randall Terry. And it was really -- for Randy Terry and for the fundamentalists, the 1980s were like the 1960s for other baby boomers. It was a period of radicalization and militancy, and kind of a burning desire to take to the streets and change politics in a very radical way.

GROSS: James Risen and Judy Thomas are the authors of Wrath of Angels: The American Abortion War. They'll be back in the second half of the show.

I'm Terry Gross and this is FRESH AIR.

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

Back with journalists Judy Thomas and James Risen, authors of Wrath of Angels, a new book investigating the rise of the militant wing of the anti-abortion movement.

It also examines how anti-abortion activists mobilized a religious social protest movement that profoundly affected American politics. Risen is an investigative reporter for the Los Angeles Times. Judy Thomas writes for the Kansas City Star.

Judy, you covered what you've described as Operation Rescue's "last stand," and that was in Wichita in the early '90s?

THOMAS: Right -- 1991.

GROSS: What -- what -- why do you describe that as their last stand?

THOMAS: Well what happened at -- what had happened just prior to Wichita was that Operation Rescue had had a major split in the group, which stemmed from Randall Terry's arrest during the Democratic National Convention in 1988.

Randall Terry had been sentenced to six months in prison because he refused to pay a $1,000 fine, which -- and after a few -- three months, he was ready to get out. He couldn't -- he couldn't stand it anymore. Things were getting bad and things were going bad at home. And he decided he wanted to get out.

And his group of inside -- his inside group of leaders took a vote, and they were split over whether Randy should get out or not. Some of them saw that as -- the fact that he would be -- he would look like a wimp if he got out and he would be giving into the system.

So anyway, right -- shortly after that, there was an attempted coup in the movement by a couple of his leaders. Randall Terry did get out of jail. He said an anonymous donor paid his fine. And then, he ended up firing most of his leadership.

So that's when Wichita began. He -- Randall Terry appointed a new leader named Keith Tusee (ph), and then Keith was the one who decided they would go to Wichita. And most of the other leaders in the movement thought he was crazy at the time. They said that's ridiculous -- who's -- nobody even knows how to spell it, let alone where it is.

But Keith said that God had spoken to him and told him to go there. And so they did come to Wichita in July of 1991, and it was -- just turned into a major -- what we called a "fundamentalist Woodstock." It was just incredible -- forty-six days of protest, beginning at six in the morning; one day I think there were 592 arrests in a 24-hour period. People were out at the clinic gates just arm in arm and laying down in front of cars.

We saw a lot of tactics like children coming out and getting in front of the cars. And it made national attention -- all the national media were there covering the event.

And that -- at that time, what people didn't know was that the movement had basically split up, but for Wichita everyone came back, even Randall Terry himself came back and they all got together for that, what we call "one last stand."

GROSS: What do you think was the ultimate impact of Wichita on the movement?

THOMAS: Well, I think one of the things Wichita did was got people politically motivated. Before that, the protests were going on across the country for several years. You didn't see a lot of fundamentalists getting involved in politics. What we saw in Wichita, and I didn't realize what was going on at the time, at their nightly rallies, which would draw 700 to 1,000 people, they would have tables at the back of the room and people would be signing up -- people to run for precinct committee positions at the local level; to run for office in the Republican Party.

And so what happened a few months later after Wichita, I was at one of the Republican county meetings in Wichita, Kansas and they took a vote and the people who had been out at the protest ran for office, and no one else was paying attention, and they took over the Republican Party in Sedgwick (ph) County in Wichita.

RISEN: That was one of the first real examples of the direct connection between Operation Rescue and the new kind of Christian Coalition-type Republican Party involvement.

GROSS: What happened to Randall Terry? What's he doing now?

RISEN: Well, he's running for Congress in upstate New York in his hometown of Binghamton, New York, as a Republican. And he's had a talk show -- radio talk show for the last couple years in Binghamton, and now he's decided to get into politics. And he's raising money all over the country, trying to win the Republican nomination.

GROSS: Who would you say are the leaders of the anti-abortion movement now?

RISEN: Well I think the closest thing that we have to the extremist wing or the activist wing left is -- are people like Michael Bray, who is now an outspoken advocate for killing and for bombing clinics. Most of -- you know, Operation Rescue itself essentially collapsed after the killings of the early 1990s, and which led to the FACE legislation by Congress to make it a federal crime to blockade clinics.

THOMAS: Operation Rescue still does exist in name. It's called Operation Rescue National, and the leader is a man named Flip Benham (ph), who's a fundamentalist minister in Dallas. But -- you'll see them once in a while. They'll have a clinic -- very seldom will they have a clinic protest or blockade anymore.

But what they're doing now is picketing places like Disney World -- I don't know -- you might have heard something about that. Or they'll -- they'll go to high schools and hold up their signs of aborted fetuses. And they're doing more educational-type activities instead, because they've pretty much shied away from the blockades since the FACE legislation that was passed in '94.

RISEN: They really have no -- no real following left, and -- because the violence of -- you know, you had shootings of doctors throughout the early 1990s, really kind of led to the collapse of any political support within the fundamentalist community for their kind of activity.

And most of the fundamentalists who had followed Operation Rescue earlier moved off into other groups like -- they went back into more mainstream politics through groups like the Christian Coalition.

And so now what you -- what is left of that is really only the extremist fringe, or the mainstream groups like National Right-To-Life Committee, which really never was out in the streets protesting much to begin with.

GROSS: You say that the militant wing of the anti-abortion movement has kind of fragmented. Its power has dissipated. Yet, I think fear still remains high among doctors who perform abortions, that they still may be the target of violence. I think there are still a lot of people who are afraid to perform abortions or afraid to even study how to perform abortions. What are your thoughts on that?

RISEN: Well I think you have to make a distinction between an anti-abortion activist movement that as a -- that is politically powerful, or is politically influential, like in -- Operation Rescue was at the peak of its power in the late 1980s, and a fringe group that commits criminal acts who can scare individual doctors or kill individual doctors.

That later -- the criminal fringe may have -- they may be violent and may commit violent acts, but they don't have the political power or influence to change the law, or to influence the national debate the way Operation Rescue did in the 1980s.

So, I think that's the distinction we were trying to make -- is that you may still have some violent acts, but you don't have the movement -- an organized national movement anymore that can influence the national debate.

THOMAS: I think people are -- the violent acts -- I think what Jim and I had concluded -- what we concluded in the book was that the anti-abortion activist branch, the clinic blockades are for the most part over, But that the violent fringe is probably not.

And even last year, in 1997, there were 13 clinic bombings and arsons across the country, and then we've seen what just happened recently in Alabama. So obviously that -- that part of the movement is not -- not done.

GROSS: Judy, in your coverage of the anti-abortion movement in Wichita, you were interviewing Shelley Shannon when she was in prison charged with killing a doctor in Wichita who performed abortions. And she confessed to you during one of your interviews with her. And then your notes were subpoenaed, I think. Did you go to jail for refusing to give your notes?

THOMAS: Well, I came close, but actually she wasn't charged with killing a doctor. She was charged with attempted murder. He didn't die -- Dr. George Tiller.

Yes, I -- I did get some interviews with Shelley Shannon from jail. I went into the jail a couple of times, and then she called me several times on the phone and we talked for several hours. And Shelley Shannon confessed to me prior to her trial about how she had come to Wichita and planned to shoot Dr. Tiller and how she committed the act.

And after the story ran, I was subpoenaed. My notes and tapes and everything involving the case were subpoenaed by the prosecution. And I did go to court. I was found in contempt because I -- I refused to turn over all the notes and tapes.

And I had 10 days to turn everything over, and on the eighth day, the newspaper and my editors decided that they would give the -- the information to the judge who was handling the case and let him view it. And then make a decision as to whether or not to turn it over.

And the judge decided that there wasn't any new or crucial information in there that hadn't been in the articles I wrote, and turned it back over to us.

GROSS: What was it like for you when you were talking to Shelley Shannon and she confessed? Would you recall that moment for us?

THOMAS: Oh, I definitely recall the moment. It was kind of interesting. I had -- I had gone to interview her twice in the jail, but I wasn't allowed to take any notes in the jail with me at the time. And so I kept -- I tried to get her to call me at home so I could -- could interview her.

And then she finally did call me at home, and it was on October 30th -- I remember it clearly because we were having a Halloween party at our house and I was decorating the house and everything. And the phone rang, and my husband hollered and he said: "it's a collect call from Shelley Shannon. Do you want to take it?"

Of course, I dropped everything and ran to the phone. And we talked for quite a while. And it was kind of interesting. At first, her -- her lawyer had been -- had denied any media interviews and when I went to the jail I went on the -- the visitation day and they didn't realize that I was a reporter. And so no one knew that I had been talking to her.

And when she -- I asked her what she wanted to talk about when she called me, and she said: "oh, pretty much whatever you want to know." And so I said: "well, could you tell me how you came to Wichita and how you ended up at the clinic?" And she just went through the details of everything about the shooting. And I was -- I was pretty shocked at how open she was about it.

GROSS: Why do you think she was so open?

THOMAS: I think -- I think one of the reasons was she was proud of what she had done, and I think she wanted to get the word out. Another thing that's interesting is she had kept diaries throughout -- ever since 1992 that we know of. And in her diary, she talks about some of the things she did. She kept detailed notes and records of -- of her clinic bombings that later came to light.

And she sent these out to other people -- other supporters as well. And then she buried all of this stuff in her backyard, like I was saying earlier, and that's -- that's how all of this stuff came to light and this investigation formed after they dug up her yard because there was so much information there, it was like a treasure trove to the investigators who were working on the case.

GROSS: Did you try to stay emotionally neutral and non-judgmental when she confessed to you?

THOMAS: Oh, definitely. I -- that's -- in covering this issue for so many years, I've just had to be that way or I don't think I would have ever had any sources who would keep talking to me on the issue, especially in Wichita. In 1991, it was such a volatile time and we were out there at the clinics day after day and for hours at a time.

And I would have people come up and even count the lines in my stories that I -- the lines that I would have from the pro-life side and the pro-choice side just to make sure that I was being objective. And if you had a couple more lines, you would -- you would hear about it. It was that -- it was that volatile out there.

GROSS: Judy, I just had a memory flash. I know I moderated a panel discussion that you participated in a few years ago. And I just remembered you saying that while you were covering abortion, you didn't even talk to your husband about what your stand was on the abortion issue, 'cause that's how neutral you wanted to remain. Have you spoken to your husband about it yet? Or are you still maintaining that -- that staunch neutrality?

THOMAS: Well, we -- we finally ended up talking about it. But it is kind of funny because since -- I did -- I didn't want anyone to know my position and I'm not saying I don't have one. But I've kept it quiet. I don't think anyone -- any of my friends could tell you what -- that they know what it is either.

But -- yeah, and my husband and I -- I just told him back then "I don't even want you to know because people are going to ask you." And even since the book has come out, he's had people ask him about the position. I don't know why that's so important, but people really want to know that.

GROSS: Well, I want to thank you both very much for talking with us.

RISEN: Oh, thank you very much.

THOMAS: Thank you.

GROSS: Judy Thomas and James Risen are the authors of Wrath of Angels: The American Abortion War.

Coming up, tuna noodle casserole and some of the other most popular recipes of the 20th century.

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Dateline: Terry Gross, Philadelphia
Guest: James Risen; Judy Thomas
High: Journalists James Risen, investigative reporter for the Los Angeles Times, and Judy Thomas, reporter for the Kansas City Star. The two have collaborated on the new book "Wrath of Angels: The American Abortion War" about the rise of the anti-abortion movement. They'll talk about the movement, and about recent events, like the bombing of the women's clinic in Birmingham, Alabama in which a security guard was killed.
Spec: Crime; Human Rights; Abortion; Terrorism; Cities; Birmingham; Books; Authors; Wrath of Angels
Please note, this is not the final feed of record
Copy: Content and programming copyright 1998 WHYY, Inc. All rights reserved. Transcribed by FDCH, Inc. under license from WHYY, Inc. Formatting copyright 1998 FDCH, Inc. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to WHYY, Inc. This transcript may not be reproduced in whole or in part without prior written permission.
End-Story: Wrath of Angels
Show: FRESH AIR
Date: FEBRUARY 11, 1998
Time: 12:00
Tran: 021102NP.217
Type: FEATURE
Head: The American Century Cookbook
Sect: News; Domestic
Time: 12:30

TERRY GROSS, HOST: Tuna noodle casserole, jello salad, American chop suey, beef stroganoff, peanut butter cookies, and whipped cream cake are some of the dishes that have made it into a new collection of the most popular recipes of 20th century American cuisine.

The book is called "The American Century Cookbook." My guest is the author, Jean Anderson. She's the author of more than 20 cookbooks. She started her career testing recipes for the Ladies Home Journal.

She says she wrote this new book to track the recipes, foods, food trends, food people, appliances, and gadgets that have had an impact on 20th century American life.

JEAN ANDERSON, FOOD WRITER, AUTHOR, "THE AMERICAN CENTURY COOKBOOK": Well, we're approaching the year 2000, and first of all, I think more happened in the 20th century in the way of cooking and food than in all the other centuries put together. I mean, look -- look at the woman of 1900. She was cooking on a wood stove. She was using primarily fresh foods, or foods that she had put down herself.

But look at everything that's happened. I mean, all the electric gadgets -- electric refrigerators, ranges, frozen foods, freeze-dried foods -- on and on and on. It's astonishing. I mean, food processors, microwave ovens. I'd love to drop Fannie Farmer into a supermarket today or into a, you know, modern kitchen today and see what she -- what her reaction would be. I think that she would probably faint dead away at the changes that she would see.

GROSS: You point out, too, that it's in the 20th century that American cuisine becomes an international cuisine as more and more immigrants come here and the rest of the culture picks up on their foods.

ANDERSON: Absolutely. And I think not only the immigrants coming in, but the fact that we are traveling far and wide. I think the advent of jet travel really is what put the world within reach. And certainly those of us who've traveled in Europe and Asia and Africa, South America -- wherever -- we ate those dishes. We loved them. We came home and we tried to duplicate them.

That, of course, plus the influx of immigrants, most recently from the Asian countries. I mean, just witness what's happened with Thai cooking. That is now the really hot number.

GROSS: Now in the early '60s when you were testing recipes for Ladies Home Journal, what were the popular foods of the time? What were some of the recipes that you were doing?

ANDERSON: Casseroles. Prepared foods were enormously popular, of course. Many of the recipes were advertiser-driven or product-driven. We didn't admit to that, and of course we would never use a brand name in a recipe. But we did use what were known as "generics" -- hot liquid red pepper seasoning, for example, instead of tabasco sauce. All of these products had generic names that were known to the readers and this is what we would do.

But many, many of the recipes certainly were product-driven, and I do remember representatives of food companies coming through our kitchens to introduce a new product and give us sample recipes that they had developed. We would always take their recipes or their products and develop our own.

GROSS: Give me an example of a casserole that was product-driven.

ANDERSON: Well, Campbell's -- Campbell's soup tuna noodle casserole is the great classic; the classic green bean bake is another one. These were using the cream of mushroom soup, and these came out, I believe, in the '30s, as indeed did the cream of mushroom soup. And that was the perfect binder.

You no longer had to make a white sauce to bind all of these ingredients together. Just open a can, stir everything up, top it with crumbs or crackers -- bread or cracker crumbs -- and shove it in the oven. That's all you had to do.

GROSS: So did the Campbell's Soup people come up with the idea of tuna noodle casserole?

ANDERSON: I think they did, absolutely. Yes, I'm sure that's one of their recipes. In fact, they have subsequently done collections of pamphlets of their classic favorite recipes and that indeed is one of them, along with the green bean bake.

GROSS: Another interesting thing you point out in your book about tuna noodle casserole is that before the 20th century, you couldn't get fresh tuna in the United States. When did canned tuna come here?

ANDERSON: That was 1903 that tuna was first put into cans. And I -- I would say one thing. I think probably people living in the New York area, or perhaps California, San Francisco or Los Angeles, probably could in very good fish markets find fresh tuna. But certainly mass America could not. And once tuna was put into cans, we not only had tuna salad and sandwich spreads, but then as I said, in the '30s, Campbell's Soup came up with this wonderful tuna noodle casserole which to this day remains a great favorite.

GROSS: Your book is filled with a lot of history about what foods or recipes come into being in certain years, 1934 struck me as an interesting year. It's the year MSG is manufactured; Ritz crackers are created; Campbell's adds chicken noodle and cream of mushroom soup to its repertoire. It sounds like an interesting year.

ANDERSON: And it was also Depression.

GROSS: Yeah, well what impact did the Depression have on American food?

ANDERSON: Well I think certainly we learned how to stretch meat or to do without altogether. I think it was the rise of the casserole because what better way to use up odds and ends that were in the refrigerator. I think people were using more macaroni and cheese. They were doing more meat loaves. I think they were just learning, really and truly, to be frugal and to use up everything -- every scrap of food that they had.

And the Ritz cracker story I think is a very interesting one because it -- they came up with this very rich, very buttery cracker in the depths of the Depression. And it was so rich, the only name that they could give it was "Ritz." And it took off. It just was an immediate bestseller. I think in those days it was about 19 cents a box or something.

But it just took off. It was an immediate bestseller. And they even came up with this mock apple pie, which substitutes Ritz crackers for real apples, which to this day -- it's still, the Nabisco people tell me, is still one of their most-requested recipes.

GROSS: Hmm.

ANDERSON: And it does taste like apple pie, believe it or not.

GROSS: Really.

ANDERSON: Yeah.

GROSS: So Ritz crackers were -- crackers I guess were a cheap food to eat.

ANDERSON: Well, at 17 or 19 cents a box in those days, yes -- I think that probably would be considered pretty cheap. And I think they were probably enormously satisfying, because they were so rich.

GROSS: If you're just joining us, my guest is Jean Anderson. She's the author of many cookbooks and her latest takes a look at the recipes of the 20th century. It's called American Century Cookbook: The Most Popular Recipes of the 20th Century. And there's a lot of food history in the book and some food nostalgia as well.

Jean, let's take a short break and then we'll talk some more.

ANDERSON: OK.

GROSS: This is FRESH AIR.

Back with cookbook author Jean Anderson. Her new book is called The American Century Cookbook: The Most Popular Recipes of the 20th Century.

When I was growing up, I think the balance of, like, meat and vegetables was really different than it is now. Like, if you were having like a meat dinner, then the ideal I think was a big piece of meat and like a little bit of vegetables. Whereas now, I think you're more likely to get a small piece of meat or a small piece of fish, and a more generous portion of vegetables and potatoes. Do you think -- do you think that's right?

ANDERSON: Absolutely right. Yeah, and I certainly think the vegetarian movement of the '60s and '70s had a lot to do with it, and in fact now the health people are telling us that our portions of meat should really be no more than three ounces per serving. In the old days, it was four or five, and of course there were the days we would go out to a steakhouse and have a steak that weighed a pound.

But definitely yes -- we are eating -- and we're using, I think, meat really as a seasoner, almost, in many of our recipes, rather than as the main ingredient. Soups for example, or certain kinds of stews -- I think that meats are really almost just there as a flavoring.

GROSS: You say that the 20th century could be called the century of the salad. What were salads like before the 20th century?

ANDERSON: I think they were basically repositories for leftovers. I think that they were -- I mean, there would be meat salads or cooked vegetable salads that basically would just be dressed with oil and vinegar. But -- and we did have tomato aspic because we did have gelatin. These would be great sheets of gelatin that you would have to soak for hours before you could use the gelatin.

The granulated gelatin -- the plain gelatin -- came in the 1890s, and then jello -- the flavored gelatins -- were, I think it was about 1898 or -- pardon me -- '99. And the man who invented or developed this was so discouraged that he tried to sell out for $35 in about 1899. And look what's happened? He did hang on, and by 1906, he was grossing more than $1 million a year on his flavored gelatins. It's an amazing story.

But I think the rise of gelatin certainly had an enormous effect on salads, and in fact "perfection" salad, which was a contest winner in 1905, kicked off this whole movement of the molded salad. If you look in the community cookbook in the salad chapter, they're virtually all congealed or molded salads.

GROSS: When does fresh salad -- just a basic fresh salad -- lots of lettuce, tomato, cucumber -- start becoming popular?

ANDERSON: I think it really probably was certainly after World War II, and I would say probably even in the '60s. There were salads before that that were popular -- Green Goddess salad which dates to the '20s; Caesar salad which dates to the '20s; Cobb salad which dates to the '30s. These were all green salads. But I think the real movement began probably with the counterculture because they were growing different varieties of lettuce.

For the first time, you could get things other than iceberg. You could get romaine. You could get some of the bitter greens. And then of course we began to get radicchio (ph) and we got treviso (ph) and mezuna (ph) and all of these boutique lettuces. And I think it really started in the '60s and then just mushroomed.

GROSS: You have a little history of the Caesar salad, and I was shocked to find that it originates in Mexico. I know I've been at Italian restaurants where they tell me about how Caesar salads are authentically made in Italy.

LAUGHTER

ANDERSON: Well, they may be authentically made in Italy, but they didn't come from Italy. This is a salad that dates to the 1920s during prohibition. And the Hollywood crowd would go south of the border to Tijuana to party, because they could drink. And there was a restaurant in Tijuana called "Caesar's." It was owned by a man called Caesar Cardini (ph).

And one Fourth of July weekend, a group came down from Hollywood, and he really didn't have anything to serve. And so, he went into the cooler and looked at what he had, and he had some romaine lettuce and I think some eggs and oil and vinegar and some parmesan cheese. And he decided -- give the show people a show and they'll love it.

So he came out, and with great ceremony he tossed the salad together and he told them that they should eat it with their hands. And I remember Julia Child saying that when she was young, she went down to Caesar's in Tijuana and ate the real Caesar salad with her hands.

But the Hollywood contingent after that weekend came back to Hollywood raving about this green salad, and then of course the restaurants in Hollywood found out what the recipe was and began serving it. I think it -- most people think it's a California salad and in a way I guess it is, because Tijuana's just across the border and it was the California contingent that discovered it and brought it back to California.

GROSS: Well what would you say are in the top five most popular recipes of the 20th century?

ANDERSON: Well I think certainly Caesar salad. I would say that the German chocolate cake; toll house -- or chocolate chip cookies; probably vichyssoise (ph), which is not French -- that's an American invention. Let's see here -- well I -- hamburgers all the way; and hot dogs all the way, certainly; pizza, certainly. I mean, that is an Italian recipe, but it's one that we've made out own. I think people from Naples would not recognize the pizzas that we produce in this country.

But, those certainly come to mind immediately as standouts.

GROSS: Well Jean Anderson, I want to thank you very much for talking with us.

ANDERSON: Thank you. I've enjoyed it.

GROSS: Jean Anderson is the author of The American Century Cookbook: The Most Popular Recipes of the 20th Century.

I'm Terry Gross.

Dateline: Terry Gross, Philadelphia
Guest: Jean Anderson
High: Food writer Jean Anderson. She writes regularly for the magazines Gourmet, Food & Wine, Family Circle, and Bon Appetit. She's also written over 20 cookbooks. Her latest is "The American Century Cookbook: The Most Popular Recipes of the Twentieth Century." The book includes such classic recipes as Green Bean Casserole, Chicken Divan, and Stroganoff Casserole.
Spec: Food; Cooking; Books; Authors; The American Century Cookbook
Please note, this is not the final feed of record
Copy: Content and programming copyright 1998 WHYY, Inc. All rights reserved. Transcribed by FDCH, Inc. under license from WHYY, Inc. Formatting copyright 1998 FDCH, Inc. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to WHYY, Inc. This transcript may not be reproduced in whole or in part without prior written permission.
End-Story: The American Century Cookbook
Transcripts are created on a rush deadline, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of Fresh Air interviews and reviews are the audio recordings of each segment.

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