Friday, March 13, 2009

French chef plans foie gras museum in his Chicago bistrot

When Didier Durand led a campaign to overturn a ban on foie gras in Chicago, blood was spattered onto his restaurant windows, his patio was vandalised and he received threats. While American animal-rights activists denounced him as a symbol of French cruelty, however, he won admiration in his native Dordogne for his steadfast defence of the local speciality. Now Mr Durand is about to become a cult figure in the countryside of southwestern France after announcing plans to open a new front in the battle over Gallic gastronomy with what he calls a foie gras museum at his bistrot in Illinois.

He said: "I'm expecting more protests. I think I'll have to install surveillance cameras this time." Mr Durand, 48, who grew up on a farm near Bergerac watching his mother produce the fatty duck livers seen by the French as one of the world's great delicacies, says he is on a mission to educate Americans about la cuisine Francaise. "Foie gras has been produced for 5,000 years. It was the Egyptians who started it and there is nothing bad about it whatsoever," he told The Times. Mr Durand insists the force-feeding of ducks and geese to fatten their livers, a practice described as abhorrent by opponents, is inoffensive. "Ducks are built to be force-fed the same way that horses are built to be ridden," he said. To prove his point, he will trace the history of foie gras with pictures and documents on the wall of a room in his restaurant, Cyrano's Bistrot.

Among the exhibits will be photographs of elderly French peasant women stuffing corn down the throats of ducks and geese, and a collection of labels from Gallic producers. "I'd like to be able to move the museum into a separate building at some point, but for now it's going to have to be in the restaurant," he said. His hope is that diners will be inspired to try some of his dishes, such as sauteed foie gras accompanied by crushed potatoes with fines herbes, brioche and peaches and shiitakes with rhubarb glaze; or poached foie gras au torchon with Guerande salt and figs.

In the Dordogne, there could be no more noble cause. Although the French export only about 20 tonnes of foie gras a year to the United States out of a total production of 21,000 tonnes, criticism of the delicacy is seen as an affront to the national identity. Mr Durand, who moved to the US in 1986 and opened his bistrot a decade later, is being hailed as a saviour. "It will take more than a bit of haemoglobin on the front of his restaurant to stop this convinced gastronome," said Sud Ouest, the local daily.

In Chicago, however, his initiative could re-ignite controversy. "It's inappropriate that this horribly abusive industry which rams pipes down animals' throats should have a museum," a spokesman for Peta, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said. "This will soon be consigned to the dustbin of history along with other human atrocities."

When the city outlawed the sale of foie gras in 2006 in the name of animal welfare, Mr Durand campaigned against the ban and continued to serve foie gras in defiance of the law. "I got round the law by charging people for the salad and telling them the foie gras was free," he said. "It is a question of freedom of choice."

As a result, his restaurant was vandalised and he received letters threatening to "stuff him" in the same way that ducks and geese are stuffed with food.

Mr Durand was triumphant when the ban was lifted last summer, and suggested that June 11, when the food re-appeared on Chicago menus, should become national foie gras day in the United States. "More people are ordering it now than ever before," he said. "The more they want to ban it, the more people want to eat it." Now he is turning his attention to California, where Arnold Schwarzenegger, the state's Governor, plans to prohibit foie gras in 2012. "They want us to eat grass," Mr Durand said. "But we will not give up. The fight continues."

SOURCE Is this another war on `Jewish science'?

The elite protest against today's Israel Day of Science in London is built on double standards and a deep disdain for academic freedom.

At the London Science Museum today, school students will be able to attend workshops on everything from solar energy to water desalination. That these science sessions will be run by experts in their fields, such as a physicist who worked on the Large Hadron Collider or a leading nanotechnology researcher, will be of immense value to the students, many of whom will be taking science A-levels this summer.

There is a problem, however. This `Israel Day of Science' is organised by the Zionist Federation and several Israeli universities, a fact of sufficient power to prompt a 400-strong protest organised by the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP), the same group which has consistently called for a ban to be imposed on Israeli academics. In an open letter to the Guardian, the protest organisers write: `The event is promoted by the Zionist Federation and is designed to showcase the scientific achievements of seven Israeli universities. But all of these are complicit in the Israeli occupation and in the policies and weaponry so recently deployed to such disastrous effect in Gaza. The event is being billed as a celebration of science. In fact it is an attempted celebration of Israel.' (1)

A celebration of Israel? While there's little doubt that the Israel Day of Science pays tribute to the achievements of scientists working in Israel, the content of the day is, as far as I can tell (and the title's a clue here), science. Subjects include cancer research, stem cells, biochemistry and water desalination. There are no sessions on 1948, Gaza or the West Bank. While the organisers of the day do seem to be showing off the achievements of scientists employed in Israel, that is considerably different to boasting about Israel the nation, or celebrating the `occupation of Palestine'.

Sadly, making a distinction between science and the nationality, let alone the opinions, of its practitioners seems to be beyond those calling for the Science Museum to expel the Israeli scientists in their midst. In the words of the frontpage splash in the Independent on Tuesday, `400 academics, a Nobel laureate and the former chair of the Science Select Committee called on the museum to cancel workshops due to be held this week that promote Israeli scientific achievements to schoolchildren' (2). Perhaps it is just unfortunate wording, but what on earth are `Israeli scientific achievements'? Does cancer research have national characteristics? Is physics in Tel Aviv different to physics at Imperial (London)?

Analogies with Nazi-era Germany are too easily and too carelessly flung around these days, both to the detriment of understanding events in the present and the horrors of the past. The protest against the Israel Day of Science bears no relation to Nazism, as some of the shrill defenders of Israel have claimed. And yet, insofar as the protesters are conflating scientific achievement with the national background of the scientists involved, the parallels with the wartime German persecution of the `Jewish Physics' of Albert Einstein or the `Jewish Science' of Freud are revealing: both then and now, in vastly different ways, the life and findings of the mind are being shot down by political expedience.

Curtailing the freedom of those with whom one disagrees is damaging enough to the exchange of ideas and the development of human knowledge. But to try to prevent people from speaking or from educating sixth-form students - not because one is outraged by what they have to say about desalinating water or making solar panels, but rather by their nationality - is a common disgrace.

There is great hypocrisy in the condemnation of the Israel Day of Science. Labour MP Ian Gibson objects to the Day on the basis that `science is not neutral': `It is part of the political process, and very much so in that part of the world.' (3) He is right: science is not `neutral'. It has meaning as part of a universal human desire to understand the world. It is pursued, not for its own sake, but for us; not neutrally, but contextually, humanly.

But Gibson, of course, is saying something more. He is saying that in Israel, science is corrupted by politics, tainted by the demands (and funding) of the Israeli nation state. One wonders where he thinks certain British university departments get their funding from, if not from his own ruling Labour government, the destroyer of Afghanistan and Iraq. And does the granting of honorary degrees to Bill Clinton or Tony Blair infect certain university departments with the Clinton/Blair virus of fact-defying, war-mongering zeal? By the criterion of BRICUP's accusation of `complicity', it would be a struggle to find any university in the world not guilty by state association. There are extraordinary double standards at play here.

What has been utterly buried by the impassioned rhetoric and craven moralising directed at the Israel Day of Science is the principle of freedom that ought to be enshrined in the academy - that is, the freedom to pursue knowledge without impediment, to question orthodoxies, to engage in the free exchange of ideas. Such open pursuit of knowledge is a bastion of freedom of speech itself. But the righteousness of the anti-Israel cause is so overpowering that it seems this freedom is to be withheld from those deemed `unacceptable' or `tainted'. If such freedom is limited in this way, if the freedom to pursue one's research or to engage with students is curtailed, then academic freedom as a whole is compromised. The liberty to explore and articulate ideas is not negotiable, a license to be dispensed or withheld depending on the academic's background; it must be universal. This week's protest against the Israel Day of Science is built on prejudice, illiberalism and anti-intellectualism.


State of Connecticut is trying to bring the Catholic church under its control

The Communist Chinese model seems to be their guide. But China is not restricted by a First Amendment

As I wrote in the comments section here:
I have no doubt that there will be a "schism" within the next few decades that will find an "American Catholic Church" formed (Cardinal Mahoney will probably be its titular head) which will look quite a lot like the Church of England or the Anglican church - rites, rituals, "sacraments" etc, and it will even have the imprimatur of the government insofar as it may - and it will be a church that the majority flock to; it will be seen by many as the "victory" over that stuffy old, stubborn Church of Rome. People will go on Oprah and say "I always loved God but I never felt accepted, but this enlightened American Catholic Church tells me what I need to hear, that God loves me and that divorce, abortion and all that stuff doesn't matter as long as I am a good person, and I AM a good person, Oprah, I AM, and now I am accepted, and (weep, weep) I feel like God finally makes sense in the world!"

"That's right," Oprah will declare, "there is no sin, except the sinfulness of not loving the self! God doesn't make junk!"

Applause, applause. The only ideal that matters is the one that makes you happy and doesn't challenge the status quo. Quite different from what Archbishop Romero or Archbishop Dolan are saying here, though.

And the Church of Rome will probably be sued into seeming non-existance, too, for one political point after another. The church will be declared in extremis. And that is when the remnant will kick in.
The Remnant is much deeper than any movement, and it will surface on its own - full of surprising and surprised people - in due time, when it must, and that may be soon, but neither you nor I know the day or hour. The thing about remnants is that they identify themselves after a carpet has been laid or a robe has been cut, not before. Remnants do not stop a construct from happening.they survive it.
There will always be a remnant. The Roman church will become very much smaller, I think. I'm not afraid of it. In America, of course, the idea of "bigness" is conveyed as superior. But then we've all always known that `bigger" is not especially "better."
If you are not up on the details, of a story Deacon Greg writes "landed like a grenade, yesterday", here it is, in a nutshell:
According to the First Amendment and the Establishment Clause, the government has no business dictating to religious organizations how they should structure themselves. In Connecticut, though, some lawmakers seem to have skipped over the Constitution. A new bill will require Catholic parishes and dioceses - and only Catholics - to organize their parish leadership in a way that pleases the Connecticut legislature; The [Democrats] Lawlor-and-McDonald-controlled Judiciary Committee has introduced Raised Bill 1098, a bill aimed specifically at the Catholic Church, which would remove the authority of the bishop and pastor over individual parishes and put a board of laymen in their place. .Lest you think this is a joke, American Papist has Lawlor's response to criticism. He admits that the state legislature wants to dictate the structure of this volunteer organization.
You can read the whole bill, here. It is, as Ed Morrissey correctly says,
"a piece of work.In other words, bishops would no longer have power over the actions of the parishes. That's the Connecticut legislature's vision of Roman Catholicism, but in America, government doesn't get to structure religious organizations to suit itself. That, in fact, is a form of fascism that we routinely decry in other countries. The State Department objects to China's insistence on picking Catholic bishops itself to suit their political oppression of religion, and Lawlor's motion would find a welcome in Beijing as another means to the same end: state control of Catholicism.
Indeed. "You cannot tell a church how to govern itself," said Marc D. Stern, general counsel for the American Jewish Congress in New York, in this report. "The church is entitled to govern itself any which way it wants." Archbishop Charles Chaput, of Denver, wastes no time in speaking out:
Addressing the perception that outsiders have of the Church as "a monolith," Archbishop Chaput said that "the opposite is true." "Her real structure is much closer to a confederation of families. Each diocese or `local Church' is accountable to the Holy See and in relation to one another within the Catholic faith," the archbishop explained.

"Bigoted legislators," Chaput said in reference to Sen. McDonald and Rep. Lawlor, "including some who claim to be nominally or formerly `Catholic,' are thankfully uncommon. Most lawmakers, whatever their convictions, sincerely seek to serve the common good.

"But prejudice against the Catholic Church has a long pedigree in the United States. And rarely has belligerence toward the Church been so perfectly and nakedly captured as in Connecticut's pending Senate Bill 1098, which, in the words of Hartford's Archbishop Henry Mansell, `directly attacks the Roman Catholic Church and our Faith.'"

"In effect, SB 1098 would give the state of Connecticut the power to forcibly reorganize the internal civil life of the Catholic community. This is bad public policy in every sense: imprudent; unjust; dismissive of First Amendment concerns, and contemptuous of the right of the Catholic Church to be who she is as a public entity," the archbishop criticized.
My email has been exploding with horrified reactions - and not just from Catholics. Most people of faith understand that this is an unconstitutional and dangerous incursion by a state, and one that ought to be resisted with all our might, and a precedent that could potentially bring all religions under the control of the government. Morrissey is quite right to make the comparison to China, where the "state-approved" Catholic church bows to the government, while the Roman Catholic Church runs largely underground, where the Terrible, Traumatic, and Intolerable Name of Jesus Christ may still be uttered and cause knees to bend.

Where is Richard John Neuhaus when you need him? Ah, well.he's in heaven, where he can pray for us before the Throne, along with his good pal (and the great American Patriot) Cardinal John O' Connor.

That's certainly heartening. But I think it's time to face the fact that the notions of "tolerance" and "liberty" in America are about to be wildly re-interpreted, and not in some nebulous distance - not ten years or five years from now - but this very day - or, tomorrow, as it turns out. Just as we are watching the president - who thinks the US constitution is "fundamentally flawed" - make noises that "reproductive freedom" has primacy over "religious freedom" (the latter is explicitly mentioned in the constitution and the former is not), we're going see the state try to penetrate the day-to-day management of the churches. What they cannot subvert through legislation, they will see destroyed, eventually, by lawsuits and punitive damages on a wide range of issues (gay marriage, re-opened statutes of limitations (for Catholics only, not for public school cases) on abuse scandals, "green" population initiatives) that will bankrupt the church and leave her (materially) against the ropes.

In an email, one of my more liberal Catholic readers, BK, writes,
"I am a liberal Catholic and I support gay marriage, think our teaching on abortion, contraception and divorce is heartless, and support female ordination, but I am against this bill. These changes should come from the parishes and the people, not the government."
Well.changes in the church should not come from the government OR "the parishes and the people." The church is not a democracy; it never has been. For all of its serious human failings - and they've existed within the church ever since Christ gave faulty, human, impetuous Peter the Keys - the church is at its core a supernatural entity, and the sorts of changes BK and others like him desire must come from the Holy Spirit, or not at all.

If we look at it that way - and I'm afraid that is the way it's supposed to be in the church Instituted by Christ - then the church may never approve divorce, because Christ himself spoke against it. He may not have spoken explicitly against gay marriage (he would likely have had no need to) but he said clearly "a man and woman shall cleave and the two shall become one." He didn't say "people will cleave."

And I'm afraid no matter how much people may think otherwise, the Holy Spirit is unlikely to approve abortion or any other casual destruction of the life God Himself has brought into being. The Life-giver, who is all about creating Love is probably not going to sign on to "love" that would prefer not to have "life." Female ordination? It might come down the pike, but then again, it might not.

A recent study suggests that a growing number of Americans are either losing their faith or re-evaluating what faith means to them. In a nation where we have been conditioned to want "what we want, when we want it," or to "have it your way" that is not surprising.

And it is precisely why eventually - sooner than we think - (certainly sooner than I thought) we will see the formation of the schismic Catholic Church of America, to which many, many (including, I am sure, our friend BK) will flock. Because Americans have come to want God to accommodate their worldviews, not the other way around. They want the church that teaches the age throughout the faith, not the church that teaches the faith throughout the age.

Do not be afraid. Pray. But understand that sometimes things need to happen in order for other things to happen. So, pray for the longview. Pray that God may use you as His instrument. Pray for wisdom and an understanding heart. Pray that when the rubber meets the road, when it's time to stand up, you'll be ready and able. Much of what you are fretting about right now is passing illusion. The rest of it, well, we'll walk that road.

And remember what I said this morning - it's going to be alright. Practice psalmody. Get quiet. Read the First Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians - yes, the whole thing. And remember Romans 8:
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, 9 nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, 10 nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. - Romans 8:38-39
Much to be concerned about, yes. Much to defend and fight for, yes. But do not be afraid.

UPDATE: Well, a reprieve of sorts. Seems "The bill is dead for the rest of the legislative session. As soon as word spread about the bill, the Legislative Office Building was flooded with telephone calls and e-mails on Monday. The bill, virtually overnight, became the hottest issue at the state Capitol.". (H/T Ace) That's good. But it's still on the way - next year, year after that, because as Ed Morrissey writes: They're embarrassed, but they still haven't learned why.

This battle is going to happen. Bank on it.

UPDATE II: This article in the Christian Science Monitor says Evangelicals will find their numbers halved within ten years or so. Maybe. Or maybe something else will happen!

SOURCE History's oldest hatred

By Jeff Jacoby

There is much truth below but I don't think it is the whole story. See my take on the matter here

ANTI-SEMITISM is an ancient derangement, the oldest of hatreds, so it is strange that it lacks a more meaningful name. The misnomer "anti-Semitism" -- a term coined in 1879 by the German agitator Wilhelm Marr, who wanted a scientific-sounding euphemism for Judenhass, or Jew-hatred -- is particularly inane, since hostility to Jews has never had anything to do with Semites or being Semitic. (That is why those who protest that Arabs cannot be anti-Semitic since "Arabs are Semites too" speak either from ignorance or disingenuousness.)

Perhaps there is no good name for a virus as mutable and unyielding as anti-Semitism. "The Jews have been objects of hatred in pagan, religious, and secular societies," write Joseph Telushkin and Dennis Prager in Why the Jews?, their classic study of anti-Semitism. "Fascists have accused them of being Communists, and Communists have branded them capitalists. Jews who live in non-Jewish societies have been accused of having dual loyalties, while Jews who live in the Jewish state have been condemned as 'racists.' Poor Jews are bullied, and rich Jews are resented. Jews have been branded as both rootless cosmopolitans and ethnic chauvinists. Jews who assimilate have been called a 'fifth column,' while those who stay together spark hatred for remaining separate."

So hardy is anti-Semitism, it can flourish without Jews. Shakespeare's poisonous depiction of the Jewish moneylender Shylock was written for audiences that had never seen a Jew, all Jews having been expelled from England more than 300 years earlier. Anti-Semitic bigotry infests Saudi Arabia, where Jews have not dwelt in at least five centuries; its malignance is suggested by the government daily Al-Riyadh, which published an essay claiming that Jews have a taste for "pastries mixed with human blood."

There was Jew-hatred before there was Christianity or Islam, before Nazism or Communism, before Zionism or the Middle East conflict. This week Jews celebrate the festival of Purim, gathering in synagogues to read the biblical book of Esther. Set in ancient Persia, it tells of Haman, a powerful royal adviser who is insulted when the Jewish sage Mordechai refuses to bow down to him. Haman resolves to wipe out the empire's Jews and makes the case for genocide in an appeal to the king:

"There is a certain people scattered and dispersed among ... all the provinces of your kingdom, and their laws are different from those of other peoples, and the king's laws they do not keep, so it is of no benefit for the king to tolerate them. If it please the king, let it be written that they be destroyed." After winning royal assent, Haman makes plans "to annihilate, to kill and destroy all the Jews, the young and the elderly, children and women, in one day . . . and to take their property for plunder."

What drives such bloodlust? Haman's indictment accuses the Jews of lacking national loyalty, of insinuating themselves throughout the empire, of flouting the king's law. But the Jews of Persia had done nothing to justify Haman's murderous anti-Semitism -- just as Jews in later ages did nothing that justified their persecution under the Church or Islam, or their expulsion from so many lands in Europe and the Middle East, or their repression at the hands of Russian czars and Soviet commissars, or their slaughter by Nazi Germany. When the president of Iran today calls for the extirpation of the Jewish state, when a leader of Hamas vows to kill Jewish children around the world, when firebombs are hurled at synagogues in London and Paris and Chicago, it is not because Jews deserve to be victimized.

Some Jews are no saints, but the paranoid frenzy that is anti-Semitism is not explained by what Jews do, but by what they are. The Jewish people are the object of anti-Semitism, not its cause. That is why the haters' rationales can be so wildly inconsistent and their agendas so contradictory. What, after all, do those who vilify Jews as greedy bankers have in common with those who revile them as seditious Bolsheviks? Nothing, save an irrational obsession with Jews.

At one point in the book of Esther, Haman lets the mask slip. He boasts to his friends and family of "the glory of his riches, and the great number of his sons, and everything in which the king had promoted him and elevated him." Still, he seethes with rage and frustration: "Yet all this is worthless to me so long as I see Mordechai the Jew sitting at the king's gate." That is the unforgivable offense: "Mordechai the Jew" refuses to blend in, to abandon his values, to be just like everyone else. He goes on sitting there -- undigested, unassimilated, and for that reason unbearable.

Of course Haman had his ostensible reasons for targeting Jews. So did Hitler and Arafat; so does Ahmadinejad. Sometimes the anti-Semite focuses on the Jew's religion, sometimes on his laws and lifestyle, sometimes on his national identity or his professional achievements. Ultimately, however, it is the Jew's Jewishness, and the call to higher standards that it represents, that the anti-Semite cannot abide.

With all their flaws and failings, the Jewish people endure, their role in history not yet finished. So the world's oldest hatred endures too, as obsessive and indestructible -- and deadly -- as ever.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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