Since Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying left Evergreen State under trying circumstances, they’ve made a living doing podcasts on YouTube, and have become somewhat notorious for their stand on Covid-19 and the dubious remedy Ivermectin.
The story below, from the Portland, Oregon news site Willamette Week, reports how both Weinstein and Heying not only remain unvaccinated against Covid, as they don’t trust the vaccine, but are also dosing themselves with Ivermectin, a drug used in humans for roundworm, lice, and skin conditions, but which has no effect on the coronavirus. (It’s also famous for de-worming horses.) The FDA has strongly warned humans not to dose themselves with this drug as a treatment or preventive for Covid.
Nevertheless, according to both the story below (click on screenshot) and the section on Weinstein and Covid on Wikipedia, the ex-professors have been relentlessly touting Ivermectin (read the Wikipedia section for documentation) and taking it themselves.
Here’s how two “progressive” biologists (not just one) have completely ignored science for reasons best known to themselves. What they have accomplished, instead, is to ruin their reputations except among the loons and some Trumpies.
From the paper:
Instead, the loudest voice [doubting vaccines] may be that of a Toyota-driving Bernie Bro who lives near Lewis & Clark College, an evolutionary biologist with a Ph.D. who studied and taught at two of the nation’s most liberal universities and participated in Occupy Wall Street.
His name is Bret Weinstein, and he makes his living preaching the dangers of COVID-19 vaccines while extolling ivermectin, the controversial drug often used to deworm horses.
Weinstein, 52, is one of the foremost proponents of ivermectin. He’s appeared on Tucker Carlson’s show to flog the drug. He and his wife, Heather Heying, also a Ph.D. biologist, went on Real Time With Bill Maher in January, an appearance that boosted interest in their DarkHorse Podcast, which has 382,000 subscribers on YouTube alone.
Weinstein’s biggest fan is probably Joe Rogan, host of the most popular podcast in the U.S. Weinstein appeared with Rogan four times, including a June 2020 show that’s gotten almost 8 million views on YouTube. In June 2021, it turned into a lovefest.
. . .“Your podcast is one of my very favorites,” Rogan said. “I listen to it or watch it all the time. It’s an amazing source of rational thinking by educated people who talk about things they understand, which is exactly the opposite of what I do!”
. . . Now, because of people like Weinstein, a drug meant for 1,000-pound animals is flying off the shelves in feed stores not just in red states, but even in Multnomah County, where the vaccination rate is approaching 80%.
. . . But unlike most of their fellow residents in Multnomah County, both say they are not vaccinated. Instead, they protect themselves from COVID by eating whole foods from farmers markets and by taking weekly doses of ivermectin, along with vitamins C and D, and zinc.
. . . Weinstein likes ivermectin, he says, because it has a stellar safety record (it does) and it’s cheap (it is, at about $5 a pill). Vaccines, meantime, are the opposite. They aren’t proven to be safe yet, Weinstein says, and they’re more expensive (for the governments who purchase them).
I won’t go on; you can check for yourself, but I will quote David Gorski, also known as Orac and an oracle on the Science-Based Medicine site:
“Bret Weinstein is one of the foremost purveyors of COVID-19 disinformation out there,” says Dr. David Gorski, a surgical oncologist and professor at Wayne State University who also debunks quack remedies as managing editor at a website called Science-Based Medicine. “Weinstein can be ‘credited’ with playing a large role in popularizing the belief that ivermectin is a miracle cure or preventative for COVID-19, that the vaccines are dangerous, and that the disease itself is not. Why are Rogan and Maher attracted to his messages? Contrarians and conspiracy theorists tend to be attracted to each other.”
I am still baffled why Weinstein and Heying are pushing quackery after careers as biologists—ecologists and evolutionary biologists! I think most of us admired Bret for taking a stand against extremist anti-racism at Evergreen State, a stand for which they eventually had to leave teaching. But then Bret started broaching weird and convoluted theories of evolution, and now this—horse drugs!
All I can guess is that the pair are contrarians to the bone, and are acting it out with horse pills. It can’t really be the science, as all the data say that the vaccines are both effective and safe, while Ivermectin is of NO value in preventing or treating Covid-19. And, of course, it could be dangerous, especially if you buy the veterinary brand, as it’s designed for horses, who have much greater mass than humans, and the animal formula of Ivermectin is different from that used for other human ailments.
Bret and Heather, are you listening? Please stop this dangerous and antiscientific madness, as you could be hurting people rather than helping them.
They won’t listen to their critics, of course, and for that reason their reputation will be permanently marred in the community of rational thinkers.
As I wrote this morning in the Hili dialogue, and as Carl Zimmer describes in the NYT article below (click on screenshot), a team of scientists and entrepreneurs has formed a company called Colossal that aims to “bring back the woolly mammoth.” They raised fifteen million dollars in funding to do this job (cf. P. T. Barnum). The motivating force for this endeavor is well-known Harvard geneticist George Church, who for years has said that a “resurrected” woolly mammoth, constructed using DNA sequence from mammoths frozen in the permafrost, was right around the corner.
Well, the corner hasn’t been turned, and, if I don’t miss my guess, it won’t be. This project is fraught with so many problems that the likelihood of producing a woolly mammoth is close to zero.
In fact it IS zero, because they’re not going to resurrect that extinct creature. What they are doing is making a genetically modified Asian elephant by inserting into its genome a maximum of sixty mammoth genes that they think differentiate the modern species from the extinct one: genes that involve hairiness, cold tolerance, amount of fat, and so on. What they’d get would be a genetic chimera, an almost entirely Asian elephant but one that is hairier, chunkier, and more tolerant of cold. That is NOT a woolly mammoth, nor would it behave like a woolly mammoth, for they’re not inserting behavior genes.
There’s more below:
Further, a lot of other genes differ between a mammoth and an Asian elephant. What guarantee is there that the inserted mammoth genes would be expressed correctly, or even work at all in concert with the Asian elephant developmental system?
But it gets worse. Since you can’t implant a transgenic embryo into an elephant mom (we don’t know how to do that, and we would get just one or two chances), Church had this bright idea:
Initially, Dr. Church envisioned implanting embryos into surrogate female elephants. But he eventually soured on the idea. Even if he could figure out in vitro fertilization for elephants — which no one has done before — building a herd would be impractical, since he would need so many surrogates.
Instead, Dr. Church decided to make an artificial mammoth uterus lined with uterine tissue grown from stem cells. “I’m not making a bold prediction this is going to be easy,” he said. “But everything up to this point has been relatively easy. Every tissue we’ve gone after, we’ve been able to get a recipe for.”
An artificial mammoth uterus? Seriously? If you think that’s gonna work, I have some land in Florida I’d like to sell you. Of course, if you’re going to breed these things, you’d have to make two of them of opposite sexes. Could they even do that?
And beside this, there are all the ethical questions about releasing a large number of chimeric elephants into Siberia. That, itself, is unethical; Lord knows what they’d do to the ecosystem (my view is that, if they even succeeded in creating these things, they’d die off within a generation or so). From the article:
Is it humane to produce an animal whose biology we know so little about? Who gets to decide whether they can be set loose, potentially to change the ecosystems of tundras in profound ways?
“There’s tons of trouble everyone is going to encounter along the way,” said Beth Shapiro, a paleogeneticist at the University of California Santa Cruz and the author of “How to Clone a Mammoth.”
. . . .Heather Browning, a philosopher at the London School of Economics, said that whatever benefits mammoths might have to the tundra will need to be weighed against the possible suffering that they might experience in being brought into existence by scientists.
“You don’t have a mother for a species that — if they are anything like elephants — has extraordinarily strong mother-infant bonds that last for a very long time,” she said. “Once there is a little mammoth or two on the ground, who is making sure that they’re being looked after?”
My opinion of this project is expressed more tersely by geneticist and author Adam Rutherford:
But let’s get the take of a real expert on mammoths, Victoria “Tori” Herridge, a paleontologist and writer at London’s Natural History Museum who’s written extensively about this project. Her opinion is pretty much the same as mine and Rutherford’s. Here’s the first tweet of a long thread in which, while expressing admiration for George Church, she simply takes the project apart. I’d recommend you go through what she says if you have interest in this project.
News has broken that a new biotech company, Colossal, has been founded with the aim of creating an gene-edited Asian elephant that is tolerant to Arctic conditions.
aka "Mammoth de-extinction"
And so, a personal thread of discovery and opinion
Moreover, now, as opposed to the artificial mammoth uterus idea, the company says they will implant the egg (derived perhaps from a stem cell, something that has been done only with mice so far) into an AFRICAN ELEPHANT. Most zoos don’t keep that species because it’s big and dangerous, as well as endangered.
Reader Paul sent me this tweet, which links to an article describing the most pathetic and most hilarious attempt at wokeness I’ve seen yet, and that’s saying a lot.
dr. linda manyguns, an Indigenous Person in Canada, is the associate vice-president of indigenization and decolonization at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Elsewhere she’s described as “a Blackfoot woman, born on the Tsuut’ina Nation and registered at Siksika. She is an Elder for the Buffalo Women’s Society and part of the Beaver Bundle Society.” Before moving to Mount Royal, she was a professor in and chair of the University of Lethbridge’s Department of Indigenous Studies.
She has hit upon a new form of performative wokeness: eliminating the use of all capital letters except when it comes to Indigenous People (and presumably other minorities), for those capital letters are forms of written INEQUITY.
But here’s the tweet, which links to the statement I’ve put below.
dr. linda manyguns joins the lowercase movement to reject the symbols of hierarchy wherever they are found and will not use capital letters except to acknowledge the Indigenous struggle for recognition. read her full statement: https://t.co/4CIjB5bRNppic.twitter.com/tPHDxfb3yq
this is a beginning effort at describing the use of lower case on the website of the office of indigenization and decolonization.
Indigenous people have been actively engaged in a multidimensional struggle for equality, since time immemorial. we strive for historical-cultural recognition and acknowledgment of colonial oppression that persistently devalues the diversity of our unique cultural heritages.
these sites of struggle are generally found at blockades, where demonstrations against racism occur, where racialization and cultural domination, and discrimination leave the mark of imbalance and abuses of power. sometimes these sites generate media interest but interest is generally fickle.
the explicit demonstration and practice of aboriginal culture in everyday life or at places of resistance is called by academics ‘eventing.’
the goal of equity, diversity and inclusion of all people is synonymous with the interests of Indigenous people. we support and expand the goal of equality and inclusion to all forms of life and all people. we join leaders like e. e. cummings, bell hooks, and peter kulchyski, who reject the symbols of hierarchy wherever they are found and do not use capital letters except to acknowledge the Indigenous struggle for recognition.
we resist acknowledging the power structures that oppress and join the movement that does not capitalize.
the office of indigenization and decolonization supports acts that focus on inclusion and support the right of all people to positive inclusion and change.
This is a person who is unbalanced to the point where she sees capital letters as non-inclusive symbols of inequality. They are forms of oppression; presumably the big letters are white and oppress the small LOCs (letters of color). If I were John McWhorter, I’d say that manyguns needs therapy, but I’m not him so I won’t.
The main issue is this: Will abandoning capital letters in nearly all cases help bring equality to oppressed minorities? You already know the answer. And this, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, and comrades, is your Friday Wokeness—a prime candidate for Wokest Act of 2021.
When the “Black Lives Matter” slogan was coopted for other purposes—like the “Blue Lives Matter” slogan lauding police or the “All Lives Matter” slogan meant to denigrate its model—the mimic phrases were rightly condemned as “whataboutery.” By using the original words, the other slogans subtly mocked or even repudiated the slogan—and thus the goal—of Black Lives Matter.
This goes for other forms of ideological and moral statements. When one condemns, for example, attacks on Asians, as happened during and after the Florida Spa massacre (not definitely targeted at Asians) and during the pandemic, you should defend the rights of Asians to live in America without fear, and should condemn attacks on Asians motivated by bigotry. To lump in all other minorities at the same time dilutes the solidarity one expresses with a beleaguered group, and thus what solace the group can take. (If you want to condemn all bigotry, then just say that, but it confers more love to defend a specific group under attack rather than just saying, “Can’t we just love one another?”)
This holds for all beleaguered minorities except one. And you know which one that is: the Jews. Although they’re the most frequent victims of hate crimes in the U.S. on a per capita basis, Jews though a tiny minority, are not considered minorities and are not considered oppressed—despite the data I just gave and the increasing tendency of the American Left to tilt towards anti-Israel sentiments and, indeed, anti-Semitic movements like BDS. Lest you fault me for going off on anti-Semitism again, be aware that this is one of the biggest hypocrisies of the Western Left, right up there with the Left’s failure to defend the rights of gays and women that are regularly abrogated in Arab countries. After all, Arabs are considered people of color and Jews are honorary white people.
So, when you hear someone denigrate anti-Semitic attacks, you’ll often hear, right alongside it, denigration of “Islamophobia”. This whataboutery is, I think, almost unique to Jews. You cannot condemn attacks on Jews without condemning attacks on Muslims at the same time. It’s like saying “Black Lives Matter—and so do Asian ones.” It’s not simply an American attempt to be fair, but expresses the uniquely unhappy position of Jews in this world.
At any rate, the failure to include Muslims when condemning anti-Semitism just cost April Powers her job as the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Editors’ (SCBWI) first “Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer”. All she did was issue a statement condemning anti-Semitism. Her mistake was not only to issue that statement without mentioning “Islamophobia”, but also to defend what she did on Facebook. For that she was fired. The irony is that April Powers is not only Jewish, but black.
This ridiculous situation, so common in Young Adult Fiction—I nominate that field, along with the Knitting Community, as the Wokest area of endeavor in America—is described on Bari Weiss’s site in a nice piece by Kat Rosenfield. You can read it for free by clicking on the screenshot below.
Here’s April Powers, the once Chief Equity and Inclusion officer, hired last year
Below: Rosenfield’s description of the SCBWI. I’ve followed their shenanigans over the years, and they seem to me nothing more than a group of sanctimonious Pecksniffs whose purpose is to ensure that no young adult literature is published that doesn’t conform to their ideological views. They are, pure and simple, a bunch of odious censors.
The Society for Children’s Book Writers and Editors is an organization for established and aspiring professionals in children’s and young adult literature. The publishing industry is famously left-wing, but the world of children’s publishing makes the rest of the industry look like milquetoast moderates. In the past few years, Young Adult authors have rewritten already published work deemed offensive. They have seen the ratings of a not-yet-released book torpedoed by organized takedown campaigns on Goodreads. They have cancelled their own titles after (often flimsy) allegations of racism, or been compelled to reveal private, even traumatic details of their lives in order to “prove” that they have the standing to tell certain kinds of stories. In one particularly notorious case, Kirkus Reviews retracted its starred review of the novel “American Heart” and issued a new one scolding its “problematic” elements after a Twitter outrage.
It was in that context that the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Editors put up a post on Facebook that began: “The SCBWI unequivocally recognizes that the world’s 14.7 million Jewish people (less than 0.018% of the population) have the right to life, safety, and freedom from scapegoating and fear.” The June 10 post went on to condemn antisemitism as “one of the oldest forms of hatred,” and asked readers to “join us in not looking away.”
Here’s that post.
Things rapidly got out of hand when SCBWI member Razan Abdin-Adnani (described as the daughter of Palestinian refugees) asked if the organization “also planned to denounce violence against Palestinians.” Powers responded that the statement reflects “recent surges in hate crimes & violence around the world. If we see a surge against Muslims globally as we have w/other groups, expect us to speak up.”
Engaging like that was a big mistake, and the Facebook fracas got hostile. Then it spread to Twitter, which of course is toxic, and Abdin-Adnani demanded a refund of her membership dues.
Rosenfeld describes the downfall of Powers, accompanied by the usual fulsome apologies, including, sadly, one by Powers herself:
You might imagine that this would have been a good time for the organization to take a principled stand, to condemn this member’s inappropriate behavior, and to make a strong statement in support of its employees, particularly its black, Jewish diversity chief.
Instead, SCBWI stayed silent as the controversy continued to blow up online. Both Powers and the SCBWI account blocked Abdin-Adnani as her tweets got more intemperate, contributing to a narrative that she had been “silenced.” Big accounts on YA Twitter signal boosted her complaints. Prominent authors demanded apologies and vowed boycotts.
Then, two weeks after the original Facebook post, Lin Oliver, the executive director of SCBWI, offered a groveling apology. Not to the Jews, for failing to stand by a simple denunciation of antisemitism, nor to a faithful employee, whom SCBWI had left to twist in the wind, but to “everyone the Palestinian community who felt unrepresented, silenced, or marginalized.” The statement went on to acknowledge “the pain our actions have caused to our Muslim and Palestinian members” — pain brought on, it seems, by daring to oppose violence against Jews. “I also want to offer my apologies to Razan Abdin-Adnani for making her feel unseen and unheard by blocking her. She has been unblocked from our feed,” Oliver wrote. (Oliver and Abdin-Adnani did not respond to requests for comment.)
Although Powers insists that SCBWI did not compel her resignation, SCBWI happily took credit for it. The apology noted: “As a remedy to these events, we have taken some initial steps: 1. Effective immediately, we have accepted the resignation of April, our Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer.”
Toward the end of the organization’s apology was an abject note from Powers herself: “By posting an antisemitism statement, our intention was to stay out of politics. . . . I neglected to address the rise in Islamophobia, and deeply regret that omission. . . While this doesn’t fix the pain and disappointment that you feel by my mishandling of the moment, I hope you will accept my sincerest apologies and resignation from the SCBWI.”
What began as a simple denunciation of antisemitism ended with a letter that reads like a hostage video.
Have a look at SCBWI director Lin Oliver’s apology for neglecting to include Palestinians. Here’s a bit of that:
The words fall into the familiar order, “undrepresented, silenced, or marginalized.” All that’s missing is “violence”, “offense”, and “erasure”.
I’m saddened that Powers felt she had to apologize, too, as she had not the slightest reason to. But she is described as being an accommodating and diplomatic person, and didn’t want to make waves. At least she refuses to apologize for writing the statement about anti-Semitism.
Rosenfield ends eloquently, even adding what I see as an allusion to the movie “Chinatown”:
For the moment, at least, Jews are Schrodinger’s victims; they may or may not be deserving of sympathy, depending on who’s doing the victimizing. When a group of tiki torch-wielding white nationalists chant “Jews will not replace us!,” the condemnation is swift. But replace the tiki torch with a Palestinian flag, and call the Jews “settler colonialists,” and the equivocations roll in: Maybe that guy who threw a firebomb at a group of innocent people on the street in New York was punching up, actually?
April Powers naively believed that American Jews should get the same full-throated defense as any other minority group in the wake of a vicious attack, without ambivalence, caveats and whataboutism. That belief cost her the security of a job.
In the words of that unseen videographer: This is America, guys.
Palestinians and Muslims have cowed the American Left to the extent that no denunciation of anti-Semitic violence is possible without including a mention of “Islamophobia”. Asians, Hispanics, and other minorities don’t have the same power.
The days are gone when I was compelled to take apart papers about feminist glaciology or the unbearable whiteness of pumpkins, yoga, and Pilates. This kind of insanity has become daily fare, and one no longer has to wonder whether it’s a parody or not—it isn’t. Below, for example, is a long screed about how French food is the apotheosis of white cuisine, ergo is white supremacist, racist, and colonialist. You can read it, but the laughs quickly diminish as you realize that author Mathilde Cohen is absolutely serious in her contentions.
Now it’s no surprise to readers here that I’m a big fan of French food. But I’m not that keen on the the haute or nouvelle cuisine that’s pricey and comes in small portions. I prefer bourgeois cuisine, what the regular people eat who aren’t so poor that can’t afford any decent food. Give me a cassoulet, a coq au vin, a good steak frites, or a haricot mouton, and I’m in paradise—so long as there’s endless bread and a decent bottle of wine. But it turns out that, to Mathilde Cohen, the whole megillah of French food is white, white, white, as well as colonialist and oppressive. Now nobody will deny that France has been a colonial power, and that racism persists in France. But to assert that racism is embodied in the cuisine is an insupportable claim.
Click on the screenshot to read. You can also download a pdf at the site.
Her argument, which I claim works for any cuisine from white countries (or indeed, any cuisine anywhere), is to connect food, which is invariably something a nation prides itself on, with some bad trait of the nation, and then say that they’re connected because they’re both part of the same country. I kid you not! Here’s the abstract!
Food is fundamental to French identity. So too is the denial of structural racism and racial identity. Both tenets are central to the nation’s self-definition, making them difficult, yet all the more important to think about together. This article purports to identify a form of French food Whiteness (blanchité alimentaire), that is, the use of food and eating practices to reify and reinforce Whiteness as the dominant racial identity. To do so, it develops four case studies of how law elevates a fiction of homogeneous French/White food as superior and normative at the expense of alternative ways of eating and their eaters—the law of geographical indications, school lunches, citizenship, and cultural heritage.
Well, Galoises cigarettes and polite behavior (politesse) are fundamental to French self-definition, too, and yet do we want to see papers on how they’re connected? What about fish and chips and a love of the British monarchy? In fact, most European countries, even if they have racial friction, “deny structural racism or racial identity”, and try to assimilate immigrants.
One of Cohen’s beefs is that France, when deciding to confer citizenship on someone, looks for evidence that they’ve assimilated to some degree into the culture. To her—and she really has to stretch to make this argument— this means eating the national dishes. But that’s bogus, as there are plenty of French citizens who eat the food of their ancestors. Algerian food like couscous, for example, is so ubiquitous that it’s almost a French food now. (Cohen also argues that in this transformation it’s somehow become “white”.) And she has not the slightest evidence (well, she has one dubious anecdote from 1919), that eating French food is considered evidence of
But I digress. I’ll just reprise her four arguments and pass on (or pass out):
The law of geographical indications. This is the French use (and not exclusively French; Italians and other countries do it, too) of controlled appellations, so that a food or drink must be from a specified region of origin to be labeled as such. Champagne is the classic example, as it has to be made in the Champagne region of France. American bubbly or Spanish cava cannot be labeled “champagne.” Likewise with Roquefort cheese, as I recall. This system designed to give the consumer some confidence in the quality of the product, but Cohen says these are signs of French colonialism and “the racialized project of ensuring that the White majority can maintain its foodways and agricultural wealth.” Enough said.
The law of school lunches. France specifies a school lunch programs, with many lunches offered cheaply or free to poorer kids. The food is hot and designed to be nutritious. What foods are offered differ among municipalities. What Cohen objects to is that the cuisine doesn’t cater to special diets, even though Cohen adds that many schools “quietly accommodate students with religious based dietary restrictions”. Students are also allowed to bring lunches from home. This is part of the French tradition of laïcité , or secularism, avoiding entanglement of religion and government.
Cohen says that this is imposing Christian whiteness on the school food, though Wikipedia contradicts her, saying “food menus served in secondary schools pay particular attention to ensuring that each religious observer may respect his religion’s specific restrictions concerning diets.” Since I don’t know the truth, I’ll pass on.
The law of citizenship. People applying for citizenship in France need not be white, as you’ll notice immediately when you see the high proportion of North Africans, Asians, and black Africans in the big cities. What exercises Cohen is that prospective citizens must show some evidence of assimilation, though of course not full assimilation. The implication is that assimilation requires adoption of French food, but this doesn’t appear to be the case. Sohen gives only one example, and that’s from 1919:
To illustrate, in 1919, one Ignace, born in Madagascar to a Malagasy mother, applied for citizenship on the ground that he was the unrecognized son of a French national. The records of the Antananarivo colonial civil bureau contain a memo mentioning approvingly his service in the French Foreign Legion during the war, his seriousness and humility, before scrutinizing his lifestyle. A shift in Ignace’s dwelling and diet is observed. Before the war, Ignace “lived with his mother . . . in a simply furnished cottage kept in the indigenous style [à l’indigène]. The basis of their diet was rice.” Upon returning from the front, Ignace moved in with a Greek friend from the Legion. The memo observes that now “he always eats with this European and is nearly constantly in his company,” concluding that the application should be granted. While Ignace’s service in the armed forces is the primary basis for the positive appraisal, his transition from the typical rice-based, Malagasy diet despised by colonists to a “European” diet clearly militated in his favor.
. . .Ignace’s renunciation of rice and eating on a mat on the floor together with his commensality with a White man must have been assessed as signs of White enculturation and performance
She must have dug hard to find the story of Ignace! Now Cohen doesn’t say that Ignace abjured rice, only that he “ate with a European.” At that, brother and sisters, friends and comrades, is the totality of Cohen’s “citizenship” argument for the whiteness of French food. She mentions people being denied citizenship for other reasons, like gender segregating in their homes, but that has nothing to do with food.
The law of cultural heritage. This rests solely on UNESCO’s having designated the “gastronomic meal of the French” as an item on its list of “intangible cultural heritage” items. This is defined “as a four-course repast beginning with apértif and ending with digestif, served with appropriate wines and tableware, and made up of carefully chosen components.”
Why is this racist and expressive of Whiteness? Cohen tells us:
The creation and defense of the idea of a gastronomic meal of the French involved erasing not only the diversity of eating practices of French citizens across races and ethnicities, but also among Whites, essentializing a supposed innate national (and racial) character. For Ruth Cruickshank, “[t]he repas gastronomique des Français seeks to solve a perceived problem of French decline by inventing a codified ‘French’ meal which, as well as eliding cultural diversity, fails to grasp how food cultures survive by maintaining their currency through the negotiation of change and the accommodation of external influences.”In short, it is a White washed (and bourgeois) version of French foodways which is now consecrated by the World Intangible Heritage List.
Give me a break! The diversity of eating practices remains in France, but you can’t make a diversity of habits an “intangible cultural heritage”. It would be a different list in Italy, with antipasto, pasta, contorno, etc., and in China it would also vary among provinces, but would include multiple courses served at once, usually with rice or another starch, and the dishes often stir fried. Just because each nation has some characteristic ways of eating, as does France, does not mean that France is trying to enshrine whiteness. Let me add that the “heritage” French meal is something that should be experienced, and something I love, for it’s not just dinner, but theater as well.
Such is Cohen’s argument for the Unbearable Whiteness of French food. It’s much worse than I make out here, as the whole essay is larded with the usual jargon and with arguments that have nothing to do with her main point. The poor scholar must be hard up for topics to write about. And yet she threatens to continue!
This article connects critical Whiteness studies and food studies in the French context. It has shown that the set of eating habits known as French are racialized in a way that reinforces White dominance. The four cases studies examined here—geographical indications, school lunches, citizenship law, and world heritage law—buttress an ideal of White alimentary identity implying that non-White and non-Christian communities are insignificant, alien, or deviant. Law has been a primary tool to shape food production and choices, privileging and normalizing certain alimentary practices and stigmatizing others. The current legal regime marginalizes racial and ethnic minorities in their foodways through the elevation of White French food as the high status, legally protected food.
. . .Though this article focused on the Whiteness of French food from within, it has relevance for the broader understanding of racial identity formation through eating in other socio-cultural contexts. As such it is but one installment of what I hope will be a series of scholarly contributions on the Whiteness of French food in France and outside of France.
By the way, I found the description of the author at the end, well, interesting. . . .
Mathilde Cohen is the George Williamson Crawford Professor of Law at the University of Connecticut and formerly a research fellow at the CNRS. She works in the fields of constitutional law, comparative law, food law, and race, gender and the law. Her research has focused on various modes of disenfranchisement in French and U.S. legal cultures. She has written on why and how public institutions give reasons for their decisions and the lack of judicial diversity. She currently examines the way in which bodies coded as female are alternatively empowered and disempowered by the regulation of the valuable materials they produce and consume, in particular milk and placenta.
As the Wicked Witch of the West said, “What a world! What a world!”
À la fin: cassoulet in Paris and a decent red. Ah, France is paradise enow!
Every day I find or am sent quite a few examples of wokeness gone mad, and every day I post only one or two of them. But the accumulation of craziness is making me think that the world has gone bonkers, and I’m not sure why. Is it the pandemic? Is it social media? Who knows? If I could figure that out, I’d be a psychologist or sociologist, not a biologist. So I proffer these examples for your amusement, but also to show you that there’s a behavior afoot with the potential to turn America into Orwell’s Oceania.
In his new column in the New York Times, appropriately titled below, Bret Stephens describes a new campaign at Bon Appétit food magazine that truly underlines the humorlessness of the Woke. (A variant of an old joke: A man walks into a Woke bookstore, asks about a book, and is told by a clerk, “Sorry, sir, this is a social-justice bookstore. We don’t have a humor section.”)
Click on the screenshot to read:
The fracas at Bon Appétit is about a Jewish pastry: hamantaschen. They’re triangular cookies, usually filled with prune or apricot preserves, and served at the holiday of Purim (the shape is modeled on the three-corned hat of the Purim bad guy Haman). I happen to love them, particularly the traditional prune-filled version. Here’s an apricot one that I ate in Brookline, Massachusetts in January of last year.
A good hamantasch has a cookie that is soft and not too dry, and they vary in quality. And there’s the rub, for in 2015 food writer Dawn Perry (not a Jew!) wrote the following article (click on screenshot):
The name has been changed, though: it was originally “How to Make Actually Good Hamantaschen”. Why the change? Because of a Pecksniff who apparently took the title as a denigration of Jews via the implication that Hamantaschen aren’t “actually good.” But Perry doesn’t say that; she says this:
Hamantaschen are shaped to resemble Haman’s 3-cornered hat and traditionally stuffed with sweet fillings made of poppy seeds, dried fruits, or fruit preserves (among others). Sounds tasty, right? But achieving the right balance is not always easy to pull off.
So I set out to create a cookie that hit all the right notes: The cookie itself would be a pleasure to eat, whether or not you encountered filling in each bite. And the fillings themselves would be were after baking, but not too sweet.
If you read the article, you’ll see that Perry tweaked traditional hamantasch recipes a bit, suggesting using butter instead of oil or shortening (an improvement!), using jam instead of preserves, putting an egg wash on the cookie, and so on. None of the changes fundamentally altered the pastry. But she does suggest other changes, like a cinnamon-date filling, that, while they may really offend the Pecksniffs, sound fantastic.
Stephens reports on said Pecksniff:
Six years later, a woman named Abigail Koffler found the article while researching hamantaschen fillings. She was not amused.
Perry, Koffler wrote on Twitter, isn’t Jewish. Perry’s husband, Koffler added, had been forced out of his job at Condé Nast last year based on accusations of racial bias. Above all, Koffler objected, “Traditional foods do not automatically need to be updated, especially by someone who does not come from that tradition.”
Most Jews would probably be grateful for an “actually good” hamantasch. Yet within hours of Koffler’s tweets, Bon Appétit responded with an editor’s note atop the article, now renamed “5 Steps to Really Good Hamantaschen.” It’s a note that defies summary, parody and belief.
And here’s that editor’s note: (I am not making this up; click on the screenshot):
Yes, that’s right: the magazine has instituted an “Archive Repair Project” to go back and sanitize any ideologically dubious recipes. So far they’ve sniffed out and bowdlerized over 200 recipes. Shoot me now!
Stephens draws from this incident three conclusions about Wokeness:
Behold in this little story, dear reader, the apotheosis of Woke.
No transgression of sensitivities is so trivial that it will not invite a moralizing rebuke on social media.
No cultural tradition is so innocuous that it needn’t be protected from the slightest criticism, at least if the critic has the wrong ethnic pedigree.
No writer is so innocent that she should be spared from having her spouse’s alleged failings trotted out to suggest discrimination-by-association.
And no charge of cultural insensitivity is so far-fetched that it won’t force a magazine into self-abasing self-expurgation. What Bon Appétit blithely calls its “Archive Repair Project” is, according to HuffPost, an effort to scour “55 years’ worth of recipes from a variety of Condé Nast magazines in search of objectionable titles, ingredient lists and stories told through a white American lens.”
Stephens goes into other examples that are more egregious but never got redacted, like an offensive cover of The New Yorker. He also describes the demonization of Professor Jason Kilborn at the University of Illinois at Chicago Law School, an example we’ve already seen.
Let this serve as one more example, loonier than ever, of the policing of culture. I am a secular Jew, have eaten hamantaschen whenever I can get them, and love them. Am I offended if someone wants to put butter in them, or give them an egg wash? Not on your life—it would probably make them even better!
So what if the person is a shicksa? Can only Jews tweak Jewish food? Not in my view. “Cultural appropriation” of this type is not only a form of flattery, but a way to appreciate other cultures and create “hybrid” foods, like buttery hamantaschen, that might be better than the original. Not every ethnic food is immune to improvement, you know.
Stephens is a conservative, so this wokeness plays into his court. But it offends me as well, and should offend you. These Leisure Fascists are running amok, telling us what we can and cannot do with our culture and those of other people. So long as the “appropriation” isn’t exploitative or denigrating—and this isn’t—I’m all in favor.
Stephens ends his piece this way:
A friend of mine, a lifelong liberal whose patience is running thin with the new ethos of moral bullying, likes to joke, “Woke me when it’s over.” To which I say: Get comfortable.
After publishing this, I wonder how long Stephens has at the New Woke Times.
As for Bon Appétit‘s other redacted recipes, I don’t know from them. But I do know hamantaschen, and I approve of Perry’s article. The calling out of her husband by Pecksniff Koffler is beyond belief.
Good god! It’s not enough that San Francisco embarrassed itself by renaming 44 schools, including those bearing the monickers of Dianne Feinstein, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, and Paul Revere. Now the city of Chicago, under the leadership of the increasingly embarrassing mayor Lori Lightfoot, is undertaking the same venture, singling out 41 monuments to be “investigated” for possible removal or renaming. The bowdlerization of my city is detailed in these two article from the Chicago Sun-Times and the New York Times (click on screenshots below):
You can see photos and descriptions of the scrutinized monuments on this page, and I have to say that there are almost none of them that I find worthy of removal, for they mark history, with all its flaws, and offense of some people is not sufficient to immediately mandate erasing a statue. (There are FIVE monuments to Abe Lincoln to be vetted!) And there are alternatives to removal, as I mention below.
Here are a few photos of statues being scrutinized, along with possible reason why they’re “problematic” (indented). Here are the criteria that the committee is considering:
Reasons for making the list include promoting narratives of white supremacy; presenting an inaccurate or demeaning portrayal of Native Americans; celebrating people with connections to slavery, genocide or racist acts; or “presenting selective, over-simplified, one-sided views of history.”
The project website does not note which criteria might apply to any specific monument or statue.
That’s not exactly true, as I show below.
There’s also an advisory committee vetting the monuments, with its members shown here (I’m not optimistic!), and, unlike San Francisco, Chicago is soliciting public feedback on the monuments. (But it would help to know why they’re on the list!). I will give them feedback.
The first one, “A Signal of Peace” seems to be problematic only because it displays a native American. It was intended by the sculptor (and his patron) to be a sign of respect for Native Americans as well as a lament for their oppression by whites:
Before the fair was even over, arrangements were made by wealthy Chicago lawyer and art patron Lambert Tree to purchase the sculpture for $3,000 cash. Offering it for permanent placement in Lincoln Park, Tree was clear in his intent that the monument was intended as a permanent symbol of respect for native peoples who were: “…..oppressed and robbed by government agents, deprived of their lands… shot down by soldiery in wars fomented for the purpose of plundering and destroying their race, and finally drowned by the ever westward tide of population.”
Are we not, then, to depict any Native Americans, even in this respectful and mournful (for their oppression) manner?
Here’s another Native American sculpture, (“Indians; the Bowman and the Spearman”) in Grant Park; I often look at and admire this when I drive downtown. And here’s why it’s to be scrutinized:
Impressive for their heroic scale and bristling energy, the sculptures have been criticized for their romanticized and reductive images of American Indians.
Reductive? Romanticized? It’s an admirable, admiring, and truly lovely piece of art. For crying out loud, most public statues are “romanticized,” not to mention “reductive”. What are we supposed to show: a Native American skinning a buffalo?
Here’s “Standing Lincoln,” a well known statue. Why is it bad? The site doesn’t say, but apparently Lincoln’s allowing a few Native Americans to be hanged (and pardoned many more)—as well as his early (but later changed) bigotry towards blacks—outweighs his emancipation of the slaves. It’s by the famous sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, and comes with this note on the site (there’s no “reason” given to scrutinize this):
Many people who personally knew Lincoln and were alive at the time of the monument’s dedication commented on the imagery being a moving and accurate representation. As a guide, Augustus Saint-Gaudens used life casts of Lincoln’s face and hands made by Chicago sculptor Leonard Volk.
Benjamin Franklin gets scrutinized, too, for he owned two slaves but later freed them and became an abolitionist. So what’s the problem?
Franklin’s achievements in helping shape United States democracy as well as his role in other disciplines are well-documented historical facts. Historical archives reflect some negative personal views on people and groups not unusual for the time, but historians have noted that he was open-minded and would often shift in his positions. Franklin owned two slaves who served in household responsibilities, but he later freed both and became an outspoken abolitionist.
George Washington, by Daniel Chester French (a replica). No reason given, but of course Washington owned slaves. The site says this:
The monument is one of the finest examples of equestrian sculpture in Chicago, and is considered a major work by Daniel Chester French, whose later work included the marble sculpture of Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.
Why Leif Ericson is scrutinized baffles me, and no information is given. Yes, he may have made it to North America, but he didn’t “colonize it”. In fact, we know little about his exploits.
And woe to Ulysses S. Grant, who led the Union Army to victory over the Confederacy. He had one slave but set him free. The caption says this:
Grant pursued a number of unsuccessful ventures, including farming on his father-in-law’s Missouri plantation, where he purchased and quickly manumitted a slave, and working for his father, a fervent abolitionist, at the family’s Galena, Illinois leather goods business. Grant quickly proved himself a brilliant tactician and leader, rising to lead the Union forces by 1865.
Another statue, “The Alarm”, seems to be a dignified and respectful depiction of Native Americans. No reason is given why it’s on the list. Here are a few words:
Sculptor John J. Boyle grew up in Philadelphia and was trained at the Franklin Institute, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris. In preparation for Ryerson’s commission, Boyle spent two months observing Native American subjects and making numerous sketches and studies.
Are there any monuments that I think need to go? Given alternatives of explanatory plaques or counter-monuments, I found only one. But it’s already been taken down! I think the one below is invidious and divisive, and doesn’t honor anything except a massacre of settlers by Indians, not noting that most of the killing went the other way. Here’s the “Fort Dearborn Massacre”. A note from the site:
Industrialist George Pullman (1831-1897) commissioned this monumental bronze figural group to be placed near his Prairie Avenue mansion — which was believed to be the site of the attack on the garrison evacuating Fort Dearborn during the War of 1812. The work shows Potawatomie chieftain Black Partridge intervening on behalf of Margaret Helm, wife of the fort’s commander and the step-daughter of fur trader, John Kinzie. Danish sculptor Carl Rohl-Smith (in Chicago to create sculpture for the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893), based his figures on sketches he made of Indian models who were held captive at Fort Sheridan in the aftermath of the massacre at Wounded Knee. Conceived in a sensationalist, luridly violent mode, the sculpture was long criticized by American Indian activists and was removed from public view in 1997.
It’s already gone! None of these should be destroyed; they should be preserved somewhere as examples of public art, no matter how misguided or lurid.
The New York Times details some pushback, but also gives one view of why Lincoln should be erased:
The committee’s list almost immediately drew criticism from some state leaders. “Never thought that statues of Abraham Lincoln or Ulysses S. Grant would be considered ‘controversial’ in the Land of Lincoln,” Representative Darin LaHood, a Republican who represents parts of Peoria and Springfield, wrote on Twitter. “This is detached from reason.”
Daniel Fountain, a professor of history at Meredith College in Raleigh, N.C., said that Lincoln’s legacy has come under scrutiny in the 21st century in part because, as a younger politician, his views reflected the white supremacist attitudes of most 19th-century politicians.
Professor Fountain noted that during his famous debate with Stephen Douglas, his rival in Illinois, Lincoln stated his opposition to letting Black people serve as jurors, marry white people or “attain any semblance of social equality.”
Lincoln’s views evolved during the Civil War, but those early statements remained “abysmal,” he said.
“For many, his flaws undermine his very real, significant achievements,” Professor Fountain said.
Well, Professor Fountain, for more people Lincoln’s achievements outweigh his flaws. How many people have to be offended before a statue is removed? And can’t we just add a plaque that he once held bigoted views but changed them? Why is that not enough? Woe to America if we have to pull down statues of Abe Lincoln!
In general I object to the erasure of history, for if we remove all monuments to people who, when morality changes over time, are found wanting, then almost all history will be gone.
The Atlantic just published what I see as the definitive way to regard monuments, and which of them really deserve to be removed. Click on the screenshot, and I do recommend that you read this thoughtful and reasonable take:
The issue of what to do with monuments and school names can be more complex than the cartoonish excesses of the woke left might indicate. Art’s impact on the public weal should not be the sole or leading measure of its worth—that way Stalinist “socialist realism” lies—but in certain cases it cannot be ignored.
Few would want a statue of Hitler or Mussolini or Tojo to stand in a town square, even if it was erected in the 1930s and thus could be said to be a historical artifact. Many of the Confederate statues in the South were commissioned in the dark days after the end of Reconstruction, when the Ku Klux Klan ran riot, Black people were terrorized and lynched, and the mythology of the “Lost Cause” was born. To treat such objects as if they were simply neutral cultural artifacts is to willfully misread history. Some public art is arguably so detrimental to social cohesion that a civic conversation about what to do with it is desirable.
In any case, the answer does not have to be to remove the “bad” public artworks. They can be curated, with explanatory material placing them in historical context. (Early Days was curated, but inadequately.) They can be balanced with other works: A German friend told me that in Hamburg, city officials dealt with a Nazi-built memorial glorifying war by commissioning a counter-memorial that criticized it. These works can be moved to a historic monument site, or to a museum—making explicit their status as aesthetic or historical objects, not exemplars of city values.
. . . In the end, self-righteous symbolic crusades like the school-renaming campaign must not be immune from criticism simply because they purport to fight racial injustice—that noble cause is debased by empty gestures that achieve nothing. Indeed, by creating conflict over trivial objectives—just turn on Fox News—they are more likely to harm the cause of societal progress and racial harmony than to advance it.
Yes, I shall be giving my input to the monument-inspection Pecksniffs, and perhaps to the mayor and my alderman.
How about a little levity to start the week? Inadvertent levity, that is, for the perpetrator of this “fake news”, Fatah, is the ruling party in the West Bank, and the levity is meant to be propaganda. Fatah is the biggest of the organizations/political parties under the aegis of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. Mahmoud Abbas is the head of both Fatah, the PLO and, of course, president of Palestinian Authority.
If you pay attention to the “news” put out by various Palestinian state media, of which Fatah is one, you’ll find all kinds of amusement amidst the lies. For example, Fatah regularly asserts that Mossad, the main organ of Israeli intelligence, trains animals to attack Palestinians and others. These include rats trained to bite Arabs in Jerusalem, wild pigs trained to destroy Palestinian fields, and sharks trained to attack European tourists in Egypt to damage the Egyptian tourist industry. There’s even a Wikipedia page on this issue called “Israel-related animal conspiracy theories.” It’s hilarious (check out the references).
Fatah also argued that Jews poison their wells, used the disaster in Haiti to harvest human organs for transplantation into rich Jews, and that Jewish archaeologists plant fake “proof” of ancient Jewish presence in the Holy Land.
The thing is (is) that many Palestinians and Arabs believe this stuff. The latest and perhaps biggest whopper is the one below, again promulgated by Fatah: the British stole Big Ben from the British Mandate of Palestine (the area where Jews and Arabs lived after the Ottoman Empire collapsed), and took Big Ben to London, where it now chimes daily.
If you ask how people can believe this guff, well, ask yourself why so many Americans believe in QAnon.? The power of confirmation bias is strong.
Here’s a Palestinian woman who firmly believes the Purloined Big Ben Theory. If you speak Arabic, feel free to translate some of it.
This #Palestinian woman explains that Big Ben in London is actually Palestinian. It used to be in Jerusalem at Jaffa Gate and everyone would hear it chiming, but the British took it to Britain in 1922 during the Mandate. Inshallah one day it will be returned to the #Palestinians. https://t.co/BQQea0rxY5
And here’s the article from the official Fatah news showing the supposedly stolen clock in situ in the 1920s (click on the screenshots to go to the site):
And the entirety of their article. Note the claim that Big Ben was taken to the British Museum!
Well, it takes about ten seconds of Googling to dispel this fiction. According to Wikipedia, the clock tower in England (it’s the bell itself that’s formally known as “Big Ben,” not the whole clock or the tower) was completed in 1859, well before the supposed theft. And the clock’s movement was finished in 1854, five years before it was put into the tower.
Of course, I suppose you could always claim that Wikipedia was a Jewish conspiracy. . .
We can be thankful that the New York Times hasn’t gone this far—yet.
Somebody found an old interview (actually a monologue) with Jake Angeli, aka Jacob Chansley, aka QAnon Shaman, aka Hornéd Fur Hat Viking Guy. Angeli now has his very own Wikipedia page (it took me years to get one, but all he had to do is don a stupid hat, paint his face, and run into the Capitol!), and he’s been arrested for “knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, and with violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds”.
The Shaman wouldn’t eat when he was in jail because the food wasn’t organic, but Wikipedia reports that now he’s getting his organic food. That’s because he’s very special. We love him, though he can’t spell “pedophile” (7:41).
I listened to the whole thing, but I doubt you’ll make it past one minute. He probably has a tinfoil hat under the fur one.
Also, watch out for pizza signs with devil horns on them.
Shoot me now! According to the Vanity Fair article below (click on screenshot) Van Morrison wrote a song, “Stand and Deliver”, clearly meant to denigrate Britain’s public-health restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic. Worse—the song was performed by Eric Clapton (below). Both of these guys were musical heroes of mine, but now I’m not so sure. And I wasn’t aware that this is Morrison’s fourth anti-lockdown song. Well, nobody ever claimed the guy was fully on the rails, but—et tu, Clapton?
You know, a lot of rock stars were loons or nasty s.o.b.s, but so long as they produced good songs, I didn’t much care. But this time they’ve released an odious song!
A few words from the Vanity Fair article:
Eric Clapton and Van Morrison, both age 75 and therefore at 220 times the risk of death from COVID-19 compared to people 18 to 29, have released a blues-rock track raging against public health codes.
“Stand and Deliver,” written by Morrison and sung by Clapton, includes couplets like “Do you wanna be a free man / Or do you wanna be a slave? / Do you wanna wear these chains / Until you’re lying in the grave?”
It continues “Magna Carta, Bill of Rights/The constitution, what’s it worth?/You know they’re gonna grind us down/Until it really hurts/Is this a sovereign nation/Or just a police state?/You better look out, people/Before it gets too late.”
The phrase “stand and deliver” is associated with highwaymen, suggesting that Morrison and Clapton feel that governments scrambling to keep their populations alive are somehow stealing from them. The track concludes with the line “Dick Turpin wore a mask too.” Turpin was an 18th century British criminal known for highway robbery.
In late 2020, music legends Van Morrison and Eric Clapton announced they had collaborated on a new a single, to be released on Dec. 4. They announced the profits were going to Morrison’s Lockdown Financial Hardship Fund, a philanthropic project to support musicians whose livelihoods have been harmed by a series of lockdowns in the U.K., designed to combat the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Here’s the song, with the lyrics below. There’s no doubt it’s about opposing pandemic restrictions. If you don’t believe that, read the lyrics—especially the last line. I have to say, though, that this is a pretty crappy song. I doubt you’ll be hearing it on the oldies stations in the future.
Stand and deliver
You let them put the fear on you
Stand and deliver
But not a word you heard was true
But if there’s nothing you can say
There may be nothing you can do
Do you wanna be a free man
Or do you wanna be a slave?
Do you wanna be a free man
Or do you wanna be a slave?
Do you wanna wear these chains
Until you’re lying in the grave?
I don’t wanna be a pauper
And I don’t wanna be a prince
I don’t wanna be a pauper
And I don’t wanna be a prince
I just wanna do my job
Playing the blues for friends
Magna Carta, Bill of Rights
The constitution, what’s it worth?
You know they’re gonna grind us down, ah
Until it really hurts
Is this a sovereign nation
Or just a police state?
You better look out, people
Before it gets too late
You wanna be your own driver
Or keep on flogging a dead horse?
You wanna be your own driver
Or keep on flogging a dead horse?
Do you wanna make it better
Or do you wanna make it worse?
Stand and deliver
You let them put the fear on you
Slow down the river
But not a word of it was true
If there’s nothing you can say
There may be nothing you can do
Stand and deliver
Stand and deliver Dick Turpin wore a mask too