Shrovetide, Or, Great Eggspectations By Charles Chickens
It’s Shrovetide – in secular terms, the six days preceding Lent. In this period so far we’ve had Fat Thursday, Kissing Friday and today – Egg Saturday. Still to come we have Quinquagesima Sunday (tomorrow), Collop Monday and Shrove Tuesday (better known as Pancake Tuesday).
Religiously, Shrovetide is really only the three days preceding Ash Wednesday (the beginning of Lent) but the secular celebrations before this Christian fast of forty days have always been stretched to round about the week preceding Lent because the original Fast was only of thirty-six days duration and didn’t start until the Monday after the First Sunday of Lent which was often called Quadragesima Sunday. This meant that Shrovetide extended beyond Ash Wednesday right up to the First Sunday in Lent which was the original Shrove Sunday and when the start of the Fast was thrown back to Ash Wednesday it was natural that the revels and games which had always preceded it should be pushed back by the requisite number of days as well.
For those of you who are trying to count forty days backwards from Easter to determine Ash Wednesday please remember that the forty days of Lent (or the earlier form of Lent of thirty-six days I referred to in the second paragraph) do not include Sundays – unless, that is, you count backwards from Easter to tomorrow (Quinquagesima Sunday) when you have to count the Sundays in (including Easter Sunday – April 24th. this year – and Quinquagesimae itself) to make the fifty days before Easter that Quinquagesima Sunday could be. This is because the name Quinquagesima originates from Latin quinquagesimus meaning ‘fiftieth’1. Some people just call Quinquagesima Sunday simply ‘Quinquagesimae’ and sometimes simple ‘Shrove Sunday’ and one will still hear people refer to it as ‘Estomihi’ which is derived from the Introit2 for that Sunday which contains Psalm 31 that begins Esto mihi in Deum protectorem, et in locum refugii, ut salvum me facias... (In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed : deliver me in thy righteousness...). The reason for not including Sundays when counting the Days of Abstinence in Lent is because every Sunday recalls the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus and they can be thought of as ‘little Easters’ and therefore not treated as Days of Penance or Abstinence3.
Some of you may remember from some of my previous posts (see here, and see here, and see here) that children are often involved in our festivals and feasts in ways that actively promote the transference of gewgaws, pennies and luxury foodstufs from the adults store cupboards and pockets to them. Shrovetide used to be no exception but nowadays the custom of children ‘shroving’ seems to have died out completely in England as, regrettably, has the same sort of custom called ‘souling’ that the children used to indulge in on All Souls’ Day on November the third which has become all mixed up with guising (trick-and-treating).
However, I still remember the shroving rhyme taught to me by my great-grandmother when I was a lad of about three or four years of age:
Shrovetide is nigh at hand,
And I am come a-shroving;
Pray, Dame, a small thing,
An apple or a dumpling,
Or a piece of truckle4 cheese
All of your own making,
Or a piece of pancake, please.
The last line was supposed to be shouted out and the ‘please’ was supposed to be very loud indeed.
All sorts of games, especially ball, hoop and bat type games were once traditional at Shrovetide all over England. One or two games still survive such as that at Alnwick where the players and officials will march in procession behind the Duke of Northumberland’s Piper to the Pastures for the match. The first team to score two hales (goals) will be declared the winner. This sort of a game goes back at least to medieval times when the poorer people entertained themselves with various games, one of which would be kicking something around – possibly an inflated pig’s bladder or some such organ from a dead animal. This eventually developed into primitive football. Shrovetide football was played in almost every town and village across Britain at one time, mostly in the streets. Alnwick was no different and the game was started by the Duke of Northumberland’s porter throwing a ball over the castle wall to the waiting hundreds.
Then there is the granddaddy of them all, of course: The Royal Shrovetide Football played with thousands of people and a hand painted, cork filled ball between goalposts that are three miles apart in Ashbourne in Derbyshire for eight hours on Shrove Tuesday and another eight hours on Ash Wednesday. This particular game dates back to at least AD1349 (Edward III is recorded as trying to ban it) and is played by just two teams – those who live north of the River Henmore and those who live south of it.
Shrovetide is the time of confession, absolution and penance. The word ‘shrove’ is the past participle of the verb to ‘shrive’ and means to confess, receive absolution and do penance. It is the season of the year when Christians are expected to take a good, hard, long look at themselves and identify their shortcomings and their wrongdoings and correct both. Shrovetide is also a time for secular merriment before the more sombre season of Lent the forty days of which commemorate the forty years that the Israelites wandered in the deserts and the forty days that our Lord Jesus fasted in the desert.
Fat Thursday, of course, traditionally starts Shrovetide. It’s traditionally a day for feasting and general partying. One feasts copiously on all the things that are traditionally abstained from during the Lenten days – meat, sugar, fat, eggs, honey, biscuits (cookies), cakes, preserves and so forth – and this uses them up and prevents them going to waste. It’s also known as Bloody Thursday because in some parts of England it’s traditional to make and consume black puddings on this day. In many parts of the northeast of England it’s known as Fruttace (Fritter) Thursday because the custom was to eat fritters made from eggs, flour, apples and various dried fruits and spices. In some places Ash Wednesday is also known as Fruttace Wednesday for the same reason.
Kissing Friday comes next and it got its name because boys were allowed to give girls a kiss without fear of reprisals. In and around Leicestershire and in one or two other places this day was known as Nippy Hug Day because a man was allowed to request a kiss from the woman of his choice and if he was denied then he was allowed to louse (that is ‘to pinch like a louse’s bite’) the lady’s posterior. I understand that these customs have died out and Kissing Friday is now simply the day on which you salute your own partner warmly and often.
Egg Saturday (today) – Festum Ovorum – is traditionally the day in Shrovetide when as many as possible of the preserved eggs in one’s larder are used up and Pasch (pronounced ‘pask’) Eggs are given as gifts. Pasch Eggs ordinary eggs (preserved or fresh) the shells of which have been coloured and decorated. I understand that the tradition of giving Pasch Eggs still persists in Oxford though I haven’t been able to corroborate that. The giving of Pasch Eggs seems to have died out elsewhere in England but the eating of egg-based dishes on this day still goes on.
Quinquagesima Sunday (Shrove Sunday) I’ve already mentioned. It’s the most popular day for formal confession and for asking for forgiveness from those you have wronged. It’s also a fire festival of a sort – one should burn all the rubbish from one’s home in the evening of Shrove Sunday and this marks the start of spring-cleaning. Children used to be entertained by pinning sweet things to red cord suspended from the ceiling and they had to take a bite from the goodies without using their hands. Great fun!
Collop Monday, also known as Shrove Monday, is sometimes called Rose Monday, Merry Monday or Hall Monday and I’m afraid that I don’t know why. It’s also the second last day of Carnival and is sometimes called ‘Lundi Gras’. In England it’s Collop Monday and on that day we eat collops (pieces) of bacon with more eggs. It is said that the bacon provides the fat for the pancakes on the following day but that is not strictly true for it all depends on how fatty the bacon is to begin with and whether or not one is making savoury pancakes. In Cornwall this day is Peasen Monday because Pea Soup is served with the collops of bacon. Traditionally, in the evening children knocked on doors and ran away before anyone opened them (the Nick Nack game), but in Cornwall this is Nicka-nan Night when anything not securely sequestered will be moved or removed by prowling children. Also in Cornwall a Jack O’Lent straw figure used to be burnt on a bonfire. In Cornwall Cornish Hurling is very popular at Shrovetide and the famous 'Hurling of the silver ball' at St Columb Major still occurs during the run up to Lent.
Shrove Tuesday is the one Shrovetide Day to have many of its customs and traditions survive almost intact. It’s Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, the last day of Carnival. In England, as part of community celebrations, many towns used to hold Mob football games some of which dated back to at least twelfth century. The practice mostly died out in the nineteenth century, after the passing of the Highway Act 1835 which banned playing football on public highways. A number of towns have maintained the tradition, including Alnwick in Northumberland as I mentioned earlier, Ashbourne in Derbyshire (called the Royal Shrovetide Football Match) which I also mentioned earlier, Atherstone (called the Ball Game) in Warwickshire, Sedgefield (called the Ball Game) in County Durham, and St Columb Major (called Hurling the Silver Ball) in Cornwall which, gain, I mentioned earlier.
Shrove Tuesday was once known as a 'half-holiday' in England. It started at 11:00am with the signalling of a church bell.On Pancake Day, pancake races are held in villages and towns across the United Kingdom. The tradition is said to have originated when a housewife from Olney was so busy making pancakes that she forgot the time until she heard the church bells ringing for the service. She hurried out of her house to Church while she was still carrying her frying pan with a pancake in it. Pancake races are a common tradition in England even today. A pancake race is one where the contestants run through the streets whilst tossing pancakes into the air and catching them in the pan without breaking stride.
The tradition of pancake racing had started long ago. The most famous pancake race, at Olney in Buckinghamshire, has been held since 1445. A very similar race is held in North Somercotes in Lincolnshire.
I’m informed that Scarborough in North Yorkshire used to celebrate by closing off the foreshore road to all traffic, closing schools early, and inviting all residents to skip in the road. I don’t know if this tradition is still maintained. Traditionally, long ropes were used from the fishing ships in the nearby harbour. The Town Crier used to ring in the day with the pancake bell, situated on the corner of Westborough (Main Street) and Huntress Row.
The children of the small village of Whitechapel, Lancashire still keep alive a tradition of visiting local households and asking "please a pancake", to be rewarded with oranges or sweets. It is thought the tradition arose when farm workers visited the wealthier farm and manor owners to ask for pancakes or pancake fillings but this reminds me very much of the shroving rhyme my great-grandmother taught me.
Shrove Tuesday is the final day before Lent and that is when all the minor leftovers are finally eaten – eggs, butter, fat and so forth. Pancakes were made from those ingredients with the first three made being set aside with the quote: “One for St. Peter, one for St. Paul and one for Him that made us all” and traditionally those first pancakes were made over a fire on which was burning the dried remains of the Christmastide Holly decorations. In parts of Hertfordshire and other places in England this day used to be known as Doughnut Day because they made those comestibles rather than pancakes, but pancakes seem to have taken over everywhere now.
One other little English custom that seems to have died out completely is the Holly Boy and the Ivy Girl. In country villages, especially in Kent, it used to be traditional for the boys to make a model of a man from Holly and the girls to make a model maiden from Ivy. They then exchanged the figures and burnt them on separate bonfires at opposite ends of the village. Why? I have no idea!
Cockfighting was always a popular sport on Shrove Tuesday until it was made illegal. Cock-shying – throwing stones at cocks – was also popular and was also made illegal though the term ‘cockshy’ is still in the language but the ‘cock’ these days is simply an inanimate object as a target and a ‘cockshy’ is a throw at it. Thrashing the Hen was also popular and consisted of a man with a hen tied to his back and hung about with horse bells running around an enclosed space trying to avoid lots of other blindfolded people wielding sticks who were intent on killing, and thereby gaining, the hen.5
That’s about the sum of it for Shrovetide. The day after is Ash Wednesday but that’s another story. Shrovetide is not just about fun, feasting and frolics with football and fowl, it’s also about putting things right and atoning through abstinence in Lent.
The Christian Fast of Lent is a ritual fast. It’s not the stupidity of Ramadan with denial of all food and drink through certain hours – a practice that is medically bad for a human and stupid in itself. It is not about ostentatious and rather silly fasting in the Islamic style but about abstaining from worldly pleasures and examining one’s conscience and state of being. It’s about plain and abstemious eating and symbolic denial by giving up for the duration something one enjoys; and that is why Shrovetide became such a festivity – it was a way of using up things that might otherwise tempt a body during Lent. It’s more than just ending Carnival on high note, it’s also about learning and demonstrating that one knows that life is about more than the simple pleasures of Carnival – it’s also about being a rounded and whole human being in touch with God and one’s own spirituality.
1. Interestingly, the preceding Sundays to Quinquagesima Sunday are, in order and working backwards, Sexagesima Sunday, which, despite its name, is not exactly sixty days before Easter, and Septuagesima Sunday, which, according to Amalarius of Metz could be exactly seventy days before the end of Easter if one counted the nine weeks to Easter plus Easter Week (the week after Easter Sunday, not to confused with Holy Week which is the week before Easter Sunday) and that that period would symbolise the seventy year long Babylonian Captivity of the Jews. In practice, however, the ‘gesimas’ are no longer officially used by the Church and these Sundays, so romantically named to modern ears, are just part of Ordinary Time. Ordinary Time – tempus per annum – for the Church consists of two periods: the one following Epiphany (the feast or the season) and the other following Pentecost, neither of which fall under the ‘strong seasons’ of Advent, Christmas, Lent, or Easter. The weeks in ordinary time are numbered, although several Sundays are named for the feast they commemorate, such as Trinity Sunday (the first Sunday after Pentecost) and the Feast of Christ the King (the last Sunday in Ordinary Time – that is to say the Sunday immediately preceding the start of Advent), and for American Catholics, the Feast of Corpus Christi (the second Sunday after Pentecost).
2. An ‘Introit’ (from the Latin ‘introitus’ meaning ‘entrance’) is the opening part of the celebration of Mass and consists of the entrance antiphon (a responsory sung between choir and congregation), a Psalm (as laid down for the day), and the Gloria Patri (the Lesser Doxology: Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto, Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen – the Anglican version of which is usually rendered as ‘Glory be to the Father, and to the Son : and to the Holy Ghost; As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be : world without end. Amen).
3. The Church permits those who want to, to start their Lenten observances of Abstinence and Penance on Septuagesima Sunday and to exclude Thursdays and Saturdays as well as Sundays from the observance. That is obviously an easier regime for children or the infirm to follow even though it starts two weeks earlier and still has forty days of Abstinence in it. Septuagesima Sunday also marks the start of Carnival proper (often Carnival celebrations start completely unofficially immediately after Epiphany) which ends on Fat Tuesday often called ‘Mardi Gras’ and usually called ‘Shrove Tuesday’ – the Tuesday immediately preceding Lent.
4. A ‘truckle cheese’ is a real and proper homemade cheese and is invariably a vaguely beer barrel shaped wheel of cheese still with its rind on. The word comes from the Latin trochlea meaning a wheel or, depending on context, the complete pulley.
5. Volume 11, Part 2, of the Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics refers.
J. Brand, Observations on Popular Antiquities, London (UK), 1849.
R. Chambers, The Book of Days, Paris (France), 1908.
J. Stowe, Survey of London, London (UK), 1710.
Lucy Aikin, Memoires of the Court of Queen Eliabeth, London (UK), 1810.
H.A. Wilson (Editor), The Gelasian Sacramentary, Oxford (UK), 1891.
Confusion has arisen because there are two Shariah4America websites.
One is Shariah4America.com, the authentic site, whose contact phone number is the same as that for the Islamic Thinkers Society, a New York City based Islamist group, which is linked to Revolution Muslim and the UK's Al-Muhajiroun, formerly led by Anjem Choudary before being banned there. Anjem Choudary was due to protest in front of the White House before canceling his plans. The plan to deface the Statue of Liberty is on this site.
However Sharia4America (note the spelling) is a semi-parody site by Reza Soltani of MuslimsDebate, an Iranian-American from California, who calls himself a Muslim reformer and opposes the imposition of Sharia Law on America. These are two fundamentally different sites.
FOX News reported this correctly, but because of the similar website spellings there has been some confusion. The Islamic Thinkers Society is also known to be deliberately provocative, outrageous and confrontational in order to court publicity. (See more on this at Atlas Shrugs.)
One of my many regrets—and there comes a time in life when regret is almost inseparable from memory itself—is that I received no formal literary education, at least not after the age of sixteen. Such as I had until then received came to an abrupt halt, soon after a teacher of English gave me one of the greatest intellectual pleasures of my life. She was teaching the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins, but not in a didactic way. Instead she drew from us, by the Socratic method, the meaning of words that had at first seemed to us used arbitrarily, or at least eccentrically, with whimsical neologism piled on ungrammatical solecism. I cannot now recall the actual content of what we learned, but the pleasure of its discovery remains with me much as the grin of the Cheshire cat remained after the cat itself had disappeared.
Even now, nearly half a century later, as I walk through the woods around my house in France and the sunlight comes variegated through the leafy canopy, I cannot but think of the poem that begins: “Glory be to God for dappled things—/ For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow.” I thank my teacher. And thanks to her, I realize that there is no nobler or more honorable calling than that of teacher: for a good teacher hopes, knows, and accepts that some of his pupils will outstrip him in learning, accomplishment, or social status. Indeed, this is the very consolation of a teacher’s declining years. Genuine rejoicing at the success of others is by no means a universal human trait, to put it mildly, and therefore is much to be celebrated where it exists.
After my sixteenth birthday, more or less, I was left to my own devices as to what to read and how. On the whole, I accepted the world’s judgment of what was good and bad, and when I disagreed with that judgment I assumed that the fault was mine. I had been left without systematic or objective criteria by which to judge; I assumed that such criteria were necessary, that they existed, and that they were rigorously applied by proper critics.
Abdelmassih: "4000 Muslims Attack Christian Homes in Egypt, Torch Church"
The Jihad against Copts in Egypt has erupted in earnest. Note this AINA report by Mary Abdelmassih of the AINA news agency, "4000 Muslims Attack Christian Homes in Egypt, Torch Church". This massive assault by Egyptian Muslims on a Christian enclave was located within less than 30 miles of Cairo. Did the minstream meeting cover this? Or are they pre-occupied with the tribal warfare in oil rich Libya pitting madman Moummar Ghaddafi and his mercenaries against Libyan rebels from tribes in Benghazi and elsewhere. Note in this AINA report that the Egyptian Army stood by as Coptic churches were torched and Christians assaulted. So much for tolerance of religious minorities in the new era of Muslim mobocracy in the 'new Egypt'. All minority Christians in the Middle East are threatened, however, the Copts are the most significant minority in Egypt - over 10 perecent of the country's 80 million in population. Not unlike the proposals for establishment of an Assyrian Christian enclave on the biblical Plains of Nineveh in Iraq, should there be a similar proposal for Copts in Egypt? In retrospect an opportunity for a possible safe haven for the Copts was lost when Israel ceded control of the Sinai peninsula in its "cold peace treaty" with the Egypt in March, 1979. That might have provided space for a security belt to protect Israel's southern border with Egypt and a possible self-administered enclave for Egypt's Copts with security provided by the IDF. It would have also isolated Hamas in Gaza. Pity.
Here is the AINA report of the latest Jihadist assault on religious minorities in the Muslim ummah.
AINA) -- A mob of nearly four thousand Muslims has attacked Coptic homes this evening in the village of Soul, Atfif in Helwan Governorate, 30 kilometers from Cairo, and torched the Church of St. Mina and St. George. There are conflicting reports about the whereabouts of the Church pastor Father Yosha and three deacons who were at church; some say they died in the fire and some say they are being held captive by the Muslims inside the church.
Witnesses report the mob prevented the fire brigade from entering the village. The army, which has been stationed for the last two days in the village of Bromil, 7 kilometers from Soul, initially refused to go into Soul, according to the officer in charge. When the army finally sent three tanks to the village, Muslim elders sent them away, saying that everything was "in order now."
A curfew has been imposed on the 12,000 Christians in the village.
This incident was triggered by a relationship between 40-year-old Copt Ashraf Iskander and a Muslim woman. Yesterday a "reconciliation" meeting was arranged between the relevant Coptic and Muslim families and together with the Muslim elders it was decided that Ashraf Iskander would have to leave the village because Muslims torched his house.
The father of the Muslim woman was killed by his cousin because he did not kill his daughter to preserve the family's honor, which led the woman's brother to avenge the death of his father by killing the cousin. The village Muslims blamed the Christians.
The Muslim mob attacked the church, exploding 5-6 gas cylinders inside the church, pulled down the cross and the domes and burnt everything inside. Activist Ramy Kamel of Katibatibia Coptic advocacy called US-based Coptic Hope Sat TV and sent an SOS on behalf of the Copts in Soul village, as they are presently being attacked by the mob. He also said that no one is able to contact the priest and the deacons inside the burning church and there is no answer from their mobile phones.
Coptic activist Wagih Yacoub reported the mob has broken into Coptic homes and has called on Copts to leave the village. "Terrorized Copts have fled and some hid in homes of Muslim neighbors," he added.
Witnesses said the mob chanted "Allahu Akbar" and vowed to conduct their morning prayers on the church plot after razing it.
Hooray for Courageous Jessica Felber who Brought Civil Rights Case over Students for Justice in Palestine attack at UCBerkeley
Atorrney Neal Sher former Director of USDOJ- OSI
Thank you to Doris Wise Montrose for alerting us to this story. Ms. Jessica Felber, a courageous 20-year old Jewish student at University of California - Berkeley, is to be commended for bringing a civil rights action against the university administration and the University of California system Board of Regents and Chancellor for a physical attack on March 5, 2010 by a Muslim student and leader of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), Husam Zakaria. One of her counsel is the famed Neal Sher, who was in charge of the Nazi-hunting Office of Special Investigation at the US Department of Justice.
University of California at Berkeley was again the site of a clash involving pro-Israel and anti-Israel activists last Friday when Husam Zakharia, leader of the Students for Justice in Palestine, assaulted Jessica Felber of the pro-Israel Tikvah group with a shopping cart.
[. . .]
Zakharia intentionally slammed her from behind with a shopping cart with toys donated for the welfare of Arab children in the hamas-controlled Gaza region.
Felber told Israel National News that she immediately placing her attacker under citizens’ arrest. Police arrested him later that day and Felber expressed hope that the District Attorney will see the case through and file charges against Zakaria.
The news release from Attorney Sher’s New York office notes the recent charges brought by the Orange County, California, District attorney against 11 Muslim students from U.C. Riverside and U.C. Irvine for their disruption of the speech by Israeli ambassador to the US, Michael Oren at U.C. Irvine in February, 2010. See our post about that legal action, here. For background on the disruption at the Amb. Oren event and consistent and unrestrained intimidation by Muslim students at UC Irvine, see our NER interview with Zionist activist, Dee Sterling.
Here are the facts from the news release on the legal action;
A first of its kind federal civil rights case has been filed in United States District Court in Oakland, California, against the University of California at Berkeley, the Regents of the University of California and their ranking officials, by a Jewish student who had been assaulted on campus last year by a leader of a Muslim student organization during a pro-Israel event.
On March 5, 2010, Jessica Felber, a twenty year old Jewish student at Berkeley, was attacked and injured on campus because of her Jewish ancestry and religious affiliation. At the time she was holding a sign stating “Israel wants Peace.” Her assailant, Husam Zakharia, also a UC Berkeley student, was the leader of Students for Justice in Palestine (“SJP”) at Berkeley.
Defendants were fully aware that Zakharia, the SJP and similar student groups had been involved in other incidents on campus to incite violence against and intimidate Jewish and other students. Nevertheless, in clear dereliction of their legal responsibilities, Defendants took no reasonable steps to protect Ms. Felber and others.
The Complaint further describes how the SJP conspires and coordinates with the Muslim Student Association (“MSA”), which has a publicly documented history of affiliation with and support of organizations deemed “terror organizations” by the United States Department of State. That they have resorted to intimidation and harassment is evidenced most recently by the fact that the District Attorney of Orange County, California, has indicted eleven students from these groups for inciting and disrupting a speech given by the Israeli Ambassador to the United States at the University of California, Irvine.
The Complaint charges that the assault was the result of the university having: (1) fostered and encouraged campus terrorist incitements by the SJP and the MSA) ; (2) turned a blind eye to the perpetrators of illegal activities; (3) failed to effectively discipline the MSA and SJP for their pro-terrorist programs, goals and conduct; despite having ample notice that such violence was foreseeable; and (4) failed to provide adequate security to prevent the violence, harassment and intimidation which occurred on March 5, 2010.
Ignoring complaints from students about the poisonous climate on campus, defendants condoned, allowed and enabled groups such as the MSA and the SJP to threaten, harass and intimidate Jewish students and to endanger their health and safety. Their tolerance of the growing cancer of a dangerous anti-Semitic climate on its campuses, and their failure to take adequate measures to quell it, violated the rights of Ms. Felber’s and other students to enjoy a peaceful campus environment free from threats and intimidation.
As the Complaint reminds us, the on-campus activities of the SJP and MSA against plaintiff and other students of Jewish religion and ancestry - and the university's failure to confront them - present a disturbing echo of the darkest period in history: the incitement, intimidation, harassment and violence carried out under the Nazi regime and those of its allies in Europe against Jewish students and scholars in the leading universities of those countries during the turbulent years leading up to and including the Holocaust.
There is a genuine fear by Ms. Felber and other students of Jewish ancestry on campuses throughout the University of California system that the tragic lessons of history have not yet been learned by these defendants. They fear that the University of California campuses are no longer places of hope and dignity, of academic and personal freedom, or of peaceful life and personal safety.
Ms. Felber is represented by Joel H. Siegal a civil rights attorney in San Francisco, and New York attorney Neal M. Sher, who for many years was the Director of the Justice Department’s Nazi prosecution office.
I had just woken from surgery when the first death threat arrived.
“This is an open threat to Xaar Boy @Tarek Fatah,” read the first Twitter posting, with its vulgar Somali adjective. “I know where you live & and where your office is.”
The sender signed herself as Mariama AnnaLitical and pictured herself wearing a purple hijab in the style of Toronto’s radical young Islamists. Other Twitter followers denounced the threat and urged that AnnaLitical be reported, even arrested. At one point she withdrew the warning, then repeated it later the same morning:
“He was also the 1 to propose banning the Niqab in Quebec… (and he) supports homosexuality,” she wrote, reiterating again: “This is an open threat. I know where you live/work @TarekFatah.”
Her fellow Islamists joined in, calling me a bad Muslim for opposing the hijab and supporting equality for gays. Other posters said I had brought the threats down onto myself.
I contacted Toronto police. Within hours, two uniformed policemen from 51 Division came to interview me in hospital. However, barely one minute later, we were interrupted. Two men entered the room and told everybody else to leave. They did not identify themselves, but five minutes into what amounted to a two-hour interrogation, I realized they were police intelligence officers. One of them, I recognized by reputation – a Muslim officer who had shut down a previous investigation into a death threat against me in 2008, and another one against a partner in liberal Islam, Tahir Gora.
The latter incident took place in the winter of 2007. Gora, at that time, a columnist for the Hamilton Spectator, had spotted a Facebook page titled “The Enemies of Islam.” The page masthead featured the names and pictures of Gora, Bangladesh author Taslima Nasreen, Sir Salman Rushdie, Irshad Manji and yours truly. Next to Gora’s name was written, “Pseudo Muslims like you should be put to death.” Similar threats were made against the other secular or liberal Muslims on the list.
Gora alerted Toronto police and within days he was visited by two plainclothes officers. Both were Muslim. Gora showed the lead officer all the posts, but despite the mountain of evidence, the officer showed little interest.
“He told me they [the police] felt the website creator was not in a position to harm me,” Gora says. When Gora suggested charges should be laid to serve as a deterrent, the officer refused. “From the officer’s tone and body language,” Gora says, “it was obvious he was upset that I was filing a complaint against a fellow Muslim.”
Meanwhile, after the intelligence officers left, the original officers confided to me that it was unusual for “intel” to act before a report had even been filed. I realized this was now about politics, and nothing would be done to help me.
Later that night, the same Muslim officer called me to say AnnaLitical posed no danger. “She didn’t mean to say it,” the officer said. I asked if any charges were laid. “No,” he said. “I didn’t think it was necessary.”
I have since informed Toronto Police Services chair Alok Mukherjee and Police Chief Bill Blair. Mukerjee assured me he will look into the matter. Chief Blair has not replied.
The Toronto police, in their wish to promote an image of diversity and outreach, have dedicated themselves to serving and protecting the the radical Islamist elements within our city. Meanwhile, Muslims like myself, who do their best to promote the equality and respect that the police claim to cherish, are left without legal protection when radicals explicitly and publicly threaten us with violence. In Toronto, anybody can issue an “open threat” against a man laying helpless in a hospital bed and be assured they will not face charges, so long as the person making the threat is a black Muslim woman wearing a hijab.
I’m hopeful that the police may yet make the right decision, now that I have gone public with this disgrace. If not, I will know the city I love is lost.
This story also illustrates why reform of Islam remains a Holy Grail: reformers are not considered true Muslims and their lives are forfeit.
The Wisconsin State Senate and the Cheeseheads Who Turned the United States into a Banana Republic
The severe economic downturn that has caused markets and house prices to plummet has resulted in the highest unemployment since the Great Depression in most Western countries. This has provided ample opportunity for those who preach class warfare to trot out the old slogans and insist that once again capitalism has failed and that the “workers” must stand united against their class enemies. This wholly false appeal has not been able to stop the real “revolt of the masses” in the United States – the appearance of an authentic mass movement of voters close to the national average in most respects, many of whom are wage earners or retired on fixed incomes, slightly older and more educated, The Tea Party. All accurate measures of the motives and socio-economic standing as well as their cultural values demonstrate that those who joined in a mighty leaderless movement to rise up and give the Democrats under Obama’s leadership the “shellacking” are poised to continue their opposition to big government and the welfare state.
Those members of labor unions in the public sector who see their favored position and guaranteed security in the most unstable situation for the past seventy years continue to fight tooth and nail under the banner of workers’ solidarity that is a myth and a slap in the face of all salaried employees in the private sector and the ranks of unemployed whose interests are diametrically opposed to those teachers, nurses, firemen and other state employees in vital services who occupy the State Capitol.
The Wisconsin “Cheeseheads” have brought us to the brink of The Banana Republic in which the rule of law has been superseded by threats and intimidations or the outright destruction of Republican Representative Government by renegade state senators who violated their oath of office by flight and subterfuge. The elected Democrat legislators of the Senate who fled to Illinois to prevent the necessary quorum of the Wisconsin Senate defied and ridiculed Wisconsin Constitution Article IV that states the oath of office they swore to uphold….
Oath of office. SECTION 28. Members of the legislature, and all officers, executive and judicial, …. shall before they enter upon the duties of their respective offices, take and subscribe an oath or affirmation to support the constitution of the United States and the constitution of the state of Wisconsin, and faithfully to discharge the duties of their respective offices to the best of their ability.”
--see my forthcoming book, The Left is Seldom Right, Chapter 24 (Case Closed; The Utter Failure of Marxism)
NASA Scientist Claims To Have Found Fossil Bacteria in Meteorites
A photograph taken through a scanning electron microscope of a CI1 meteorite is similar in size and overall structure to the giant bacterium Titanospirillum velox, an organism found here on planet Earth, a NASA scientist said.
Everyone seems to be taking this very seriously. From Fox News:
We are not alone in the universe -- and alien life forms may have a lot more in common with life on Earth than we had previously thought.
That's the stunning conclusion one NASA scientist has come to, releasing his groundbreaking revelations in a new study in the March edition of the Journal of Cosmology.
Dr. Richard B. Hoover, an astrobiologist with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, has traveled to remote areas in Antarctica, Siberia, and Alaska, amongst others, for over ten years now, collecting and studying meteorites. He gave FoxNews.com early access to the out-of-this-world research, published late Friday evening in the March edition of the Journal of Cosmology. In it, Hoover describes the latest findings in his study of an extremely rare class of meteorites, called CI1 carbonaceous chondrites -- only nine such meteorites are known to exist on Earth.
In what he calls “a very simple process,” Dr. Hoover fractured the meteorite stones under a sterile environment before examining the freshly broken surface with the standard tools of the scientist: a scanning-electron microscope and a field emission electron-scanning microscope, which allowed him to search the stone’s surface for evidence of fossilized remains.
He found the fossilized remains of micro-organisms not so different from ordinary ones found underfoot -- here on earth, that is.
“The exciting thing is that they are in many cases recognizable and can be associated very closely with the generic species here on earth,” Hoover told FoxNews.com. But not all of them. “There are some that are just very strange and don’t look like anything that I’ve been able to identify, and I’ve shown them to many other experts that have also come up stumped.”
Other scientists tell FoxNews.com the implications of this research are shocking, describing the findings variously as profound, very important and extraordinary. But Dr. David Marais, an astrobiologist with NASA’s AMES Research Center, says he’s very cautious about jumping onto the bandwagon.
These kinds of claims have been made before, he noted -- and found to be false.
“It’s an extraordinary claim, and thus I’ll need extraordinary evidence,” Marais said.
Knowing that the study will be controversial, the journal invited members of the scientific community to analyze the results and to write critical commentaries ahead of time. Though none are online yet, those comments will be posted alongside the article, said Dr. Rudy Schild, a scientist with the Harvard-Smithsonian's Center for Astrophysics and the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Cosmology.
"Given the controversial nature of his discovery, we have invited 100 experts and have issued a general invitation to over 5,000 scientists from the scientific community to review the paper and to offer their critical analysis," Schild wrote in an editor's note along with the article. "No other paper in the history of science has undergone such a thorough vetting, and never before in the history of science has the scientific community been given the opportunity to critically analyze an important research paper before it is published, he wrote."
Though it may be hard to swallow, Hoover is convinced that his findings reveal fossil evidence of bacterial life within such meteorites, the remains of living organisms from their parent bodies -- comets, moons and other astral bodies. By extension, the findings suggest we are not alone in the universe, he said.
“I interpret it as indicating that life is more broadly distributed than restricted strictly to the planet earth,” Hoover told FoxNews.com. “This field of study has just barely been touched -- because quite frankly, a great many scientist would say that this is impossible.”...
Christian Century Parrots the New York Times, Word for Word
The Christian Century, the house organ for mainline Protestantism in the U.S., published a whitewash of the Muslim Brotherhood that borrows heavily from The New York Times. And we're not just talking tone and substance, but in one instance, Christian Century's writer borrows language directly from the Gray Lady's coverage of Yusuf Qaradawi's recent appearence in Tahrir Square.
See for yourself.
In its coverage of Qaradawi's triumphant return to Egypt, The New York Timesreported "On Friday, he struck themes of democracy and pluralism, long hallmarks of his writing and preaching."
In its coverage of Qaradawi's triumphant return to Egypt, Christian Century's correspondent writes, "In his sermon al-Qaradawi struck themes of democracy and pluralism, long hallmarks of his writing and preaching."
Readers who study the Christian Century article closely will find other echoes of The New York Times article.
Just another example of how the Gray Lady is able to determine how other publications in the U.S. cover stories.
A free press stands as a guardian of liberty across the United States, and The Rutherford Reader stands very nearly alone as the only conservative bastion against the continuous asinine, liberal dribble that flows from news stories and editorials created by The Daily News Journal and The Tennessean. Gannett Press articles support Obama Administration socialist policies, and they have regularly taken a pro-Islam, pro-Sharia Law and pro-Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas stance during the past two years; it would be an egregious inaccuracy for anyone to suggest that The Reader slants its news in a similar fashion, since they confine any bias to their editorials and columns such as this (I confess. I am a conservative).
Pete and Kaye Doughtie, editors/owners of The Rutherford Reader, have never misrepresented a news story's facts in pursuance of an agenda or misled the good people of Rutherford County. Unfortunately I cannot endorse Jimmy Hart or Sam Stockard, editors at the DNJ, or Tennessean writers Bob Smietana and Jennifer Brooks in the same way: Sam Stockard tried to equate Sharia Law to nothing more than simply "halal"/dietary rules. He either barely researched his topic and is utterly ignorant concerning Sharia, or he was purposely misleading the readers in a Nov. 2010 editorial; Ms. Brooks' 2-27-11 Tennessean "news" story played semantics games as she stated that Khalid Aldawsari, a terror suspect, was "rounded up" by the FBI. This was a veiled attempt to make the FBI's actions appear as harassment against a Muslim man, rather than the arrest of a terror suspect based on a plethora of probable cause.
Last summer The Reader was hit with allegations of "hate-speech" by Eric Bell and his MTRF socialist cronies. They never could define "hate-speech," and their "evidence" amounted to a series of factual news stories and opinion pieces from Family Security Matters that they called "anti-Muslim." They also focused on one of my past columns due to my description of some of Islam's integral core doctrines as "evil, de-humanizing, backward and defiling." I still defy any of them to explain to me where my error exists when Muslims are still killing Coptic Christians in Egypt and Iraq, apostates of Islam are burned to death, hundreds of woman are still stoned to death annually, and even here in the U.S. we witnessed several "honor killings" (murders) of young, innocent Muslim girls this year by their fathers.
The irony and incongruity should not be lost to anyone that Bell and MTRF support the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro expansion and Sharia Law under the religion clause of the First Amendment, while, at the same time, they are attempting to hamper the Reader's free enterprise and squash free speech by going across Rutherford County and through the internet and telling people to boycott The Reader. These allegations of "hate-speech" by the far left and pro-islamists cannot exist in a conceptual or objective reality, especially when one is reporting readily discernable facts. However, a dangerous social vision is being propagated in the U.S. that attempts to prevent any feedback from reality. This is a similar movement to the one that set the stage for the arrest and trial of Geert Wilders, Member of Parliament in the Netherlands, due to "hate-speech" allegations made by Muslims.
Recently in an eight to one decision, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with Westboro Baptist Church. They stated that their right to protest outside the funerals of our fallen soldiers and shout vile, horrid and atrocious curses was protected under the 1st Amend. Too many times the DNJ allowed mosque expansion supporters to depict their opposition as "bigoted," "racist" or "right-wing extremists," while they protected these same supporters from similar close scrutiny or harsh criticisms. Nothing printed by Pete and Kaye Doughtie has come even remotely close to either of these examples as they have upheld a certain high sense of journalistic integrity. The Supreme Court's decision shows all Amricans that "hate-speech" is a manufactured nonentity of the far left that applies only to conservative speech. Only free speech exists in America today!
There exists no reason to introduce Sharia into the U.S. other than the Islamofascists and CAIR demand it as a method to undermine American culture and hurry the demise of our nation. Muslim radicals can advocate Sharia all day long under the 1st Amend, but Sharia can never be implemented within the U.S.; Sharia Law represents a parallel, subversive ideology that demands the destruction of our own ideology. I have regularly seen Muslim clerics hold up a Qur'an and say, "This is our Constitution."
Islam and Sharia Law simply enforce religious edicts and fatwas from imams, while U.S. laws were set forth in advance to serve or punish through only legal enactments conforming to our U.S. Constitution. We all live by rules rather than by either arbitrary edicts or anarchy. Article VI of the U.S. Constitution states in part: "...this Constitution and the laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof...under the authority of the United States shall be the Supreme Law of the Land." The DNJ, The Tennessean and advocates for the Islamization of America cannot seem to grasp these facts.
Many Murfreesboro mosque and Sharia Law proponents are also aligned with ACLU groups that seek the destruction of the Judeo-Christian principles that created this nation. They would have us passively accept the Islamization of America, Islamic front groups that finance terror and the infiltration of Islamic terrorists; they would have us suffer the terrible consequences that accompany these preventable conditions. The anti-American pro-Sharia element in America prostitute the law in the service of their ideology (CAIR vs State of Oklahoma/ threatening Tenn lawsuit), as they cripple the U.S. in the name of rights for terrorists and all who would destroy the U.S. if they could!
Anyone currently aligned against The Rutherford Reader or Sen. Ketron's Anti-Sharia Legislation is standing on the wrong side of history. The numerous glaring inaccuracies of The Tennessean, the DNJ, Bell and the MTRF have left them with zero credibility, while The Reader has consistently delivered excellent and accurate information regarding the Islamization of America, Sharia Law and Islam with a sense of honor, moral certainty, community and traditional American family values. In the world of Gannett Press and critics of The Reader, every deviation of the real world from the tidiness of their anti-American sentiments is considered to be someone else's fault; if a terrorist did not have a happy childhood, then that becomes a reason to release him back in the Middle East, so he can return immediately to killing U.S. soldiers. If ever we needed guardians of liberty...if ever there was a time to stand upright and firm for American values and the Founding Father's principles, the time is now! God Bless America and God Bless Our Republic!