Documentary film maker Ken Burns:
“I used to think there were three great crises: the Civil War, the Depression and the Second World War in American life. I would add this. And maybe this is the very, very worst. But at the same time, we just keep going forward. There is no other option but to endure.” [NPR]
‘Well, darkness has a hunger that’s insatiable, and lightness has a call that’s hard to hear.’
American politics has reached a moment of existential uncertainty. Beyond the headlines and news alerts are problems bigger than any one administration—problems that stem from the deep tensions and challenges in America’s political institutions.
It’s time to reevaluate and revisit how we think about American democracy. The Founding Fathers did their best, but the hosts of a new podcast, “Politics in Question,” have some ideas, too. They discuss political reforms in this first-of-its-kind show that asks the very biggest questions.
Join hosts Lee Drutman, Julia Azari, and James Wallner, three lively experts on American political institutions and reform, as they imagine and argue over what American politics could look like if citizens questioned everything.
There are a lot of podcasts about the daily chaos. But “Politics in Question” is the first to step back and think big about the basic structures and processes of democracy — and to take nothing for granted.
This podcast is part of The Democracy Group, a network of podcasts that examines what’s broken in our democracy and how we can work together to fix it.
“From all the thoughts of ‘I’ and ‘man,’ that man finds utter peace.”
The extremist behavior and violence that took place in Washington, D.C. on January 6 was truly shocking and worthy of condemnation—many have already done so. The whole world is transfixed, bearing witness to the awful and extraordinary unfolding of history.
In my previous letters I wrote about the DISORDER that is already upon us, as well as the consequences that ensue when illusions of power and privilege co-opt and distort Christianity. At the Center for Action and Contemplation, we are free to speak in great part because we are not beholden to the usual constituencies. Using the brilliant metaphor from the Hebrew Scriptures, we are “outside the camp” of either political party, any need to influence an election, and, by the grace of God, any negative or fear-based church pressure from Rome, Santa Fe, or Assisi.
We are also, like few other organizations, free from the coercion of donors and finance, thanks to almost thirty-three years of operating with our priorities clearly in view to all who cared to study or read our publications. Blessedly, our donors have not run for cover over time, but only increased in numbers, continuing to join us—even from outside the usual camps of both religion and politics.
Few people enjoy such freedom of living and teaching from the edge of the inside. This is the unique position that a prophetic charism holds and for which it is responsible; it is structurally quite rare, and therefore we must use it.
“Moses used to take the tent, and pitch it outside the camp, at some distance from the camp. . . . Anyone who wanted to consult Yahweh would go to this tent of meeting outside the camp.” (Exodus 33:7)
The “tent of meeting” is the initial image and metaphor that eventually became our much later notion of “church.” Moses had the prescience and courage to move the place of hearing God outside and at a distance from the court of common religious and civic opinion—this was the original genius that inspired the entire Jewish prophetic tradition. It is quite different than the mere liberal and conservative positions, and often even at odds with them. Most of liberalism is based on a secular foundation of knowledge, and most of conservatism is identified with boundary-keeping, order, and control. By contrast, Prophecy and Gospel are rooted in a contemplative and non-dual way of knowing—a way of being in the world that is utterly free and grounded in the compassion of God.
The early desert fathers and mothers imitated both Moses and Jesus by fleeing to Egypt, Syria, Palestine, and Cappadocia—and some as far as Ireland and Scotland. Beginning in the 4th century, we Christians surrendered our unique and free perspective to the Roman and Byzantine Empires. In the desert and outside the camp, these people discovered what we now call “contemplation”: the alternative mind and the alternative community to the status quo—then and now—of money, power, and war.
The free and graced position found in the tent of meeting is what allowed Jesus and all prophets in his lineage to speak from a minority position. It is always less desirable, compared to the comfortable and enjoyable places at the center and the top; yet it is the Jesus stance, and the place where all Franciscans follow after him.
“Let us go to him, therefore, outside the camp, and be willing to share in his degradation.” (Hebrews 13:13)
For many people, religion as a “cosmic egg” capable of holding universal Truth, collective and personal meaning, is broken. Now, the cracks in this very “uncosmic egg” are rapidly spreading in all directions. Delusions enthrall us and inherent deceit becomes overwhelmingly apparent and manifest in the nihilism of our postmodern age, the denial of science and reasonableness, and the denial of the pandemic that now assaults us all. The very future of the meanings of words and truth are at stake, as specifically exemplified by Trumpism in its many forms.
We must again move with Jesus outside the camp and even be willing to “share in his degradation” if that be God’s will. We must trust that the one who has called us into this present moment will also sustain us and lead us through it.
“Yahweh would speak with Moses face to face [outside the camp] as a young man speaks with his friend. And then Moses would return to the camp.” (Exodus 33:11)
This is the primary vocation of the Center for Action and Contemplation. We invite you to join us—first, in the tent of meeting outside the camp for prayer, dialogue, and deep discernment. Then, like Moses, we must all choose to “return to the camp,” where all of our brothers and sisters live and die.
Maybe unity is not possible, yet, we can remember that we are one, one in humanity as species and co-creators in our reality with ourselves and in each other…especially in context and proximity of losing our democracy, our republic, just three weeks ago. Can we pledge, at least, to cooperation? To listening? To empathy?
We are ‘we the people.’ Let us remember. And may we vow today to divest ourselves from the for-profit platforms and groups that feed disinformation and hate into our collective bloodstream. It must end.
And in less than 24 hours, the first woman vice president in the United States.
The 4th Estate refers to a Free Press in the United States, or the ‘4th Branch of Government.’ This morning the AXIOS online news organization, for-profit media, reference corporate America as the new ‘4th Estate’:
‘How CEO’s became the 4th Branch of Government’
America needs law and order — but not the kind President Trump has in mind. That’s the message being sent by a broad coalition of CEOs who are silencing Trump and punishing his acolytes in Congress, Axios’ Felix Salmon writes.
- Why it matters: CEOs managed to act as a faster and more effective check on the power of the president than Congress could. They have money, they have power, and they have more of the public’s trust than politicians do. And they’re using all of it to try to preserve America’s system of governance.
A new political force is emerging — one based on centrist principles of predictability, stability, small-c conservatism and, yes, the rule of law.
- “You cannot call for violence,” Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said yesterday in an interview with Reuters Next, explaining why she de-platformed Trump. “[T]he risk to our democracy was too big. We felt that we had to take the unprecedented step of an indefinite ban, and I’m glad that we did.” [FACEBOOK CONTINUES TO BE COMPLICIT. TEXTBOOK DEFINITION OF GASLIGHTING. Facebook is a sponsor of AXIOS. -dayle]
Between the lines: American capitalism is based on a foundation of legal contracts, all of which ultimately rely on the strength and stability of the government.
- When a sitting president threatens that stability by inciting an insurrectionist mob that storms the legislature, corporate America will do everything in its power to restrain him.
Driving the news: Tech giants including Facebook, Google, Amazon and Twitter have worked in concert to quiet Trump and the far right. Other corporations are pulling political funding from all legislators who supported overturning the result of November’s free and fair election.
- All of this has happened before the House can even schedule an impeachment vote.
The backstory: Axios first told you about CEOs as America’s new politicians in 2019, when they increasingly were responding to pressure.
- Then corporate leaders mobilized last spring on coronavirus response, last summer over racial justice, and now they are joining ranks on climate change.
What’s next: After dipping toes in for the past year and a half, CEOs are now all-in.
- They’re in a whole new league of activism — with no going back.
Remember, GOP leaders, today, announcing their agreement for impeachment are also reacting to corporate media saying their funding, donations, are suspended. It’s money, it’s power, it’s greed—those are their motivations. Always. -dayle
The virus of lies.
We have to describe things as they are. What really happened on that terrible day? “The president of the United States incited a mob to sack the Capitol to lynch the vice president — his vice president.” -Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic
Center for Action & Contemplation:
‘If our framing story tells us that we are in life-and-death competition with each other, then we will have little reason to seek reconciliation and collaboration and nonviolent resolutions to our conflicts.’
‘How do I help people that have, unbeknownst to them, become radicalized in their thought? Unless we help them break the deception, we cannot operate with 30% of the country holding the extreme views that they do.’
CJR/Columbia Journalism Review:
‘In 2016, DT got so much free media airtime—more than $2(B) according to the the NYTimes—that he could run a national presidential campaign with a fraction of the ad budget of his competitors; amplifying him has not merely been a Fox News problem.’
‘The lie outlasts the liar. The idea that Germany lost the First World War in 1918 because of a Jewish “stab in the back” was 15 years old when Hitler came to power. How will DT’s myth of victimhood function in American life 15 years from now? And to whose benefit?’
For-profit media has made millions…billions?…from Donald Trump. Mainstream media, the fringes of cable news, all, all, gave DT platforms for disinformation and incited his rhetoric. No Doubt. This could, indeed, have made room for corporate America’s position as the 4th Estate [AXIOS].
I remember, what Don Lemon, CNN, and what so many pundits on news media said in 2015: “People want to see Donald Trump. You want to watch him,” Don Lemon told CNN viewers the day after Trump announced his candidacy. “At least there’s someone interesting in the race.”
‘At Fox, one former staffer said, the main criterion for choosing a story is whether it will inﬂame the audience: “The single phrase they said over and over was ‘This is going to outrage the viewers!’ You inﬂame the viewers so that no one will turn away.”’
CJR/Columbia Journalist Review
From journalist Maria Bustillos:
Media, too Must be held Accountable. [ALL MEDIA]
‘Real accountability, for MSNBC, means a clear and distinct demand for each of its hosts to come clean about his or her own complicity in building and enabling the increasingly violent and extremist Republican Party that led, inexorably, to the ruinous Trump administration. Joe Scarborough, for example, who on Thursday called for the president to be arrested, was not so long ago a frequent guest at Mar-a-Lago, and a staunch ally of Trump the candidate in 2016, as CNN reported at the time:
Scarborough has spoken about Trump in increasingly glowing terms, praising him as “a masterful politician” and defending him against his political opponents and media critics. The Washington Post has noted that Trump has received “a tremendous degree of warmth from the [Scarborough] show,” and [said] that his appearances on the show, in person and over the phone, often feel like “a cozy social club.”
True to form, Chuck Todd brought the most openly cynical and dim-witted take to the party. On Meet the Press Thursday, he spoke with Andrea Mitchell and Katy Tur about the possible motivations of Elaine Chao, Trump’s transportation secretary, who had announced her resignation. “I’m sort of torn on the effectiveness,” he began.
But let’s put yourself… I’m going to try to put myself in her shoes. And maybe you don’t have enough people to do the Twenty-fifth Amendment.… And you want to stand up, and do something, and say something.… But at the end of the day, is it still better symbolically to publicly rebuke him, even if it’s in the last thirteen days, even if it does look like you’re trying to launder yourself a bit, so that maybe you’ll be invited to a better law firm or a better cocktail party, but the rebuke may be still necessary anyway?
I have nothing whatsoever to add to that.’
‘Journalist Mariusz Kowalewski noticed something was amiss when his editors came to him with a new assignment: follow an outspoken critic of Poland’s ruling party with a drone.
“The idea was to send this drone over to his house in order for him to notice it and to feel threatened, like he was being watched,” Kowalewski recalls. “This was an intimidation method straight out of communism.”
The order came from his editors at TVP, Poland’s largest broadcaster which oversees a vast network of public television and radio stations.
Kowalewski says he sabotaged the plan by giving the drone operator an outdated address, but he says the episode taught him public television is no longer serving the public. Instead, he says, it’s serving Poland’s governing right-wing populist party, Law and Justice. “Instead of information, viewers now get blunt propaganda that is meant to assure them that Law and Justice is the best party to rule this country,” he says.
The party believes it is fighting an infiltration of liberal European values, spread through foreign-owned media, in this largely conservative Catholic country. Since Poles first voted Law and Justice into office in 2015, its government has not only taken control of the country’s largest public broadcaster, but it has also vowed to “re-Polanize” the national media. Critics say this is code for turning them into government propaganda outlets. The government’s moves to control the country’s media have become a political flashpoint in this European Union member state, which the EU is investigating along with other various rollbacks of democratic norms in Poland since Law and Justice took office.’
TVP is taxpayer funded and previously was editorially independent. But in 2015, Law and Justice began passing legislation that led to a purge of the public broadcaster’s editorial leadership and replaced them with party loyalists. It also put TVP under the supervision of a new National Media Council.
Protester chants echoe through the empty city streets of Warsaw: “TVP Lies! TVP Lies!”
The news was propaganda then — and it’s returned to propaganda now, says protest organizer Karol Grabski. “We’ve come here every day since the death of Mayor Adamowicz, who was murdered in Gdansk,” he says.
Gdansk Mayor Pawel Adamowicz — a liberal critic of Law and Justice — was stabbed to death while he was on stage at a charity event in January 2019. Adamowicz had been a target of dozens of TVP news stories criticizing him for real estate dealings, his openness to migrants and his support of LGBT rights. Critics blame the network for creating an atmosphere that led to his murder.
‘Hoping to increase young Native American voter turn-out, Allie Young, 30 year-old member of the Navajo Nation, started “Ride to the Polls”—she led groups of voters, ranging from 18-30, 10-miles on horseback to reach polling stations in Kayenta, AZ.’
How The Navajo Nation Helped Flip Arizona For Democrats
According to Vox, 60% to 90% of the Navajo Nation’s roughly 67,000 eligible voters voted for Biden. [AZ was called for Biden this week.]
Members of the Navajo Nation often face high barriers to voting. Many people are not assigned a physical address and are unable to register to vote. Tara Benally, field director for the Rural Utah Project, described to NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly about how the organization managed to register 4,000 Native American voters in Arizona.
The project worked with Google to provide GPS coordinates in lieu of physical addresses. Organizers also left thousands of Ziploc bags with voter registration forms on the doors of Native American voters to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
Reflecting on the Navajo people’s unprecedented turnout, he said: “I appreciate meeting with Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in Phoenix. … [We had] a dialogue, and I think those types of events really inspired the Native American voters to come out to the polls and cast their votes for change.”
Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) said that she would happily take on the role of President-elect Joe Biden’s secretary of the Interior if the job were offered to her, according to HuffPost. “Oh yes, of course.” @RepDebHaaland
“(Jean Guerrero) describes the ideological arc of Miller’s life and investigates his ties to right-wing mentors and far-right groups. She adds, many are baffled at how someone so young with so little policy or legal expertise gained so much power.”
I remember, you know, the incredible anti-immigrant hostility that was pervasive in California at the time, which may be surprising to people because California is known as such a deep-blue state and kind of leads the charge against the Trump administration today. But in the ’90s, it was sort of ground zero, like a microcosm for what we’re seeing nationally today. There were unprecedented attacks on immigrants through a proposition called Prop 187, which, you know, targeted social services for children of undocumented migrants. It was later ruled unconstitutional. There was also attacks on bilingual education statewide. There were attacks on affirmative action.
And the Republican governor of California at the time, Pete Wilson, you know, was repeatedly railing against what he called the invasion at the border – the same language that you see Trump using today – and blaming all of the state’s fiscal problems on immigrants, you know, running these ads on television that I remember watching about how – you know, showing families coming across the border, and there’s this ominous narrator over the video saying, they keep coming.
And from my reporting, it became clear to me that Stephen Miller is truly a product of this environment. He was internalizing a lot of these white supremacist and racist narratives that were common in the state and acting them out, you know, in his high school.
-NPR’s Fresh Air
Important and necessary read–solid investigative reporting from former KPBS San Diego reporter and Emmy award winner Jean Guerrero.
“A vital book for understanding the still-unfolding nightmare of nationalism and racism in the 21st century.” –Francisco Cantu, author of The Line Becomes a River
‘Hatemonger’ Paints Trump Advisor Stephen Miller As A ‘Case Study In Radicalization’
Guerrero told The Times that Miller, unlike Bannon and others surrounding the president, is not an opportunist or self-promoter but “a true ideologue, a true fanatic.” Much has been made of the question of what motivates Miller, 35, whose prior experience consisted mostly of PR work for C-list lawmakers before leveraging a single-minded obsession with immigration into the office of then-Sen. Jeff Sessions — and then into speechwriting for Trump’s nascent 2016 presidential campaign.
Guerrero’s book is an exhaustive investigation into not just the how, but the why. She continues to brave threats of violence after conducting more than 100 interviews and researching the darkest corners of the American consciousness to unpack a strange (but not rare) phenomenon: the radicalization of a privileged young white man — though this one, the descendant of Jewish refugees, grew up in an increasingly diverse Southern California.
Guerrero spoke with The Times over the phone from her home in San Diego, a conversation edited for clarity and length. By her account, Miller was primed and groomed — starved for attention, yearning for belonging, and fighting what was, then, a lonely war.’
I honestly believe that the most important reason Miller has been able to stay so long and have such an outsize impact is that he is a true ideologue, a true fanatic. More than anyone else in the White House, he believes that he is actually saving the world through what he is doing. Strategically that has worked out for him — and Trump has found whenever he takes a more moderate line on immigration or anything, he ends up getting ridiculed as weak, which Trump hates.
…nowhere in the book do I call Miller racist or xenophobic, or anything like that. We don’t know what is in a person’s heart with absolute certainty. I grappled with that. Neutrality is necessary for journalistic integrity, an integral pillar of our democracy, and we absolutely need that, but also this reluctance we’ve had as journalists to use these words has created space for white supremacists to operate with impunity.
What I tried to do in the book is show what Miller is doing and saying, and the white supremacist sources, so that people can draw their own conclusions. I did not write this book to tell you that Miller hates anyone. I can say, with the confidence of my reporting, that he is fluent in hate and deliberately traffics in hate and communicates with people who hate.
I think Miller is always going to have allies in the nativist movement and the white nationalist movement, he’s always going to find a place. He is very ambitious. … He’s told people his ultimate goal is to become a senator, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he ran for office somewhere. But I don’t think he’s allowed himself to envision an alternate reality where Trump doesn’t win reelection.
I don’t think Miller and everything he represents is going to go away after November. He’s going to continue to rally people around his ideas, which are not just his ideas.
The thing with Bannon and Donald Trump is, they’re out to con people. … Miller is accountable for his own actions and responsible for everything he’s done, but he was indoctrinated at a very young age into this idea that he needed to save the United States from this imagined threat of Black and brown people.
Full LATimes interview with Jean Guerrero and reporter Molly O’Toole:
4th of July
‘There is only one true flight from the world: it is not an escape from conflict anguish, and suffering, but the flight from dignity and separation, to unity and peace in the love of other [people].’
-Thomas Merton, Seeds of Contemplation
What Dorothy Day called ‘a revolution of the heart’ is blossoming in our streets, where revolutionaries seem confident America can spend less on war and police, make the 1% and corporations pay their fare share and ensure healthcare, living wages, etc., for all. -Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II
Frederick Douglass’ Descendants Deliver His ‘Fourth Of July’ Speech
How can you watch and not weep? 4th of July belongs to all of us. It must.
‘In this short film, five young descendants of Frederick Douglass read and respond to excerpts of his famous speech, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” which asks all of us to consider America’s long history of denying equal rights to Black Americans.’
Douglass Washington Morris II, 20 (he/him) Isidore Dharma Douglass Skinner, 15 (they/their) Zoë Douglass Skinner, 12 (she/her) Alexa Anne Watson, 19 (she/her) Haley Rose Watson, 17 (she/her)
Love will rise above all.
Sun Valley, Idaho.
His life in 10 songs.
Sun Valley, Idaho: ‘No One Should Come Here’
Blaine County, Idaho, which includes the resort town of Sun Valley, has one of the highest known rates of COVID-19 cases in the West.
‘To hear year-round Sun Valley, Idaho, residents like Justin Malloy tell it, town right now is as crowded as you’d expect to see it in the peak Fourth of July or Christmas seasons. The small airport is packed with private jets. And then there’s the parking lot at the Atkinsons’ Supermarket, one of only two in town where bread and essential cleaning items are particularly hard to come by.
“We’ve been seeing a lot of Washington plates, a lot of California plates, their cars just full of all of their stuff that they’ve brought from out of state,” Malloy says.
This has fueled outrage on social media, and on unusually crowded hiking and ski trails, where locals are wondering aloud whether rich people are fleeing cities to seek refuge in rural Idaho, and unknowingly making the public health crisis here even worse.
“It seems likely that people were fleeing other places and not recognizing that they were then bringing the disease with them from Seattle, or other areas where they might live part time,” says Dr. Josh Kern, vice president of medical affairs for St. Luke’s Wood River Medical Center in Ketchum.
While resort towns like this can typically house a lot of tourists or second- and third-home owners, that doesn’t extend to St. Luke’s, which has only 25 beds. The hospital has had dozens of COVID-related admissions and officials warn there are likely many more cases in the community than what’s been diagnosed.
That’s leading to some impassioned pleas to take the recent, strict self-isolation orders seriously.
“No one should come here,” says Dr. Brent Russell, a local emergency room physician.
Russell should know. He has COVID-19. He’s been very sick, so can’t work at this critical time.
“We have a really high percent of COVID spreading among the population here,” Russell says. “If you come here, that is putting your life at risk and it’s putting other lives at risk.”
The hospital is part of a regional health care system, St. Luke’s, so for now, support has been coming from hospitals in Twin Falls and Boise where there aren’t as many known cases. Yet.
Blaine County COVID rates rival NYC, Wuhan
News analysis: Comparisons are difficult, but the valley has one of the nation’s highest concentration of coronavirus cases
Idaho Mountain Express/Mark Dee
The raw numbers may pale compared to major cities, but Blaine County had the nation’s highest concentration of lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in the nation yesterday, according to data compiled by the New York Times.
And, its calculation is an underestimate.
So, what do you do with that information? “Take this seriously,” according to a group of eight St. Luke’s Wood River emergency physicians. Self-isolate and abide by the shelter-in-place order designed to stem the spread of the disease.
“We want you to know, given the community spread, that you should not wait for the test or test result,” Drs. Terry O’Connor, Malie Kopplin, Deb Robertson, Jim Torres, Brock Bemis, Keith Sivertson, Terry Ahern and Brent Russell wrote in a letter to the Idaho Mountain Express published Wednesday. “There are measures you can take now to protect yourself, your family, friends, neighbors and way of life. Self-isolate. Don’t leave the Wood River Valley to recreate elsewhere. It’s well known that we have a very high rate of infection; 5B plates are not going to be welcomed outside of Blaine County. Moab and Twin Falls don’t need our virus. Stay home. Save lives.”
Blaine County Deals With Coronavirus Hot Spot As Other Rural Idaho Communities Prepare For the Worst
Boise State Public Radio/Rachel Cohen
St. Luke’s Wood River Medical Center suspended normal operations last week. Coronavirus screening sites, a walk-in-clinic and the emergency department remain open.
If a patient needed to be hospitalized for symptoms of coronavirus in the Wood River Valley today, they’d most likely be transported — by ambulance or helicopter — to a hospital in Twin Falls an hour and a half south, or one in Boise two and a half hours west.
Blaine County — home to Sun Valley, with a population of about 22,000 — is the epicenter of Idaho’s coronavirus outbreak.
“So currently any patient who would be that sick would not be maintained up here. We would be transferring them either down to Magic Valley or Boise,” said Dr. Frank Batcha, a family physician at the St. Luke’s clinic in nearby Hailey.
Patients seeking care for routine check-ups, cancer screenings or caesarean sections are also being directed to other hospitals.
“Are we concerned about not having enough resources? Absolutely. And that’s why we’re trying to conserve what we have right now, particularly our manpower,” said Batcha, who, these days, is typically clad head to toe in personal protective gear as he screens patients for COVID-19 in the parking lot of the Ketchum hospital.
St. Luke’s Wood River is part of the statewide St. Luke’s Health System with seven hospitals, which means staff and supplies can, and are, being dedicated to the Ketchum hospital.
“If we were an isolated, rural hospital, we would be crippled right now, because we have so many people who are out with the illness,” Russell told Boise State Public Radio’s George Prentice.
But strains extend beyond the hospital. Bill McLaughlin, the Ketchum Fire Chief who also oversees EMS services for the north half of the valley, said around a quarter of his paramedics are out because they have coronavirus symptoms or have potentially been exposed in the community.
“We only have a couple paramedics on each day, and if, for some reason, one of them gets sick, then that entire shift would be knocked out for 14 days,” McLaughlin said.
Many volunteers who used to help out are staying home, too.
Pope Pius XII’s handwriting is seen on a rough draft of his speech in 1944, displayed during a guided tour for media of the Vatican library on Pope Pius XII on Feb. 27.
by Sylvia Poggioli
After decades of pressure from historians and Jewish groups, the Vatican on Monday began allowing scholars access to the archives of Pope Pius XII, the controversial World War II-era pontiff.
Roman Catholic Church officials have always insisted that Pius did everything possible to save Jewish lives. But he remained publicly silent while some 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust.
More than 150 scholars have applied to study documents covering his papacy, which lasted from 1939 to 1958. Typically, the Vatican waits 70 years after the end of a pontificate to open its archives to scholars.
Speaking to reporters on Feb. 20, the Vatican’s chief librarian, Cardinal José Tolentino Calaça de Mendonça, said all researchers, regardless of nationality, faith and ideology, are welcome.
“The church is not afraid of history,” he said, echoing Pope Francis’ words when he announced his intention to open the Pius XII archives a year ago.
Jewish groups welcomed the opening of the archive. “In inviting historians and scholars in to publicly access the Vatican’s World War II archives, Pope Francis is demonstrating a commitment to learning and airing the truth, as well as to the significance of Holocaust memory,” World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder said in a statement.
John Ickx, a Vatican archivist, says scholars will have easy access to the files.
“We have now passed 1 million and 300,000 documents that are digitalized and interfaced with an inventory for it, to help the researchers to go quickly,” he says.
Those researchers have been waiting a long time. A 1963 German play, The Deputy by Rolf Hochhuth, sparked questions about Pius’ wartime role and accused him of complicit silence in the Holocaust. The Vatican’s attempts to beatify him are stymied by still-vivid memories in Rome of his behavior toward the city’s Jews during the Nazi occupation.
A plaque on the wall outside a military college in Rome recalls the roundup of 1,259 Jews. It reads: “On 16 October 1943 entire Jewish Roman families ripped from their homes by the Nazis were brought here and then deported to extermination camps. Of more than 1,000 persons, only 16 survived.”
The location is just 800 yards from St. Peter’s Square — “under the pope’s very windows,” as Ernst von Weizsacker, then serving as Germany’s ambassador to the Vatican, reported back to Hitler.
Brown University’s David Kertzer has written extensively about popes and Jews. He won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for his book The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe, about Pius XII’s predecessor, and has reserved a desk in the Vatican archives for the next four months.
Kertzer says a lot is known about what Pius XII did. Much less is known about internal deliberations during the war years in the Vatican.
“We know [Pius XII] didn’t take any public action,” he says. “He didn’t protest to Hitler. But who within the Vatican might have been urging him to do so? Who might have been advising him caution? That’s the kind of thing I think we’ll find out, or hope to find out about.”
Like many church historians, Massimo Faggioli, who teaches theology at Villanova University, is also curious about Pius’ role after World War II, during the Cold War. In particular, he wonders, did Vatican officials intervene in Italian elections in 1948, when there was a real possibility of a Communist Party victory?
“I would be curious to know so what kind of communication there was between the [Vatican] Secretariat of State and the CIA,” he says. “Pope Pius was certainly convinced that he had to defend a certain idea of the Christian civilization in Europe against communism.”
Kertzer is certain the Catholic Church was horrified by the Holocaust. In fact, several thousand Jews found refuge in Catholic convents in Italy. But what he hopes to understand better from the Pius files is the role played by the church in demonizing Jews.
“The main purveyors of vilification of Jews for many decades was not the state, it was the church,” he says. “And it was vilifying Jews right up through the ’30s and right up to the beginning of the Holocaust, if not into it, including Vatican-related publications.”
This, Kertzer says, is what the Vatican needs to come to terms with.
[Former Pen America Center president Francine Prose’s appreciation of Mary Louise Kelly in The Guardian.]
‘Mary Louise Kelly stood her ground…supporters of accountability journalism have the occasion to celebrate the courage of DC’s elite political journalists – Too many political reporters choose to pull their punches to maintain access.’
One brave political reporter raises the bar for her timid colleagues
Mary Louise Kelly stood her ground.
Kelly, who is the host of NPR’s All Things Considered and a veteran national security correspondent, made the best of her on-the-record interview with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo by posing tough questions and calling him out when he answered with lies.
Then, after he summoned her to his office, tried unsuccessfully to challenge her competence, and cursed her out, she went public.
It’s not often that supporters of accountability journalism have the occasion to celebrate the courage of Washington’s elite political journalists – and from NPR, no less. Too many political reporters choose to pull their punches to maintain access.
-Dan Froomkin/Press Watchers, An Intervention for Political Journalism
Rush Drummer Neil Peart died on January 7th at the age of 67.
“Peart’s love of literature and reverence for history deeply informed his songwriting. “Red Sector A,” for example, emerged after he read accounts of World War II concentration camp survivors. “Manhattan Project” addresses the U.S. dropping atomic bombs on Japan in 1945, from multiple viewpoints. For much of Rush’s career, Peart was also dogged by long-ago praise for the author Ayn Rand, whose works were an influence on the sprawling 1976 song cycle 2112. (He later clarified that Rand’s work no longer resonated with him.)
In a 2015 Rolling Stone cover story, Peart self-described as a “bleeding-heart libertarian.”And, above all, his lyrics made people think — Rush fans were liberal, conservative, religious, non-religious — but they all united around their respect for the band and their admiration for how Neil could articulate their experiences, or give them a new way to look at an issue.”
In no small part because of his erudition, Peart’s erudition earned him the nickname “The Professor.” It was apt: Carrying himself with an air of well-spoken authority, he possessed knowledge about a variety of topics, owing to his extensive global travels — on Rush tours, he was known for taking off on bicycle rides and, later, would hop on his motorcycle to travel between gigs — and a voracious curiosity about the world around him. In his 2002 book, Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road, he described going to art museums in the afternoons before Rush concerts “to feed my growing interest in paintings, art history, and African carvings.”
While an interesting travelogue, at its root Ghost Rider was a chronicle of how to repair a shattered self. The book details how Peart embarked on a solo motorcycle trek “to try to figure out what kind of person I was going to be, and what kind of world I was going to live in” after his 19-year-old daughter, Selena, died in a 1997 car crash, and his wife Jackie passed due to cancer the following year.
All told, Peart released seven nonfiction books, several fiction collaborations and poured out thousands more words via his personal website. “What made Neil such a good writer is how much he loved to read,” Halper says. “He really loved and respected books. He loved good literature — he and I sat around one night talking Shakespeare — he loved poetry, he loved philosophy. He valued good conversation. He was a thinker — in the truest sense of the word.”
As any Rush fan will share, air-drumming to 1981’s “Tom Sawyer” can be one of life’s greatest pleasures.
[Excerpt from ‘Remembering Neil Peart, A Monster Drummer With A Poet’s Heart’, by NPR’s Annie Zaleski.]
A favorite quote from Bob Dylan, taken from a 1978 Rolling Stone interview: “The highest purpose of art is to inspire. What else can you do for anyone but inspire them?”
Rush was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2013.
Fewer Students Are Going To College. Here’s Why That Matter
This fall, there were nearly 250,000 fewer students enrolled in college than a year ago, according to new numbers out Monday from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, which tracks college enrollment by student.
“That’s a lot of students that we’re losing,” says Doug Shapiro, who leads the research center at the Clearinghouse.
And this year isn’t the first time this has happened. Over the past eight years, college enrollment nationwide has fallen about 11%. Every sector — public state schools, community colleges, for-profits and private liberal arts schools — has felt the decline, though it has been especially painful for small private colleges, where, in some cases, institutions have been forced to close.
“We’re in a crisis right now, and it’s a complicated one,” says Angel Pérez, who oversees enrollment at Trinity College, a small liberal arts school in Hartford, Conn.
Why is this happening?
- The biggest factor for the years of decline is the strong economy. The last time U.S. college enrollment went up was 2011, at the tail end of the recession. As the economy gets better, unemployment goes down — it’s currently at 3.5 % — and more people leave college, or postpone it, and head to work.
- When the recession hit a decade ago, the reverse happened: Many people, especially older adults, returned to college. That bump in college enrollment set records, and in some ways the current downturn is simply “colleges returning to more historic levels of enrollment,” Shapiro says.
- U.S. demographics are also shifting. The number of high school graduates is flat — and in some cases declining — because of lower birth rates about 20 years ago. Those numbers are also projected to decline, so the trend of fewer students coming from high school isn’t going away anytime soon.
- And finally, there’s the cost of college. States are putting less money into higher education, and that’s led to an increased reliance on tuition. As tuition goes up, and grants and scholarships don’t keep pace, that’s pushed the cost of college down to students and their families. Without state investment, institutions are strapped, and so are American families.
“The power in this image speaks to the current reality in the U.S. and around the world of the plight of immigrants,” said the Rev. Kenny Irby, an independent visual consultant with more than 40 years of experience in journalism and education. “It’s an authentic truth that needs to be part of the narrative.” -NPR/Emily Bogle
‘Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez, frustrated because the family from El Salvador was unable to present themselves to U.S. authorities and request asylum, swam across the river on Sunday with his daughter, Valeria.
He set her on the U.S. bank of the river in Brownsville, Texas, and started back for his wife in Matamoros, Mexico. But seeing him move away, the girl threw herself into the waters. Martínez returned and was able to grab Valeria, but the current swept them both away.’
Tragically, necessarily, indelible.
In memoriam. Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and Valeria.
‘Your sweet memory comes on the evening wind
I sleep and dream of holding you in my arms again
The lights of Brownsville, across the river shine
A shout rings out and into the silty red river I dive
Meet me on the Matamoros
Meet me on the Matamoros
Meet me on the Matamoros banks’
by Kelly McBride/Ethics & Trust
The shocking image joins a small portfolio of iconic photographs that magnify the suffering of children caught in geopolitical chaos, including Kevin Carter’s 1993 picture of a starving Sudanese child collapsed outside a feeding center during a widespread famine, Nick Ut’s 1972 picture of a naked girl burned by napalm in Vietnam, and Nilufer Demir’s 2015 picture of 4-year-old Syrian refugee Alan Kurdi washed ashore in Turkey.
These photographs have the power to galvanize the public, much the way that David Jackson’s picture of Emmett Till’s open casket did in 1955.
No matter what your political views on immigration are, the fact that so many children are suffering because of decisions made by the U.S. government is something every American should take note of.
The Story Behind That Photo Of A Father And Daughter On The Banks Of The Rio Grande
‘NPR’s Ari Shapiro speaks with Associated Press reporter Christopher Sherman about the Salvadoran family who lost their lives trying to cross the Rio Grande.’
“Lots of us have a bit of Eeyore’s angst and gloom.”
“When you’re experiencing a lot of stress, it’s easy to head into a downward spiral,” says Judith Moskowitz of Northwestern University. She is trained as a psychologist and studies the ways positive emotions can influence people’s health and stress. She developed the program taught to the caregivers.”
Here’s a quick summary of the eight techniques used in Moskowitz’ study:
- Take a moment to identify one positive event each day.
- Tell someone about the positive event or share it on social media. This can help you savor the moment a little longer.
- Start a daily gratitude journal. Aim to find little things you’re grateful for, such as a good cup of coffee, a pretty sunrise or nice weather.
- Identify a personal strength and reflect on how you’ve used this strength today or in recent weeks.
- Set a daily goal and track your progress. “This is based on research that shows when we feel progress towards a goal, we have more positive emotions,” Moskowitz says. The goal should not be too lofty. You want to be able to perceive progress.
- Try to practice “positive reappraisal”: Identify an event or daily activity that is a hassle. Then, try to reframe the event in a more positive light. Example: If you’re stuck in traffic, try to savor the quiet time. If you practice this enough, it can start to become a habit.
- Do something nice for someone else each day. These daily acts of kindness can be as simple as giving someone a smile or giving up your seat on a crowded train. Research shows we feel better when we’re kind to others.
- Practice mindfulness by paying attention to the present moment. You can also try a 10-minute breathing exercise that uses a focus on breathing to help calm the mind.
‘Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.’
Rainer Maria Rilke
NPR/Morning Edition with David Green and Actor Melissa McCarthy discussing her new film, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
GREENE: Did you learn anything about yourself in this role, in this film?
MCCARTHY: I think, for me, it made me really try to remember more like to look up and see people. Here’s this amazing, ridiculously talented, interesting, difficult, fascinating woman, and most people passed her by on the street. And she was invisible. So I do feel like I look differently as I’m passing people. And I think, what is your story, or what are you amazing at? Like, who loves you? Who do you love? What do you miss? What breaks your heart? I try to like – is – I don’t know if it sounds strange but make more eye contact.
And I do really think that there is an effective – if one person really looks at you in a day, that can change the whole trajectory of your day and then maybe your week. And maybe you look at one other person and connect that you’re humans. And to have someone know they’ve been seen, I think, can do a lot more than I had remembered it can.
Enlightening & educational interview with Dave Davies speaking to the importance of identity, community & purpose, combined with vulnerability. Excellent dialogue.
‘A Former Neo-Nazi Explains Why Hate Drew Him In — And How He Got Out’
“…after eight years as a neo-Nazi, Picciolini began to question the hateful ideology he espoused. He remembers a specific incident in which he was beating a young black man. His eyes locked with his victim, and he felt a surprising empathy.
It was a turning point. He withdrew from the movement and in 2011 co-founded Life After Hate, a nonprofit that counsels members of hate groups and helps them disengage.
So it was the fear rhetoric. … I can tell you that every single person that I recruited or that was recruited around the same time that I did, up to now, up to what we’re seeing today, is recruited through vulnerabilities and not through ideology.
In fact, I had never in my life engaged in a meaningful dialogue with the people that I thought I hated, and it was these folks who showed me empathy when I least deserved it, and they were the ones that I least deserved it from. I started to recognize that I had more in common with them than the people I had surrounded myself for eight years with — that these people, that I thought I hated, took it upon themselves to see something inside of me that I didn’t even see myself
Here we are in 2018 and we have a lot of hallmarks coming from political figures, the administration and policies that are very similar to what we espoused 30 years ago. … It is a white supremacist culture that is being pushed.”
[A couple of weeks before the end of President Obama’s White House, Life After Hate received a $400,000 grant to continue their work. After the new administration took office in 2017, the grant was rescinded. Comedian Samantha Bee brought awareness to the situation and helped raise $500,000 for the organization.]
During a political season laden with polarized vitriol and hateful rhetoric, ‘voices of compassion’ is a reminder of the human heart and the kind thoughts and gestures that bring light to the shadows in life.
Two stories: One of harbored guilt and responsibility for a tragic event in our nation’s history; the other from a man who continues to immerse himself in the studies of addiction to help those caught in a system without support, or care.
“That was one of the mistakes God made,” Bob Ebeling, now 89, told me three weeks ago at his home in Brigham City, Utah. “He shouldn’t have picked me for that job. But next time I talk to him, I’m gonna ask him, ‘Why me? You picked a loser.’ ”
Jim Sides listened to the NPR story in his car in Jacksonville, N.C.
Other’s listened to this story as well, were touched deeply, and reached out to Bob to offer kindness and encouragement. Here’s a link to their story from All Things Considered.
‘It’s a tough sell on two sides. No. 1, it’s a tough sell for people who suffer from addiction. It’s tough to hear, “I’m sorry, we don’t have a cure. You can’t get detoxed, go away for 30 days, get your head straight and not be affected.” Same is true for diabetes. There is no place that I know of that gives you 30 days of insulin treatment and a hearty handshake and sends you off to a church basement. It just won’t work, so that’s tough.’
For researcher A. Thomas McLellan, who has spent his entire career studying substance abuse, the shift is a welcome one, though it has come frustratingly late.
McLellan is co-founder of the Treatment Research Institute in Philadelphia and former deputy director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. His work has focused on understanding addiction as a disease and improving the ways it is treated, a mission that took a personal turn midway through his career when he lost a son to overdose.’
I teacher’s morning pledge with her students in one school that started over again after the Bush Administrations’ failed NCLB policies. ‘I will do my best today.’
The classroom’s are multi-aged, with no textbooks, or desks, and re-trained teachers.
Here’s a case study from NPR:
Tues., Sept. 29th, 2015
In this excerpt, Dr. O’Connell shares a story of a homeless woman, in need of a liver transplant, who makes an unusual, and tender request:
“Stories From The Shadows: Reflections Of A Street Doctor.”
GROSS:You have treated a lot of patients who have died – not necessarily died under your care directly, but eventually died from living on the street. And you write about how some of the shelters do funeral services or memorial services. And I would like you to describe one of the funerals that you’ve attended for a homeless person who you treated that you found especially moving.
O’CONNELL: One woman who was from the streets who used to describe herself as a bag lady. And she would keep you and I away by having just the smelliest clothes she could. And her belongings were smelly, and she would put those around her so that it would protect her from anyone coming near her. And she developed – she drank and had gotten hepatitis C from a blood transfusion many years ago, and she needed a liver transplant. And it turns out if you’re homeless, you have a very hard time getting a life-saving liver transplant unless you can show at least six months of residential stability and at least six months of being clean and sober. So we kept her in our facility for that time so that the transplant surgeons could have the documentation they needed. And I remember just before she was at the top the list, she called me over one Sunday morning and asked if I would take her picture. And I was not used to taking pictures of people’s faces at that time. I used to take pictures of, you know, feet – frostbitten feet, et. cetera – that I can use for teaching medical students and residents how to handle some of those problems. But I took a picture and brought it back to her. She got all dressed up – put on a dress, put lipstick on, tied her hair up. She had a Styrofoam cup in which she put some flowers and put it next to her bedside table. And I took the picture, and I brought it back to her a couple of days later in a little frame and asked her what was going on. And she told me that she was facing this major liver transplantation, didn’t know whether she’d live or die, but that she had not seen her daughters – two daughters – since they were 4 and 5 years old, and that was 25 years ago. And she wanted to be sure there was a picture of her in case her two daughters wanted to look and see what their mother – what had happened to their mother someday, and she wanted to be presentable. So I was blown away mostly because she was telling me – I think in graphic ways – what it’s like to experience illness, suffering and the specter of death when you are homeless and have lost everything. And what I have learned about homelessness in our city and I think across America that it is about as lonely a situation as you can have. People are alone, ignored, kind of abandoned. And I think when they face death, they look at their lives and wonder, you know, what could’ve been – think about what could have been, wonder about stuff. And I shudder every time I think about what that must be like to really have lost even touch with your own children, have no family members, have no money and really no hope for a future that looks any better than living on the streets. But anyway, what was striking to me is when I came back into – I gave her that picture when I came back to – our McInnis House is what we call it – I think there were 22 people the next day that asked me to take their portraits. And it’s…
GROSS: You have a lot of these photos in your book. Is that – so this is how you started doing that?
O’CONNELL: That’s exactly how I started doing it. I was always – I thought it was being kind of voyeuristic to take pictures of homeless people. I didn’t want to take advantage of the privilege I had of being in their lives to also take pictures, so I was kind of – it’s all upside-down from what I would’ve once thought. But that was a long-winded way of saying that death – when people die, we really try hard to mark their death and to gather people around and celebrate and memorialize these folks. Many, as you know, we don’t know where their families are. We don’t know if that was even their real name. And when they die, they’re in the morgue – the city morgue – until someone claims them. And if no one does, then they will be buried in a pauper’s grave somewhere in the city, so we try hard to not only one – try to find the families – but two – if no family is found, make sure we have a memorial and mark the burial and passage of that person. And it’s the other homeless people who really cherish and value that.
GROSS: So let me ask you, this – this photo that got you started taking pictures of the homeless patients that you treat, she wanted the photo taken so if she died, her daughters who she had lost touch with would see what their mother looked like.
GROSS: Did anyone come looking for her?
O’CONNELL: No one ever came.
GROSS: That must have made you sad.
O’CONNELL: It did. It was really sad.