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Daily Archives: July 9, 2020
Opinion: If Democrats take control, ‘the mob’ will have your future in their hands – Courier Journal
Posted: July 9, 2020 at 3:45 pm
Scott Jennings, Opinion contributor Published 10:26 a.m. ET July 8, 2020
Protesters tore down a statue of Christopher Columbus Wednesday outside the State Capitol in St. Paul, Minnesota. (June 10) AP Domestic
Two forces are colliding in 2020. One has no idea what it wants. The other is crystal clear.
Lets start with Donald Trump, running for reelection as president of the United States. His answer on why he wants a second term has been, charitably, non-existent.
Here was Trumps first swing at it, with Fox News host Sean Hannity:
Well one of the things that will be really great: You know, the word experience is still good. I always say talent is more important than experience, Ive always said that. But the word experience is a very important word. Its a very important meaning. I never did this before, I never slept over in Washington. I was in Washington, I think, 17 times, all of a sudden Im president of the United States, you know the story. Im riding down Pennsylvania Avenue with our first lady and I say, This is great. But I didnt know very many people in Washington, it wasnt my thing. I was from Manhattan, from New York. Now I know everybody.
Given a mulligan by Sinclair TV host Eric Bolling a few days later, Trump whiffed again in a rambling response that lacked a cogent argument like I fixed the economy once, and Ill save it again.
Trump ran on real things in 2016, namely how the political elite had left American workers behind on immigration and trade. He promised lower taxes, conservative judgesand pro-life policies. He railed against political correctness run amuck, appealing to Republicans and blue-collar Democrats alike.
Unfortunately, the president has yet to formulate a similarly insightful argument for a second term as he struggles to manage the twin crises of coronavirus and social unrest. His speech at Mt. Rushmore hammering the leftists attempting to erase Americas history (and its future) before our very eyes was an improvement, despite what you heard from the homogeneous national political press that is dedicated to Trumps destruction.
More from Scott Jennings: Riots give Trump a chance to rally his supporters and go after racism
But Trump behind in his reelection and threatening to take the Republican Senate down with him must now carry his argument forward by characterizing todays rope-pullers as tomorrows policymakers in a Joe Biden administration. If you are worried about economic upheaval today, wait until the mob oversees Bidens policy shop.
Vandalism at the statue of Christopher Columbus in Garfield(Photo: Courtesy of the city of Garfield)
Anarchists, radical leftists, Democratic Party leaders, and their cheerleaders and apologists in the press cannot control or hide what is happening.Its just the Confederate statues, they tell us, as Christopher Columbus sinks in a Baltimore harbor. It isnt about disrespecting America, just ending police brutality, they claim.
Except that the spiritual leader of the other colliding force Colin Kaepernick released a video over the weekend calling the Fourth of July a celebration of white supremacy. Theres no other way to interpret his argument the American experiment is built on an evil foundation and must be erased.
Apparently, top Democrats were listening. Illinois Sen.Tammy Duckworth a leading contender to become Bidens running mate said on Sunday we ought to consider removing statues of George Washington and raised the specter of doing away with Mt. Rushmore altogether. She said Trump spent all his time talking about dead traitors this weekend, despite the fact that his speech was entirely about the Founding Fathers and other American heroes.
The guru says jump! and his followers shout how high!
Prominent Democratic operatives started this nonsense last summer by pushing to label all Trump voters as racist. Now, they bless an all-out assault on a core tenet of American political discourse that we are all in this together by arguing that not only are Trump and his supporters racist but that celebrating Americas founding means you endorse white supremacy.
Kaepernicks cult knows exactly what it wants: to cancel its political opposition and then delegitimize the American story as we have always known it. They seek radical policy changes that can only be accomplished by removing the democratic guardrails of separation of powers and the protection of minority party rights in the legislative branch.
Read: 100+ youth march 'for freedom' in downtown Louisville on Independence Day
Senate Democrats are signaling they will end the legislative filibuster if they gain control, effectively surrendering to the most extreme elements of the American left (they already run the House under Nancy Pelosi). Combine this change with a newfound taste for emergency powers exercised in the name of the coronavirus, and you can see how the lefts wildest and most radical dreams could come true in short order.
What does America look like when Republicans no longer have the procedural tools to save the country from extremism? Turn on your television. The people destroying American cities and public property and the petrified, enabling Democrats too weak to stop them will have your future in their hands.
Scott Jennings is a Republican adviser, CNN political contributor, and partner at RunSwitch Public Relations. He can be reached atScott@RunSwitchPR.comor on Twitter@ScottJenningsKY.
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Posted: at 3:45 pm
We endorse the sentiment articulated recently in a joint statement by 150 authors, academics and journalists that restriction of free speech, whether by a repressive government or by a counterculture demanding uncompromising fealty and conformity, erodes democracy and harms the subaltern. Thesignatories include author Salman Rushdie, linguist Noam Chomsky and Harry Potter creator J K Rowling.
In the era of social media, where arguments are short and emphatic, nuance is displaced by arbitrary certainty and intolerance of dissent. The result is to coarsen the public discourse and polarise, rather than inform, opinion. The way to defeat bad ideas is by exposure, argument, and persuasion, not by trying to silence or wish them away. We refuse any false choice between justice and freedom, which cannot exist without each other, says the statement. Political correctness is not merely a cringeworthy fashion but also an instrument of censorship. To attribute to some value or sentiment a quality of unquestioning inviolability and then to damn anyone who dares to disagree even tangentially is an attack on the freedom of expression. Whether the tactic is deployed by those on the political right or those on the left, the result is to curtail reasoned debate and shrink the realm of public clarity. Womens rights, race and skin colour, nationalism, religion, leader worship the number of subjects, differences on which at the level of ideas can swiftly transform into violent confrontation, keeps growing.
A statement issued by some individuals, however accomplished and however respected, will not, by itself, bring about a diametrical shift in the temper of the public discourse. But the discourse is richer for incorporating this caution and appeal to reason. May reason prevail.
This piece appeared as an editorial opinion in the print edition of The Economic Times.
Originally posted here:
Posted: at 3:45 pm
American sports are changing, and the Kansas City Chiefs are on the clock.
Last week, the NFLs Washington Redskins announced plans to reconsider the teams name, a decision that will almost certainly lead to a new name by the start of the football season. A few days later, the Cleveland Indians of Major League Baseball said they would think about a new name too.
"We recognize our unique place in the community," the baseball team said in a statement, "and are committed to listening, learning and acting in the manner that can best unite and inspire our city."
If both franchises pick new names, the Kansas City Chiefs, the Atlanta Braves and the NHLs Chicago Blackhawks would be the only remaining major sport franchises using Native American symbols in their promotions and game-day activities.
Each of those teams including the Kansas City Chiefs must begin a thorough reappraisal of their use of those images and traditions.
Changing the defending Super Bowl champs name would be an enormous, controversial undertaking. But the Chiefs and other community leaders who happily bask in the clubs success must at least publicly explain in this current moment why keeping the name and associated rituals are so essential to the teams success.
The concerns of the Native American community, and a much broader audience, cant be ignored. As other teams take a hard look at ethnic stereotypes and racist caricatures, the Chiefs cant simply sweep this issue under the rug or hope that a well-timed meeting will calm everyone down. Its time for a real examination of all of it: the tomahawk chop, the drum, Arrowhead Stadium, Warpaint and the costumes worn by fans at the game.
The National Congress of American Indians calls such iconography intolerant. "Rather than honoring Native peoples, these caricatures and stereotypes are harmful, perpetuate negative stereotypes of Americas first peoples, and contribute to a disregard for the personhood of Native peoples," the group says.
The question isnt whether all Native Americans find these symbols objectionable. The point is that some Native Americans do. That should be enough for the team and the city to reconsider their fondness for a chant and a costume that have no relation to the game.
How can the NFL pressure the Washington team to change its name while endorsing the chop or the war drum here in Kansas City? The contrast will be too obvious and will be noticed by everyone in America if the Chiefs success continues. (Quarterback Patrick Mahomes newly inked 10-year contract extension gives us hope that it will.)
There will be enormous resistance to even talking about this. As in Washington, D.C., and in Cleveland, fans will insist the names are meant to honor Native Americans or arent related to that community at all.
If Kansas City were picking a name today for a sports franchise, would it pick one based on ethnicity? Of course not. Times have changed. What made sense in the 1960s would never even be considered now.
Others will claim political correctness run amok, or another example of so-called "cancel culture." In a Monday tweet, President Donald Trump criticized name changes in Washington, D.C., and Cleveland: "They name teams out of STRENGTH, not weakness," he wrote.
Hes wrong. Real strength is understanding the power of words and images and the importance of using them to promote unity, not division. Real strength is reexamining old traditions in the light of new circumstances.
The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.)
German media is trying to ‘help’ Poles make the ‘right’ election decision, says Belgium academic – The First News
Posted: at 3:45 pm
Professor Engels said: "This campaign is indisputably not only the result of the usual differences of opinion in politics because, after all, a lively discourse between opposing positions is the basis of democracy, but it is the very conscious result of a desire to influence German (and also Polish) public opinion." Leszek Szymaski/PAP A Belgian professor has claimed that German media is trying to influence the presidential run offs in Poland with negative reports about Andrzej Duda and positive reports about Rafal Trzaskowski.
According to historian Professor David Engels, the mainstream media in Germany has been bombarding Poles with divergent views in order to 'help' them make the 'right' decision.
According to the professor, Warsaw mayor Rafa Trzaskowski is portrayed positively as progressive liberal.Lech Muszyski/PAP
He told PAP: "I don't want to over-generalize and suggest that all journalists and media are alike, because there are still some significant exceptions, but it is clear how unilaterally the German media usually speak about Poland."
He added that almost every day major German magazines and TV stations are devoting themselves topublishing blatantly one-sided materials in which left-liberal politicians are portrayed as cosmopolitan heroes in shining armour, trying to save their country from economic ruin, from clerical-pedophiles, from intolerant homophobes and Islamophobes, as well as from vile and dictatorial ministers, while their task is being hampered by stubborn, insensitive and dim-witted peasants from Eastern Europe."
The historian who now lives in Poland said that in his opinion the'right direction'for Poland, suggested by the German media, is "accepting mass immigration, introducing sexual'diversity'at the school level, subjecting all manifestations of national democracy to Brussels technocracy, replacing the Christian character of the Polish nation with multicultural relativism, the censorship of all media that do not subordinate to political correctness, distancing themselves from the United States (US President Donald Trump) and, of course, subjecting the vital interests of the state to the needs of'European neighbours,'that is, of course, the German economy."
Current president, Andrzej Duda, is portrayed negatively in German media.Przemysaw Pitkowski/PAP
"This campaign is indisputably not only the result of the usual differences of opinion in politics because, after all, a lively discourse between opposing positions is the basis of democracy, but it is the very conscious result of a desire to influence German (and also Polish) public opinion."
The reason for"this continuous interference,"he says, is the fact that "Poland is the only major European country which is not (yet) completely dominated by the notion of multiculturalism, relativism and technocracy, and it finds itself in the very heart of the Visegrad Group, which is the last independent European centre of power beyond the direct control of Brussels."
"As today's Germany is undoubtedly an advocate of the new ideology of political correctness, they perceive the Polish refusal to submit to their wishes as slander, a slander that is all the more irritating, since many (though fortunately not all) Germans maintain a peculiar, somewhat'condescending'approach to their eastern neighbours.
Professor David Engels says German media is trying to influence the forthcoming presidential election run off.Elekes Andor
He continued: "I think that it is more important now than ever to clearly separate the obvious propaganda carried out by the current German political and media elite on the one hand, from normal Germans on the other, who are often a helpless victim of the content they are fed," says the historian. "And this applies not only to Germany, but also to most Western European countries."
He added that the only correct response should not be "falling into the trap set for Poland and withdrawing into isolationism or even nationalism but, rather,thestartofa counteroffensive.
"Poland could be an ideal gathering place for European conservatives, the heart of the reconstruction of a Christian Europe and the centre of a truly objective media market, which informs the inhabitants of Western Europe about what is truly happening with their countries, and this possibility is just what the current German media fears."
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Posted: at 3:45 pm
In early June, President Trump had federal officers use tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse a peaceful protest so he could stage a photo op outside St. Johns Church, which sits across from the White House.
The image, now infamous, shows Trump awkwardly holding up the Bible as though hes never held a book in his life. Its a surreal shot that somehow captures the performative dimension of his entire presidency.
But why the Bible? And why go through all that trouble to do the photo op in front of a church?
Its well-known that evangelicals are one of Trumps most loyal constituencies, but its still not clear why. Conventional wisdom says that evangelicals held their noses and voted for Trump purely for pragmatic purposes the biggest reason being the Supreme Court. They may not like him, the argument goes, but hes a useful political vehicle. (See, for example, the Courts decision on Wednesday that allows the Trump administration to expand religious exemptions for employers who object to the Affordable Care Acts contraceptive mandate.)
But what if Trump wasnt a trade-off for evangelicals? What if an obsession with manhood and toughness made a figure like Trump the natural fulfillment of their political evolution?
This is the argument Kristin Kobes Du Mez, a historian at Calvin University, makes in her new book Jesus and John Wayne. According to Du Mez, evangelical leaders have spent decades using the tools of pop culture films, music, television, and the internet to grow the movement. The result, she says, is a Christianity that mirrors that culture. Instead of modeling their lives on Christ, evangelicals have made heroes of people like John Wayne and Mel Gibson, people who project a more militant and more nationalist image. In that sense, Trumps strongman shtick is a near-perfect expression of their values.
To be candid, I wasnt sure what to make of this thesis, but Im also not an authority on American evangelicalism. So I contacted Du Mez, who teaches at a Christian college and has spent 15 years studying evangelicals, to talk about the direction of the movement and how it led to Trump and what she calls our fractured political moment.
A lightly edited transcript of our conversation follows.
The contrarian argument at the core of your book is that the relationship between Trump and (mostly white) evangelicals is more harmonious than most people suggest. Can you sum up your thesis?
Well, there are all these theories that evangelicals were holding their noses when they voted for Trump, that they were somehow betraying their values. But Ive studied evangelicals for a long time and I was watching them very closely during the election and in the aftermath, and I just didnt see any regrets at all. There was no angst or no sense that this was somehow a difficult trade-off. In fact, what I saw was a bunch of enthusiasm. There were some evangelical leaders who were expressing caution about Trump, but most of the rank and file had zero difficulty supporting Trump.
And when did that become clear to you?
Id say right around the time the Access Hollywood tapes were released thats when it crystallized for me. So we had these tapes where Trump is talking about sexually assaulting women in such crass terms. And the media really homed in on white evangelicals at that moment, asking if this was a bridge too far. Although there was a little hesitation here and there from evangelicals, about a week later they were all back on board.
I know you teach at a Christian university, but did you grow up in the evangelical world? Do you know it from personal experience?
I didnt identify as an evangelical growing up, but most evangelicals dont. We tend to identify as Christians. Looking back, though, I would probably define myself as evangelical-adjacent. I grew up in a small town in Iowa, and this was very much a part of my world.
As I grew up, I was exposed to this evangelical popular culture through our local bookstore, the only bookstore in town. The shelves were filled with these evangelical books, with Christian contemporary music and Christian movies. I was in a Christian youth group. And so my experience with evangelicalism was through the popular culture.
Help me understand why masculinity and nationalism are so foundational to the contemporary evangelical worldview.
What I look to as a historian is this critical period in the post-World War II era when these gender ideals fuse with anti-communist ideology and this overarching desire to defend Christian America. The idea that takes root during this period is that Christian masculinity, Christian men, are the only thing that can protect America from godless communism.
At the same time, you have the civil rights movement destabilizing white evangelicalism and conceptions of white masculinity. Then you have feminism destabilizing traditional masculinity. And all of this comes together for evangelicals, who see their place in the culture slipping away, and they see their political power starting to erode because of this cultural displacement. Thats the moment when you see Christian nationalism linking together with a very militant conception of Christian manhood, because its up to the Christian man to defend his family against all sorts of domestic dangers in the culture wars, and also to defend Christian America against communists and against military threats.
So the idea is that Christian masculinity is the only thing that can preserve traditional American culture and that belief is what precipitates the turn toward a more muscular Christianity?
Thats exactly right. So when you think of evangelicals, a lot of people think of the term family values. But I actually went back to the origins of family values evangelicalism and I was really surprised just how much it was placed in the context of foreign policy, how much it was in the service of defending the American nation. If you go back and listen to James Dobson of Focus on the Family and read the books that emerged during this period, this is all very clear.
The phrase family values is typically hurled at evangelicals in order to call out their hypocrisy, but I think your book makes pretty clear that theyre not hypocrites at all. They only appear hypocritical if you misunderstand what they actually value.
Exactly. If you understand what family values evangelicalism has always entailed and at the very heart of it is white patriarchy, and often a militant white patriarchy then suddenly, all sorts of evangelical political positions and cultural positions fall into place.
So evangelicals are not acting against their deeply held values when they elect Trump; theyre affirming them. Their actual views on immigration policy, on torture, on gun control, on Black Lives Matter and police brutality they all line up pretty closely with Trumps. These are their values, and Trump represents them.
Id like to steelman the evangelical perspective, so can you tell me what cultural forces theyre reacting against?
Well, it changes over time. In the 40s and 50s, its all about anti-communism. But once the civil rights revolution takes hold, it becomes about defending the stability of the traditional social order against all the cultural revolutions of the 60s. But the really interesting moment for me is in the early 90s when the Cold War comes to an end. You would think there would be a kind of resetting after the great enemy had been vanquished, but thats not what happened.
Instead, we get the modern culture wars over sex and gender identity and all the rest. And then 9/11 happens and Islam becomes the new major threat. So its always shifting, and at a certain point I started asking the question, particularly post-9/11, what comes first here? Is it the fear of modern change, of whatevers happening in the moment? Or were evangelical leaders actively seeking out those threats and stoking fear in order to maintain their militancy, to maintain their power?
So this drift into a more militant and nationalist Christianity leads to this obsession with toughness and machismo. The way you put it is that evangelicals are looking for spiritual badasses. They dont want gentle Jesus, they want William Wallace or John Wayne.
Yeah, these are their role models. Most white evangelical men that I knew during the height of this movement, which is really the early 2000s, were very militant. They were buying these hypermasculine books and taking part in these mens reading groups. They werent living out this rugged, violent lifestyle, except maybe at weekend retreats where they role-played this stuff. But in real life, they were still walking around in khakis and polo shirts, but these were the values that were really animating their worldview.
Wait, are there weekend retreats where evangelical men are role-playing Braveheart?
I dont know about that in particular, but this is very much a thing. The success of John Eldredges book Wild at Heart [a huge bestseller that urged young Christian men to reclaim their masculinity] was a big deal in the evangelical world, and it sold millions of copies just in the US. Every college Christian mens group was reading this. It was everywhere in the early 2000s.
There were lots of conferences celebrating this version of a rugged Christianity. It was big business, and there were lots of weekend retreats where men could go out into the wilderness and practice their masculinity. Local churches invented their own versions of this. One church I know in Washington had their own local Braveheart games that involves wrestling with pigs or something. It was all weird and different, but the point was to prove and express your masculinity.
Is this fascination with manhood unique to evangelical culture in particular? Or is this something you find in other Christian subcultures?
The emphasis on strict gender difference and perceived need to define Christian manhood is far greater in conservative white evangelicalism than in other Christian subcultures. White evangelicals also stand out in terms of their emphasis on militancy and their conceptions of masculinity, and in how that militant masculinity is connected to Christian nationalism.
In Black Protestantism, for example, you may find an emphasis on Christian manhood, but youre much more likely to encounter discussions of fatherhood rather than a militant warrior masculinity. In mainline Protestantism youll be more likely to encounter a kinder, gentler masculinity more of the Mr. Rogers sort. (Militant white evangelical masculinity explicitly denounces Mr. Rogerss model of manhood.)
That said, evangelical constructions of masculinity have made inroads into mainline circles largely via popular culture (many mainline churches use evangelical literature in their small-group Bible studies, for example), so the lines between white evangelical and mainline Christianity are not always all that clearly drawn.
Theres a lot going on there, but Ill bring this back to Trump. Do most evangelicals consider him a spiritual badass?
For many hes not, but he is their great protector. Hes their strongman that God has given them to protect them. So, again, the ends justify the means here. But I think its important to understand that the appeal of Trump to evangelicals isnt surprising at all, because their own faith tradition has long embraced this idea of a ruthless masculine protector.
This is just the way that God works and the way that God has designed men. He filled them with testosterone so that they can fight. So theres just much less of a conflict there. The most common thing that I hear from white evangelicals defending Trump is that they just wish he would tweet less. I dont find a lot of concern about his actual policies or whats in his heart.
I dont understand how a draft-dodging, spray-tanned hypochondriac has become a hypermasculine protector for militant evangelicals
I mean, thats fair, but you have to remember that their whole idea of militant masculinity was formed in reaction against feminism and more recently against so-called political correctness. That has been just such a powerful enemy for white evangelicals who feel oppressed by these new standards of behavior. And I think Trump really succeeds by not following any of those rules of civil discourse.
If most evangelicals are taking their moral and political cues from Trump or the Duck Dynasty clan or from Christian radio and television, havent we crossed over into something post-religious, something closer to a lifestyle or a cultural pose?
I think we have. But I will say there is still diversity within evangelical churches, communities, and families. There are so many evangelicals who read their Bible every morning, who hold to scriptural teachings as they understand them. But for many of them, the Bible is a complicated book. Which verses do you hold on to as formative for your life, and which do you dismiss? Many are reading through the filter of this ideology now.
But Ive encountered lots of evangelicals who dont want to speak out, who feel a lot of pressure within their own communities. This is not what their faith means to them, this is not what Christianity is to them. So when we talk about white evangelicals, we should acknowledge that there is disagreement within churches and communities and families, but its true that a solid majority of white evangelicals have bought into this ideology.
One of the most interesting threads in your book is this story about how evangelical leaders have tried to modernize the church by using pop culture to lure people in, but over time the pop culture has completely supplanted the theology and all thats left is the vacuous political brand.
I teach at a Christian university, so the majority of my students would fit into this category of white evangelicals. And just this past year, I was teaching a course where it involved reading the first three chapters of Genesis. It was about biblical gender roles and taking a critical look.
And at one point during our discussion, one woman raised her hand and said, I have a confession to make. I think this is the first time Ive actually read the first three chapters of Genesis ... Ive been working with the VeggieTales stories and I assumed I knew this, so I didnt bother with the Bible. [VeggieTales is a Christian animated series for kids that uses pop culture to retell biblical stories.] She was so embarrassed to confess that, but then several other students confessed to the same thing.
So this is the evangelical culture these kids have been raised in. They listen to pop Christian music on the radio. They read the pop Christian books. They watch Focus on the Family childrens programming. They watch VeggieTales cartoons. And Christian parents are told to keep their kids away from the broader secular culture, so its also very insular. They stick to the Christian version of it. Thats the only theology they know.
This is really a story about a religious movement getting entangled with politics and consumerism and being bastardized as a result of the collision.
I think thats right, and theres a lot of money to be made through the book sales, the advertising, and the connections between the political strategists and some of the folks behind this consumer market. What I really tried to do here is just understand the networks behind American evangelicalism. Who is publishing what? What are the distribution networks?
Its critical to understand evangelicalism through this lens. Even when someone walks into a Christian book store or goes online and orders a Christian product, that feels like an authentic expression of their faith to them.
I hear people say all the time that Trumps election was a tragedy for evangelicals, but after reading your book, I wonder if it isnt their greatest victory.
It depends on your vantage point, right? Ive been studying evangelical masculinity for almost 15 years, and seeing the veil ripped off in this way was almost cathartic for me. I was able to see the nature of the movement with even more clarity. This is what family values evangelicalism looks like, and now its apparent to everyone.
But for evangelical dissenters, this is indeed a tragedy. And yet I think even those who are resisting, or who are calling this out and who are struggling with the direction that evangelicalism has taken, still need to reckon with the ways in which they, too, as part of this tradition, have been complicit in this ideology. The Trump era didnt just happen. Weve been moving in this direction for a long time.
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Posted: at 3:44 pm
Imagine a world in which, one day, you learned youd eventually be expected to give birth to, then raise, an ostrich. It would be a long-lived ostrich, one residing with you inside your home for at least 18 years.
This large, growing bird would require a great deal of care daily, exhausting, heroic care, for which you wouldnt be paid, nor, in general, well supported. In fact, youd probably have to take time off from work; if youre a woman, your ability to earn a post-ostrich livelihood would most likely be curtailed, perhaps severely. Plus, there would be the expense of ostrich daycare, ostrich violin lessons; in the future, god help you, ostrich college. Did you catch the part where youre physically birthing the ostrich? It would tear open your body as it emerged from either between your legs or a gash sliced across your stomach, this larger-than-usual, speckled ostrich egg.
Then, imagine that, despite the pervasive societal expectations, you realized one day that you could opt out of having an ostrich. You never wanted the bird in the first place. Imagine how much more natural it might feel if you could just not.
Im starting with illustrative ostriches because Ive learned, over the years, that people tend not to believe me if I indicate that I dont feel, and have never felt, the urge to have children. Indicate, because I rarely say it outright. If directly asked, I respond, Oh, I dont know, not yet, as if theres a question about it as though I havent been certain, all my life, that Im at least as disinclined to parent a child as I would an ostrich. I equivocate with the hope of heading off the arguing, the unsolicited assurances about what my body wants and how I should live my life: Youll change your mind, Im often told. Hey, you never know.
Except I havent; I do. Thus, ostriches.
But how can this be so difficult to believe? My position should be, by now, plausible: the American fertility rate is at a historic 35-year low. The so-called replacement rate the national birthrate believed to be optimal for population renewal and stability is 2.1 babies per couple; today people with wombs are expected to have 1.71 children in their lifetimes. And that 1.71 estimate came before the pandemic; in this changed world, in which it seems all the parents of young children I know are having by far the hardest time of their parenting lives, it seems likely that fertility rates will keep falling.
Until recently, though, the US experienced more robust fertility rates than did other developed countries. We can thank immigrants for this: since 1970, any growth in annual births in the US is attributed to immigrant parents. Gretchen Livingston, from Pew Research Center, notes that if immigrant moms had not been in the States, [the] overall number of births would have actually declined in that time.
Since the 2008 recession, however, the total fertility rate has fallen by close to 20%. This dwindling rate has demographers worried: an aging population with a disproportionately small base of working adults is one more susceptible to the vicissitudes of the economy or a new coronavirus.
Looking around at the state of this country, as well as the world, it doesnt seem particularly surprising that the birthrate would be declining. Parenting in the US is especially costly and difficult, for one. And then theres the climate crisis: in a 2018 New York Times poll, a third of Americans of childbearing age cited climate change as a factor in their decision to have fewer children.
Based on my experiences, Id say one-third sounds, if anything, low. Im in my thirties; a significant majority of my friends still dont have children, and many say the climate is a serious consideration. Since the pandemic started, friends whod been unsure if they wanted children have begun saying theyre leaning more decisively toward not. If I look at a still younger set of people, the college students and graduate students Ive frequently encountered while teaching and publicly speaking, Id say the one-third figure sounds lower still, and how could it not be? In the absence of massive systemic change, it seems possible that ecological collapse will happen within college students lifetimes, and they know it.
Prospective parents also see the deficit in other, essential kinds of support, community, fellowship, help. In the Atlantic, Alia Wong argues that Americas low fertility rate is a sign that the country isnt providing the support Americans feel they need in order to have children. Even without a life-upending pandemic, trying to have a baby without consistent, legally enforced societal and medical support is indeed very hard. Or, as Anna Louie Sussman posits in the New York Times: It seems clear that what we have come to think of as late capitalism that is, not just the economic system, but all its attendant inequalities, indignities, opportunities and absurdities has become hostile to reproduction.
Could this falling birthrate eventually affect how childfree people are viewed in the US? (Childfree, Ill emphasize, not childless a lot of people without offspring prefer to reserve the term childless for those who are unable to have children.)
With plenitude, comes acceptance, even normalcy, until the childfree seem unremarkable something like that?
It might be unlikely. Throughout history, people without children women, especially have often been persecuted, mistreated, pitied, and killed for their perceived lack. In ancient Rome, a woman who hadnt borne children could legally be divorced, and her infertility was grounds for letting a priest hit her with a piece of goat skin. (The blows were thought to help women bear children.) In Tang Dynasty China, not having a child was once again grounds for divorce. In the Middle Ages, infertility was believed to be caused by witches or Satan; worse yet, an infertile woman could be accused of being, herself, a witch. In Puritan America, it wasnt just having no children that was suspect. Giving birth to too many children could be perilous, too, and grounds, yet again, for being condemned for a witch.
Also in the US, enslaved women were expected to have babies, and were routinely raped, their potential future children considered a slaveholders property. Some of the only times women without offspring have garnered respect might be when they have formally devoted their lives to a god, and to celibacy: nuns, vestal virgins.
Which brings us to a word I havent yet used, but which often is levied against childfree women like me: selfish. Despite everything, its still common to view parenting as a moral imperative, to such an extent that voluntarily childfree people can be viewed with such outsize emotions as anger and disgust. Pope Francis, a lifelong celibate, has said: The choice not to have children is selfish. Life rejuvenates and acquires energy when it multiplies: it is enriched, not impoverished. Such judgments might be even more available now, at a time when so much, especially including parenting, has become more difficult for so many people.
I used to find this charge bewildering. How can it be selfish not to want? Why does it bother anyone if I refrain? The world is burning, and its been argued that the single best way an individual in a developed country can reduce her carbon footprint is by having fewer children. (Of course, what can really reduce our carbon footprints is ending our planet-strangling reliance on fossil fuels.) Whats more, a hundred children from a less economically developed nation could easily have a smaller carbon footprint than one American child. To be very selfless, I could move to a less rich land and help raise an entire orphanage.
And the upset about the replacement birthrate part of me is tempted to ask why it matters. Why is it prima facie an obvious good in and of itself that our species collectively keep overpopulating the earth? We abound, you and I. No other animals despoil this planet the way we do. But okay, if one wished to argue on behalf of the improved national social stability provided by having a younger population well, in that case, lets further open our borders. Lets fling them open. As Adam Minter says in Bloomberg: Until some country shows otherwise, immigration remains the most effective means of reversing a baby bust.
Voil, an elegant, satisfying, available solution for birthrate concerns.
Back to the question of selfishness: I used to wonder, as Ive mentioned, what could be selfish about wanting to live my own life, one in which Im electing not to take care of this hypothetical, doesnt-even-exist American child or ostriches. And then, I realized. Thats it, right there, I think. Im a woman; as one, Im expected to look after others. To nurture. To mother: a child, most often. Plus anyone else who could use my time, really. Thats the most uncontroversial kind of woman to be: one devoted to caretaking.
Here is where, if I wanted to, I might include a detailed paragraph about the caretaking I already do. I could line up examples of how unselfish I can be, how passionately I care about family and friends, and how I give to my larger communities. I could talk about being an aunt; I could explain how Ive tried to help sustain friends with children, all to say: Look, Im not the monster you might think I am. But I dont want to prove any claims to unselfishness here nor that of other childfree adults. Its irrelevant, and I shouldnt have to. It would be as if I abruptly started telling you how much I love Valeria Luisellis writing. What does Valeria Luisellis writing have to do with wanting or not wanting children, you might wonder, to which Id say yes, exactly, do you see?
Instead, I think of how, for as long as I can remember, Ive softened my refusal to be a parent. The times Ive said, Not yet, the parties at which Ive smiled when a stranger informs me Ill change my mind, as if hes more familiar with my body than I am. The talk of ostriches. It occurs to me that this is yet another way I force myself to take up less space: I badly dont want my private refusal to sound like an affront to anyone elses desires.
But one grows tired of extending courtesies that are too often not reciprocated, and maybe, for once, Ill say it plain: I dont want children, I never have, and it doesnt feel like any kind of lack. To me, it just feels like being alive.
Additional reporting by Adrienne Matei
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Posted: at 3:44 pm
Good morning. The mayors of Houston and Austin have warned that hospitals in the two Texas cities are in danger of being overwhelmed by coronavirus patients in the coming weeks, even as Donald Trump continues to play down the exponential increase in Covid-19 cases across multiple US states.
Two months ago, Americas most severe outbreaks were in Democratic-led regions such as New York. But the countrys coronavirus map is very different now, and badly-hit states such as Texas, Florida, Arizona and Georgia which all voted for Trump in 2016 look set to be 2020 election battlegrounds amid the pandemic, as Joan E Greve reports.
Speaking at the White House over the weekend, Trump said his administrations Covid-19 strategy was moving along well and claimed, without evidence, that 99% of cases of the disease which has now killed almost 130,000 Americans were totally harmless. But, as Adrienne Matei writes, even mild cases of Covid-19 can lead to long-term health problems:
Emerging medical research as well as anecdotal evidence from recovery support groups suggest that many survivors of mild Covid-19 are not so lucky. They experience lasting side-effects, and doctors are still trying to understand the ramifications.
Trump spent the 4 July weekend stoking Americas cultural divisions, dismissing the threat of the coronavirus pandemic, and playing golf at one of his own private properties. But as he ramps up the belligerent rhetoric for his re-election campaign, there are fresh rumblings of dissent from within the Republican party.
Several anti-Trump groups have sprung up within the wider GOP. Some are openly supporting Joe Biden, reports Daniel Strauss, and almost all are better organised than the so-called Never Trump movement of 2016. Meanwhile, the presidents former national security adviser John Bolton has called into question Trumps claim never to have been briefed on the Russian bounties controversy, telling CBS that was just not the way the system works.
The coronavirus pandemic has struck the oldest generation most severely, but the impact of the economic fallout will likely be felt most deeply by young people particularly the so-called generation Z: those born between 1997 and 2012. Lauren Aratani spoke to several young Americans about entering the economy just as it goes into freefall.
Tom Hanks on surviving coronavirus
Back in March, Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, became, he tells Hadley Freeman, the celebrity canaries in the coalmine of all things Covid-19. But now hes recovered and promoting his new film, albeit via Zoom. Im not one who wakes up in the morning wondering if Im going to see the end of the day or not.
Choosing to be childfree
RO Kwon never felt the urge to have children. With the world on the brink of environmental collapse, she writes, many women have joined her in choosing to be childfree. Two childfree Guardian editors introduce a new series on opting out of parenting, while Kristin Brownell says she refuses to pass on her addiction gene.
Why we need sharks
They get a bad rap from Hollywood, but the monstrous villains of the ocean are in fact a majestic, diverse bunch who help to bring balance to the underwater ecosystem. Helen Scales explains why sharks matter to humanity.
Trump nominated William Perry Pendley, a conservative activist with close links to anti-government forces, to oversee Americas public lands. His elevation, argues Cas Mudde, is a reminder that the true far-right threat to US democracy does not come from neo-Nazis.
It is this coalition of disaffected, illiberal and self-interested forces that holds Trump and the Republican leadership together and which is slowly but steadily dismantling the federal government from within.
The Dodge Charger from the TV show Dukes of Hazzard, named after General Lee and emblazoned with the Confederate flag, will not be removed from display at the Volo Auto Museum near Chicago amid the national debate over Confederate monuments. The museums director said its collection also includes Nazi artefacts: If were going to get complaints about the General Lee being here, weve got much worse items over in our military building.
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Posted: at 3:44 pm
The Big Bang Theorywas among one of the most successful television series of all time. For 12 seasons,fans became invested in the lives of Sheldon Cooper, Leonard Hofstadter, RajKoothrappali, and Howard Wolowitz, as well as the ladies who eventually joined theirgroup. There is one major plothole that fans cant let go of, thoughBernadetteRostenkowskis explanation for why she dislikes children changed during theseries.
When Bernadetteand Howard first discuss having children, she mentions that she doesnt likechildren. The news is surprising to both fans and Howard alike. She goes on toexplain her reasoning for wanting to be childfree. The story makes a lot ofsense and left fans with more information about Bernadettes upbringing thanthey ever had before.
RELATED: TheBig Bang Theory: Was Raj and Howards Relationship Perfect or Weird?
ScreenRant notes that Howards love interest originally suggested that her hatredfor children stemmed from a childhood spent caring for other kids. She toldHoward that during her formative years, her mother ran an illegal daycare outof the familys basement to make ends meet. According to the story, Bernadettewas tasked with helping to keep the operation organized.
Later in the series, Bernadettementions that she isnt open to the idea of children simply because she wasforced to watch her younger brothers and sisters while her mother worked. Whileit is known that Bernadette has five brothers and sisters, they are never seen,and only one brother is named. Bernadettes younger brother, Joey Rostenkowskiis mentioned in Season 5, Episode 12, but is never mentioned again.
So, from what Bernadette says, her mother worked outside ofthe home and left all of the siblings under the care of Bernadette. If Bernadettewas really the oldest of all of her siblings, fans theorize, at least one ofthem would have still been living at home when she met Howard. That, however,did not seem to be the case.
Fans were quick to notice the inconsistency in Bernadettesstory. It seems implausible that her mother worked full-time and ran an illegaldaycare in the familys basement. The full-time job her mother had is nevermentioned, although fans are aware that Bernadettes father was a retiredpolice officer. Simply put, the inconsistencies in Bernadettes story is likejust that, an inconsistency. Unfortunately for fans of televisions how conspiracytheories, there is likely not a more elaborate reason behind Bernadettes twodifferent stories.
RELATED: BigBang Theory Fans Were Quick to Point out this Plot Hole in Young Sheldon
Several popular shows have had significant inconsistenciesin their storylines. Television shows ranging from Friends to GilmoreGirls have had serious plotholes in their storylines. For example, Friendsfans have noticed that RachelGreen and Monica Gellers apartment number makes absolutely no sense. GilmoreGirls fans point out that Lane Kims ability to buy tons of music withoutany money is a serious plot hole. Bernadettes lack of interest in children andthe reason for it isnt even the only plothole in The Big Bang Theory.
Posted: at 3:44 pm
In Deb Perelmans recent New York Times op-ed, In the COVID-19 Economy, You Can Have a Kid or a Job. You Cant Have Both, she details the impossibility of parenting small children during the COVID-19 epidemic, writing, We are not burned out because life is hard this year. We are burned out because we are being rolled over by the wheels of an economy that has bafflingly declared working parents inessential.
Perelmans piece went viral, causing you cant have both to trend on Twitter and receiving a prized retweet from the totem of working parenthood, Hillary Clinton. But as a working parent and as a journalist, I couldnt help but feel that while it articulated much of what I had been seething about throughout the crisis, it also buried the lede. Yes, fathers and mothers are having a difficult time right now; yes, our culture instructing parents to perform at full capacity in their jobs while simultaneously playing Nanny McPhee to their children is a ridiculously extravagant ask.
But it isnt really thateveryonein the COVID-19 economy cant have a kid and a job at the same time. Its that mothers, specifically, cannot. It is mothers, not fathers, who have historically shouldered the vast majority of the childcare burden, and continue to do so during the pandemic, according to one oneNew York Timessurvey; it is women, not men, for whom the Secretary General of the United Nations warned, across every sphere, from health to the economy, security to social protection, the impacts of COVID-19 are exacerbated. And as Perelmans piece notes, it is mothers, not fathers, who have historically bowed out of the workforce when their domestic responsibilities increase, thus making it more difficult for them to ever return. It is women, not men, who will take pay cuts and buyouts, who will go from full-time to part-time to no-time, who have spent years accumulating degrees and tasteful outfits and dog-eared paperbacks of Girl Boss, ascending this pile of corporate feminist ephemera to get a boost up the ladder, only to fall rung by greased-up rung. It is women who will learn firsthand what their jaded first-wave feminist forebears have warned them for years: that not only is having it all a sham, but that even attempting to have a little bit of both will invariably result in quietly flaming out.
In many respects, this is an unprecedented historical moment, says Stephanie Coontz, director of research and public education for the Council on Contemporary Families. Although mothers have been expected to juggle domestic labor with work for much of history, they were reliant on their communities for instance, grandparents or neighbors to assume some of the childcare when they were too busy. There was this integrated community of work, education, instruction, and exchange that was very hard work, but it wasnt this isolated work, she says. While weepy, coronavirus-themed Facebook commercials may try to convince us that social media and virtual interaction can supplant the loss of this network, they dont have the actual physical coordination and the interdependence that parents really need, she says. In other words, the COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in an era where parents, particularly women, are expected to achieve a perfect balance between work and childcare, and for basically the first time in human history, theyre expected to do it on their own.
Unsurprisingly, many experts have predicted that this doesnt bode super well for women. A report from the United Nations has warned that the precarious economic situation could roll back many of the advances feminism has made over the past few decades, with layoffs hitting women disproportionately or forcing women with small children to bow out of the workforce. We could have an entire generation of women who are hurt [economically], Betsey Stevenson, a professor of economics and public policy at the University of Michigan, told the New York Times.
Its worth noting, as Perelman does, that compared to many low-income women and women in service industries, middle-class working mothers who have the luxury of working from home are in a position of extraordinary privilege. While there is little hard data on the subject, low-income mothers will also be hardest hit by the impact of the pandemic: If youre making less money in a relationship and men make more, whats happening is women are staying at home to cover for childcare and these are often low-income women, says Ellen Kossek, a professor of management atPurdue University Krannert School of Management and author of a forthcoming study on the subject. It is proof of how broken the system is that even the best-case scenario (as Perelman and myself embody as happily employed middle-class remote workers), feels so daunting as to be unmanageable.
Truth be told, these prognostications are not anything new. Virtually any working mother has a horror story about feeling pushed out of the workplace pre-COVID-19, even those who come from a relative position of privilege, becausethe demands of the American workplace are totally antithetical to the demands of the home. You are forced to take a 30% pay cut as you watch your male partner get raise after raise and promotion after promotion, spending the remainder of your career trying in vain to catch up. You are encouraged to exclusively breastfeed your child for the first year of their life, which no one tells you is almost impossible to do if youre chained to a desk for eight hours a day. And you are forced to apologetically duck out at 5:15, trying to avoid the gaze of your superiors, gazing wistfully at your childfree cohorts as they go off to sip Moscow mules and network at happy hours.
Under the best circumstances, being a working parent feels like being an unwanted guest at the worlds most tedious party, and what COVID-19 has done is essentially kick working mothers out of the room altogether. In this sense, it has succeeded where previous efforts to limit womens ascendancy in the workplace the absence of paid leave, rampant pregnancy discrimination, and loopholes that ensure some employers dont have to institute lactation rooms, just to name a few have failed: in a scenario so perfect its almost as if some misogynistic sorcerer conjured it in a dungeon, a global pandemic may well be the impetus for booting working mothers from the workplace altogether.
This is already kind of starting to happen. Over the past few months, policy makers have engineered what they no doubt view as ingenious ways to return children back to school, all of which have been met with widespread ire from parents on social media. Fairfax County in Virginia will be spearheading a part-time policy where students can choose between four days of remote learning or two days of on-campus learning, while Gov. Cuomo has suggested that the 2020-2021 school year could be entirely remote. Employers have also done their part in instituting policies that are wildly ignorant of, if not downright hostile to, the lived realities of working parents, with Florida State University instituting a policy for remote employees banning them from caring for children while working. [FSU IS] acting like they gave us this privilege towatch our children while we worked when thats literally what I had to do, one professor complained. (FSUwalked back on this policy following backlash on social media, sending an email to staff saying, We want to be clear our policy does allow employees to work from home while caring for children.)
That the needs of parents were not taken into account during the development of these policies is apparent; that the needs of working mothers in particular were not considered, doubly so. In the absence of these discussions, the onus has been on parents themselves, not employers or policy-makers or the media. Theres a stigma right now that you cant say Im not available because Im helping my kid with my homework from 2-3, and you have to empower people to do that especially during the pandemic, says Kossek. Though she says managers should lead these conversations, the reality is that they so frequently fall on employees that its clear women arent just expected to seamlessly perform childcare and household and work duties simultaneously, theyre also expected to start the conversation about why such expectations are unfair.
Therein lies the crux of the issue: although much valuable discussion has been devoted to how COVID-19 has exposed the disparities in class, gender, and income, the parenting issue intersects with all three of those things, yet receives relatively little attention. Why isnt anyone talking about this? Why are we not hearing a primal scream so deafening that no plodding policy can be implemented without addressing the people buried by it?, Perelman writes in her essay. While there are likely plenty of reasons the relative unclickiness of the importance of paid parental leave among them the truth is that parenting issues are so often considered as tantamount with womens issues that theyve been rendered marginalized in the discourse, almost to the degree that theyre ignored altogether.
There are some who are optimistic about the long-term changes that COVID-19 may bring in terms of gender dynamics and parenting. In the long run we know that when men learn to actually get hands-on experience with the kind of work they were able to ignore for so long, they do do better, says Coontz, citing studies that show how men who take paternity leave end up assuming more of the burden of household labor. Now that men have been forced to pick up some of the childcare burden, becoming more intimately acquainted with its accompanying gifts and travails, I think there may be some possibilities for forward progress after this, she says.
But such progress is dependent on how we, as a society, respond to this crisis, by which she means implementing family-friendly policies such as paid leave, decreasing the wage gap, and providing universal health care. Sometimes there comes a crack in time, Koontz says, quoting a line from a poem by Stephen Vincent Benet. This is a real crack in time that exposes where the roads have been blocked, where theyve been overgrown, where new things need to be built. Theyre terribly painful, these cracks in time, but they can lead to change. But that assumes that everyone, from policymakers to media figures, sees these roadblocks as roadblocks to begin with, and until more people let loose with that primal scream calling for massive change, then these cracks in time will likely be left ignored.
Posted: at 3:42 pm
Q: I agree with human euthanasia. It is to make people or animals die without pain. In japan, only passive euthanasia which is based on the indication of clear intention of the patient is allowed. But I think active euthanasia should be also allowed because there are many cases in which the patient suffers serious pain and there is no way to avoid death or relieve pain.There have been a lot of patients and their family who asked for euthanasia so far. Thus, I agree with human euthanasia. does this sound natural?
A:Looks good so far. I just wanted to make some minor corrections to help the flow and fix some grammar mistakes:I agree with human euthanasia. It allows people or animals to die without pain. In Japan, only passive euthanasia - which is based on the indication of clear intention of the patient - is allowed. But I think active euthanasia should also be allowed because there are many cases where patients either suffer severe pain without the opportunity for relief or face death. Many patients and their families have pleaded for euthanasia. Thus, I agree with human euthanasia.
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