World

Reconsidering the Alliances Narrative

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo looks on as President Donald Trump holds a news conference after participating in the NATO Summit in Brussels, Belgium, July 12, 2018. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

One important aspect of the debate over foreign policy leading up to November 3 has been taken for granted. That Joe Biden has an uncontestable edge over Donald Trump when it comes to America’s standing in the world and reassuring U.S. allies of steady leadership has become an almost indisputable narrative.

There’s ample evidence from Trump’s first three years in office to support the contention that he has done great damage to U.S. alliances. Progressives have made hay not just of standard conservative policy positions adopted by the president — exiting the Paris Agreement and the Iran nuclear deal — but also of moves that most Republicans find to be concerning as well. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of some: The president’s withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, reluctance to endorse NATO’s commitment to collective self defense, abrupt troop drawdowns in such places as Germany and Syria, and decisions to levy tariffs on key partners.

Biden surrogates have taken all of this to argue that while four years of this is reckless but reversible, eight years would do irreparable harm to American global primacy.

But the Trump foreign policy legacy is a tricky thing to evaluate, not least because for all the policy choices that have alarmed conservative national security staffers, administration officials have otherwise strived to run a fairly conventional foreign policy. From the Iran maximum pressure campaign, to the White House’s handling of Venezuela, there remains plenty that the president’s opponents have criticized, but a not insubstantial number of their targets are decisions that could have come from a more conventional GOP president.

This makes the president’s record on alliances more complex than many political and media observers would admit. Many of them fixate on the transatlantic rift, which is notable but not as unprecedented as they make it out to be. And looking elsewhere, the situation isn’t exactly hopeless. For one, his administration’s tough stance on Iran almost certainly reassured the Gulf states made paved the way for the recent normalization agreements between Israel and Arab countries.

The critics also overlook some key developments, mostly over the past couple of months, that have demonstrated the administration’s ability to marshal support behind confronting Beijing.

With Trump’s renewed focus on China has come a push to institutionalize arrangements such as the Quad grouping and the Five Eyes intelligence sharing alliance. To be sure, the Chinese Communist Party’s transgressions have created an environment in which the U.S. can rally an international effort, but the Trump administration deserves credit for recognizing this and acting accordingly.

Multiple senior Trump administration officials have visited Taiwan to show their support for the fledgling democracy, and the White House recently approved three separate arms packages for the island territory as it faces more pressure from Beijing.

All the while, U.S. diplomats have traveled the globe to promote the Clean Network program, which is a set of technological standards explicitly geared toward protecting networks from Chinese interference. Dozens of the world’s democracies have endorsed it. Europe has started to turn away from Huawei, with several governments taking steps to sideline the Chinese state-owned 5G vendor. Beijing’s troubling activity abroad contributed to this, but so too did American leadership.

And all of this has been compounded by the work of the new U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, whose efforts to extend financing to projects in developing countries have been an understated but significant part of the emerging U.S.­-China competition.

These moves haven’t gone unnoticed by America’s friends. For all the foreign leaders who express their frustration with Trump (there are many) and yearn for the relative normalcy of a Biden administration, some also reportedly worry that the former vice president might soften U.S. policy toward China, according to this week’s edition of Politico’s China Watcher newsletter:

The Australian government and national security bureaucracy have an ambivalent feeling about the election,” says the Lowy Institute’s Richard McGregor. “They would largely welcome the defeat of Trump, but they are not sure what to expect of Biden. They want a U.S. government which restores a degree of normalcy, predictability and competence, which Biden — partisan divisions notwithstanding — should deliver. But they are wary of his ability to execute a tougher China policy which brings in allies and helps modify Beijing’s behavior.”

How to square all of this with Trump’s apparent disdain for multilateralism and his disregard for some of America’s longstanding alliances? The answer might be that for the president’s reflexive focus on leaving international organizations and multilateral treaties for the sake of it, his administration’s stance has been one of deliberate multilateralism, which is to say doubling down on what works and jettisoning what doesn’t. This looks all the more reasonable in light of the administration’s efforts to strengthen certain partnerships and alliances.

Although some top Trump officials have made this argument, the president has effectively let his opponents define his handling of America’s allies for him. This isn’t to argue one way or this administration has been a net positive or a net negative for America’s standing in the world. It’s just to say that the Trump team, contrary to conventional wisdom, has standing to reasonably contest the conventional wisdom about the president’s handling of alliances. But that’s just not been part of its closing message.

Politics & Policy

Some Answers for Nicholas Kristof

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Pro-life demonstrators pass the U.S. Capitol during the 47th annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., January 24, 2020. (Mary F. Calvert/Reuters)

The New York Times columnist uses a series of “questions” — not all of them phrased in a way that would be acceptable on Jeopardy — to urge religious conservatives to adopt a more “nuanced” position on abortion.

Q: “Why do so many [Christians] see fervent opposition to any abortion as a religious dictate when the Bible never directly discusses abortion?” A: The same reason that many Christians believed (and believe) that Biblical faith demanded that they oppose chattel slavery. The Bible never directly condemns it, but tells us a lot that, upon reflection, clarifies where we should stand. In the case of abortion, that reflection — about, for example, the meaning of Exodus 20:13 among many other Biblical passages — should incorporate what we know about biology. Not all Christians see the Bible’s implications for abortion as pro-lifers do, of course, but that should not dissuade those of us who see them — just as William Wilberforce did not let himself be dissuaded by those Christians who thought slavery had a Biblical sanction.

Q: Why should human embryos receive legal protection when “half of zygotes never implant and establish a pregnancy”? After all, “we don’t mourn those zygotes or establish national commissions to improve zygote survival.” A: How much we mourn a death can vary for all kinds of legitimate reasons that have nothing to do with whether it is just to take action designed to cause death. People unknown to us die every day, and we never mourn them because we never hear about them. It doesn’t mean it would have been permissible for us to kill them. People in their 90s have a high natural death rate, too, and it shouldn’t be acceptable to kill them either. No one’s rights should depend on how other people react to their misfortunes and mistreatment.

Q: “If you’re troubled by abortions, shouldn’t you thank President Barack Obama for reducing them?” A: If the evidence bears out Kristof’s contention that increased contraceptive coverage thanks to Obamacare resulted in fewer abortions, pro-lifers should certainly acknowledge that positive side-effect of his policies. Kristof provides no evidence for this contention, however, and a graph of the history of the U.S. abortion rate does not show any inflection around the time of the law’s implementation that’s visible to the naked eye. If the contention is true, however, it would not imply that pro-lifers should rest easy about the advocacy of taxpayer-funded abortion by Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden. Perhaps Kristof should devote a column to urging them to embrace a more nuanced policy, especially since their views have a greater near-term likelihood of being imposed than some of the anti-abortion views he writes about.

National Review

Inside the November 16, 2020, Issue of National Review

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The November 16, 2020, issue is out, and has a bevy of wonderful articles that bring sunshine and wit and wisdom your way. The physical National Review magazine itself is in the mail, winding its way towards the homes of subscribers, but there is no wait for NRPLUS members (are you one? If not then remedy that right here). We’ll take this opportunity to recommend some of the contents, and of course the best place to start is with the cover essay, penned by Charles C. W. Cooke, about his adopted and beloved home state of Florida (per Charlie: it’s “a fabulous place to live — and, moreover, far from being an eccentric backwater, it is a compelling, important, and up-and-coming part of the United States of America, filled with interesting and capable people from all walks of life.”). The other major pieces (“two-column” is the in-house descriptive lingo) following it are Naomi Schaefer Riley’s truly important essay making the case for foster-care reform, Scott Winship’s piece arguing that widespread, at-home COVID testing is vital for restoring America, and Vivek Ramaswamy’s smart essay exploring the diversity that defines every individual.

Since we’re in a sunny mood, here are two more recommendations: Jay Nordlinger finds things lively at a cemetery, while in the Books, Arts & Manners section, David Mamet offers a wonderful reflection on the intelligencia-hold by the New York Muscovites (“Eastern European Jewish Americans, brought up on the 1930s socialism and free love”) who were so influential in theater.

Do remember that if you are not an NRPLUS member, you get but three monthly cracks at articles we’ve designated as exclusive — which applies to all magazine pieces. So, do get that subscription (heck, there’s a big sale going on right now).

World

Pro-Euthanasia Referendum Garners 65 Percent of New Zealand Vote

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(megaflopp/Getty Images)

New Zealand will soon join the list of countries that permit doctors to kill or assist the suicides of patients. A recent referendum to support legalization won 65 percent of the vote. From the NZ Herald story:

The result caused anxiety among parts of the disabled community today. Although the law forbids access to euthanasia on the grounds of disability alone, advocates feel it fundamentally changes the way vulnerable people will be perceived in New Zealand.

There are also concerns that the law’s relatively narrow eligibility criteria could be broadened in future.

Of course it will. That very loosening is happening as I write these words in Canada, only a few years post-legalization.

As I ponder this, I am struck how Kiwis epitomize contemporary progressive secular culture. When there was a mass shooting, guns were confiscated very quickly without protest about individual rights.

One of the country’s rivers has been declared a rights-bearing entity.

New Zealanders also embraced one of the most draconian shut downs over COVID in the world.

These are all symptoms of a civilizational disease. When human exceptionalism is discarded, the intrinsic value of human life becomes relativized and “eliminating suffering” becomes the prime directive. If that means letting doctors eliminate sufferers, so be it. If it means sacrificing freedom on the altar of security, so be it.

I say, hell no. But I might be spitting into the wind.

Elections

Quinnipiac Polls Iowa: Ernst 48, Greenfield 46

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Quinnipiac polls have produced some of the best numbers for Democratic candidates across the country this year, and earlier this month the pollster found Iowa Republican senator Joni Ernst trailing Democrat Theresa Greenfield 45 percent to 50 percent. But the latest Quinnipiac survey, conducted October 23–27, shows Ernst turning things around: She now holds a slim lead — 48 percent to 46 percent — over Greenfield. The same poll shows Trump one point ahead of Biden: 47 percent to 46 percent.

At the moment, Greenfield is ahead of Ernst by 1.5 points in the RealClearPolitics polling average, but it’s not unusual for a Senate candidate trailing by less than 3 points in the RCP polling average on Election Day to win.

In Iowa, Republicans have outperformed their poll numbers in the last three election cycles: “In 2014, Ernst led her Democratic opponent by 2.3 points in the RealClearPolitics polling average; she won by 8.5 points. In 2016, Trump led Clinton by 3 points in the RCP average of Iowa polls; he beat her there by 9.4 points. In 2018, GOP governor Kim Reynolds trailed by 0.7 points in the final average of polls; she won by three points.”

Elections

Everything’s Bigger in Texas, Including the Turnout This Year

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People wait in line to cast their ballots for the upcoming presidential election as early voting begins in Houston, Texas, October 13, 2020. (Go Nakamura/Reuters)

More than 9 million Texans cast their ballots early by Thursday, surpassing the total number of ballots cast during the entire 2016 presidential election, according to the Texas secretary of State.

The AP writes, “Voters in Texas do not register by party affiliation, so no one can be sure until the ballots are counted whether one party or the other will benefit from the surge in turnout.”

No, but if you had to guess, you would surmise that the higher turnout is at last slightly better for Democrats than Republicans. The demographics friendliest to Republicans — older voters, whites, middle class and upper-class — are among those who turn out every year. The demographics friendliest to Democrats — younger voters, Latinos, and lower-income workers — are less certain to turn out.

In 2014, 33 percent of registered voters turned out, the lowest turnout this century. Those who did were mostly Republicans, as that midterm election year was one of the best years for Texas Republicans in ages. Greg Abbott won the governor’s race by 20 points over Wendy Davis, Jon Cornyn won his Senate race by more than 27 points, the GOP picked up a state senate seat and three state house seats, and no Democrat running statewide got more than 38.9 percent of the vote.

That year, exit polls indicated the Texas electorate was 66 percent white, and 69 percent making $50,000 per year or more. Only 14 percent of voters were between the ages of 18 and 29.

In 2018, 53 percent of registered voters turned out. While Texas Republicans kept the governor’s mansion and Senator Ted Cruz was reelected, Texas Democrats had a much better day. Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke didn’t win, but his coattails helped the Democrats flip two U.S. House seats, one state senate seat, and twelve seats in the state house.

That year, exit polls indicated the Texas electorate was 56 percent white, and 65 percent making $50,000 per year or more, and 16 percent were between the ages of 18 and 29.

Very broadly speaking, a voter pool that has more minorities, lower-income workers, and young voters is better for Democrats.

But not every new voter is likely to vote Democrats. In the Texas governor’s race, Lupe Valdez won more 1.7 million votes than Davis had won four years earlier. But Abbott increased his 2014 vote total by more than 1.8 million votes.

Politics & Policy

Keep the Senate Republican

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In Bloomberg Opinion, I argue that the country will be better off with a Republican Senate especially if Biden wins the presidency.

Politics & Policy

Promises, Promises

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There is much in Carson Holloway’s case for reelecting Trump with which to agree. But he closes on a note that I find baffling whenever I hear it: Trump, he says, has kept his promises. “He has worked to advance his campaign agenda with a firmness unmatched by any recent president.” I think this is pretty much the opposite of the truth.

It is certainly true that he has made good on some important campaign promises — especially when it comes to judicial appointments. It’s true as well that all presidents fail to accomplish some of what they advertise on the campaign trail. But there are many, many examples of promises that he hasn’t taken seriously at all, and some of them were central to his campaign.

When he had a Republican Congress, he did very little to attain the big, beautiful wall he kept talking about. He’s done almost nothing to build the “new roads, and highways, and bridges, and airports, and tunnels, and railways all across our wonderful nation” he talked about in his Inaugural address (and in campaign stops). He talked a lot about creating a paid-family-leave program in 2016. His administration has hardly made it a priority. He’s done less than nothing to eliminate the federal debt.

I’m glad that Trump didn’t try to keep some of these promises, to say nothing of making good on his talk of a special prosecutor for Hillary Clinton, or opening up the libel laws, or removing all illegal immigrants from the country. For good or ill, though, he doesn’t stand out among modern presidents as a promise-keeper.

Media

Michelle Goldberg’s Autocracy

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I suspect that Michelle Goldberg’s understanding of autocracy is different than the rest of ours. For the New York Times, she writes that if Joe Biden wants to fight autocracy abroad, “he’ll have to start at home.”  Her column follows a familiar formula: Call Trump an autocrat, cite “experts” such as Obama administration propaganda minister Ben Rhodes, and preemptively excuse the lack of moral clarity that a Biden administration will exhibit toward rogue states such as China and Iran. Indeed, Goldberg confidently states that “it will take time before the United States is in a position to criticize democratic backsliding anywhere else.”

An autocracy is, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, “a system of government by one person with absolute power.” If the United States is, as Goldberg asserts, on “the brink of autocracy,” where is the wall? Fact is, Trump couldn’t fulfill his signature campaign promise even with unified Republican control of the federal government. Why was he blocked from rescinding an executive order issued by his predecessor by a Republican-appointed Chief Justice? Why are there still troops in the Middle East? Why is the failing (in the sense of publishing quality work, not financially) New York Times still allowed to publish Goldberg’s drivel? What is that thing we’re holding on Tuesday? What is the assumed result of that thing in her column?

Calling the U.S. an autocracy is a bit like calling Miles Taylor a senior Trump administration official. That is to say, it’s in keeping with the Times’ standards.

Economy & Business

Will COVID Produce an Enduring Shift Toward Working from Home?

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Both Owl Labs and Upwork have new reports touching on this topic (which I addressed myself a few months ago here).

Most strikingly, the Upwork report has survey data on people thinking about moving: “Anywhere from 14 to 23 million Americans are planning to move as a result of remote work. Combined with those who are moving regardless of remote work, near-term migration rates may be three to four times what they normally are.” Housing data suggest that the most expensive areas are seeing the biggest drops in rents.

As I’ve discussed in the past, sky-high rents in the most economically productive areas are very bad for social mobility and for the economy in general. An exodus from those places by people who can do their work remotely would be very much a positive development. Deregulating housing so that more can be built would be even better.

Culture

Horrors in Hillsdale

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In the Hillsdale Collegian, the student newspaper of Hillsdale College (which I attended), National Review’s John Miller — who directs the school’s journalism program — argues that the school needs a ghost.

Hillsdale College needs a ghost.

Every college should have one, and the best already do. A tradition says that King Charles I, beheaded in 1649, roams Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford. The Harvard Gazette, an official publication of its university, has reported on spectral stories. The Syfy channel has produced “School Spirits,” a six-episode series about paranormal encounters at the University of Michigan and elsewhere.

Have you ever seen a ghost on our campus? Neither have I. We have many blessings here, but it seems we lack a good haunting.

In my years there, I never encountered definite evidence of a campus ghoul, though there were some creepy places. I agree with Miller, though: Hillsdale needs one. Ghost stories are fun in themselves, but also often tend to accrue to places with durable institutional history, which Hillsdale deserves a reputation for if it does not have one already.

For now, though, there are things with which the Hillsdale, Mich., area can make do. Six (!) years ago, as a Collegian staffer, I wrote about one of them: Church Road, a mysterious stretch of road a few miles from campus. I am still proud of my lead:

A car moves slowly along a single-track dirt road, its wheels treading cautiously. They alone break the silence. Against cloudy skies and a night already fallen, its headlights challenge a darkness that crushes from all sides. To the left, through a thicket of trees, stands a dilapidated barn with no visible means of access. To the right, old, broken furniture is scattered at the edge of a dense forest.

This is Church Road.

A few weeks ago, however, in a blow for Hillsdale’s ghost enthusiasts, the Hillsdale Revival Center was demolished. A creepy, abandoned church just a mile or so from campus, it had only a basement level. While still at Hillsdale, I saw a picture of it in the Collegian that made it seem to glow an eerie green; I then took to calling it Minas Morgul. Morgan Morrison, a current student, wrote an excellent account of the now-demolished mysterious structure, including this chilling detail:

Some students claim to have had “paranormal” experiences in the church, such as inexplicable organ music and a child’s cry. Nate Spieth, a resident of Hillsdale, claimed that he repeatedly saw a shadowy figure walking around the church “at all times of the night.”

These are not the only rumors of the paranormal around Hillsdale. But they’ll have to do for now. But don’t get me started on the Hillsdale UFO . . .

World

Senators Call for Formal Recognition of the Uyghur Genocide

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A bipartisan group of senators led by senators Menendez and Cornyn is leading a push to designate the Chinese Communist Party’s crimes in Xinjiang as a genocide by way of a Senate resolution. Its passage would make the U.S. Senate the first legislative body in the world to officially recognize the situation in the region as a genocide.

This follows a letter this week signed by Senators Rubio, Cornyn, Merkley, and Cardin requesting that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issue a genocide determination:

But more than additional sanctions are needed. The United States has made the prevention of genocide and other atrocity crimes a priority though the ratification of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in 1988, and the enactment of the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act (P.L. 115-441). We renew our request for the Department to issue a public determination of whether atrocity crimes are being committed in the XUAR – and if these crimes amount to genocide. Doing so will further focus the Administration’s resources to address and expose offenses in the XUAR and demonstrate U.S. leadership to the international community.

As I wrote in September, U.S. government genocide determinations are an incredibly tricky thing. They require solid evidence to meet the criteria set out under the 1948 Genocide Convention. In order to be credible, and therefore spur action, the reasoning needs to be airtight. Sadly, there’s a strong, well-documented case for a determination in this case.

Issuing a determination alone won’t change the facts on the ground, and in fact, it is likely to have little material effect in the short run. However, there’s something compelling about stating the blunt, obvious truth: The CCP has fought hard to cover up its industrial-scale crimes, and it’s about time that we use the proper term for what’s taking place.

Since there’s already a domestic political consensus around this, the most significant practical effect of a genocide determination would be to shock the rest of the world out of shameful complacency. It’s long overdue.

Impromptus

Showstoppers

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A New Hampshire scene in fall (Molly Powell)

That picture up there is by National Review’s own Molly Powell. It shows a New Hampshire scene. At the bottom of this post is an Ohio scene, taken by another friend. Two stunners, two showstoppers — as is fall.

These pictures anchor my Impromptus column today. I’m not sure “anchor” is the word, but they appear at the end. The column starts with an interesting, strange topic: presidential ex-wives. I mean Jane, Ivana, and Marla. I make some particular points about Jane.

One of my topics is TV theme songs, and TV themes, wordless: such as “The Streetbeater,” by Quincy Jones, used as the theme to the immortal sitcom Sanford and Son. Someone was saying the other day that the Sanford theme is king of them all. Do you have a favorite, or favorites? I intend to do a piece on this subject. Send your nominations, if you like, to jnordlinger@nationalreview.com.

Speaking of music, a reader sent me a letter that William F. Buckley Jr. wrote him almost 50 years ago. (The reader sent a photocopy.) “Dictated in Switzerland,” it says at the top, and “Transcribed in New York.” The date is February 29, 1972.

Do you know a personage who was born on Leap Day? I can think of just one: the composer Rossini (since we are talking about music).

In his letter to to Paul Zisserson of Cranston, R.I., WFB writes,

Dear Mr. Zisserson:

Believe me, I’m not intending to slight Mozart. He was a great genius, and I worship at his shrine quite regularly. He simply isn’t Number One. That’s Bach.

Yours cordially . . .

Them’s fightin’ words (but fun ones, too).

A couple of weeks ago, I had a post that touched on the old issue of recordings versus live. Sergiu Celibidache, the great conductor, remarked, “Listening to a recording is like kissing a photograph of Brigitte Bardot.” (He likely did not say “kissing,” but posterity is being polite.)

A reader writes,

Dear Jay,

A running point of contention throughout our 29-year marriage has been the volume on the stereo when I listen to Mahler. The wife says, “It’s too loud, turn it down!” I say, “It needs to be loud enough so that I can hear the soft parts.”

Several years ago, a friend was playing a part in Mahler 5 with the Israel Philharmonic and comped us tickets. After the performance, my wife said, “Wow, I could hear the soft parts.” . . .

I love the Celibidache quote.

In an Impromptus, I quoted a news article, headed “Wave of ‘Nutcracker’ cancellations hits dance companies hard.” I observed that “ballet companies depend on Nutcracker sales, for everything else they do.”

A reader writes,

My wife and I were, briefly, professional ballet dancers. She transitioned to teaching. It’s been 35 years now. For many years, she did not do The Nutcracker in December, leaving it to everyone else. Instead, she did a “Winter Concert” in mid-to-late January — Cinderella, Coppélia, Snow White, The Snow Queen . . .

But this year, with everything topsy-turvy, she is doing The Nutcracker. It will be a stripped-down version, only an hour. And it will be performed outdoors (in Georgia), in a field. And everyone is tremendously excited! Irony.

Again, today’s Impromptus is here. And here is that Ohio showstopper:

PC Culture

Criminal Justice Programs Embrace ‘Wokeness’

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Academics everywhere have been rushing to make their schools more “woke” following the death of George Floyd. Supposedly, we must turn our colleges and universities into “anti-racism” institutions if we are to avoid more such incidents.

As you’d expect, that includes criminal justice programs, where leaders have declared that they will do all they can to fight police racism by transforming the curriculum. But that doesn’t make sense, argues Professor Dorothy Schulz of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. In today’s Martin Center article, she points out that hardly any police officers go through criminal justice programs and that suffusing those programs with “anti-racism” isn’t going to improve the education of those students who are in those programs.

She writes, “Colleges rely on hyped-up marketing to convince students that the degrees are gateways to jobs as police or corrections officers, firefighters, emergency managers, or other public service positions. Sending the message that a cop badge starts at community college is not uncommon. Neither is posting typical hourly wages for law enforcement personnel.

But a law enforcement degree or certificate is not a direct line to a police job. To become a police officer, a candidate must meet a department’s requirements, including age and education (fewer than 1 percent require a four-year degree); physical, psychological, and drug testing.  Only after those criteria are met is a candidate eligible to attend a police academy.”

In short, we won’t rid ourselves of police officers like Derek Chauvin by putting more “diversity” in college law enforcement programs. But it makes college leaders feel good  to signal their immense virtue by adopting “anti-racism” books and materials for their students.

Schulz concludes, “Rather than obsessing over police training, colleges should look beyond race to refresh and enrich the instruction they are providing to the students enrolled in their law enforcement courses.”

World

Thinking about the French Catholic Church Attack from a Church in New York City

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Police officers stand guard at Notre Dame church in Nice, France, October 29, 2020. (Eric Gaillard/Pool via Reuters)

My heart weeps at the news of the attack in the Catholic Church in Nice, France. For the sacristan, a father of children, who died, who sounds like he was quite the servant. The woman who fled, and then died.

I thought of the elderly woman who was beheaded this morning there when I was praying after midday Mass in New York City.

The particular church I was in doesn’t stay open all day, I assume because of security concerns. I’ve seen some things in churches over the years. It’s hard not to be reminded there is a threat when walking into St. Patrick’s cathedral includes passing by counterterrorism police and having your bag checked out for weapons. Goodness, it wasn’t too long ago that a man was stopped there from some kind of crude bomb attack, after having been removed from the Newark cathedral across the Hudson just the night before for suspicious activity. This so-called Islamic State and other Islamic terrorist threats are real, because the depths of their hatred is real.

But I weep, too, because the response cannot be to close churches, as they did in Nice today.

After Mass, I found myself wondering if maybe that woman beheaded saw the face of Christ before she died, to make her so overwhelmed with beauty so as not to fear. Just last week I was at the shrine of the North American Martyrs here in New York State and was reminded of the love of Christ and His creation that brought those Jesuit priests to love so radically, putting themselves into the most violent, brutal situations. Fr. Isaac Jogues, S.J., even came back a second time, only to have a tomahawk end his loving efforts. We Catholics believe in the Real Presence — so Jesus Himself is in those tabernacles in those churches. We cannot abandon them, we cannot abandon Him. He does not abandon us. We need more time with Him for the strength for what is here and what is to come. Whatever it is.

P.S. If you want a little inspiration from our martyrs, this is the hopeful program from there last week. And the world has three more martyrs today. Pray for us, as we pray for them and those who love them. (And apologies for starting a few seconds too soon and not getting the proper introductions down — Beth Lynch is the archivist at the shrine in Auriesville, N.Y., where my laptop was and Fr. Peter John Cameron, O.P., was Zooming in from downstate, in large part because I knew he has a great love for the Jesuit martyrs (and he’s a Dominican so that is ecumenical!).

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The Trafalgar Group’s Robert Cahaly is an outlier among pollsters in that he thinks President Trump will carry Michigan, Pennsylvania, or both, and hence be reelected with roughly 280 electoral votes. (I explained his thinking here.) Last week another pollster, Jim Lee of Susquehanna Polling and Research, ... Read More

Dire Rates: The Biden Tax Plan

Despite the whopping 33.1 percent increase in third-quarter GDP, the economy is on extremely thin ice. GDP is currently about 3.5 percent below where it started in January, a drop that, if it happened all of a sudden, would signal the terrifying start of a deep recession. To be sure, policymakers should be ... Read More

Dire Rates: The Biden Tax Plan

Despite the whopping 33.1 percent increase in third-quarter GDP, the economy is on extremely thin ice. GDP is currently about 3.5 percent below where it started in January, a drop that, if it happened all of a sudden, would signal the terrifying start of a deep recession. To be sure, policymakers should be ... Read More