The Corner


Twenty-Two Things That Caught My Eye Today: Suicide, Amy Coney Barrett & More — October 7, 2020

1. The Other Pandemic: The Lockdown Mental Health Crisis

Last month the CDC published a devastating report on the mental health effects of lockdowns, based on a population-based survey in June of over 5,000 Americans. The findings are entirely consistent with what I’ve seen among the patients in our psychiatric clinics—namely, enormous harms. Four out of ten respondents reported at least one adverse mental or behavioral health condition. Three out of ten reported symptoms of anxiety disorder or depressive disorder, and one-quarter reported symptoms of a trauma- and stressor-related disorder due to the pandemic. Thirteen percent reported having started or increased substance use to cope with stress or emotions related to COVID-19 lockdowns.

Of particular concern, 11 percent reported they have seriously contemplated suicide in the past thirty days. Among those aged eighteen to twenty-four years old, this number was 25 percent. We should pause to consider this statistic: one-quarter of young adults in America contemplated suicide in the month of June. Rates of suicidal thinking that month were higher among minorities (Hispanic 19 percent, black 15.1 percent), among unpaid caregivers for adults (31 percent), and essential workers (22 percent). Compared to June 2019, one year previous, prevalence of anxiety disorders had tripled (26 percent versus 8 percent), and prevalence of depressive disorders had quadrupled (24.3 percent versus 6.5 percent). These are extremely sobering statistics: it is very rare to see these kinds of shifts in psychiatric epidemiology from one year to the next.

2. The Economist: Will the economic and psychological costs of covid-19 increase suicides?

When America’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) carried out a survey this summer, it found that one in ten of the 5,400 respondents had seriously considered suicide in the previous month—about twice as many who had thought of taking their lives in 2018. For young adults, aged 18 to 24, the proportion was an astonishing one in four.

3. AP News: In Iraq a father faces militia power as he seeks missing son

Jasb was abducted a week into historic protests which erupted across Iraq and saw tens of thousands of youth rallying against corruption and the ruling class. Like many others, hopes for change inspired by the movement emboldened Jasb to speak out against militias in his hometown.

Now Jasb is among 53 protesters who remain missing since the movement began on Oct. 1, according to the semi-official Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights.

The protests have largely been silenced by a combination of the coronavirus and a violent crackdown by security forces and militias that, according to the commission, killed more than 500 people.

4. Stars and Stripes: Years after they fought in Afghanistan, US troops watch as their children deploy to the same war

5. Vice: The Arrest and Release of Filmmaker Hajooj Kuka Shows Sudan’s Revolution Is Not Over

Despite the release of Kuka, Duaa Tarig Mohamed Ahmed, Abdel Rahman Mohamed Hamdan, Ayman Khalaf Allah Mohamed Ahmed and Ahmed Elsadig Ahmed Hammad, concerns about freedom and justice in post revolution Sudan endure. Six other artists remain imprisoned, awaiting appeal.

On the day they wound up behind bars, hours after an altercation that would eventually see them sentenced to two months in prison on charges of “public annoyance and disruption of public safety,” the artists sang protest songs. A grainy cell phone video captured their act of defiance, their silhouettes clapping and chanting in a dark holding cell in Khartoum Central Prison. Their songs, reminiscent of the same subversive slogans that sparked Sudan’s uprising in late 2018, were intended to send a message: The revolution continues.


7. Ross Douthat: Sabotage in the Liberal City

. . . in MacGillis’s account it’s clear that anti-Trumpism, and particularly a partisan impulse to resist the White House’s push for reopening, created a permission structure for teachers’ unions that already opposed in-person school to force a continued shutdown.

Without minimizing the real uncertainties around reopening and student health, he suggests that advocates of closure ended up cherry-picking studies to exaggerate the dangers and ignoring the evidence that a reasonably safe reopening was possible — including not only European case studies but more local examples like Baltimore, where MacGillis lives and where in-person summer schooling produced zero new known cases.

The result of this urban shutdown is an autumn in which schools have successfully reopened for much more of white America than minority America: Approximately half of white kids have access to in-person school, compared with just about a quarter of African-American and Hispanic students, according to a recent survey MacGillis cites.

8. Montse Alvarado: The ACLU used to defend religious freedom. Now, they target Catholic adoption agencies

. . . now, with the ACLU’s help, Philadelphia officials are trying to shut down Catholic Social Services unless it violates its religious beliefs and endorses the relationships of both same-sex and unmarried couples by partnering with them. The Catholic Church, which has been serving Philadelphia’s abused and abandoned children for 200 years, has always been motivated to serve by its faith — the same faith Philadelphia is trampling on today.

9. Cornerstone Schools of Washington D.C., Inc.: “I didn’t even know there were poor white people”

In our students’ understanding of the world, sadly, black equals poor and white equals rich. This, despite the fact that poverty and wealth know no racial bounds. While there is a very real wealth gap between people of different races, according to the Census Bureau 18.8 percent of African Americans live below the poverty line (which is still sadly double the rate for Caucasians). This means that 81 percent of African Americans live in the middle and upper classes. Not only that, but African Americans have been the CEOs of Time Warner, Lowes, American Express, Xerox, Bed, Bath and Beyond and hundreds of other major corporations in the United States.

10. Spotlight PA: How Pa. state troopers seize big money from drivers, many of whom are never charged

Clark Neily, vice president for criminal justice at the Cato Institute, a think tank, said innocent people often have to jump through hurdles just to get their property back.

Without a lawyer, people stand little chance. Of the 32 cases The Appeal and Spotlight PA reviewed, the state returned cash or property only when a lawyer got involved, according to case records from the Office of the Attorney General. Out of the $608,000 seized and subsequently prosecuted, the attorney general’s office gave back less than $60,000 after negotiating with property owners’ lawyers.

“Do you think you can do that yourself?” Neily said. “The answer is no, you cannot because you’re not a lawyer, you don’t specialize in this area, and you don’t know the procedures.”

11.  Matt Lewis: Should McConnell Tap the Brakes on Amy Coney Barrett’s Confirmation? No Chance!

As I have argued from the beginning, Never Trump conservatives (meaning people who remain conservative but will not vote for Donald Trump), should be rooting for Barrett’s confirmation. While some have decided to throw the conservative baby out with the squalid Trump bathwater, getting Barrett on the high court would be but a small consolation prize for having to endure these last four years.

12. Andrea Picciotti-Bayer: What to bear in Mind During Amy Coney Barrett’s Confirmation Process

Unfortunately, Barrett’s opponents have focused relentlessly on her commitment to her Catholic faith, as if she intended to base her legal judgments on Church doctrine. 

But that innuendo recycles an old trope about Catholics in public service that faced John F. Kennedy in 1960 when he ran for president — an ugly undercurrent of bigotry that this country rejected long ago. Amy Coney Barrett could not possibly have made herself clearer on this point. 

“If confirmed, I would not assume that role for the sake of those in my own circle and certainly not for my own sake,” she said at the Rose Garden. And she means it. Barrett’s Catholic faith may inform every aspect of her life, but when it comes to the discharge of her judicial duties, she does not conflate deeply held beliefs with constitutional imperatives.

. . .

This is a remarkable woman who, if she is successful, will be — as poignantly noted by the president when introducing her — “the first mother of school-age children to become a Supreme Court justice.” As my friend and legal scholar Erika Bachiochi writes, Barrett can rightly be regarded as a “new feminist icon.”

13. Bishop Barron: Catholic Twitter could learn a lot from St. Thomas Aquinas

 I take the warm friendship between G.K. Chesterton and G.B. Shaw as instructive. Those two great figures could not have been more different in conviction, attitude and personal style, yet they debated amicably up and down England for years and often shared a pint together at a pub after their appearances. How much saner and healthier that seems than our situation today.

14. Kamala Harris and her pro-abortion donor base

15. Michael Baxter: Religious Freedom: A Non-Partisan Principle for Hyper-Partisan Times

When Smith was handed down, some observers hailed it—George Will for example. Others expressed shock at such a naked assertion of the rights of the state to curb “religious freedom” whenever it—the state—determined when its concerns were overriding. What is especially worth noting, for our purposes, is that the majority opinion for the case was written by Antonin Scalia, paragon of judicial conservativism and chief proponent of originalism, a judicial theory that will surely be discussed in the nomination hearings in the coming days. Here we have a good reason not to see religious freedom simply as a Republican issue. Ironically, If the Supreme Court favors more protections of religious freedom in the coming years, it will be moving against the direction set by Scalia in the Smith case.

16. Bishop Caggiano’s Corner: Masks

“. . . While there are certain masks worth wearing, there are others we need to throw away, right here, right now . . . masks created not out of material and filter, but masks that are invisible to the eye, created by our fears, by our anxieties, and, quite frankly, by my sins and yours. Masks that disfigure us, that do not allow us to show ourselves who we are destined to be as the children of God. Masks that prevent us from using our gifts and talents for the benefit of others. Masks that prevent us from being faithful missionary disciples in the world.”

17. Forbes: New Findings On Family Life During The Pandemic

“It may be that, as more people spend time at home, the value we accord child care and teaching will increase.”

18. The Wall Street Journal: For Some Fathers, Pandemic Brings a New Perspective — and Quiet Joys

About two-thirds of fathers said they feel closer or much closer to their children since the pandemic began, according to a survey launched in April by Harvard’s Making Caring Common project that polled 530 American parents. While mothers reported a similar rise in closeness, “fathers are coming from a much lower baseline, so it is significant,” says Richard Weissbourd, a senior lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education who co-authored a report on the pandemic’s effect on fatherhood.

19. Francis X. Maier: Raised by Wolves

[Ridley] Scott variously describes himself as an agnostic or an atheist.  But now in his eighties, he might equally be seen as a very gifted, octogenarian bigot.  He has an enduring interest in humanity’s origins and future, and a commensurate interest in debunking and deriding organized religion.

. . .

In effect, Raised by Wolves is a kind of anti-Perelandra, with good and evil reversed.  It’s a very long, very dark way from “The Nine Billion Names of God,” but a story perfectly attuned to our times.

As C.S. Lewis observed, “[to] construct plausible and moving ‘other worlds’ you must draw on the only real ‘other world’ we know, that of spirit.”  What’s missing in Raised by Wolves, as in so much of modern science fiction, is precisely anything resembling or ennobling the human soul.  And the only wolves in the vicinity are the ones who created the series.

19. Fr. Roger J. Landry: The Lord’s Prayer and Our Lady’s (Today’s the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary)

As St. John Paul II wrote in his beautiful exhortation on the Holy Rosary 18 years ago, that in praying the Rosary, “it is natural for the mind to be lifted up towards the Father. In each of his mysteries, Jesus always leads us to the Father, for as he rests in the Father’s bosom (cf. Jn 1:18) he is continually turned towards him. He wants us to share in his intimacy with the Father, so that we can say with him: “Abba, Father” (Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6). By virtue of his relationship to the Father he makes us brothers and sisters of himself and of one another, communicating to us the Spirit that is both his and the Father’s.” He cites Blessed Bartolo Longo, whose feast day we remembered two days ago, who saw in the Rosary beads “a ‘chain’ that links us to God. A chain, yes, but a sweet chain; for sweet indeed is the bond to God who is also our Father. A ‘filial’ chain that puts us in tune with Mary, the ‘handmaid of the Lord’ (Lk 1:38) and, most of all, with Christ himself, who, though he was in the form of God, made himself a ‘servant’ out of love for us (Phil 2:7).”

20. Amy Coney Barrett, a hero mother for the Supreme Court



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