Syria, Families & Christmas — Fifteen Things That Caught My Eye Today

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1. Christianity Today: Gunman Killed After Opening Fire at NYC Church Christmas Concert

A detective, a sergeant, and an officer fired 15 rounds after the man started shooting just before 4 p.m. at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, mother church of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, New York Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said.

. . .

Witnesses told police the man was yelling “kill me” as he fired, Shea said. The man’s name was withheld pending positive identification.

The man had a lengthy criminal history and was carrying a backpack containing a can of gasoline, rope, wire, tape, knives, and a well-worn Bible, Shea said. The police commissioner called the actions of the officers “heroic.”

. . .

“It is horrible that our choir’s gift to New York City, a much-needed afternoon of song and unity, was cut short by this shocking act of violence,” cathedral spokeswoman Iva Benson said by email.

2. China’s tiny Jewish community in fear as Beijing erases its history

Mr Laytner does not consider the suppression to be specifically anti-Semitic — a sentiment experts say is unusual in China. The country sheltered thousands of European Jews fleeing the Nazis, and today, many Chinese view Jews favourably, typecasting them as an affluent bunch in influential positions — bankers, politicians, lawyers, doctors, film directors.

But while those in Kaifeng insist they’re proud to be Chinese and only want to preserve their history and traditions, the crackdown has been very painful.

“We love our country; we’re not criminals; we just don’t eat pork,” said Amir, blinking away tears. “Why do we have to practice our faith in secret, and live floating on the fringes of society? It’s really hard to bear.”

3. This Heroic Polish Doctor Was Persecuted for Refusing to Perform Abortions

4. James Flynn: My Book Defending Free Speech Has Been Pulled

[In my book,] I then chart the history of the sins of universities against free speech with an emphasis on the McCarthy era (when conservatives barred or fired those they considered suspect), through the transitional period of Vietnam, to the present (when many on the “left” do much the same, particularly student protest groups). I detail the use of speech codes, and trigger warnings, and departments that have a party line (“Walden codes”) to discipline, expel, fire, and, above all, to defend indoctrination rather than education.

I include among the latter some African American studies departments that will not assign books or papers by conservative thinkers, some women’s studies departments that reject incontrovertible social science that runs counter to the official feminist ideology, and some (almost all) education departments that define their purpose as sending out “missionaries” to convert schools to their vision of an egalitarian society. I also provide a history of America’s schoolteachers, tracing how the low status of their profession has made the schools susceptible to adopting a missionary role.

Finally, I criticize the failure of universities to provide their students with the critical intelligence they need to be autonomous human beings and good citizens, despite the fact that they all state this as their chief objective.

5. Crux: Cardinal says media has forgotten about Syria

“Now, thanks be to God, in much of Syria there are no more bombings, except in the Northwest where there is a truce,” Zenari told Crux over the phone on Monday. “But for the past two years, we have had another bomb: That of poverty, which affects 83 percent of the population.”

According to the United Nations, Syria today has one of the highest numbers of people living in poverty in the world, and earlier this year, the UN humanitarian affairs chief Mark Lowcock said that the Syrian economy, devastated by nearly a decade of conflict, has entered a period of extreme fragility marked by exchange-rate volatility, high inflation, dwindling remittances from Syrians working abroad, and the negative effects of lockdown measures to contain the COVID-19 coronavirus.

6. Matt Lewis: Plea to the Press: Don’t Make Trump 2021’s Shadow President

Even as Trump has sought to undermine the media as “fake news” and “enemies of the people,” we have laughed all the way to the bank. This was true almost from the beginning. “It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS,” admitted Les Moonves, the network’s CEO, during the 2016 presidential campaign. “Sorry. It’s a terrible thing to say. But, bring it on, Donald. Keep going.”

7. Naomi Schaefer Riley: Improving Child Welfare

Many problems in child welfare will be with us for the long haul. Family Court is slow and makes poor decisions. People who go into child protective services are often underqualified and undertrained for their jobs. The services we offer to families to help them when they are at risk have long waiting lists or are ineffective. We give biological families too many chances to regain custody of their children, stretching out the time that their kids spend in foster care.

But some challenges can be reduced with the aid of technology. If city officials made a smart presentation, they should be able to get private philanthropy to help fund such initiatives, which would hold bipartisan appeal. Helping figure out which kids are in danger, finding them longer-lasting foster homes, and ensuring that adoptions out of foster care are more compatible are goals that everyone should be able to get behind. If New York still needs more incentive to improve its child welfare system, it might simply remind itself: Pittsburgh is beating us.

7. The Wall Street Journal: An Italian Student Was Murdered in Egypt. Italy Says It Has Solved the Mystery.

Italian prosecutors last week pressed charges against four members of Egypt’s security forces over Mr. Regeni’s abduction, torture and death as they laid out the most detailed case to date against the government of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, for whom it has become a source of severe international embarrassment.

It was the first full judicial investigation into Egyptian security services’ alleged use of secret detention, an abuse that human-rights groups say thousands of Egyptians have suffered. Police and security officers rarely face charges in Egypt over torture and deaths in custody, creating what rights groups say is a climate of impunity.

8. Bruce Bower: What’s Up, Doc?

Epstein’s piece triggered the now-usual chorus of outrage. It was widely decried as sexist, which is ridiculous: Jill Biden’s sex has nothing to do with Epstein’s argument. One sharp observer noticed that the Washington Post, which in 2017 mocked Trump advisor Sebastian Gorka, a Ph.D., for using the honorific “Dr.,” was now sneering at Epstein for criticizing Jill Biden’s use of it.

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10. Charles C. Camosy: Lessons from 2020: Republicans Should Build a Multi-Ethnic and Religious Party of the Working Class

Despite an absolute onslaught of coverage and opinions from our elite institutions over four years driving home the point that Trump is a racist (and that he had a particular problem when it came to Hispanics) the president, remarkably, was able to keep the race close by winning over people of color. Indeed, he did particularly well in majority Hispanic counties, beating Biden there by 18 points.

. . .

Discussing socialism in a positive light, serious talk about defunding the police, and going all-in on abortion rights may have alienated many working-class people of color. Contemporary conversations on the left around sex and gender also generally do not resonate with many of these populations. Hispanics in California even rejected affirmative action, despite many community leaders publicly supporting it.

12. National Post: ‘I feel angry’: Why some people regret and reverse their transgender decisions

“I feel a little bit angry, more than a little bit, because other people who’ve been in this position went much further than me,” said Eva. “I have lesbian friends who have no uterus, no ovaries, no breasts and are 21-years old. I’m angry that every single doctor and therapist we saw told us this was the one and only option.”’She is convinced that more and more people are detransitioning or desisting, the latter term covering those who did not medically transition, though their numbers are the subject of debate.

Detrans Canada has yet to launch a concerted recruitment drive and has fewer than a dozen Canadian members. But Eva noted that a Reddit forum for detransitioners – r/detrans – grew from 3,000 to over 16,000 members in just a few months this year.

13. Ross Douthat: The Case for One More Child: Why Large Families Will Save Humanity

The deepest reason to have more kids, though, is self-centered in a radically different way. It’s that if you don’t feel cut out for spiritual heroism, if you aren’t chaste or poor or particularly obedient, if you aren’t ready to be Mother Teresa – well, then having a bunch of kids is the form of life most likely to force you toward kenosis, self-emptying, the experience of what it means to live entirely for someone other than yourself.

But the idea of parenthood as enforced kenosis is very different from the idea that having more kids is swell and good and all-American. The large family as a spiritual discipline, children as a life hack that might crack the door of heaven – if that’s the worldview required to make our society capable of reproducing itself again, then we’re waiting not for child tax credits, better work-life balance, or more lenient car-seat laws, but for a radical conversion of our hardened modern hearts.

14. Erica Komisar: Lockdowns Have a Bright Side for Teens

Lockdowns have been very difficult for adolescents in many ways, and no one favors keeping them in effect longer than necessary to contain the virus. But it’s important to recognize the benefits so that we can work to integrate them into youngsters’ lives after the health crisis is over. Teen sleep should remain a priority, and schools should consider starting the day later when they reopen. Parents should work to spend more time with their children. Schools should consider continuing their Covid-induced flexibility with deadlines and eliminating standardized tests for college entrance, a prime source of teen anxiety.

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