MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Good morning!
Cancel culture—when people face public shaming or job loss for unpopular opinions. It’s been with us for awhile. But it’s ramped up lately and now it’s hitting newsrooms.
We’ll talk with Trevin Wax about that.
MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: That’s ahead on Culture Friday.
Also the Supreme Court hands the Trump administration a win on rapid deportation of illegal immigrants.
Plus I’ll review a British documentary about the Apostle Paul.
And your listener feedback!
BROWN: It’s Friday, June 26th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Myrna Brown.
BASHAM: And I’m Megan Basham. Good morning!
BROWN: Now here’s Kent Covington with today’s news.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: House passes far-reaching police reform bill » House Democrats approved a far-reaching police reform bill Thursday.
AUDIO: On this vote, the yeas are 236. The nays are 181. The bill is passed.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the bill, named after George Floyd will “fundamentally transform the culture of policing” in America and “save lives.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy complained Democrats cut Republicans out of the process.
MCCARTHY: They didn’t give us one amendment, nor did they work with us, and today they didn’t allow one amendment on the floor. They just make this political instead of rise to the occasion.
The bill passed largely down party lines one day after Senate Democrats blocked a GOP-led police reform bill from coming to the floor.
South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, one of three Black members of the Senate authored that bill. On Wednesday, Pelosi said Senate Republicans are—quote— “trying to get away with murder, actually—the murder of George Floyd.” GOP leaders have demanded an apology. Pelosi responded on Thursday…
PELOSI: Absolutely, positively not.
The two parties are now locked in a familiar standoff, but the competing bills do share some common ground that could provide a framework for compromise.
Both bills would create a national database of use-of-force incidents, restrict police chokeholds and set up new training procedures.
The Democratic bill goes further on some measures, while also making it easier for people to sue police officers in civil court.
Supreme Court: Government may quickly deport some who enter illegally » The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the federal government can quickly deport certain individuals entering the country illegally and it can do so with limited judicial review. WORLD’s Mary Reichard has the details.
MARY REICHARD, REPORTER: The ruling centred on the case of a Sri Lanka native arrested just 25 yards north of the southern border. Immigration officials reviewed Vijayakumar Thuraissigiam’s case and rejected his claim of credible fear of persecution in his homeland. An asylum officer then ordered his removal, but Thuraissigiam claimed a right to court review of that decision.
You can hear the eventual ruling in this comment from Justice Brett Kavanaugh during the March oral argument, quoting from another settled case:
KAVANAUGH: The Court has long held that an alien seeking initial admission to the United States requests a privilege and has no constitutional rights regarding his application. So that’s a statement of law for 8 justices.
The ruling was 7-to-2 with Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissenting. The opinion overturns the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit and orders the lower court dismiss Thuraissigiam’s application for review.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Mary Reichard.
CDC director: 5 to 8 percent of U.S. population has likely caught coronavirus » CDC Director Robert Redfield says that while the United States has about 2.3 million confirmed COVID-19 cases, you can probably multiply that by 10.
He told reporters Thursday that—quoting here—”Our best estimate right now is that for every case that’s reported, there actually are 10 other infections.”
REDFIELD: Looks like it’s somewhere between 5 and 8 percent of the American public.
And that percentage is rising.
Confirmed daily U.S. cases peaked back in April at 36,400. And this week, new daily cases crept within 2,000 of that high water mark.
According to an Associated Press analysis, the daily average has climbed by more than 50 percent in two weeks.
Expanded testing may partly explain the resurgence, but only partly. Daily deaths, hospitalizations and the percentage of positive tests are also rising in some places. Dallas, Texas Mayor Eric Johnson said Thursday…
JOHNSON: COVID-19 is spreading rapidly in Dallas County. The data is clear. Our case numbers and our hospitalization numbers, which we’ve been tracking daily, are headed in the wrong direction.
Texas was one of six states to hit single-day case records this week. Nevada is another, where Governor Steve Sisolak has ordered the wearing of face masks in public.
U.S. unemployment claims dip » Just under 1.5 million people filed jobless claims last week. That marked the 12th straight drop.
Still, an additional 700,000 people applied for benefits under a new program for self-employed and “gig economy” workers that made them eligible for aid.
The numbers suggest the U.S. job market’s gains may have largely stalled as coronavirus infections are back on the rise.
The government also reported Thursday that the economy contracted at a 5 percent annual rate in the first three months of the year.
Bayer to pay up to $11 billion in Roundup weedkiller settlement » The parent company of a popular line of weedkiller products announced this week that it will pay billions to settle lawsuits over claims that the products cause cancer. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has more.
AUDIO: [Roundup commercial]
KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Thousands have sued the Bayer corporation over its weedkiller Roundup, which is made by its Monsanto subsidiary.
The company maintains that the products are safe. But it also announced this week that it will pay up to nearly $11 billion dollars to settle more than 100,000 claims.
Bayer will make a payment of up to nine-and-a-half billion to resolve current litigation, and nearly 1.3 billion to address potential future litigation.
Monsanto developed glyphosate—a key ingredient in Roundup—in the 1970s. The company said last year that all government regulators that have looked at the issue have rejected a link between cancer and glyphosate.
The herbicide came under increased scrutiny after an arm of the World Health Organization classified it as a “probable human carcinogen” in 2015.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.
MEGAN BASHAM: It’s Friday the 26th of June, 2020. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Megan Basham.
MYRNA BROWN: And I’m Myrna Brown. It’s called cancel culture: Individuals and companies becoming the targets of public shaming, harassment, and job loss for expressing ideas others don’t like. And it’s been a growing issue for several years now.
But the current unrest has intensified it.
Sometimes cancellations are prompted by genuinely offensive comments. But, increasingly, we’re seeing individuals being fired for simply sharing opinions—or even just information—that don’t align with left-wing views. Like a data analyst who lost his job a couple of weeks ago for posting a study that suggested Democratic candidates win fewer votes after riots.
BASHAM: Another fairly stark example occurred recently at the New York Times. Times’ Opinion Editor James Bennet decided to run an essay from Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton. The essay made a case for using military personnel to quell riots. That’s a view 58 percent of registered voters agree with, by the way.
Some members of Bennet’s staff were upset that he published the piece and launched a social media revolt. Long story short, Bennet no longer works at the New York Times.
Here’s CNN’s chief media correspondent, Brian Stelter, discussing what happened.
STELTER: So basically the arguments that you’re seeing inside the New York Times and other newsrooms is about whether there are many more than two sides and whether one side is what’s most important to amplify and whether other sides should not be given as much attention…It’s a fight that will continue as we see these major questions about democracy versus a more authoritarian impulse play out in the United States.
It’s Culture Friday and we now welcome Trevin Wax. Trevin is the Senior Vice President of Theology and Communications at Lifeway and author of This is Our Time: Everyday Myths in Light of the Gospel.
TREVIN WAX, GUEST: Good morning.
BASHAM: So Trevin, my first thought on that CNN clip is that I don’t know that this is something newsrooms will continue to argue over.
I wrote a piece about all this for WORLD’s website this week and what I found is that journalists at some of our most esteemed media outlets aren’t actually arguing about it much. Heads are just rolling.
Now, the press is the public’s source of information. It’s our forum for public debate. So this is even more troubling to me than when we’ve seen in other industries.
Can you give us some theological perspective on this?
WAX: Theologically we have to say that we don’t put our trust in the press, obviously, just as we don’t put our trust in chariots and horses and governments, supreme courts, or the president, right? So, the press does play an important role in society and one of the troubling things that we’ve seen over the past couple of decades has been the increase of people going into journalism not because they have a tireless dogged passion to get to the bottom of a story and to present it fairly and to try at least at some level to be objective.
But you have a lot of people choosing the journalistic industry now really with more of an activist approach from the beginning.
And, for many people, that agenda—especially coming out of many of our public colleges and universities—that agenda tends to align, obviously, more with the left than with the right.
There’s been that shift, and I think what you’re seeing is this weaponizing of the press in order to advance a social agenda and then using peer pressure in order to get everyone else in line, a sort of collectivist mentality of the way that we can move our agenda forward is not by persuasion so much but by intimidation and by tactics that we would see as questionable and, in many cases, in order to shut down dissent. So, what happens is the groups begin to police themselves rather than having to wait on someone to come alongside and try to shut down the press. And that’s a very troubling thing because our society is healthier when we have a strong and robust and free press.
BROWN: You know, Trevin, when I was in secular media, I wrote for the news anchors. I could not include faith and certainly not the name of Jesus in the copy that I wrote for them. But when I was field producing my own stories and interviewed someone who freely talked about their faith as they answered, I always made sure that made air. In other words, it didn’t end up on the cutting room floor.
Based on the article Megan wrote, if the culture in my newsroom had been anti-Christian, I could have lost my job for doing that.
How should Christians react to that kind of pressure?
WAX: I think this is one of those areas that requires wisdom and discernment. I think on the one hand we have to be ready to lose jobs in order to be faithful to Christ.
But I do think there’s room for wisdom here as well because Jesus says we are to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. So I think there’s this sense in which we want to be salt and light wherever we are for as long as we can be. And so I think wisdom is going to lead different people to different conclusions in different situations and different choices in some of these different situations.
When you report on the faith angle of something or you allow someone’s faith to be represented accurately and fairly, what you’re doing is you’re giving a voice to faith that motivates the hearts of people. And then that not only has an effect for the person whose view you’re allowing to be expressed publicly, it also has an effect on readers.
And if they are a person of faith, they recognize they’re not alone. And so I’m grateful for Christian journalists who are doing the good work they can in whatever environment they’re in, whether it be an environment that’s favorable to their Christianity or one in which is not favorable to their Christianity, trying to be salt and light in all of these professions and all of these places.
BROWN: They certainly need our prayers. I’d like to turn this subject on its head a little bit. Because the person who is being demonized and ostracized obviously stands to lose a lot—position, income etc…. but there is also a cost to those who are part of the collective.
What are they losing or giving up?
WAX: Well, once you move in this direction you’re giving up part of your humanity. And this is something that you can see. As people begin to grow quiet about things that are troubling to their conscience and they begin to either take part in the spreading of lies or simply acquiesce to the spreading of lies, there’s something of one’s own freedom that is at stake there.
And there’s a very dehumanizing result that happens with this. And so, yes, the person who loses their job may be ostracized and may go through a very difficult time, but the people who keep their jobs were part of the collective outrage or the bullying of another perspective. They’ve lost something of their humanity as well. And, corporately, it doesn’t bode well for us as a society when that becomes more normal and more common.
BASHAM: Finally, Trevin, kind of a thorny question here. Obviously a lot of the cancellations we’re talking about right now are stemming from what’s happening with the Black Lives Matter movement.
I’ve heard comments in the vein that delving into statistics or reporting certain angles is like asking victims to justify their pain. Now I don’t think this is just a journalism question, but it’s certainly an important topic for those of us in that field. How do we balance mourning with those who mourn while doing our jobs to report facts and truth as best we can?
WAX: Well, the way you asked that question, Megan, I think has the answer in that you are seeking to balance. And part of wisdom is knowing when is the right time to say or do what. For example, there’s someone in our life group at church whose mother recently died of COVID-19 and of course this family has a certain perspective on COVID-19 and has been hit very drastically by it emotionally.
Even if my job as a journalist is to do facts and to lay out the truth as best I can, there’s something to be said, though, for recognizing pain and empathizing and not presenting facts and truth in a way that invalidates the experience or seeks to minimize the experience of the person in pain. And I think one of the challenges we have in a very polarized society right now is the increasing inability to empathize across party lines.
And it’s troubling because I actually think it leaves us all impoverished. It leaves us all less human, not more human. And so I think your question is right in that we do have to balance these things. We can’t simply let empathy mean we don’t ask tough questions. Tough questions matter for the sake of the truth, for the world. At the same time, though, we do so as people who are full of grace and truth, right? As people who are full-blooded in our humanity, not just simply accessing one part of our mind over against our heart or just our heart over against our mind. We bring this together as whole people. The more that we are whole, the better we will be in any profession that God might place us in.
BASHAM: Well, Trevin Wax is the Senior Vice President of Theology and Communications at Lifeway and author of This is Our Time: Everyday Myths in Light of the Gospel. Trevin, thanks so much for being here.
WAX: Thanks so much for having me.
MYRNA BROWN: A man traveling in England claims he was denied service at a fast food drive-through window because of the vehicle he was driving.
Ian Bell says a manager came out to tell him he’d have to leave out of respect for the health and safety of other customers.
Bell said he couldn’t believe what he was hearing, because he’d done nothing wrong.
Turns out, the manager didn’t have a problem with Bell. It was his carriage that was being pulled by his Irish Cob horse, named Jon Jon. Bell said he was behaving himself and didn’t see any problem.
Still, Bell and Jon Jon trotted down the road and ordered a Big Mac from another drive-through, no problems.
It’s The World and Everything in It.
MYRNA BROWN: Today is Friday, June 26. You’re listening to WORLD Radio and we’re so glad you are! Good morning. I’m Myrna Brown.
MEGAN BASHAM: And I’m Megan Basham. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: A mainstream documentary that does justice to a towering biblical figure.
CLIP: He was a hugely controversial figure in his own time and he still is today. To some he’s a man who did more than anyone else to transform Christianity from a small Jewish sect into the most powerful religion on earth. to others he’s a preacher of prejudices that have echo down throughout history.
There’s something quintessentially British about the BBC documentary In the Footsteps of St. Paul, available on Amazon Prime. It’s hosted by actor David Suchet, who will be best known to mystery-lovers as Hercule Poirot. The two-part series tends toward a chipper, well-mannered tone. While acknowledging hotly contested controversies surrounding the apostle, the film shunts them away with a quick question or two and a polite, “Well, there you are, cheerio!”
For example, Suchet deals with arguably the most contentious issue contemporary society has with Paul’s writings—his directives that women are not to serve as pastors or preachers—by speaking to a single authority. After she puts forward the view that Paul was simply making allowances for the male-dominated culture of his time, Suchet thanks her warmly and moves on without challenging her assertions.
CLIP: So was Paul a misogynist? How should we read his letters? Paul of course is a man of his world. He knows very well with the place of women in society is he of course takes into consideration these ideas.
Likewise, the film accepts as fact the supposition that Paul believed Christ would return in his lifetime—which may or may not have been the case.
Suchet may not exhibit the investigatory powers of his iconic Agatha Christie character. But he makes an amiable guide as we follow Paul’s journeys, sometimes seeing the remains of the roads he traveled.
CLIP: This is the only known archaeological remain we have from the time. Paul has lived here in the city. This is a Roman road? This is a Roman road. It is dated to the first century BC or A.D. We are not yet sure but there is a very similar example for this road in Pompeii. Which is dated to the first century BC. With Paul have actually walked along this road we think so. Because it is the time period he has lived here, so he must have walked here.
Much of this won’t be new information to Christian audiences, yet Suchet’s charisma and winning personality infuse it with new interest. Especially when we contrast the man who wrote most of the books of the New Testament against the other disciples.
CLIP: And Paul was an urban man, wasn’t he? He was a city man. He would’ve worked here and would have been comfortable? I think he would, I think he would’ve been right at home in a place like Antioch. It was very similar in many ways to Tarsus, where he was from and very different, I think, to the kinds of places Jesus and the disciples were used to. You know they were much more rural than Paul. He’s part of this establishment. He can talk to anybody in the city, he’s perfectly at home here, whereas I think it would be much more difficult for the first followers of Jesus.
What is new is an exploration of the early parts of Paul’s life. Experts here theorize that Paul was the son of a freed Jewish slave. And this may have driven his early zealotry.
CLIP: He was, I believe, the son of slaves. But I think he became a Roman citizen when his parents were set free. No one kept a slave into his 40s it was non-productive economically and and the children of slaves of a Roman citizen automatically became a Roman citizen.
Perhaps becoming a Pharisee answered some need in Paul to belong. And he threw himself into a zealous defense of the Jewish law.
One particularly poignant moment comes when Suchet points out that while Paul’s beliefs and life purpose changed immeasurably after his encounter with Jesus, his essential personality did not. Saul of Tarsus was an intense, passionate, deeply driven man. Paul the slave of Christ remained all this, yet became much more.
CLIP: Something I’ve got no doubt about at all, is that he was a man of total extremes. There was no gray area about Paul. It was either black or white. Whatever happened to him on the road to Damascus was extreme. It changed his worldview forever. But what’s really interesting for me is that it didn’t change his personality or character. He was a man of total conviction and extremes of behavior. He could be very angry, imperious, proud.
There is something wonderfully comforting in the fact that God saved the soul of the man but then worked through his existing personality, molding and harnessing it for His own means. It brings to mind C.S. Lewis’ observation that no real personalities exist apart from God who frees us from bondage to sin to be our truest selves.
In the Footsteps of St. Paul demonstrates how this truth operated in the life of Saul of Tarsus and, by extension, all Christ’s followers.
MEGAN BASHAM: Today is Friday, June 26th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Megan Basham.
MYRNA BROWN: And I’m Myrna Brown. Next up, your listener feedback.
BASHAM: We start, as we always do, with owning our mistakes. And we made a few this month. In a newscast item about the spread of the coronavirus around the globe, we referred to the capital of India as Jakarta. That is, of course, the capital of Indonesia. We meant to say, New Delhi.
BROWN: Then in the introduction to Marvin Olasky’s interview with author James Smith, we said he teaches at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The only problem with that is that the school changed its name to Calvin University last year.
BASHAM: And finally, during this month’s Classic Book segment, we referred to E.B. White as the author of The Elements of Style. White’s name does appear on the cover, and it’s often referred to as Strunk and White’s Elements of Style. But White earned his attribution because of his contributions as an editor. William Strunk, Jr. wrote the bulk of the material.
BROWN: OK, now on to your feedback. One segment that generated quite a bit of it was our conversation with Ryan Bomberger.
MATT BROWN: Yeah, this is Matt Brown from Boone North Carolina. Just wanted to express my deepest appreciation for how The World Everything in It has handled racial reconciliation, race relations, and our need to move forward in this area…Thanks so much for all you do.
BASHAM: Sarah Stewart emailed to say she was grateful for Ryan’s comments during that interview and in his most recent commentary. She described them as, “antibiotic ointment to my wounded heart, like an updraft current under the wings of my sagging soul, and a reinforcement to my battered mental amour.”
BROWN: What powerful imagery! We should note, however, that not everyone agreed with Ryan’s perspective. Listener Nadene Witmer emailed to say she thought he “slightly diminished the long history of injustice that many blacks faced and endured at the hands of police and our criminal justice system in general.”
BASHAM: We’ve gotten similarly split feedback on our coverage of the debate over police reform efforts. Several listeners who work in the law enforcement community strongly disagreed with Clark Neily of the Cato Institute, who believes our country’s criminal justice system is irreparably broken.
Listener Eric Levenhagen wrote in to say he was disappointed that Neily presented only one side of a very complex and deeply historical issue. He concluded by saying he hoped we would present the other side in a future episode.
BROWN: Right, and we did that the following week when we talked about the Republicans’ police reform proposal. It’s worth noting here that this is a really complex issue. It would be impossible for us to cover every aspect of it in one or even two stories or interviews. We aim to present a balanced perspective across the totality of our coverage.
BASHAM: Alright, well on to a topic that generated much more unity among listeners! We got far and away the most email this month about our two special episodes.
MILLER: This is Howard Miller, Moorestown, New Jersey. I just finished listening to that special edition by Kim Henderson about the mass shootings from 2017. What an excellent program.
Another listener sent us a Voice Memo expressing what so many had to say about Kim’s story of community grief and healing in Southern Mississippi. Here’s Jesse Maynor from Hawaii.
MAYNOR: I enjoyed the serial story on the Cory Godbolt case because of the amount of detail that you could include. The ability to just absorb it on the road as opposed to a longer story in a magazine, where I have to be still and my kids can’t be climbing on top of me. And I appreciated the segments because I enjoyed the anticipation from episode to episode.
BROWN: Listener Martha Jacobs emailed to thank us for our second special episode on COVID-19, Ask Dr. Horton. She wrote, “Even the spirit and attitude in which he presented the facts and insights were helpful.” And she signed it “a retired RN and active grandmother.”
That really does sum up what we heard from so many of you about both these special episodes. And you let us know you want more of them!
BASHAM: That’s right, and so I know you’ll be happy to hear that we have more planned. This has been a vision of ours for a while now, and it’s exciting to watch it come to fruition.
BROWN: It takes a lot of people to put this program together each week. Thanks so much to our team: Paul Butler, Janie B. Cheaney, Kent Covington, Laura Edghill, Nick Eicher, Kristen Flavin, Kim Henderson, Anna Johansen, Leigh Jones, Jill Nelson, Onize Ohikere, Andrée Seu Peterson, Mary Reichard, Sarah Schweinsberg, and Cal Thomas.
BASHAM: The guys who stay up late to get the program to you early are audio engineers Carl Peetz and Johnny Franklin. J.C. Derrick is managing editor, Marvin Olasky is editor in chief.
And you. Without you, none of this happens. We’re in the last few days of our June giving drive. If you’ve already given, thank you. If you haven’t, and you value this program, please consider a gift. Just go to wng.org/donate.
The Psalmist tells us “blessed are those who act justly, who always do what is right.”
Have a great weekend.