The World and Everything in It — November 20, 2020

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!

A Supreme Court justice warns that our freedoms of religion and speech are under assault and the media just can’t stand it.

NICK EICHER, HOST: That’s ahead on Culture Friday.

Plus Megan Basham reviews the series streaming on Disney, The Mandalorian.

And Word Play with George Grant.

REICHARD: It’s Friday, November 20th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Good morning!

REICHARD: Now time for the news with Kent Covington.

KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Coronavirus surge, holiday plans strain U.S. testing capacity » Long lines for COVID-19 tests are once again forming across the country—straining the nation’s testing system. 

Lines twisted around multiple city blocks at testing sites across New York City this week.

New Yorker Syron Townsend waited for hours on a sidewalk Thursday. 

TOWNSEN: It seems like, speaking to my friends, for the most part, everywhere they’re going the lines are crazy.

In Los Angeles, thousands lined up outside Dodger Stadium for drive-thru testing.

The rush on testing centers comes amid a surge in new cases as families hope to gather safely for Thanksgiving.

Scott Becker is CEO of the Association of Public Health Laboratories. 

BECKER: As those cases increase, demand increases. Turnaround time may increase. So it’s like a dog chasing its tail, quite frankly. 

The fact that testing problems are only now emerging—more than a month into the latest surge shows that testing capacity is far greater than it was in the summer. 

But many experts say testing capacity is still well short of what’s needed to control the virus.  

Jobless claims rise for first time in 5 weeks » The number of Americans seeking unemployment aid rose last week for the first time in more than a month. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin reports.

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: The Labor Department reported that 742,000 Americans applied for jobless benefits. That was up from 711,000 the previous week.

And it could be a sign that the surging coronavirus is once again pressing down on the economy. 

Of the roughly 20 million Americans now receiving some form of unemployment benefits, about half will lose those benefits when two federal programs expire at the end of the year.

That as Congress remains deadlocked on another coronavirus relief package. 

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.

Giuliani asserts “national conspiracy” to steal election » Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani asserted Thursday that Democrats participated in a “national conspiracy” to steal the election. 

GIULIANI: I think the logical conclusion is, this is a common plan, a common scheme. It comes right directly from the Democrat Party and it comes from the candidate, clearly. 

He also claimed communist countries like China, Cuba, and Venezuela were involved in funding the effort. 

Giuliani said he can prove his claims, but he can’t show the evidence right now because of pending court cases and for fear that witnesses might face retribution. 

But some Republicans are pressing the campaign and its lawyers to tone down the rhetoric unless or until they can prove their allegations. Former Bush White House adviser Karl Rove told Fox News… 

ROVE: They’d better come up with proof and go to court, because these are serious allegations that basically say our election was manipulated by a combination of foreign and domestic actors and stolen. And that cannot be left just simply out there. It needs to be either proved or withdrawn. 

Among Giuliani’s more specific claims that Pennsylvania had two sets of rules for red and blue voting districts. He said people living in Democratic areas were given chances to fix incorrect ballots, while people living elsewhere were not. He said it was “clearly illegal” and “clearly voter fraud” though in court this week, he told a judge that the Trump campaign’s complaint was not a fraud case. 

Since Election Day, the campaign and its allies have filed 21 legal challenges. To this point, they have not won any of those cases. 

Pompeo visits Israeli West Bank settlement » Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday became the first top American diplomat to visit an Israeli settlement in the West Bank.

POMPEO: You can’t stand here and stare out at what’s across the border and deny the central thing that President Trump recognized that previous presidents had refused to do, that this is a part of Israel. 

And in a State Department policy shift, Pompeo announced that products from the settlements can be labeled “Made in Israel.”

The two moves reflected the Trump administration’s acceptance of Israeli settlements, which the Palestinians view as a violation of international law and a major obstacle to peace.

Pompeo also announced that the United States would brand a Palestinian-led boycott against Israel as “anti-Semitic.” The move would bar any groups that participate in the boycott from receiving government funding. 

But it’s a move that could be quickly reversed by the next administration.

I’m Kent Covington.

Straight ahead: religious liberty is back in the media spotlight.

Plus, George Grant explores the connection between hyperbole and giving thanks.

This is The World and Everything in It.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: It’s Friday, November 20th, 2020.

Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. 

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REICHARD: Well, it’s Culture Friday. 

Last week, a sitting justice of the U.S. Supreme Court said some things and the media lost its collective mind. Headlines like: Justice Samuel Alito delivers “caustic speech,” and “Alito takes gloves off.” 

What really happened in Justice Alito’s keynote address to the Federalist Society is outline the slide toward tyranny and that first freedoms of religion and speech are in danger of disappearing. 

Now keep in mind, he’s talking to a bunch of lawyers. That’s his audience. Justice Alito spoke for a half hour, so in the interest of time we’ve pulled together a heavily edited clip to air the core of what he was talking about. It’s a little over a minute long. Let’s listen:

ALITO: The pandemic has resulted in previously unimaginable restrictions on individual liberty. Now, notice what I am not saying or even implying, I am not diminishing the severity of the virus’s threat to public health. I’m not saying anything about the legality of COVID restrictions. All that I’m saying is this, and I think it is an indisputable statement of fact: we have never before seen restrictions as severe, extensive and prolonged as those experienced, for most of 2020. Laws giving an official so much discretion can of course, be abused. And whatever one may think about the COVID restrictions, we surely don’t want them to become a recurring feature after the pandemic has passed. All sorts of things can be called an emergency or disaster of major proportions. Simply slapping on that label cannot provide the ground for abrogating our most fundamental rights. This is especially evident with respect to religious liberty. It pains me to say this, but in certain quarters, religious liberty is fast becoming a disfavored, right.

EICHER: Justice Alito touched on several other topics that we’ll get to in a moment. And, do yourself a favor: Listen to the whole speech. If you visit we’ll link to it in today’s transcript.

Now, let’s welcome John Stonestreet. He’s president of the Colson Center and host of the Breakpoint podcast.

REICHARD: John, good morning.


EICHER: In his speech, Justice Alito quoted a law professor at Harvard, Mark Tushnet. The professor’s quote is a few years old, but because of the Alito speech, we’re talking about it now.

ALITO: He candidly wrote, quote, “The culture wars are over, they lost we won. The question now is how to deal with the losers in the culture wars. My own judgment is that taking a hard line, ‘you lost; live with it’ is better than trying to accommodate the losers. Taking a hard line seemed to work reasonably well in Germany and Japan after 1945.”

Then Justice Alito quoted Bob Dylan as his response to the professor’s frightening comment. This is the lyric that the justice referred to.

BOB DYLAN: It’s not dark yet, but it’s gettin’ there.

Well, The New York Times called up the professor to get his response to Justice Alito. He said:

“The very intensity of [the] remarks seems to me to confirm my judgment about who won the culture wars. His are in fact the observations of a person who hasn’t come to grips with the fact that he’s been on the losing side of many culture-war issues.” End-quote.

You know, instead of the long answer, he could’ve just corrected Bob Dylan: It isn’t just getting there. It’s dark.

Your thoughts?

STONESTREET: What an interesting thing for this professor to talk about the intensity of Justice Alito’s comments when he’s the one that compared them to post-World War II Germany and Japan. Isn’t that the game? Like, as soon as you compare someone to the Nazis you lose? But that’s what actually happened here. 

But the tone deafness of this is everywhere. There were four other articles just like that New York Times article this week where it basically is saying, as one wrote—this was either New York Times or Washington Post, forgive me for not remembering which one. But an op-ed of somebody who goes, “They told me to try to get along with Trump voters. I tried. It didn’t work. Don’t waste your time.” And the thing is, we’re dealing with a significant number of Americans on each side. There’s not a landslide. There’s not an overwhelming population on one side of these issues as opposed to the other. This divide is far more stark. And it’s hard to see what the way forward is. But, yeah, I think it’s dark. It’s too late. We’ve gotten there.

REICHARD: Let me play some more audio from this remarkable speech. Justice Alito is really great with cultural references, and he talks about a famous comedy bit from 1972. Famous for its shocking nature, called the seven dirty words you can’t say on television. Now, of course, you can and you hear it way too frequently. But Alito has proposed an updated list:

ALITO: Things you can’t say if you’re a student or professor at a college or university or an employee of many big corporations. And there wouldn’t be just seven items on that list. 70 times seven would be closer to the mark. I won’t go down the list, but I’ll mention one that I’ve discussed in a published opinion. You can’t say that marriage is the union between one man and one woman. Until very recently, that’s what the vast majority of Americans thought. Now it’s considered bigotry.

That this would happen after our decision in Obergefell should not have come as a surprise.

No, it shouldn’t, and he refers, of course, to the same-sex marriage decision in 2015. But there we have it: the words you can’t say. John, does Justice Alito exaggerate?

STONESTREET: Well, it might be that we all owe Rod Dreher an apology. Justice Alito sounds an awful lot like this columnist, this blogger from the American Conservative that many of us read and appreciate greatly and accuse of being maybe too negative, too pessimistic. His hair’s on fire, sort of stuff. And then this is Justice Alito saying many of the same things. 

But, you know, I also had a lunch meeting just recently with the parent of a college student. And her experience was exactly what Justice Alito just suggested: where they were having—I think the class is on social ethics—and the professor gave her the boundaries not only of the topics of class, but of the approaches to those topics, the lenses through which she could look at those topics, and the sources she was able to use—could not use any other. Just like real education. 

This is a stunning reality, but of course—and, by the way, this wasn’t at a notorious lefty college. 

Look, again, this reveals something. We’re hearing this from all kinds of different sides. Folks who helped lead the charge to get Obergefell and same-sex marriage into law have now openly said that their job is to punish the wicked and the wicked are those like who Justice Alito just referred to: the millions of Americans who until yesterday thought that marriage is between a man and a woman. And that there’s not even a conversation. 

What’s so historically inaccurate about this accusation of hate and bigotry being behind the opposition to same-sex marriage: When we say that a lot of people were against same-sex marriage until just recently, we could say that no culture in the history of the world ever imagined such a thing as same-sex marriage until yesterday. Even cultures that had no Christian views on sexual morality, even those that weren’t being informed by religious hangups. 

In other words, they saw—observably—a difference between intimate relationships between two men and intimate relationships between a man and a woman and the potential procreative result of that union. And because of that, even cultures that had no hangups with that sort of sexual behavior still did not call it the same thing as marriage. That’s an important data point. And the reason is because it helps us understand that it has nothing to do with bigotry. It has to do with observable differences that exist that are completely being denied across the board.

EICHER: John Stonestreet is president of the Colson Center and host of the Breakpoint podcast.

REICHARD: Thanks, John!

STONESTREET: Thanks guys.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Friday, November 20th. You’re listening to WORLD Radio. So glad to have you along today! 

Good morning. I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher.

Coming next on The World and Everything in It: Megan Basham catches up with the most popular series in the galaxy. And she says it continues to be surprisingly countercultural.

MEGAN BASHAM, TELEVISION CRITIC: If you’re anything like our family, you were counting the days until The Mandalorian returned to Disney Plus for its second season. That finally happened on October 30, and three episodes in, I’m happy to report that, so far at least, it hasn’t departed from the spaghetti-Western-in-space formula that made it a galactic success.

CLIP: This here is a Mandalorian. You know what that means? Well, we’ve heard the stories. Then you know how good they are at killing.

The show remains family-friendly entertainment, with the exception of a few scary monsters. Even better, it offers a counter-cultural worldview in almost every respect.

To start, it begins with a surprisingly conservative political perspective: The inability of even the most well-meaning government to create a utopian ideal for all.

There isn’t a Star Wars fan in the world who doubts the galaxy is better off under the Alliance. Yet, in episode two of this season, we see that the fallout that followed the Empire’s defeat created its own set of problems. Problems the Rebel-forces-turned-government-leaders are ill-equipped to solve.

CLIP: You don’t understand what it was like. The town was on its last legs. It started after we got news of the Death Star blowing up. The second one, that is. The Empire was pulling out of Tatooine. There was blaster fire of Mos Eisley. The occupation was over. We didn’t even have time to celebrate. That very night, the mining collective moved in. Power hates a vacuum and Mos Pelgo became a slave camp overnight. 

If local citizens of far-flung planets want safety and prosperity, they have to ensure it for themselves. 

CLIP: A krayt dragon has been peeling off our pack animals, and sometimes taking our mining haul with it. It’s just a matter of time before it grows tired of banthas and goes after a couple of you townsfolk, or even, so help us, the school. As much as I’ve grown fond of this armor, I’m even more fond of this town…

In other words, The Mandalorian continues to be a space story William F. Buckley could love.

Then there’s the show’s pro-family, pro-life ethic. We all saw how many young people picked up on this theme at last year’s March for Life. The signs they carried, depicting Baby Yoda with the show’s slogans, “Protect the child; this is the way” demonstrate that they innately recognized how Mando’s code to protect young, innocent life even in a chaotic world dovetailed with their own mission.   

This season advances that theme with a young amphibian family.

In the mother’s journey to rejoin her husband and hatch their eggs, we see the case for life encompasses more than just seeing children survive. It’s seeing families thrive. That means protecting them from threats within and without, including a callous little tyke’s ungoverned appetite. 

Is Baby Yoda scarfing the eggs evidence of a sin nature? Is it a warning against gluttony? Is it just a joke in bad taste? The debate rages online. But what’s clear is that while the nuclear family may be much dismissed in our world, in the Mandalorian’s, it’s still an unequivocal good.

CLIP: I’m not a taxi service. I know, I know, I hear you. But I can vouch for her. What’s the cargo? It’s her spawn. She needs her eggs fertilized by the equinox or her line will end. If you jump into hyperspace they’ll die. She said her husband has settled on the estuary moon of Trask in the system of the gas giant Kol Iben. She said all that? I paraphrased. 

Finally, through its exploration of religious themes, the show takes matters of faith seriously in a way almost no other popular entertainment does right now.

Last season we saw that when the code of his religion and the code of his profession came in conflict, Mando felt honor bound to stay true to his faith. This season digs into that further.

In the third episode he meets other Mandalorians who have adapted their belief system to modern customs by taking off their helmets. 

CLIP: Where did you get that armor? This armor has been in my family for three generations. You do not cover your face. You are not Mandalorian. He’s one of them. One of what? I am Bo-Katan of Clan Kryze. I was born on Mandalore and fought in the Purge. I am the last of my line. And you are a child of the Watch. Children of the watch of religious zealots that broke away from Mandalorian society. Their goal was to re-establish the ancient way. There is only one way. The way of the Mandalore. 

Mando is confronted with the question of whether wearing his armor is fundamental to his theology or simply a rigid and unnecessary burden demanded by tradition. The show hasn’t told us (yet). But that it uses this question to further plot and character development demonstrates that showrunner Jon Favreau understands the deepest questions that drive people and their cultures.

Christian parents will want to be cautious with this element, of course. We’ve yet to see how Mando’s religion will come into conflict with that of the Jedi, but the series continues to have a strong sense of spiritual mystery that provides launching points for discussions about real spiritual issues.

More than anything, The Mandalorian’s huge fan base continues to prove how hungry the market is for smart, moral entertainment for all ages. We can all breathe a sigh of relief that the series seems committed to feeding that appetite.

I’m Megan Basham.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Friday, November 20th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard.

If you have teenagers, you’re likely familiar with hyperbole. On this month’s edition of Word Play, George Grant finds the one place that over exaggeration is never possible.

EICHER: Never!

GEORGE GRANT, COMMENTARY: Hyperbole is a figure of speech that uses dramatic exaggeration to stress a feeling or emotion, or to show emphasis. The term passed into English from a Latin transliteration of a Greek rhetorical word meaning “excess” or “extravagance.” It literally means “to throw over” or “to cast beyond.” Hyperbole does not create a comparison, like a metaphor or a simile. Instead, it is a deliberate, sometimes comical overstatement, not meant to be taken literally. It is a kind of linguistic exclamation mark.

When we say, “If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a million times,” we’re using hyperbole. When a teenager bursts into the kitchen after school and says, “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse,” he’s using hyperbole. When someone dashes off early to work declaring, “I’ve got a million things to do today,” she too is using hyperbole.

Hyperbole abounds in our everyday conversations. “I’ve a ton of homework tonight;” “I was so surprised you could’ve knocked me over with a feather;” “Back then, we were so poor we didn’t have two cents to rub together;” “Why, when I was your age I had to walk 15 miles in the snow—uphill both ways.”

William Shakespeare often used hyperbole to great effect. In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Egeus complained of an ill-begotten love affair between his daughter and Demetrius, accusing, “with cunning hast thou filched my daughter’s heart.” In Romeo and Juliet, the smitten Romeo waxes eloquent, crooning, “her eyes in heaven would through the airy region stream so bright that birds would sing and think it were not night.”

Franklin Roosevelt employed hyperbole in his first inaugural address asserting “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” When Justin Timberlake sings, “Cry Me a River” or the Proclaimers, sing, “I would walk 500 miles, and I would walk 500 more,” they too are effectively using hyperbole.

Hyperbole is a familiar feature in product advertising—think of all the “new and improved,” “fast, faster, and fastest,” and “good, better, and best” commercials. It makes its appearance in social media. And of course, it is used unceasingly in political campaigns. It seems that you can find hyperbole just about everywhere these days—no exaggeration!

But there is one place where hyperbole never appears—indeed, where hyperbole is not even possible. No matter how extravagant, no matter how grandiose, our praise can never over-exaggerate the blessing and glory and wisdom and honor and might of our God. As a consequence, our thanksgiving, no matter how lavish, will always underestimate the overabundance of His graciousness and kindness to us. Thus, the Apostle Paul would exclaim, “Oh the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways.”

J.I. Packer once asserted, “Every time we pray we confess our impotence and God’s omnipotence.” Likewise, every time we give thanks we declare our need and His majesty and sovereignty. So, this Thanksgiving, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” And remember: it’s not possible to overdo it. This is the one place where hyperbole never appears; it’s not even possible.

Blessed Thanksgiving.

I’m George Grant.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Well it takes many people to put this program together each week. So we want to say thanks to: Megan Basham, Anna Johansen Brown, Kent Covington, Kristen Flavin, Katie Gaultney, George Grant, Kim Henderson, Leigh Jones, Onize Ohikere, Bonnie Pritchett, Sarah Schweinsberg, and Cal Thomas.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Our audio engineers Johnny Franklin and Carl Peetz stay up late to get the program to you early! Paul Butler is executive producer, and Marvin Olasky is editor in chief. 

And you. Without you? None of this happens! You are the fuel that makes this program train run. We thank you for that. 

Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

I hope you have a restful weekend, and worship with your brothers and sisters in Christ.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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One comment on “The World and Everything in It — November 20, 2020

  1. Joel Blackman says:

    Is there a phone number to call to donate to The World? I would prefer calling and providing my bank information than giving it over the internet. Thank you.

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