MARY REICHARD, HOST: Happy Thanksgiving Day!
Today, the last in our series of Paradise restored— the California town, two years after wildfires destroyed it.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Plus Islamic Jihadism is rising again in Europe. So how are leaders in Europe dealing with it? We’ll have a report.
And Kim Henderson on freedom from want, Norman Rockwell style.
REICHARD: It’s Thursday, November 26th. 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: Up next, Kent Covington has the news.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR:
I’m Kent Covington.
Straight ahead: European leaders rethink their approach to fighting extremism.
Plus, Kim Henderson on an iconic Thanksgiving painting.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: It’s Thursday, the 26th of November, 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. First up: The West has paid less attention to Islamic extremism in recent years.
That’s partly because deaths around the world from all acts of terror have declined four consecutive years.
And that’s true in large part because terrorists haven’t carried out any large-scale attacks. In Europe, those decreased significantly after the Trump administration defeated the Islamic State terror group.
REICHARD: But recent attacks in France and Austria have served as a reminder that Europe’s battle against jihadism is not over. WORLD correspondent Jill Nelson reports now on how European leaders are rethinking their approach.
JILL NELSON: REPORTER: In late September, a 25-year-old man stabbed two people outside the office of the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo. It had just republished caricatures of Muhammad, an act punishable by death, according to Muslim extremists.
That created a domino effect: In mid-October, an 18-year-old beheaded a French middle school teacher who showed the caricatures in class. Two weeks later, a man stabbed and killed three people outside a church in the southern city of Nice.
And in early November, a heavily armed man killed four people and wounded 23 when he opened fire on people dining at cafes in Vienna, Austria.
These attacks were smaller in scale than those between 2015 and 2017 when the Islamic State militant group was at peak strength. During that time, more than 300 people died in seven different attacks in France, Germany, Belgium, England, and Spain. Islamic State claimed responsibility for all but one.
Daniel Pipes is president of the Middle East Forum and has met with counterterrorism experts across Europe. Pipes says the latest attacks, while less deadly, are still cause for concern.
PIPES: What I call jihadi violence is episodic. Every single example of it is a shock, but when you stand back and look at the general pattern, you go, yeah, a certain number of them per year is to be expected.
Blaise Misztal agrees.
MISZTAL: The most troubling trend in what we’ve seen right now, which is the three attacks over the course of the past month in Paris, Nice and Vienna, is the lack of a trend. There’s really not many similarities between them.
Misztal is vice president for policy at the Jewish Institute for National Security of America and an expert on countering extremism. He says few lone wolf attacks are carried out in complete isolation.
In the past year, France has experienced seven Islamist extremist attacks. All of them were carried out by individuals previously unknown to the intelligence services. They did not use any sophisticated weapons and had no known ties to terrorist organizations. But it’s likely that many of the attackers made some contact with an organized group or accessed online propaganda.
These connections can be difficult to trace and are part of a wider set of problems. But Europe may be waking up to some of its failures. Mitzstal lists three.
First, many countries have failed to assimilate their Muslim populations. Daniel Pipes says that can create fertile ground for radicalization, especially in a country like France:
PIPES: France has the largest population of Muslims in both absolute and percentage terms. The French have a colonial history that is complex.
France has been a popular destination for radical Isalmists from abroad to peddle their brand of jihadism. And many French leaders have failed to identify the religious component in radicalization. But Misztal says that could be changing.
MISZTAL: I think one of the interesting things that you’ve seen come out of the attacks in France is attention is finally being paid to the fact that France allows foreign preachers to preach and teach at many of its mosques.
Second, Europe is facing an intelligence and security crisis. The Vienna attacker was previously in jail for attempting to join ISIS. He gained release after five months in a deradicalization program. But Austrian authorities did not keep a close eye on him, even after neighboring Slovakia warned he’d crossed the border and attempted to buy ammunition.
Europe’s third problem, according to Misztal, is its borders:
MISZTAL: It was relatively easy for the Nice attacker to come from Tunisia to Italy and then he was told to leave Italy and no one checked to see if he did. Instead he went to France where he perpetrated these attacks.
And Daniel Pipes warns increased tension with Turkey could create a new wave of immigration into Europe.
PIPES: Turkey is home to several million Syrian migrants who would like to leave Turkey and go on to Europe, so they are bottled up there and the Turks can choose to make trouble by letting them out. And the Europeans are paying a large amount of money in order to keep the Turks from doing that.
MACRON: [SPEAKING IN FRENCH]
French President Emmanuel Macron hopes to cut down on radical elements by asking Muslim leaders in his country to sign a charter that defines Islam as a religion, not a political movement. He also announced plans to double the country’s border forces. And he is in favor of increasing security around Europe’s external borders by creating a single asylum office among European Union countries.
Macron plans to present his proposal during an EU summit in December. Blaise Miszal says how European nations respond could be a determining factor in Europe’s battle against Islamist terror attacks.
MISZAL: There’s a variety of dynamics bleeding into Europe from the Middle East right now that are worrisome and it’s important to keep our eye on them and see how they evolve and what they mean for the U.S. as well.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Jill Nelson.
NICK EICHER, HOST: You’ve heard of “Florida Man,” the internet meme, as a sort of anti-hero, ne’er-do-well.
But this story will put “Manly” into Florida Man.
Richard Wilbanks lives next to a wild nature preserve down there. And if you know South Florida wildlife, you know it frequently involves thick, scaly skin and terrifying teeth.
Well, Mr. Wilbanks was out on a walk near a pond along with his 3-month-old Cavalier King Charles spaniel, a puppy he calls “Gunner.”
You can imagine what happens next, but stick with me, happy ending.
A 4-foot alligator shoots out of the water—as Wilbanks describes—“like a missile,” snatches Gunner, and drags him into the pond.
WILBANKS: You know, instinct just took over and adrenaline kicked in.
Be honest with you, I have a different instinct, but for this 72-year-old man—still chomping on his cigar—has the instinct of trying to rescue the pup.
WILBANKS: You know, I just went right in the water after the ’gator and Gunner.
AUDIO: [SOUND OF RESCUE]
So, waist deep in murky water, Wilbanks has hold of the gator, which still has hold of Gunner. He’s prying those powerful jaws open and, sorry for this, but the pup is yelping in pain and fear.
You can hear Wilbanks struggling with this steel-trap jaw. But Wilbanks wins, shakes the puppy free, and hangs on to the gator for a bit before throwing it back in the water to spare his scraped up hands.
I love it. Wilbanks made the alligator spit out the pup, but he hung on to the cigar the whole time.
As for Gunner, he had puncture wounds but the vet patched him up and he’s good as new.
Says Wilbanks: His pup has a new “leash” on life.
It’s The World and Everything in It.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Thursday, the 26th of November 2020.
Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your Thanksgiving Day.
Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: the last installment in our three-part serial on the fire that destroyed Paradise, California, two years ago this month.
EICHER: Yesterday, we left off as the residents of Paradise desperately tried to escape the wildfire that ended up killing 85 people and burning down more than 18,000 structures.
Today, WORLD’s Sarah Schweinsberg returns with the rest of the story, and how Paradise is recovering.
SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: Little by little, the Harps, Robins, and Tomilee Deatherage inched down the ridgeline to Chico. The usual 15 minute drive took six hours.
Tomilee Deatherage was the first to make it down to safety in Chico. She saw people lining the side of the highway—all trying to spot the cars of family and friends.
DEATHERAGE: People were looking for loved ones…
That afternoon Chris, Andy and Isaac Robins reunited at the Lowe’s parking lot in Chico.
The Harps came out into the light at 12:30—three hours after leaving home. At the end of the Skyway, Donnie Harp saw a friend who was a police officer directing traffic.
DONNIE HARP: And so as we go by, he’s doing the waving, and he blew me a kiss. And I kind of lost it at that point too. Because, you know, he knew we were safe.
It’s been two years since the fire. The Robins family drives through town.
CHRIS ROBINS: It’s gone. It’s gone. The famous Paradise sign is gone.
There’s no more leafy canopy of trees. There’s matchsticks with branches that look like frazzled hair.
ANDY ROBINS: You look out through there 80% that’s dead.
There’s hundreds of empty lots between charred trees.
CHRIS ROBINS: This was a school. The gold nugget museum. This was our Paradise Elementary School, which all burned.
Hundreds of crews from the government and organizations like Samaritan’s Purse hauled tons of debris out of town. Issac Robins says before all that work, Paradise looked like a warzone.
ISAAC ROBINS: There was so much rubble just around and trash that it was crazy. But now it’s just kind of like deserted, empty.
But the fire didn’t take everything. 1,200 homes survived.
CHRIS ROBINS: Okay, so this house survived. This house survived. This was new. This has just been built. This house survived.
As well as some businesses.
CHRIS ROBINS: Pre-fire we did have, which was newer, Starbucks and Dutchbros, and those two both survived, which was probably a huge blessing for all the workers up here…
The Robins say not everyone who used to live up here can come visit. It’s just too painful to relive the memories.
CHRIS ROBINS: A lot of my friends, my co workers, my family, they can’t come up here, and they go into shock. They’re heartbroken.
In the days after the fire, aid for fire survivors flooded into Chico. Clothes, food, and furniture. The Walmart and mall parking lots became makeshift camps.
Churches, nonprofits, friends and family tried to help survivors find housing.
The Robins’ church lined up an apartment in Chico.
CHRIS ROBINS: Our church knew that we were going to need a place. We’re still in a rental and the apartment.
Tomilee Deatherage moved into her daughter’s small apartment.
DEATHERAGE: They’re in a two bedroom apartment.
And family friends took in all eight members of the Harp family.
After the fire, the question quickly became what’s next?
For the Harps things moved quickly. The next day, Donnie and Tanya began looking at real estate in Chico. They found a house for sale at the right price.
DONNIE HARP: They accepted the offer Sunday.
Just four days after the fire, the family was in a new home. Friends and family donated furniture.
DONNIE HARP: The Lord made us whole, so fast…it was so amazing to see his hand through so many other hearts.
The Harps were grateful, but they also felt guilty. So many others were living in hotels and campers for months and months.
After living with their daughter for six weeks, the Deatherages moved into an animal-friendly hotel for two months. That was a tough time for Tomilee. She avoided the hotel as much as possible.
DEATHERAGE: We would stay out with friends that had lost their house too. We would try to find restaurants that stay open late, or sit in our cars and talk.
Eventually, the Deatherages found an apartment, but Tomilee wanted to rebuild in Paradise. Yet, she knew it was going to be a long, expensive process. One day, she saw an ad for a house near Paradise. The house looked like one Tomilee had sketched.
DEATHERAGE: You get that you kind of feeling like you’re going to cry because it feels like God did this because I would have never found this.
The Deatherages moved in April 2019—almost six months after the fire.
The families all say they continue to grieve their old lives, their homes, and the things insurance can’t replace.
For the Harp kids, it’s been a slow adjustment to Chico. They miss their home.
ASHLEY HARP: The kitchen was huge. It was open it led to the living room into the dining room.
LOGAN HARP: There was a creek and we used to play down there a lot.
Tanya and Donnie say family worship, prayer, and some really long talks have helped the healing process.
AUDIO: [Family singing “Cannons” “You are holy. Great and mighty. The Moon and the stars, declare who you are.”]
TANYA ROSS-HARP: Music had been a big part of our lives up in Paradise. And continuing that worship creates that feeling of wholeness with us as a group.
26,000 people once called Paradise home. Two years after the fire, only one in five have returned. As for the Robins, they plan on rebuilding. This property has been in the family for nearly 50 years.
ANDY ROBINS: It’s home. It’s always been home.
They haven’t broken ground on their new home, but soon. They know it’s a long road ahead. But Chris Robin says: it’s worth it.
CHRIS ROBIN: It’s going to be rebuilding from the ground up. And a lot of people look at this as like desert and despair, but I look and there is growth, there is new life coming back. And it will be Paradise again.
MUSIC: [PARADISE – COLDPLAY]
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg.
EICHER: If you enjoyed Sarah’s story and would like to share it with a friend, next weekend we’re going to release all three parts together in a special stand-alone episode. The long-form version will include additional material we couldn’t fit into this week’s serial presentation. Look for it on this podcast feed next Saturday, December 5th.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Thursday, November 26th. 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. In case you didn’t hear our big announcement yesterday, we are doing Black Friday a day early! WORLD Watch—our current events videos for teens—is on sale right now.
Get this: you can get a whole year of WORLD Watch for $40. That’s half price, available now through Monday. Head over to worldwatch.news to get your subscription at 50% off. 50% off for 100% awesome Big Bash!
EICHER: Commentator Kim Henderson with some thoughts on longing and abundance.
KIM HENDERSON, COMMENTATOR: In January 1941, against a backdrop of world war, “new order” and fascist dictatorships, FDR gave a celebrated State of the Union address. In it, he verbalized four freedoms worth fighting for — freedom of speech, of worship, from fear, and from want.
Two years later, The Saturday Evening Post published essays on each of these freedoms, and their resident artist, Norman Rockwell, provided paintings. One of them, “Freedom from Want,” you would probably know by sight, if not by title. For more than seven decades it has reigned supreme as the image Americans most associate with the Thanksgiving holiday.
Need me to paint you a picture? It’s the one where the dining room table is covered by a white tablecloth and set with the good silver, and Grandpa is at the head of it with carving tools in hand. Grandma, in her apron, is shown bringing the turkey to its rightful place while the rest of the family leans in around the table, smiling.
Remember it now?
Rockwell wrote that his four freedoms assignments were “worth everything that he could give them and more.” It was a bold undertaking for the artist, this attempting to communicate the abstract notion of freedom on canvas, and Rockwell is said to have fussed greatly over the Thanksgiving scene in particular. His concern was that it might convey overabundance, rather than the intended freedom from want—thus the water in the glasses and absence of nearly everything else that will be on our holiday menu.
Rockwell’s “Freedom from Want” was never a Saturday Evening Post cover, but it did tour the country and raise more than $130 million dollars for the war effort. Though art critics of Rockwell’s day made little of his work, The New Yorker reported that Rockwell’s four freedoms “were received by the public with more enthusiasm, perhaps, than any other paintings in the history of American art.”
Today’s viewers continue to appreciate Rockwell’s skills (check out the reflection of the porcelain plate), but these days their eyes may linger longer on the family depicted—intact, multi-generational, harmonious. Even so, it is just that—a depiction. Rockwell himself, thrice married and far removed from his Episcopal choir boy days, once admitted, “I paint life as I would like it to be.” That’s why all the individual portraits were posed, including that of Mrs. Thaddeus Wheaton, the Rockwell family cook who served as the model for the grandmother serving the turkey.
The artist later summarized: “She cooked it, I painted it, and we ate it.”
That’s OK. Few homes can live up to an idealized holiday gathering involving simultaneous smiles, starched aprons, and plated celery stalks. I doubt I’ll be tucking any parsley around our turkey platter, either.
The point is, Rockwell’s famous painting reminds us that the real joy at any Thanksgiving table isn’t the stuff on it, but the people around it. A close look at “Freedom from Want” might just leave you hungering for something more this year.
I’m Kim Henderson.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Tomorrow: Culture Friday with John Stonestreet.
And, a review of a new hit singing competition set in church.
That and more tomorrow.
I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard.
The World and Everything in It comes to you from WORLD Radio.
WORLD’s mission is biblically objective journalism that informs, educates, and inspires.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.