The World and Everything in It — February 19, 2021

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Good morning!

Today on Culture Friday, we’ll remember the cultural phenomenon that was Rush Limbaugh.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And offer a little clarification on our conversation about the former Disney actress Gina Carano.

Also today, a new show on Netflix that’s surprisingly clean and funny.

And Word Play. This month, George Grant considers the importance of picking the right word.

BROWN: It’s Friday, February 19th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Myrna Brown.

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

BROWN: Now news. Here’s Kent Covington.

KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Power restored to millions of Texas homes » The lights and heat are back on in millions of Texas homes today. 

On Thursday, about 325,000 Texas homes and businesses remained without power. But that was down from about 3 million the day before.

Gov. Greg Abbott said for those still without power, the problem is no longer the electrical grid, but rather localized problems…

ABBOTT: Power lines that are down or the need to manually reconnect the premises to power. 

But safe drinking water remains a major concern for parts of Texas and other southern states. 

And on the West Coast, more than 100,000 customers remained without power in Oregon on Thursday. Portland General Electric said it expects to have power restored by tonight to more than 90 percent of customers still in the dark.

Meanwhile, more snow and ice is pushing into the northeast. 

New Jersey Transportation Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti said today is a good day for residents to huddle up inside and stay off the roads. 

SCACCETTI: Watch a good movie. Frozen is always a good choice. 

And forecasters say another winter front will push into the central part of the country over the weekend, but it is not expected to be a major storm. 

Unemployment applications rise » The number of Americans applying for unemployment aid rose last week despite falling numbers of new COVID-19 cases. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has more. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: The Labor Dept. says roughly 861,000 Americans filed jobless claims last week. That was a rise of 13,000 from the week before. 

The jobless figures could be inflated to some degree. Fraudulent claims and potential backlogs of applications may be driving the number higher. 

For example, Ohio this week reported that applications under a program that covers self-employed and gig workers jumped from about 10,000 to more than 230,000! But that could reflect a backlog of applications, because Ohio hadn’t reported data under that program until two weeks ago.

Still, there’s no doubt that the job market continues to struggle under the weight of the pandemic. Employers added just 49,000 jobs in January after cutting workers in December. 

And analysts fear that shutdowns due to winter weather could make matters worse. 

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin. 

Democrats unveil plan for immigration overhaul » Democrats on Thursday unveiled their plan to overhaul the U.S. immigration system.

Sen. Bob Menendez introduced the legislation, which would, among other things, create an eight-year path to citizenship for those living in the country unlawfully.

MENENDEZ: They live under constant fear of deportation. It’s time to bring all 11 million undocumented out of the shadows, give them the opportunity to pass criminal background and national security checks, secure lawful, prospective immigrant status. 

Eventually, farm workers, immigrants with temporary protected status, and people who arrived in the country illegally as children would become eligible for green cards. 

Others living in the United States as of the beginning of this year could gain temporary legal status after five years and then pursue citizenship three years later.

The White House says President Biden fully supports the plan. 

But political analyst and former congressional staffer Casey Higgins says it’s highly unlikely that the bill will make it to the president’s desk. 

HIGGINS: Instead of giving everyone a reason to vote yes, it gives everyone a reason to vote no, and in the past we’ve seen it collapse under its own weight. So while I think this is a great market for the left to show what their position is, it’s not necessarily a lawmaking exercise. 

The proposal was not well received among Republicans. Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell has called the plan—his words—massive “blanket amnesty that would gut enforcement of American laws.” He also said it would incentivize more illegal immigration. 

Fed agents seize over 10M phony N95 masks » Federal agents have seized more than 10 million fake 3M brand face masks. WORLD’s Sarah Schweinsberg has that story. 

SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: Law enforcement agencies continue to pile up the counterfeit N95 masks as part of an ongoing investigation. Those are the kinds of masks healthcare workers wear to guard against the coronavirus. 

Homeland Security agents this week intercepted hundreds of thousands of fake 3M masks in an East Coast warehouse.

Investigators also notified about 6,000 potential victims, including hospitals, in at least 12 states.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said not only do the knockoffs not provide the N95 level of protection but they’re practically useless.  

Officials say they are planning criminal charges against the suspects who have distributed the fakes. 

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg. 

South Carolina Gov. McMaster signs heartbeat bill » South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster held a signing ceremony in Columbia on Thursday as he put his signature to new pro-life legislation. 

MCMASTER: I asked the citizens and I asked the general assembly to send me the heartbeat bill and I would sign it, and you have, and now I will. [applause]

Similar to other heartbeat bills, the law would protect the lives of the unborn as soon as a heartbeat is detectable. 

The state house passed the measure on Wednesday on a vote of 79 to 35. And McMaster yesterday became the 12th governor to sign a heartbeat bill into law. But as is the case in other states, he acknowledged that the legal battle over the new law is only just beginning. 

Planned Parenthood and the ACLU immediately sued to block the law from taking effect. 

I’m Kent Covington.

Straight ahead: remembering Rush Limbaugh.

Plus, the most-used words of 2020.

This is The World and Everything in It.

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: It’s Friday, February 19th, 2021.

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

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. It’s Culture Friday and so let’s welcome John Stonestreet, president of the Colson Center and host of the Breakpoint podcast.

Morning, John.


BROWN: Good morning, John.

EICHER: Before we get started, I want to return to our conversation last week. We discussed the actress Gina Carano, the former Mandalorian actress whom Disney fired and rationalized her firing on her social-media activity. 

And that short discussion brought a lot of feedback—all very constructive—but also all critical. 

I shared a representative sampling of that feedback with John and I’ll summarize that even further here and then give John a chance to clarify.

First, I think we should emphasize that way too frequently, our public discourse includes overwrought comparisons of some contemporary problem to the Holocaust or to the Nazi regime. That happens too often and it’s imprudent as we pointed out.

But one listener—a highly respected pastor, a man who is very careful with words—thought that we were wrong to say that the post that ostensibly got Gina Carano fired was “untrue.” 

The pastor said, to the contrary, ample history supports the point—and I’m quoting here—“that while it was Nazi Party members that organized and pushed the Holocaust, it was at many times and in many ways the citizenry of Germany that carried it out.” Skipping down and continuing to quote, “Certainly history provides us with the lesson that while a few people play a formidable role in great wickedness, it is the acquiescence and then participation of ‘ordinary folk’ that see evil to its ultimate conclusion. The Holocaust is perhaps the clearest example (the Soviet purges are another).”

Well, John, I told you! We have a very thoughtful family of listeners.

STONESTREET: Yeah, I appreciate that feedback. I actually caught myself last week in three or four different places moving so fast through comments I made, I wasn’t very clear. And this pastor is exactly right. I think as Hannah Errant, one of the great historians of this whole time, called it, “The thing about evil is its banality.” It just becomes so ordinary and normal and that certainly was the true part of what Gina Carrano was pointing out. And when I used the word “untrue,” I didn’t clarify at all that I was talking about a specific part of it, which is what everybody actually reacted to, which seemed to imply that — and it was having to do with the way she phrased it that the Nazi soldiers didn’t do this, the ordinary people did. And, of course, the story is both did it. Both those who were in an official capacity and those who were trying to advance a cultural narrative that had taken hold so deeply in the German context.

You know, in fact, one of the things I tried to say and probably didn’t say, again, as clearly as I should have last week is that I think the outrage to Gina Carrano’s comment had a lot to do with this idea of a progressive mindset, that they’re the evil ones over there. We’re not over here. And I think when we see the historical narrative and we realize that ordinary people are capable, particularly in what Douglas Murray has called “the madness of crowds”, you can actually be carried along in this slow flowing molasses of culture in a direction of grave and dire evil in which entire members of the population, the attempt is either to marginalize or even to eliminate them. So, yeah, I appreciated that feedback and I think the correction there was well-made.

EICHER: We call this weekly conversation “Culture Friday,” and this week, a major cultural figure passed away, Rush Limbaugh. Now, he certainly said some things we’d never say here on this program. He could be very controversial—in a three-hour daily program that was pretty much all him—for more than 30 years, he had some doozies.

But he could also be, as he frequently described himself, a “harmless, lovable little fuzz-ball.” Our colleague Cal Thomas, who knew Rush Limbaugh, wrote a very moving tribute.

And, I have to say, I admired his courage in facing the cancer diagnosis. But here perhaps is the source of the courage. Have a listen to this, one of Limbaugh’s last appearances on his radio program.

LIMBAUGH: I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It is of immense value: strength, confidence. And that’s why I’m able to remain fully committed to the idea that what’s supposed to happen, will happen when it’s meant to.

Rush Limbaugh died about one year after receiving the news that he had cancer. He lived to be 70 years old.

STONESTREET: We’re in an era where there’s a lot of conversation about who is the GOAT, right? The Greatest of All Time. And Rush Limbaugh stands in a category all by himself in terms of professional excellence and how he did what he did. Now, I’m with you. I didn’t always agree with what he said, and certainly didn’t agree with how he said it. And yet at the same time when it just comes to doing the job that he did — in fact, I heard Hugh Hewitt say this years ago that he listened to Rush every week because — when he got started in the broadcasting business — and he said it wasn’t because I always agreed with him, although I’m sure that a lot of their political positions aligned, he said it’s just because he’s the best. There’s nobody else in that category. And there’s got to be a respect for that level of professional excellence when you think about the number of people on the right and the number of people on the left who jumped into this game that he started. And not only started, but basically dominated from the very beginning to the very end. He is the GOAT. 

I also certainly appreciated watching this last year and you saw elements of his faith rise to the surface that I don’t think you saw very often during his career. And I think that was important. And it also has something to do here with this line that Chuck Colson used to repeat over and over and over that politics is downstream from culture. When you look at the towering figures of the GOP and conservative politics of our lifetime, Nick, I mean, Rush would be on the Mount Rushmore, pun intended, of that list, right? And he never held elected office. What he was doing was cultural. It was upstream, so to speak, from the political fray, and yet he shaped it in really profound ways. And there will be a lot of history written about his influence on the GOP for better, for worse. But he did and he did it on a cultural level, which is something I think we can all learn about this as well.

BROWN: When I think about Christian authors and you mentioned the GOAT. I would say Max Lucado would be a strong contender. And I want to talk about Max Lucado right now. John, on Feb 6. you tweeted, “If Max Lucado is cancel-worthy, no one else on the planet can possibly be “nice” or “winsome” enough.” 

You were talking about the uproar over Max Lucado’s invite to preach in a cathedral worship service. Lots of outrage over him comparing same sex marriage to bestiality, incest and legalized polygamy in a 2004 sermon. Lucado also said the lifestyle could be changed by pastoral care.

Then, about a week later on February 11, Lucado issued an apology for his comments on homosexuality saying, “It grieves me that my words have been used to hurt the LGBTQ community.” Although he says he still believes what the Bible says about marriage, he also added he regrets the words he used in that 2004 sermon. 

What words exactly? We may never know because that sermon and article have been deleted by the owner.  

Is this another Christian leader acquiescing to the LGBTQ agenda. What do you make of that?

STONESTREET: Well, because we don’t know what words he’s apologizing for—and I don’t even know that I know the content to know specifically if he’s acquiescing. I’d be shocked. The rumor of the evangelical collapse to the new progressive sexual orthodoxy is far overblown. You have really high profile sorts of “evolutions” but almost to a person, and I don’t know any exception, everyone that’s acquiesced to the LGBTQ agenda has already acquiesced to liberal theology when it comes to the inerrancy of scripture, when it comes to the authority and reliability, when it comes to sin and salvation, and that’s just not something that Lucado has acquiesced on all those other things. So I would be shocked if that was the case. When I said if Lucado is cancel-worthy, no one else on the planet can possibly — I was on another radio program this past week and I just said, “Look, none of us is woke enough for this.” The attempt to chase down the approval of culture in our tone, we should chase down the approval of God in our tone, the integrity of the gospel in our tone, but not the approval of the culture because you can’t get there. And Lucado is as winsome and nice and articulate and just brilliant. I have benefited greatly from his writings. I’ll just name one book in particular, God Came Near, a remarkable reflection on the incarnation. I have tons of respect for him. But that’s the thing: to hold this position no matter how nicely you do it is to risk or make it inevitable that you’re going to be canceled.

But I will say that putting same-sex marriage or homosexual sexual activity in the list with bestiality, incest, and polygamy is not something that Lucado did first. It’s something that the Old Testament did first. And it’s something that Romans did second. By the way, before any of us kind of hold our head high like those aren’t our sins, in that same list in Romans is disobedience to parents and gossip. So, in other words, the answer here is not to take that sin out of this list. It’s to put more sins in the list. It’s not to tone down the offense that people feel of saying same-sex sexual activity is always an affront to God.

Now, am I going to put it in the same degree? The Bible doesn’t put all sins at the same level of violation against God. There’s seven sins that God really hates, as Proverbs says. Paul says that there are not only sins against God but sins against your body. By the way, all those are sexual sins. But the idea is not to soften any sin. It’s to make sure we’re consistent across the board on all of them.

By the way, to not do that is to rob people of hearing the gospel. When we downplay a sin, then we downplay the grace and forgiveness that’s available from Christ Jesus as well. So, it’s not only a theological mistake to take these out of the same category, it’s a strategic and tactical mistake. And so we’re going to be better in keeping everything in the same line that the Bible does.

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

BROWN: Thank you, John.

STONESTREET: Thank you both.

NICK EICHER, HOST: As you know, the severe winter weather has covered many roads with sheets of ice throughout the country this week—and in places quite unexpected, like Mississippi—making driving hazardous if not impossible.

DeShawonte Cooley, who works at a nursing home in Hazlehurst, Mississippi, was determined to get to work, no matter what.

In a Facebook post her nursing home colleagues said she “loves and cares about her residents.”

Well, at WORLD our journalistic specialty is to show and not tell, so let these facts do the showing.

Ms. Cooley drove her 4-wheeler from her house just south of Jackson—a distance of 25 miles in 20 degree temperatures. Here’s something to keep in mind: a 4-wheeler is an ATV. Meaning, it is open to the elements. So I pulled up a government wind-chill chart. Let’s assume it was 20 degrees and she was moving, let’s say, 30 miles per hour, that meant a wind-chill of zero.

Sounds like love and care to me!

It’s The World and Everything in It.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Friday, February 19th. 

Thank you for listening to WORLD Radio today. We’re glad you’re here.  

Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: And I’m Myrna Brown. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: Netflix isn’t exactly known for its clean original series.

But Megan Basham says, with one new comedy at least, the streaming platform may be turning over a new leaf.

MEGAN BASHAM, FILM CRITIC: Netflix has broken a lot of ground in the entertainment business since it launched the streaming revolution back in 2013 with its first original series, House of Cards. That show was famously dark, subversive, and crammed with R-rated content. From that point, pushing the envelope seemed to be the platform’s go-to strategy.  Educators, parents, and psychologists alike slammed its original teen drama 13 Reasons Why for glorifying suicide. Animated kids series She-Ra and The Princess of Power regularly features transgender characters. Netflix even added lesbian aunts to its adaptation of the classic 19th century novel, Anne of Green Gables. Then, in September, the company went too far, angering American audiences and attracting the attention of lawmakers with Cuties, a film that featured 10-year-olds twerking. A January report attributed 1 in 10 Netflix cancellations last quarter to that debacle.

Perhaps that’s why the streaming giant has now decided to go in the one direction it hasn’t really tried before—traditional.

CLIP: Could you get Jessie to sign this for me? The line is so long. Is this what ugly people feel like all the time? You’re asking the wrong guy buddy. 

The most shocking thing about Kevin James’ new workplace sitcom, The Crew, is how at home it would be on good, old-fashioned broadcast television. James, the one time King of Queens, stars as a NASCAR crew chief with an eccentric team working under him. There’s the handsome but dopey driver. The neurotic, insecure engineer. And the are-they-really-just-friends female office manager.  The series even has a live studio audience.

CLIP: What did Bobby always say the best deodorant was. That’s a trick question, he never wore the stuff. He said the best deodorant was winning. Nothing gets rid of the stench of failure like victory. Yeah, well I hope it worked on failure because it didn’t work on Bobby. I’m literally your only friend left so you might want to watch the tone. Okay let’s not forget Ted from Bass Pro Shops. Yeah, that’s right. I went in for a fishing rod, came out with a soul mate. 

Given the red-state setting, perhaps it’s no surprise that the show begins with a joke about the team’s Pavlovian response to the national anthem. As soon as that Star Spangled Banner starts, hats come off and arguments halt mid-sentence till it’s over. It’s a cute moment, especially refreshing because it’s clearly laughing with the characters, not at them. It’s even a little brave for the pilot to faithfully depict racing culture in this way, given that the anthem has become such a lightning rod in professional sports.

That’s not to say the show is political in any pointed sense. When the boss retires and his Ivy League-educated, millennial daughter takes over the team, Southern and Silicon Valley values clash plenty. But it rarely feels intended to target a whole class of people.

CLIP: I just don’t understand why everybody loved my dad and hates me. Nobody hates you. Well there’s a 13-minute long voicemail that says otherwise. We don’t hate you. We just hate everything you do and the way you do it. But that’s all. Other than that you’re golden. Alright, good talk, thanks. Look, you’re new here and we have a history with your dad. And by the way, when he would hire someone he would trust them to do their jobs. Yeah, well, that’s a two-way street. If my dad had an idea, I bet you wouldn’t have said, Well that’s impossible. And that’s not the way we do things around here. And I won a race 30 years ago in Talladega. Okay, I’m not sure who that’s an impression of. And it was Darlington.

At times, The Crew even feels like a bit of a throwback for traditional TV. Though it has some mild profanity and off-color jokes here and there, there’s nothing like the rapid fire double-entendres audiences have come to expect from some of the biggest sitcoms of recent years like Modern Family or The Big Bang Theory.

I recently got a chance to talk to James about his latest venture and how surprisingly clean it is for Netflix. Here’s what he told me:

JAMES: I always love doing it, because it’s basically a family friendly comedy too. It transcends, so it’s not just so you’re watching it with the kids and it’s boring for the adults. But it’s engaging for adults and it’s also fun and you can feel comfortable watching it with your whole family. And you don’t find too much of that now. So it’s hard to find that. I know when I sit down with my kids I don’t want to be uncomfortable watching stuff.

The Crew’s approach may feel a little stale for viewers used to the more modern single-camera style of shows like The Office. But my general rule of thumb with comedy series is to give them several episodes before judging as it often takes that long for the cast to gel and find their collective brand of funny. True to form, The Crew’s jokes get better and the chemistry gets stronger as the series goes on. By the fifth episode, James and crew have it running like, well, a well-oiled machine.

So far, Netflix’s surprising shift seems to appeal to a lot of people. When I checked the platform’s overall U.S. popularity rankings yesterday, The Crew was sitting at number 5. Not bad for a new dog performing old tricks.

I’m Megan Basham.

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Today is Friday, February 19th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Myrna Brown.

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

Choosing the right word is vital for a journalist. It’s pretty important for everyone else, too. Our resident wordsmith, George Grant, did a little research on the most-used words of 2020. He found some interesting, if not entirely surprising, themes. Here’s this month’s Word Play.

GEORGE GRANT, COMMENTATOR: Peter Marshall once said, “The use of the right word, the exact word, is the difference between a pencil with a sharp point and a thick crayon.” So, if you had to choose the right word, the exact word to describe the last year, what would it be? How would you summarize what we experienced in 2020?

Every year the editors of Merriam-Webster online take up the task of identifying the “Word of the Year.” Based upon a statistical analysis of queries and searches, the dictionary wordsmiths attempt to index key cultural concerns and societal trends. And this past year there were concerns and trends aplenty!

The polarized political climate and the hotly contested presidential campaign gave new prominence to several words. During one of the debates, Joe Biden declared, “Give me a break—that’s a bunch of malarkey.” A common feature of his folksy rhetorical style, Biden often uses words like “malarkey.” But it sent thousands of would-be voters to the dictionary to look it up. They discovered it is an Irish-American slang term meaning “nonsense,” “bunk,” or “hogwash.”

Then there was the sudden spike of interest in schadenfreude, a borrowed word from the German. It is compounded from shaden, meaning “calamity” or “adversity,” and freude meaning “gladness” or “joy.” It is one of those perfect spelling bee words that means “to find malicious delight in the misfortunes of others.” Whether it was because of the frequent malapropisms of the candidates or fluctuations in the polls, schadenfreude seemed to abound.

When the new NHL franchise in Seattle announced that it had chosen kraken as its team name and mascot, searches for the word skyrocketed 128,000 percent in a single day. It seems that a kraken is a mythic Norse sea monster. Then, during the post-election controversy over accusations of ballot irregularities, “Release the kraken” became a phrase that took on a life all its own.

But of course, the words most frequently looked up last year had to do with COVID-19. Rarely have words moved from professional medical jargon to the everyday vocabulary of ordinary Americans as quickly as have coronavirus, asymptomatic, quarantine, epidemiology, herd-immunity, pathogenicity, and immunocompromised.

When the World Health Organization officially declared that COVID-19 was a global pandemic, that word, pandemic, earned the single largest spike in dictionary traffic, with an increase of nearly 116,000 percent. The Greek root pan means “all” or “every.” And demos means “people.” Taken together the word literally means “among all people” or “of everyone everywhere.” It is used to describe an epidemic that has spread uncontrollably. In the end, Merriam-Webster’s editors realized that this was the right word, the exact word, to describe the last year. 2020’s “Word of the Year” is pandemic.

Chris Lynch has quipped that, “The right word at the right time helps you make sense of the world. It helps, but sometimes not a lot.” So, here’s to hoping 2021’s word is a bit more normal. As in “back to normal.”

I’m George Grant.

NICK EICHER, HOST: It takes teamwork to get this program delivered to you each morning. We want to thank each one by name: 

Megan Basham, Emily Belz, Anna Johansen Brown, Paul Butler, Janie B. Cheaney, Kent Covington, Kristen Flavin, Katie Gaultney, George Grant, Kim Henderson, Jill Nelson, Onize Ohikere, Mary Reichard, Sarah Schweinsberg, and Cal Thomas.

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Also thanks to our audio engineers Johnny Franklin and Carl Peetz who stay up late to get the program to you early. Leigh Jones is managing editor. Paul Butler is executive producer. And Marvin Olasky is editor in chief.

Of course, without you, none of this happens. Thank you for coming alongside to help bring Christian journalism into the marketplace of ideas. 

James tells us that the earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power. 

Thank you for listening, and we’ll meet back here on Monday, Lord willing.

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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