Thirty Things that Caught My Eye: The Capitol Riot and the World Beyond

Pro-Trump protesters storm the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., January 6, 2021. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

Most of these aren’t about what everyone is talking about, save for the first few. That’s generally the point of this feature: to remember there is a lot going on — alarming and hopeful or helpful or cause for prayer. . . .

1. Ed Mechmann: An Appeal to the Better Angels of Our Nature

Among other things, he quotes Lincoln:

We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

2. Brian C. Anderson: Dark Days

Had the Covid-19 crisis not brought the American economy to its knees, and unleashed some of his worst tendencies to grab attention, Trump likely would have won reelection decisively. Yet today’s disturbing scenes serve as a reminder of why that reelection didn’t happen, and they may undermine further the many legitimate causes that Trump’s presidency pursued, especially if Trump and some of his supporters stay on their present course. The risks to the country are not just immediate—the peaceful transfer of power is one of the great historic achievements of democracies—but long-term. Any ongoing battle over the election will weaken conservatism, and with it, the hopes of millions of Americans looking for help against a rising radicalism that seeks to transform the country irrevocably.

3. Carl Olson: Who Are We, Really, as Americans?

 the current crisis in America is deeply spiritual and essentially theological. A robustly Christian nation would understand that we each, as individuals, will eventually have to answer to God, Creator and righteous Judge of all—and would seek to act accordingly.

4. Robert Draper in National Geographic: ‘Not even a single security guard was posted in the rotunda’

5. Ben Domenech: The Consequences of the Capitol Assault

The iconoclasm of the right is a real development, and it is here to stay. You’ll wish for the old man in the tricorn hat waving a Cato Constitution when you see the new right blasting statues with graffiti.

6. Toby Levy: The Holocaust Stole My Youth. Covid-19 Is Stealing My Last Years.

I don’t have that many years left. The way we have lived this year means I have lost many opportunities to lecture, to tell more people my story, to let them see me and know the Holocaust happened to a real person, who stands in front of them today. It’s important.

7. The New York Times: With Mass Arrests, Beijing Exerts an Increasingly Heavy Hand in Hong Kong

The mass arrests signaled that the central Chinese government, which once wielded its power over Hong Kong with a degree of discretion, is increasingly determined to openly impose its will on the city. In the months since the law took effect, Beijing and the Beijing-backed Hong Kong leadership have moved quickly to stamp out even the smallest hint of opposition in the Chinese territory, where the streets once surged with huge anti-government protests. And they have shattered any pretense of democracy in Hong Kong’s political system.

8. Paul Kengor: Biden and Abortion: His Devastating ‘D-Day’

. . . Think about what Joe Biden said — that is, the rationale offered for his flip, and to the roaring approval of his progressive crowd: He reversed his long-held position in support of the Hyde Amendment, which long banned forced taxpayer funding of abortion, allowing for religious-conscience exemptions, so that “women of color, poor women” can have their abortions publicly paid for. He was changing specifically because of women of color and poor women. He wants to make sure money isn’t an issue to them. He wants no obstacles for them in securing their desire to abort their children. This change is prompted wholly on their behalf: “women of color, poor women.” 

Of course, if Donald Trump had staked such a position with such a cold rationale, how long would it take before liberals screamed and denounced him as a racist at the top of their collective lungs? But when it comes to abortion, the most race-focused progressive will look the other way. Look at how they’ve long looked past Margaret Sanger’s racial transgressions, from her work for the Negro Project to her May 1926 speech to the women’s chapter of the KKK in Silverlake, New Jersey.

9. NPR: LA County Paramedics Told Not To Transport Some Patients With Low Chance Of Survival

The Los Angeles County Emergency Medical Services Agency issued a directive Monday that ambulance crews should administer supplemental oxygen only to patients whose oxygen saturation levels fall below 90%.

In a separate memo from the county’s EMS Agency, paramedic crews have been told not to transfer patients who experience cardiac arrest unless spontaneous circulation can be restored on the scene.


11. Catholic News Agency: Births of babies with Down syndrome in Europe fall sharply amid increased prenatal testing

Right to Life UK, a pro-life group active in the country, has documented several instances of women being pressured to abort their children as a result of the prenatal test, with one mother reporting that she had been “offered about 15 terminations,” including when she was 38 weeks pregnant. By some estimates, nine out of ten women in the UK who receive a diagnosis of Down syndrome abort their child.


13. Lahav Harkov: Media adopts canard Israel denies vaccine to Palestinians

A Guardian article lamented in its headline: “Palestinians excluded from Israeli Covid vaccine rollout as jabs go to settlers.”

“Human rights groups accuse Israel of dodging obligations to millions in occupied territories who may wait months for vaccination,” reads the subhead.

. . .

You have to get halfway through the Guardian story before you reach the following: “Despite the delay, the [Palestinian] Authority has not officially asked for help from Israel. Coordination between the two sides halted last year after the Palestinian president cut off security ties for several months.”

In other words, the Palestinian leadership refused to even talk to Israel when the latter was ordering vaccine doses, let alone coordinate a complex rollout operation.

14. Timothy Cardinal Dolan: The radicals who defaced St. Patrick’s Cathedral are pure bigots

That cathedral, in a towering way, professes that all life matters, as we are all made in God’s image and likeness. For the religion that claims Saint Patrick’s as its mother church in these acres of the Lord’s vineyard called the Archdiocese of New York, “black lives matter” in a dramatic way.

This is more than mere lip service, as we help thousands of black and minority children leave poverty through our acclaimed inner-city schools; as we present minority women the choice of birth for their preborn babies, rather than continue the genocide of unfettered abortion; as we provide ongoing support after birth for both mother and child; as we concentrate on feeding the poor, drug-addiction recovery, assistance to those on parole and health care through our Catholic Charities and Archcare; as we bring the gift of the Sacraments and true community and sustenance to dozens of vibrant but financially struggling parishes in our most challenged areas.

15. Ramesh Ponnuru and O. Carter Snead: Ending (and Creating) a Life: It’s Not All About You

Carter Snead: If you want to create wise, just and humane policies and laws for a community and a nation of embodied beings, you have to recognize that the most essential thing is what Alasdair MacIntyre has called networks of uncalculated giving and graceful receiving, composed of persons who are willing to make the goods of others their own goods without any expectation of getting anything in return. The purest form of this ethic is the parent-child relationship. 

. . .

That’s the lens through which I look at Covid. What I end up with is something like a preferential option for the weak and vulnerable. We are most fully human when we are taking care of each other. You wear a mask because you want to take care of other people; you don’t bristle at the intrusion on your autonomy. In terms of allocating the vaccine, it means giving it to the weakest and most vulnerable and those who take care of them.

16. Robert Royal: Hope Against Hope

We are in a period of cultural decline, made all the more painful in that – unlike in the past – it has nothing to do with material or military failure. It has a great deal to do with the ways that unprecedented wealth has made us believe that we, in our superior wisdom, can simply dispense with God, nature, our great spiritual and intellectual traditions, and the wise and holy figures of the past, largely it sometimes seems because our gadgets are more numerous and work better than theirs.

This realization has a further corollary: there’s no quick fix in politics, religion, economics, etc. There are temporary victories, and we should fight for them. But if there is a fix, it’s going to be a slow one, mostly in education, a clawing back of the future in the same way that for the past century or so, a false progressivism and even outright Marxism has insinuated itself into our cultural bloodstream. It’s hard to have the patience for the “long march through institutions” that the radicals have had. But we see that it worked for them. And can for us.

17. Erika Bachiochi: The Contested Meaning of Women’s Equality

ERA advocates are right to seek better workplace accommodations for pregnant women, better treatment of working mothers, and better public support for child-raising families, among other less-savory goals. Yet however much we might like our daughters and sons to see their fundamental equality emblazoned in the text of the Constitution, strict equality will not give mothers and fathers the support they need. A more intentional and robust family policy, on the other hand, just might.

18. Adam Rowe: When American Democracy Was Worse

The angry American rube may be complicit in the frauds and hustles by which he has been duped, again and again. But there is always a breaking point. It is apt to arrive around the time when sophisticated people begin to call him paranoid.

19. Crux: With land mines gone, Mass to be celebrated at West Bank baptismal site

“It will be a very special day,” said Franciscan Father Ibrahim Faltas, chancellor of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, which cares for holy sites. “After all this time, we have come back. This gives us hope for peace. For us, this is a sign not to lose hope, not to lose hope for peace.”

20. National Catholic Register: Polish Parliament Declares 2021 the Year of Cardinal Wyszynski

“As a man of deep faith and love for the Church and the Fatherland, he sought agreement with the authorities. However, when the actions of the authorities of the Polish People’s Republic threatened the rights of the Church and the faithful, they heard the resolute ‘Non possumus!’ The Primate of Poland was imprisoned. He became a symbol of an unwavering attitude of opposition to evil,” said the resolution, dated Nov. 27 and passed by 387 votes to 48, with 16 abstentions.

21. Josh Herring: The Netflix Effect: Corrosive Storytelling and the Human Person

Aristotle calls the goal of human existence eudaimonia: the ultimate blessedness that all humans desire. He contends that the path that best leads to that blessed life is the path of virtue. In the Ethics, he argues that each individual has the responsibility to determine the course of his life through the choices he makes to live virtuously or unvirtuously. Humans, Aristotle concludes, have moral responsibility because we possess moral agency. Aristotle, as Luc Ferry shows, expresses philosophically what Homer expressed poetically. Achilles is responsible for his rage—and its consequences. Odysseus is heroic because he continues to strive for home, despite his circumstances. The ability to make choices, and take responsibility for those choices, is at the core of what it means to be a human person.

These stories stand in opposition to the Netflix Effect. The “secondary reality” of Netflix original programming celebrates either the development of a perverse desire or the tragic finitude of a protagonist without hope. To the extent that Netflix creates excellent stories that shape the way viewers perceive the world, the negative bent of its storytelling merits concern. The Netflix adaptation of The Queen’s Gambit brought Tevis’s novel to more than 62 million people who otherwise would not have experienced this story. But it did so at the cost of shifting Beth Harmon’s story from one of human triumph over her temptations to a story about her inability to transcend vice.

22. The 5 most common regrets of the dying— and what we can learn from them

In a world where it is almost impossible to lose contact with friends, thanks to the likes of social media, this regret may seem irrelevant. You can send someone a text to say you’re thinking of them, comment on their Facebook feed or Instagram photo, or chat via Messenger. But how long is it since you’ve really connected with these people in real life? How long since you’ve laughed together, cried together, eaten together or just hung out?

Real life connection is the essence of wellbeing. It is natural that some friends may fall away as your lifestyles and tastes change. New friends can come into your life through various channels like work, technology, sport, or shared interests such as book clubs or meet-up groups.

23. The Washington Post: Boosting our sense of meaning in life is an often overlooked longevity ingredient

24. The Federalist: How The Generosity Of Strangers Changed This Single Mother’s Life For The Better

Patton’s GoFundMe, which started with the goal of $4,000 to cover costs such as her car payment, a move for a new nannying job in Colorado, and to have a warm, safe place to sleep at night, began to skyrocket, with hundreds of people financially contributing to help her out.

. . .

As of Thursday, more than 600 people from all around the world, including Hong Kong and Germany, had donated to Patton and her son, totaling more than $44,000. This generosity, she said, that was unexpected and unmatched by expiring, difficult government aid programs.

25. Drive-in Mass a hit at Ottawa-area parish

The parish that serves English Catholics at the eastern edge of Ottawa near Orleans had created a space outdoors in which parishioners could feel a spiritual connection to each other. It allowed for safe outdoor Masses within sight of the Ottawa River and proved to be a very popular option. But as it got colder in-person Masses moved to the church parking lot where parishioners can now sit in their car and listen to Mass over the car radio as the weekly sermon is delivered from what some have dubbed “Fr. Gerard’s COVID Shack.”

The “COVID Shack” is a replication of an altar and was designed and constructed by parishioners and built on a wagon borrowed from a local farmer.

26. Karen Swallow Prior: The Real Problem with 4-Letter Words

Cognitive science has shown that swearing is associated with a different part of the brain than other language and can be a reaction similar to the kinds of instinctive responses animals give when distressed. This helps explain why involuntary swearing can occur with certain cognitive impairments.

Research has also shown that swearing can actually lessen physical pain, which is why it can be so easily triggered involuntarily by sudden pain or fear. Yet overusing taboo words diminishes that effect. In other words, the more we swear, the less “effective” it is.


28. The Guardian: News is bad for you— and giving up reading it will make you happier

Out of the approximately 10,000 news stories you have read in the last 12 months, name one that – because you consumed it – allowed you to make a better decision about a serious matter affecting your life, your career or your business. The point is: the consumption of news is irrelevant to you. But people find it very difficult to recognise what’s relevant. It’s much easier to recognise what’s new. The relevant versus the new is the fundamental battle of the current age. Media organisations want you to believe that news offers you some sort of a competitive advantage. Many fall for that. We get anxious when we’re cut off from the flow of news. In reality, news consumption is a competitive disadvantage. The less news you consume, the bigger the advantage you have.

. . .

Thinking requires concentration. Concentration requires uninterrupted time. News pieces are specifically engineered to interrupt you. They are like viruses that steal attention for their own purposes. News makes us shallow thinkers. But it’s worse than that. News severely affects memory. There are two types of memory. Long-range memory’s capacity is nearly infinite, but working memory is limited to a certain amount of slippery data. The path from short-term to long-term memory is a choke-point in the brain, but anything you want to understand must pass through it. If this passageway is disrupted, nothing gets through. Because news disrupts concentration, it weakens comprehension. 

29. Anthony Hopkins marks 45 years of sobriety in heartfelt video

“Forty-five years ago today, I had a wakeup call. I was headed for disaster, drinking myself to death. I’m not preachy, but I got a message,” he began in the minutelong clip. “A little thought that said, ‘Do you want to live or die?’ And I said, ‘I want to live.’”

Hopkins said that after coming to this realization, “suddenly the relief came and my life has been amazing.”

30. The Washington Post: Kid entrepreneur invented a better barrette— and gained confidence, too.