The World and Everything in It - January 21, 2022
On Culture Friday, why we’ll still need a March for Life even if Roe v. Wade is overturned; the latest Star Wars streaming series, The Book of Boba Fett; and on Word Play, how the COVID-19 vaccine has changed our vocabulary. Plus: the Friday morning news.
MYRNA BROWN, REPORTER: Good morning!
Today is the annual March for Life in Washington and we’ll talk about what may be the last one with Roe versus Wade still in effect.
NICK EICHER, HOST: John Stonestreet joins us today on on Culture Friday.
Plus the latest chapter in the Star Wars saga.
And English language mutations. George Grant will examine a few of the latest variants, hint-hint, on his January Word Play.
BROWN: It’s Friday, January 21st. 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: News is next. Here’s Kent Covington.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Blinken to meet with Russian counterpart as diplomatic hopes dim » Secretary of State Tony Blinken is set to meet with his Russian counterpart today in Geneva. It’s another effort to diplomatically dissuade Russia from invading Ukraine, but no one appears to be holding out much hope that the effort will succeed.
On Thursday, Blinken flatly refuted Moscow’s claims that it is Ukraine, not Russia, that is displaying aggression.
BLINKEN: Whose troops are surrounding whom? Which country has claimed another’s territory through force? Which military is many times the size of the other? Which country has nuclear weapons? Ukraine isn’t the aggressor here.
One day earlier, President Biden was heavily criticized for saying a “minor incursion” by Russia would elicit a lesser response.
But on Thursday, he sought to clarify his remarks, renewing his warning to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
BIDEN: He has no misunderstanding. If any assembled Russian units move across the Ukrainian border, that is an invasion. And it will be met with severe and coordinated economic response.
Biden said “if Putin makes this choice, Russia will pay a heavy price.”
The Treasury Department on Thursday levied new sanctions against four Ukrainian officials, including two current members of parliament. The U.S. government says those officials are part of a Russian influence effort to set the pretext for a Russian invasion.
Russia plans massive naval drills as it war games with China, Iran » Russia, China, and Iran are now conducting joint naval drills and Moscow is planning massive drills on its own around the globe. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin reports.
KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Russia announced it will conduct large-scale maneuvers involving the bulk of its naval fleet.
The Defense Ministry said the exercise will involve over 140 warships and more than 60 aircraft. The drills will take place at several points around the world, including the Mediterranean, northeastern Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean.
Russian warships are also taking part in war games with China and Iran in the Gulf of Oman. It is the third joint exercise between the three U.S. adversaries.
A U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer sailed around islands in the South China Sea this week to challenge Chinese claims that those waters belong to China.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.
White House: Biden was not casting doubt on legitimacy of 2022 election » The White House says President Biden in his Wednesday remarks was not casting doubt on the legitimacy of the midterm elections.
Democrats have accused Republicans of trying to suppress voter rights with recent legislation at the state level. But Democrats' effort to pass a major overhaul of voting laws nationwide appears to have stalled.
With that in mind, a White House reporter asked the president if he believes the results of the upcoming midterm elections will be legitimate.
BIDEN: Well it all depends on whether or not we’re able to make the case to the American people that some of this is being set up to try to alter the outcome of the election.
He went on to say that—quote—“the increase in the prospect of being illegitimate is in direct proportion to us not being able to get these, these reforms passed."
On Thursday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told Fox News…
PSAKI: The point he was making was that as recently as 2020, as we know, the former president was working with local officials to overturn the vote count and not have ballots counted.
She claimed President Biden was only saying that we must be on guard against any potential effort to subvert election results and that he “was not casting doubt on the legitimacy of the 2022 election.”
NCAA changes transgender athletes policy » The NCAA is making changes to its transgender athlete policy. WORLD’s Josh Schumacher has more.
JOSH SCHUMACHER, REPORTER: College athletes previously only had to be taking hormone therapy to compete with students of the opposite sex. But the NCAA now says transgender participation will be decided on a sport-by-sport basis by each sport’s national governing body.
Transgender athletes will need to document testosterone levels in compliance with their specific sport four weeks before the selection of championship participants. The change will begin with this year’s winter championships.
University of Pennsylvania transgender swimmer Lia Thomas, who is biologically male, was on the men’s team for three years. But this season, Thomas competed with the women’s team and broke several records. That ignited growing calls for the NCAA to change its rules.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Josh Schumacher.
U.S. researchers test another pig-to-human transplant » Surgeons have transplanted another genetically modified pig organ into a human being.
This time around, surgeons implanted a pig’s kidneys into a man in Alabama.
Dr. Jayme Locke is the director of the Transplantation Division at University of Alabama at Birmingham.
LOCKE: The recipient in this case was a gentleman who had suffered a traumatic injury, brain injury, and had ultimately been declared brain-dead. And his family was approached about the possibility of having him serve as an organ donor, both for the purposes of translation and research.
Researchers considered it a rehearsal for an operation they hope to try in more patients, possibly later this year.
Twice this fall, surgeons at New York University temporarily attached a pig’s kidney to blood vessels outside the body of a deceased recipient to watch them work. And earlier this month, surgeons in Maryland gave a dying man a heart from a gene-edited pig that so far is keeping him alive.
I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: the future of the March for Live.
Plus, the explosive growth of variants in the English language.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: It’s Friday, January 21st, 2022.
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. Well, it’s Culture Friday. Time now to welcome John Stonestreet. He’s the president of the Colson Center and host of the Breakpoint podcast. Morning, John.
JOHN STONESTREET, GUEST: Good morning.
EICHER: Today is the 49th March for Life in Washington. Here’s the march organizer Jeannie Mancini on the expected turnout today. Audio here from EWTN television.
MANCINI: And we do anticipate things being quote unquote 'back to normal', but I would say maybe even bigger than normal because it's such a banner year for our issue and the grassroots are so motivated so we anticipate record turnout.
So there’s a special sense of anticipation that this may be the last March for Life with the Roe versus Wade Supreme Court decision still in effect, what are your thoughts about that on this day?
STONESTREET: Well, a million things. Number one is I'm just grateful for all the people who show up year after year after year. And how important this event is. I'm grateful for the organizers. I'm grateful for what this thing has meant for so, so long, it has weathered an emotional roller coaster, since Roe v. Wade came into effect, I can think of just the very first march that I attended. And, you know, it was kind of a, you know, stiff upper lip or, you know, we're in this for the long run. And then, you know, it was coming near the end of the Obama administration, many people fully expecting that the Democrats were very likely going to hold the White House, that this was going to be instrumental in terms of the long term direction of the Supreme Court. I think there was a walloping snowstorm headed to Washington DC, three to two feet of snow, many people got stuck. And it just the, the emotion of that year was not was not good. It was it kind of seemed defeatist, not in a bad way. I mean, you know, people who show up for the March for Life aren't quitters. But it just seemed like, okay, we're recalibrating for the long haul. And then, of course the the emphasis on the March for Life has been completely different up until the virtual one last year. And here we are, not only with the Supreme Court wondering what they're going to do, but with a live case in their hand that could gut Roe v. Wade, and oral arguments from that Supreme Court, which seemed to indicate they were leaning in that direction. This could be the last March for Life with Roe v. Wade. It will not be the last March for Life. And that is because of a number of things, primarily because if Roe v Wade is handled by the Supreme Court, then the pro life movement becomes even more localized than it has been. It's a wonderful milestone to celebrate, if Roe v Wade is gutted or goes away. But it's not the end of the movement. It's the beginning or a new beginning of the movement and a new beginning for all of us that are really committed to seeing preborn life protected.
EICHER: John, I want to follow up on the notion that this is not going to be the last March for Life. Why is it so self-evident to you that there will be a March next year in DC if Roe vs. Wade is overturned because the March for Life is really kind of focused on the Supreme Court, it ends at the Supreme Court, they're there to protest Roe versus Wade? What would be the point if the issue’s all going to be atomized into different state capitals? Why should there be a March for Life in Washington?
STONESTREET: Well, I think because Roe v. Wade is a chapter in the defense of life and ending Roe v. Wade is a chapter but it's not, not the whole story. And at the very least, we should have a March for Life, if Roe is overturned, to have a big party at the Supreme Court, you know for it, and what a great time to do it. Maybe we should do that. But of course, we know that last weekend and I think next weekend, in cities and states, all across America, there will be local versions of that March for Life. And what we'll have if the Supreme Court goes in the direction that many of us think is states now either becoming radical in their abortion laws, or war prohibiting abortion, I mean, in other words, if you're not going to have much middle ground state by state by state, you're going to have you know, kind of the the abortion is healthcare. Great. Let's light the buildings up in pink and ‘high five’ each other law like the lawmakers in New York did. You're going to have California be a quote unquote sanctuary city, you're going to have abortion tourism from one state to the next, and certain places and then you're going to have the requirement in states like Missouri, Kentucky, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, that women who find themselves in unexpected or crisis pregnancies are going to need care and help. So our ability, our willingness to serve these people, is going to be absolutely essential. Otherwise, we're gonna lose the culture on the issue. And that's really been the storyline of the last several years is that in many ways, this isn't about a legal victory. It's about a cultural victory, resulting in a legal victory. And of course, I mean, look, abortion is going to go more and more unnoticed. Chemical abortion is already one of the primary ways that women get an abortion, it's something that is increasingly becoming unaccountable to any source whatsoever, any authority, any medical professional - that's going to be something that the pro life movement is going to have to address.
BROWN: John, I want to stay on this for a second, but look at it from another perspective. We’re still hearing from listeners, as well as WORLD Watch viewers who were just as inspired as we were on Monday—the King holiday—by the stories my aunt and uncle told about their fight for equality during the civil rights era.
This year’s March for Life theme is “equality begins in the womb.” Here’s March organizer, Jeannie Mancini again.
MANCINI: We want to expand this debate - this rigorous debate - about equality to include unborn children who are often overlooked because they cannot speak for themselves.
John, Mancini went on to point out that 3 out of 10 abortions are of black babies, when blacks make up about 12 percent of the population.
I’ve heard that statistic before, but do you think those numbers will make a difference this time around?
STONESTREET: Oh, yeah, I think they always have made a difference. I, I think that oftentimes the narrative is that all these progressive causes go together. And all these groups get along. I mean, we know that there's incredible conflict, for example, between the various groups represented by the letters of the ever-growing LGBTQIA acronym, particularly between the T’s and the L’s. I don't think when it comes to this sexual revolution, that entire population groups that are considered ethnic minorities are suddenly on board because they're grouped together by a political activist. There has been no greater example of white supremacy in American culture over the last 30 years than a primarily white, progressive sexual revolution ideology pushing abortion on a minority population. It goes back to the very early days of Planned Parenthood. It was inherent in how Margaret Sanger thought she could either eliminate or help the black population depending on which one of her writings you actually read of hers. And the narrative you hear from Planned Parenthood isn't always the narrative that matches history on that. There's been no greater threat to the African American population in America than abortion. The abortion movement was built on a racialized understanding of eugenics and that legacy hasn't gone anywhere. I'm not saying that every person who works for a Planned Parenthood is a racist, but there's no greater example of systemic racism in America than Planned Parenthood. And so these numbers have to continue to come out.
BROWN: John Stonestreet is president of the Colson Center and host of the Breakpoint podcast. Thanks, John.
STONESTREET: Thank you both.
NICK EICHER, HOST: The Missouri State Highway Patrol on Tuesday sent cellphones blaring statewide with an urgent alert.
Authorities in Gotham City, Missouri, were searching for a purple and green 1978 Dodge 3700GT.
And the suspect?
AUDIO: You can call me Joker.
Mmm-kay, Joker. Well, joke’s evidently on the highway patrol. There is no Gotham City in the state of Missouri.
Shortly after that message went out, the patrol sent another message saying to disregard the alert.
Authorities later explained that it was a routine test of the state’s Blue Alert system they mistakenly transmitted to the public.
So, you can relax. The Joker is not on the loose in Missouri. No Jack Nicholson, no 1989 Batman movie, not unless you’re planning to stream it on Amazon Prime or something.
It’s The World and Everything in It.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Today is Friday, January 21st. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day.
Good morning. I’m Myrna Brown.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: Star Wars!
More than 40 years after the first installment of the epic space drama hit theaters, fans still can’t get enough. The films told the sweeping story of a galactic battle between good and evil. The new stories are more personal, following characters as they navigate the fallout from massive political upheaval.
BROWN: The latest installment, streaming now on Disney Plus, tells a tale fans have been waiting for from the beginning. Here’s reviewer Collin Garbarino.
[Music - Book of Boba Fett Theme]
COLLIN GARBARINO, REVIEWER: I still remember the day my mother gave me my first Star Wars action figures—Luke Skywalker and Boba Fett. Four-year-old me thought Luke was nice. But that Boba Fett toy was just about the coolest thing I had ever seen.
I wasn’t the only one who thought so. Boba Fett, who cut a striking figure in his Mandalorian armor, became one of the Star Wars franchise’s most popular characters despite his relatively small role in the original trilogy. Darth Vader hired the mysterious bounty hunter to find Luke Skywalker, and Jabba the Hutt hired him to capture Han Solo.
Boba only had four short lines in the original trilogy—all of them concerned with the bounty on Han Solo.
Boba Fett: He’s no good to me dead.
George Lucas filled in some of the laconic bounty hunter’s backstory in his prequel trilogy and Clone Wars series. But Return of the Jedi left Boba Fett in the Pit of Carkoon to be digested in the belly of the almighty Sarlacc for a thousand years.
When Disney bought Star Wars from Lucas in 2012, it decided such a popular character was no good to them dead. So Boba Fett is back in his own series on Disney+, The Book of Boba Fett.
Fennec Shand: Who are you?
Boba Fett: I am Boba Fett.
Fennec Shand: Boba is dead.
Boba Fett: I was.
Showrunner Jon Favreau—responsible for many popular movies including Elf and Iron Man—is the guy we can thank for Boba Fett’s return to the land of the living. Disney’s feature films set in the Star Wars universe disappointed longtime fans, but in 2019 Favreau restored some of the franchise’s shine with his dusty space western The Mandalorian. That series followed the adventures of a different Mandalorian bounty hunter, and it proved to be such a hit that Disney allowed Favreau to create this spin-off series with a resurrected Boba Fett, who’s trying to find his place in the universe.
Boba Fett: I am not a bounty hunter.
Mok Shaiz: Is that so? I’ve heard otherwise.
Actor Temuera Morrison, who played Jango Fett in the prequels and Boba in The Mandalorian, dons the bounty hunter armor in The Book of Boba Fett. He’s joined by Ming-Na Wen, who plays Boba’s sidekick, Master Assassin Fennec Shand. In this series, we see Boba and Fennec try to fill the power vacuum left by the death of crime lord Jabba the Hutt. The duo attempt to install Boba as the ruler of the desert planet Tatooine, but they quickly learn that running a crime family is harder than hunting bounties.
Fennec Shand: If you had spoken such insolence to Jabba, he’d have fed you to his menagerie.
This series follows the tone and aesthetic of Favreau’s Mandalorian—dusty, gritty, a bit melancholy. If you enjoyed that series, you’ll enjoy this one too. But because it feels so familiar, The Book of Boba Fett doesn’t elicit quite the same thrill as the earlier series, and some episodes feel slower than necessary.
Part of that slowness comes from extended flashbacks explaining how Boba escaped the belly of the Sarlacc and how he recovered from his wounds, both physically and emotionally. To be honest, these scenes don’t interest me much. They feel like more of Disney’s recent trend toward rehabilitating classic villains like Maleficent and Cruella de Vil. I’m much more interested in the scenes in which Boba and Fennec try to bring order to a lawless planet.
Boba Fett: Where does that leave us now?
8D8: Everyone is waiting to see what kind of leader you are.
Boba styles himself as Tatooine’s new “daimyo,” but he’s one crime lord among many hoping to force the others into submission. We get a glimpse of politics at work in a context devoid of legitimate government. Criminal families, bureaucrats, and local business owners all must negotiate a 'new normal' to restore some semblance of order. The question is, “Who will find themselves atop that new order, and how will they achieve it?”
Boba Fett: Jabba ruled with fear. I intend to rule with respect.
Fennec Shand: If I may…
Boba Fett: Speak freely.
Fennec Shand: In difficult times, fear is a surer bet.
The conflict over who will rule the unruly planet of Tatooine reminds me of something said by Augustine of Hippo. Augustine was a Christian theologian of the early church, who lived during the last days of the Roman Empire. In his book City of God, Augustine said that without justice, a city’s government isn’t much different from a criminal gang.
Boba might be a crime lord, but he’s trying to bring law and order for the benefit of his people. He’s a man of violence, but the goal of his violence is peace, rather than exploitation. Throughout the series we see an unlikely hero promoting justice in a land that doesn’t understand the concept. That sense of justice gives us the feeling that Boba’s bid for power possesses a legitimacy the others don’t have.
We’ll have to see if his desire to rule through respect proves more powerful than his enemy’s desire to rule through fear.
[Music - Book of Boba Fett Theme]
I’m Collin Garbarino.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Today is Friday, January 21st. 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. Here’s George Grant with this month’s enormously playful Word Play. Just the vax, ma’am!
GEORGE GRANT, COMMENTATOR: Whether you are vaxxed or unvaxxed, jabbed or boosted, halfcinated or fullcinated; whether you are a vaxcinista or an anti-vaxxer, half-vaxxed or double-vaxxed; whether you have vaccine-hesitancy or vaccine-ardency; whether you hold to vaxxodoxy or to vaxrilege, by now you undoubtedly know that the language relating to vaccines and vaccinations has permeated all our lives over the course of the year just past. Dictionary editors, lexicographers, grammarians, writers, and wordsmiths rarely have the opportunity to witness a single topic so dramatically reshape our language and become such a prominent feature of our everyday vocabulary—but in 2021 the rollout of the COVID inoculation along with all its attendant political, economic, cultural, and theological controversies, did just that. It should come as no surprise then that, “vax” has been named the “Word of the Year” by both Oxford University Press and Merriam-Webster.
Of course, vax is not a new word. It is a colloquialism shortened from either vaccine or vaccination as a noun and vaccinate as a verb. It passed into the English language from the Latin at the end of the 18th century to describe the pioneering work of Edward Jennner to develop an immunization treatment for smallpox. In imperial Rome the adjective vaccīnus literally meant, derived from a vacca, or cow. Jenner borrowed the Latin expression variolae vaccinae to describe his experimental treatment. Neologisms began to proliferate almost immediately to describe skeptics of the inoculation protocols: anti-vaccinists, anti-vaccinators, and anti-vax all made their appearance early in the 19th century. In an 1812 letter, Jenner himself acknowledged, “The Anti-Vacks are assailing me … with all the force they can muster in the newspapers.”
The more things change the more they stay the same. Our dissonant public discourse over vaccine passports and vaccine mandates, vaccine trials and vaccine rollouts, vaccine efficacy and vaccine conspiracy has proven to be a boon to creative nomenclature.
When celebrities and social media influencers began posting selfies while getting their shots, the photos were quickly redubbed vaxxies. Post-jab travel came to be known as vaxx-i-cations while post-inoculation side-effects became vaxxidents. Anti-vaxxers were derisively labeled spreadnecks and covidiots while proponents were called vaxxionados and the innoculati. The uncanny ability to discern or intuit who might be vaxx-compliant as opposed to those who might be vaxx-resistant has been described as vaxxdar. And the jab itself has been humorously rechristened the Fauci-ouchie.
The Scots literary critic and classicist, Gilbert Highet reminds us, “Language is a living thing. We can feel it changing. Parts of it become old: they drop off and are forgotten. New pieces bud out, spread into leaves, and become big branches, proliferating.” If we didn’t know that before, we most assuredly do now.
I’m George Grant.
NICK EICHER, HOST: The inoculati! I love that!
Time now to thank the team that put together this week’s programs:
Mary Reichard, Kent Covington, David Bahnsen, Katie Gaultney, Anna Johansen Brown, Josh Schumacher, Steve West, Kim Henderson, Onize Ohikere, Caleb Bailey, Janie B. Cheaney, Cal Thomas, John Stonestreet, Collin Garbarino, and our inimitable logophile George Grant.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Carl Peetz and Johnny Franklin are the audio engineers who stay up late to get the program to you early! Leigh Jones is managing editor, and Paul Butler is our executive producer.
The Bible says, Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
I hope you’ll worship with your brothers and sisters in Christ this weekend.
Lord willing, we’ll meet you back here on Monday.
Go now in grace and peace!
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.