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Michael Brendan Dougherty

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Don’t Mandate Kids in Masks

President Joe Biden visits Yorktown Elementary School in Yorktown, Va., May 3, 2021. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters) It is unjust and psychologically destabilizing to make them live as if they are in danger when they are not in danger. NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE I ’ve searched in vain for a reasonable explanation for the recommendation to mask children going back to school this fall. I suspect there is none. One theoretical justification for continuing to mask children is the belief that someday, probably, there will be a juvenile vaccine against COVID-19, and therefore children could be safer than they are now. So let’s just keep doing this until then. What’s the big deal? But this is to judge the risk to children on a relative scale that is hypothetical and self-referential, rather than honestly connecting their risk to the facts of the real world. It ignores …

When to Trust the Science

Passengers board a Delta Airlines plane at the Salt Lake City International Airport in 2012. (George Frey/Reuters) It has become common to try to enhance the reputation of scientists by calling things ‘science’ that are just nature. NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE P aul Graham is a brilliant investor in new technology companies — or as I think they should be called, “JavaScript businesses.” But he said something the other day that betrays a fundamental misunderstanding about how our world works, one that is surprisingly common among educated people: If you think you don’t trust scientists, you’re mistaken. You trust scientists in a million different ways every time you step on a plane, or for that matter turn on your tap or open a can of beans. The fact that you’re unaware of this doesn’t mean it’s not so. — Paul Graham (@paulg) July 26, …

The Expanding Frontier of Tyranny

Kodak screen in Times Square in 2012. (Eduardo Munoz/Reuters) Kodak bends the knee for the Chinese Communist Party, whose influence now stretches into America through our own storied companies. NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE D ammit, another one. This time Eastman Kodak, makers of film and other gear for photography. Another what? Another American company that has decided to treat the hysterical screaming of the Chinese Communist Party as if it were the wailing of an innocent child — a child whose wound it has sought to heal. Recently, Kodak’s Instagram account featured work from a forthcoming collection, Dust, by Patrick Wack, a Parisian photographer who has been working in western China and now resides in Berlin. Wack has been photographing the changing life of western China for the better half of a decade. His photographs …

The Government’s License to Lie

President Joe Biden after giving remarks on the administration’s coronavirus response at the White House, July 6, 2021. (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters) The White House and Senate need to stop worrying about what people are sharing on Facebook and instead focus on winning back public trust. NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE L ast week, President Biden said Facebook was “killing people” because it hosted misinformation. He later backed off the comment, but the White House has been consistently putting pressure on social networks to deplatform people who, they believe, are getting in the way of their vaccination goals. Yesterday, Senators Amy Klobuchar and Ben Ray Luján introduced the Health Misinformation Act, which would open Facebook and other social-media networks to lawsuits if they host or use their algorithms to boost and spread health misinformation. “The coronavirus pandemic has shown us how lethal misinformation can be, and it is our responsibility to take action,” …

How to Reach the Vaccine Skeptics: A Booster Shot of Ideas

A nurse prepares a dose of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine at the Bathgate Post Office vaccination facility in Bronx, N.Y., January 10, 2021. (Kevin Hagen/Reuters Pool) A response to the complaints about my column on how to deal with COVID-vaccine hesitancy NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE W ell, I had a strange feeling that a great deal of grief would come from writing an article in which I acknowledged that vaccine skeptics include people who are reasoning about their health in good faith. And it did. I want to answer just a few of the most common objections to the piece. Objection 1: The real problem is misinformation — we should be going after Tucker Carlson or Facebook, not henpecking public-health advocates. My ideas were aimed at people who I think, at this point, are basically wasting the public’s money or their own time on counterproductive messaging. And, I’ll be honest, …

Pope Francis Takes Aim at the Latin Mass — and His Own Faithful

Pope Francis celebrates the Mass of Saint Peter and Paul at the Vatican, June 29, 2021. (Remo Casilli/Reuters) This may be the most significant act of Francis’s pontificate; and it’s nothing more than bullying iconoclasm. NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE L ast week, Pope Francis completely reversed the policy of his living predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, when it comes to the traditional Latin Mass. And he did it without warning his bishops, and while showily exhibiting his personal animosities and neuroses. One friend, commiserating with me, tried to make sense of what was happening in the Church. He wrote to me: “Some boomers got mad about Twitter and decided to abolish the Mass of the Ages. Extraordinary.” Here’s the background. In 2007, Benedict declared that the liturgy as it had existed before the Second Vatican Council was sacred and good for Catholics …

Convincing the Skeptics

Walmart pharmacist Carmine Pascarella administers a Moderna coronavirus vaccine to Jeff Stone inside a Walmart department store in West Haven, Conn., February 17, 2021. (Mike Segar/Reuters) Vaccine resisters can’t be persuaded if they feel disrespected. NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE T here’s no doubt that vaccination rates have hit a wall of skepticism: 48.5 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, and 56.1 percent have had at least one dose of the vaccine. This is consistent with opinion surveys earlier this year showing roughly 40 percent of the public as wary or skeptical about the vaccines. A wave of outreach has begun to get vaccination rates up further, especially in light of the spread of the Delta variant. Some states have tried lotteries, in which people who get vaccinated are entered to win a substantial sum of money. Others are trying …

The American Nation

The “American Flag of Faces” display at Ellis Island. (Carol Highsmith/Library of Congress) The fact that we have no dominant common ancestors is not an impediment to becoming a people. NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE T here’s a certain type of intellect that rebels at the idea of nations and nationalism. George Orwell comes to mind. For rather understandable reasons — like being on the side of the communists in the Spanish Civil War, and then watching Hitler march all over Europe — he hated nationalism and wrote very witheringly of what it did to the minds of nationalists. He viewed figures such as G. K. Chesterton as those who “transferred” their nationalism onto a nation not their own, which caused Chesterton to say things about France that he could never quite bring himself to say …

Afghanistan: Twenty Years Is Enough

U.S. Army paratroopers assigned to Second Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, First Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, in Nangahar Province, Afghanistan, in 2017. (Corporal Matthew DeVirgilio/US Army) America cannot babysit a society into a form of government we find admirable. NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE T he mission in Afghanistan when the United States invaded 20 years ago was to destroy al-Qaeda’s operations, get Osama bin Laden, and punish the Taliban for hosting terrorists who attacked us. We accomplished these missions years ago. In the time since killing Osama bin Laden, the people of the United States have elected two successive presidents who vowed to wind down the war in Afghanistan. That is actually the best reason to leave. The War on Terror was, at one point, temporarily transmuted into a mission of global democratic revolution. But America’s democratic people have expressed themselves over and over again. According to …

Critical Race Theory as Metaphysics

(gpointstudio/Getty Images) It might be time to admit that education is an induction into a metaphysical and moral worldview. NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE T he balance of opposition to critical race theory in schools is not led by people who have an alternative comprehensive vision of education and schooling. It’s led primarily by people who, inchoately and inconsistently, believe in John Dewey’s vision for public schooling as an institution meant to mutually assimilate diverse children to each other, and to provide a civic and social touchstone. They want school to give their kids a few critical skills, extracurriculars to support the development of character, to prepare the brightest pupils for college, to give all students a basic familiarity with each other, and to inculcate …

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