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tv   WSJ at Large With Gerry Baker  FOX Business  December 26, 2020 11:00am-11:30am EST

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business 6:00 to 9:00 a.m. eastern for "mornings with maria." as we set the tone for the day. thanks for being with us this weekend. we hope you had a wonderful christmas holiday. have a happy new year and i will see you next year. ♪. gerry: welcome to the "the wall street journal" at large. this is traditionally we come together to celebrate to connect with family and friends, reflect on blessings for the past year and our hopes for the next. you don't need any reminding this is not the traditional christmas and holiday season. many families are unable to come together this year out of concerns for the health of vulnerable relatives or the lockdown rules. more people will be mourning the loss of family members and loved ones. for most of us as reflect on the
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year almost gone, it is hard to find much to celebrate or cheer. even those of us ripe in years, hard to recall a year of our lives that has been anything like 2020. the pandemic dominated our daily lives and thoughts. it is hard to know for sure exactly how many people have died from covid-19 it is clear that this has been the deadliest epidemic in half a century at least. and unlike previous pandemics the way we chose to respond to this outbreak caused unimaginable hardship with many of hundreds of thousands of businesses closed, millions of jobs lost and all most all of our lives upended, freedoms are curtailed. with this unprecedented interare up shun from our normal life the message from the political officials and health experts is dark and bleak. >> the hard days are ahead of us not behind us. we need to prepare ourselves. >> deaths are a wore riff and shutdown ever the economy are
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the real worries and they are viable worries. this is not about personality. this is not farfetched. this is something to really worry about. >> without substantial mitigation, the middle of january can be a really dark time for us. gerry: now in a country like the united states where sunny optimism has been typically the response to most challenges it is difficult to recall a year where our leaders encouraged that kind of desupon den sy. if the pandemic was not enough, this is year bitter divisions tearing the nation apart many years widened in a frightened display of ainge gore and discord. the black lives matter protests and rioting and protests following the death of a black man in police custody, didn't just expose continuing tensions in the country about issues of racial justice. for mom protesters it was
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opportunity to articulate what is modern critique on the preg sieve left that the united states is flawed nation, needs to rebute did i eight much of it is history. after an election which record breaking number of people voted which resulted resulted in almof the country feeling not disappointed with the result, many ways angry and cheated. now it is nearly 250 years the united states surely had worse years than this one. think after few, 1861, start of the civil war and the years of bloodshed that followed. 1999 that global flu pandemic killed more than half a million americans back then and much smaller population. 1933, in the middle of the great depression when unemployment hit 25%. 196, the year of war, riot and assassinations when the nation seemed literally to be tearing itself apart. the country emerged from all those crises in many way stronger. few would bet against america doing the same after this
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difficult year. what can we learn from these past national traumas that might help us understand how they shape america? how can we emerge stronger from this extremely miserable year? well this consider is mass week we'll reflect own the lessons of past crises and think more about how to deal with our continuing one. later in the show i will be speaking with a leading religious figure about the meaning of human suffering and loss. first of all how do we put 2020 in historical context? eric is a professor of the history at columbia university. he also served as president for the both the american historical association and organization of american historians. and he joins me now. thanks very much for joining me. >> i'm happy to be here. gerry: let's start with that. how does this year, we've seen terrible years in america's 250 year history, how do those years compare to those particularly terrible ones? >> you hit the highlights or lowlights of some of our previous years. the comparisons are useful.
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1968 certainly comes to mind. the country was certainly tearing itself apart not only racial injustice but the war in vietnam that led to massive demonstrations of young people, et cetera. assassinations. in other words like this year there were many lines of division in the country all at the same time. go back to 1918, 1919, the pandemic then, a century or so ago, similar but also the 1919 the year of probably the largest strike wave in american history, bitter conflicts between labor and capital. workers wanting to get back to where they had been before the war had lowered working, you know, living standards, et cetera. you can go back to 1860, the election there. here, which is a precedent in that the losing side simi
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refused to legitimacy of winner, abraham lincoln. the southern states, well, no, he didn't really win. but we're picking up our marbles and going somewhere else. they seceded and the result of course was the greatest crisis in american history, the civil war. so one can, one can find these, i think what is unique here is this absolute rejection of the results of the election by a large number of americans as you, as you mentioned in the midst of these other crises at the same time. we do seem to have this accumulation of divisions which, you know, make this for a very unstable and difficult moment. gerry: it's striking isn't it, professor, some crises bring nations together, external threats perhaps, sometimes you know, major domestic problems, bring people to unite around each other and around a
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government and some crises, you know we talked about some of them, obviously lead to civil war or crises of 1968 which was a cold civil war. some crises drive the country apart this pandemic hit the country so hard, you might have thought it would bring the country together. it doesn't seem to have done that. >> no. part of the reason is today, as often reported on the news everything has become politicized. in other words peoples response to the pandemic basically reflects whether they're a democrat or a republican. in other words they're taking the lead from the political party that they identify with. so that is why it is hard to come together because each crisis magnifies the division. people do not say let's find common ground. now it us true of course, if you look at number of the, you know, what happened after some of these crises. seems like in a lot of them what people crave is normalcy, things to quiet down. 1919 was followed by the
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election of warren g. harding on normalcy platform. 1968, the tremendous crisis there led to the election of richard nixon, law and order, et cetera. you might even say the same thing in this election, that biden ran as a candidate of just things being calmer and less divisive and in this case it was the president who was the most divisive element in the political system, constantly tweeting out denunciations of all sorts of people, things like that. there seems to be a desire of things to get back to normal after these crises. you can't assume that will always happen. the outbreak of the civil war showed that on occasion things can get so out of control it becomes impossible to put the genie back into the bottle. gerry: how do the nation, how do these crises change or shape the nation? as an historian, professor, you've seen the great crises, as
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i said, many ways the united states has emerged stronger from pretty well all of these crises. how does that how does that work? what happens beyond the crisis? how do we, how does it change the way people think about themselves and each other and their nation? >> well it is, you know, the outcome, we don't know the outcome of the pandemic. right now we seem to be heading now with the vaccinations toward, keep getting it more under control. nobody knows exactly when. but, i think, you know, i will give you the historian's answer to that, it is too soon to tell. in the past as i said very often you had a conservative turn after, sort of a chaotic year culminating in an election. it doesn't always have to be that way but i think a lot of it depends on political leadership and people really, and leaders actually trying to represent the whole country, not just the people who elected them and trying to bring some kind of a
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civic comity back into the, you know, the discourse. i don't think there is any law of nature or of politics about how that is going to happen. it will be of course this coming year very interesting to see how president biden and mcconnell and others if they decide that working together is really the way to go. if that happens i think that things will calm down considerably and these lines of division may be, you know, diminished because after all on many, many issues the country isn't quite as divided as it might appear from watching the evening news. gerry: professor, got to take a very quick break. when we come back i want to talk to you more about this year, this past year, putting it into historical context. stay with us. thanks very [ thunder rumbles ]
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♪. gerry: "time" magazine perhaps with customary short term journalistic site dubbed 2020 the worse year ever. back with me is award historian professor of history columbia university, eric perna. you study ad lot, particularly on the issue of reconstruction, the period after the civil war and obviously that resonates again today with these divisions in this country of race, racial justice and it seems you have a really significant number of people who are not just animated by the immediate question over racial justice an inequality but who actually really believe the whole foundation of this country is somehow a flawed one, that you know, that the country was founded on a, original sin if you like and that something has got to be radically done to change the country. of course you have other people on the other side of that, who think no, no, we got our problems but we still have got a great country.
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briefly, if you would, how is that level, that depth of division going to be resolved, do you think? >> it will not be easy but i think it -- the conflict over history, even though as a historian you might almost say i welcome people debating american history because it leads them to know more and more about it what our history actually is. you know, of course, it is not going to be resolved until the current divisions are resolved. the debate over history is simply a reflection of the divisions in the society right now which have been playing out in the streets in the year 2020. you know, if you asked me as historian, was the country founded with slavery as one of its bases? yes, of course. was the country founded with noble ideals of equality, of liberty? yes. the whole question of how to understand american history is to balance between those two and how we have strife strived to
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live up to the revolution but never fully succeed the doing so. the great abolitionist, frederick douglass, a an escaped slave, look, we slaves claim the principles of the declaration of independence. we are the real americans because we believe there should be liberty for everybody, not just the white people. so was frederick -- of course that wasn't the case when frederick douglass was alive. so was frederick douglass too critical of america or too optimistic or both? i think what we have to do is kind of figure out a way of thinking about our history which takes the less than appealing elements into account but on the other hand doesn't just throw out the entire experience. i think most people are mature enough to be able to hold what might seem to be complicated ideas at the same time. gerry: professor that was fascinating, thank you very much indeed. debates will go on for a long time. thank you very much for joining us. happy holidays to you. >> pleasure to talk to you.
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gerry: for many of us pandemic lockdowns dashed the dreams of going home for christmas. father gerald murray wilt give his guidance how to keep the faith during this difficult time
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the usual gifts are just not going to cut it. we have to find something else. good luck! what does that mean? we are doomed. [laughter] that's it. i figured it out! we're going to give togetherness. that sounds dumb. we're going to take all those family moments and package them. hmm. [laughing] that works.
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♪. gerry: this year americans are experiencing a christmas unlike any other. instead of warmth of gathering with family and friends there is increased isolation and loneliness spurred by pandemic lockdowns. joining me from the archdiocese of new york, pastor of holy family church of manhattan, father gerald murray. let me ask you in this particular year how much resonance has the story of christmas have? >> i think it has a lot. at christmastime the story
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starts with a pilgrimage from nazareth to bethlehem. when they got to bethlehem mary and joseph couldn't find a place to stay. hardship was at the beginning. as christ was born in bethlehem which we celebrate on christmas, we have the shepherds come, the angels announce it to them and then the animals are present. it is kind of a small microcosm of creation coming to the door of the savior but it is circumstances that you would never expect. if god is the king of the universe what is he doing in a stable among animals and humble shepherds? that is part of the paradox how god acts. it is not just through mighty and great things, but through suffers, unexpected things, if anything was unexpected it was this pandemic. gerry: this is really difficult year for many people. loss of family members. loss of livelihoods for some people, loneliness, isolation. as you talk to people and you
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say mass and say homilies at christmas what is an uplifting message you give them at the end of this year? >> well, the message is that faith conquers all. if we believe in god then we don't say, well i will only believe in him when things are going my way. we also remember christ carried his cross and we have to bear our crosses. loneliness is a hard cross to bear and i know a lot of my parishioners would love to come to church but observing covid precautions they're not coming out. we give them phone calls, or try to visit them. but the isolation that comes through the pandemic should be a time to remind us of the invisible world. god and the angels are with us. the saints pray for us. christ said, i am the same yesterday, today and forever. so he is with us. we draw strength from that. gerry: finally father, briefly if you would, this is a very
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divided country. we've been divided over politics. over issues, responses to the pandemic. seems everything that happens makes these divisions deeper. what can faith do to bring the country together? >> faith says god created auld of us therefore we have to love everyone even though we disagree with. god made us rational creatures. we should act on the basis of reason. discussing things like vaccinations or covid prevention methods. we shouldn't go to emotional, i don't like it, i don't want it. we should say what does god expect of me as a rational creature that loves my neighbor? how can i show love for my neighbor observing cautions. how can i give thanks to god we have the fact that which have vaccinations started. we should never give in to the idea, if i don't feel right about everything then i don't care about everything. even when you're unhappy, suffering we should think the good lord put me here on earth.
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he is loves me and with me. how can i make love known to others. we expand do it with isolated phone calls and skypeing, all that kind of thing but the greatest gift is pray for one another. i hope that it will be something our listeners and viewers will keep in mind. if you pray for those you love, you're doing a great thing. gerry: father gerald murray, thank you very much indeed. a very merry christmas to you. thanks for everything you do. my final thoughts for this christmas coming up next. trelegy for copd. ♪ birds flyin' high you know how i feel ♪ ♪ breeze drifting on by you know how i feel ♪ [man: coughing]
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♪ ♪ gerry: it will be a puritan sort of christmas for many of us this year stuck at how many, keeping our physical distance, absolutely no christmas carol singing by order of the authorities, and whatever you do, don't let anyone see you having fun. it's a fitting end to a year in which a puritanism has become the force that drives the progressives who control so much of our politics and our public discourse. this puritanism takes the form of an aggressive authoritarianism in government and an exclusive, vengeful mindset in our media, cultural and corporate worlds that seeks to punish those who don't publicly commit to its virtues. in blue states, the insistence on public health has resulted in rigid lockdowns that have weakened further the bonds that tie americans together. do as we say, these democratic leaders have told us, or face
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the consequences. the black lives matter movement, the protests and riots of the summer and the orgy that they unleashed reveal how far the intolerant left will do to eliminate their idea of sin. if you don't sign up to the idea that all white people are racist, that america is a fundamentallyville country, you will be shamed and canceled. just as the puritans failed in their efforts to can system christmas, so too will these modern rulers. as we reflect on a year most of us surely want to forget, we should remember this: the miracle of the christmas story has inspired people for more than 2,000 years, people who lived through much darker times even than these. however you're sell bright, we wish you and yours a very genuinely merry e and hopeful christmas. that's it for us this week. for the latest show updates, be tour essure to follow me on
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twitter, facebook if instagram, and i'll will back next week right here on "the wall street journal at large." thank you for joining us. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ jack: welcome to a potential edition of "barron's roundtable". this week we're looking ahead to how the market might surprise us in 2021 is. i'm jack cotter. so-called -- jack otter. technology investor kevin lanza joins us with more opportunities for 2021 and and beyond. then will anyone really want to get on an airplane or take a cruise next year? we've got the travel stocks poised to take off, and hater, the three stocks we think you should avoid in 2021. you don't want to m

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