Patterico's Pontifications


A Cop’s Christmas (an Annual Tradition)

Filed under: General — Jack Dunphy @ 8:02 pm

Once again this year I present a column I wrote for National Review Online back in 2001. For me at Christmastime, this one still says it all, and no matter how I might try I don’t think I could top it. Merry Christmas.

A Cop’s Christmas

For reviving the spirit, there is little in life that can rival standing among a thousand people singing “Adeste Fidelis” in church on Christmas morning. And while I don’t presume to know the minds of my fellow worshipers, I feel safe in saying there was no one in church that morning whose spirit was more in need of reviving than my own, for few professions can rival mine for glimpses into the darkness that sometimes dwells in the souls of men. In the days and indeed the very hours leading up to Christmas, I waded through the anguished aftermaths of two murders, two suicides, an attempted suicide, and a variety of other lesser tragedies, the accumulated sadness of which left me reeling and in doubt as to the wisdom in my choice of careers.

To get one’s intellectual arms around the meaning of that song and the event it commemorates is a challenge even under the best of circumstances, but as I dressed for church Christmas morning I couldn’t rid my mind’s eye of those haunting images: the faces of people who, only moments before I came upon them, were calmly going about their lives unaware of the horror about to befall them, or, as with the suicides, were all too aware of it. I was tempted to go back to bed. Christmas, it seemed to me in that moment, was for the birds.

There have been many such moments in my years as a policeman, but even in the bleakest of them I’ve tried to remember that it has been the blessed combination of faith, family, and friends that has sustained me. So, albeit reluctantly, off to church I went.

I was distracted when I first arrived, looking around at all those people who hadn’t been in church since last Easter and would not be again until the next. Even as the church was filling to capacity and beyond I felt an urge to get up and go home. Then the choir began to sing “Adeste Fidelis,” and then the congregation joined in, and finally even I, falteringly at first, began to sing in praise of that Baby born in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago.

The Gospel that day was from Luke – my favorite description of the Nativity, with all its angels and shepherds and heavenly hosts. By the time the Mass ended and we had sung “Silent Night” and “Joy to the World” and a few others, the woes of the previous days had receded into a more proper perspective, one that allowed me to return to work and face the certainty that those awful images will never completely fade from memory, and that new ones just as awful surely will join them before I take off my gun and badge for the last time.

I know too many good and decent people of other faiths – or of no faith at all – to be absolutely certain that we Christians have the final word on God and salvation and the meaning of life. And I know that every civilization throughout history has had its creation myth. But I was raised to believe – and still do believe – that God sent us His only Son to be born as Man in a humble birth, to walk among us, to teach us, and finally to endure injustice, cruelty, and death before rising again, all to show that we, too, with His help, can endure injustice, cruelty, and even death.

If that’s a myth, it’s a pretty good one. I’m sticking with it.

–Jack Dunphy

Open Thread: Merry Christmas

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 3:16 pm

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.]

As a palate cleanser from the messed up story I just posted, let me say from my family (and I am sure Patterico’s family concurs), Merry Christmas, albeit a little early.

“But,” you might say, “I am Jewish/Atheist/whatever.”  Well, fair enough Christmas is a day as much as Thanksgiving or Arbor Day, and whether you believe in Jesus or not, I still want it to be a good day for you.  So here’s hoping for a day of love and togetherness, for people of all faiths (including none at all).

Meanwhile, I will be subjecting my family to my vocal abilities and plastic-guitar playing via Rock Band.  So please pray for them if you are the praying type.

And in the comments, if the spirit moves you say something nice to others, share recipes, share stories, etc.  Let’s share the love, okay?

Update: My joke about playing Rock Band made me think of this classic clip from Conan, back when he was after Jay Leno. Stay to the end to see him sing the Beastie Boys’ Sabotage, as Edith Bunker.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

A “WTF?!” Honor Killing

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 3:09 pm

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.]

It’s a familiar story with a messed up twist.  First the expected part.  A father committed an honor killing against his daughter, in Iraq.  Okay, so far, ho-hum, right?

Now, here’s the twist:

When police came hunting for a 19-year-old woman they believed had been recruited by al-Qaida to be a suicide bomber in a town north of Baghdad, they found she was already dead: Slain by her father, who told police he strangled his daughter out of shame and then cut her throat.

The killing of Shahlaa al-Anbaky, reported by police Friday, appeared to be from an unusual melding of motives — part to defend the family honor, part to prevent her from joining the militants. But how much of each weighed in her father’s mind remains unclear, with police still investigating the details.

Al-Qaida has been recruiting women for suicide attacks because they can pass police checkpoints more easily than men by concealing explosives under an abaya, a loose, black cloak that conservative Muslim women wear. Suicide bombers have been al-Qaida’s most lethal weapon in Iraq, killing hundreds of civilians and members of Iraq’s security forces.

So he killed her, because he was ashamed of her membership in…  al Qaeda?

Now think about that.  For instance, if she was going to be a suicide bomber—as the article implies—then on balance he might have saved lives.  I mean if she was bound and determined to blow herself up, then she would be dead either way—the only issue is whether she would take anyone else with her.  Of course that is assuming that she would definitely blow herself up but there you go…

And it also indicates to him that being in al Qaeda is a deep, insufferable shame in the family.  As offensive to him as apparently dating a Hindu was in the last post on honor violence.  Which is kind of a good thing, right?

So, yeah, that is a seriously “WTF?!” kind of article.

It reminds me of the story of that pregnant Nigerian woman a couple years ago who was sentenced to be stoned to death for adultery.  They figured that since her husband had been dead something like three months when she conceived, by logic she must have had sex outside of the context of marriage, and thus, was an adulterer.  And then the Nigerian Supreme Court overturned the conviction and set her free.  Which is good, but the reasoning was frakked up.  The court argued that she was not an adulterer because, according to Islam, a man’s sperm can live up to seven months in her body, so there was an irrebuttable presumption that this was her late husband’s baby.

So the Nigerian case was the case of a court doing the right thing for an f—ed up reason.  And this case is a father doing a questionable (but maybe not even wrong) thing, for a good reason.  Wrap your head around that.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

The Non-Sucky Star Wars Christmas Special

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 6:59 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.]

This is not to be confused with the horrible real Star Wars Holiday Special, but instead its some guys goofing to create various mash-ups between Star Wars and Christmas.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

Scattered Christmas-Related Idiocy

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 6:10 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.]

First in the category of moronic convergence an Islamic hate group, and the Westboro idiots, both hate Christmas blaming it for all kinds of bad things like rape, death of soldiers, homosexuality, and so on for reasons I can’t even begin to understand.  The Daily Mail covers the Islamic morons, while this is video of the Westboro idiots singing a parody of Santa Claus is Coming to Town, with the lyics, “Santa Claus Will Drag You To Hell.”  Meanwhile there are reports that the Christian Cross is being banned Bethlehem, to appease Islamic fundamentalists.  Ah, that must be the tolerance Islam is famous for.  I have long wished to visit the holy land, but I’ll probably never be able to do so, safely, in my lifetime.

But the most offensive of these stories has to be this one if only because this is a person I would expect to know better.  Published at the Huffington Post, Senator Rob Menendez writes a letter to Santa about global warming.  Yes, really:

Dear Santa Claus,

I am writing out of concern, because you may have to move from the North Pole due to the dramatic melting of Arctic sea ice. The Navy’s chief oceanographer says that by the summer of 2020 the North Pole may not have summer ice and other scientists project that an ice-free Arctic is possible as soon as 2012!

Sure, scare the kids that global warming would ruin Christmas, thus politicizing Christmas.  You know, words cannot quite capture how I feel and reading this, so let me try to express how I feel with a picture:

[deleted pic of middle finger.]

Seriously, what a jerk.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

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