When churches need protection, it’s not normal, it’s dangerous. And it’s a sign of trouble to come

The end of an old year prompts not just relief for a 2020 in the rearview mirror, and optimism for the new one ahead that has to be better, but also a chance for that last look back. Which stories lodged in the headlines, and which ones disappeared all too quickly?

As Washington prepared for an onslaught of pro-Trump demonstrations this week, organized by those who refused to accept the president’s defeat and hoped to rattle officials with a last grasp at power, I could not forget the damage from the last time supporters of President Donald Trump visited D.C., when the grounds and property of Black churches were vandalized. That drew not nearly enough outrage, or at least it seemed that way.

For his next act, Trump invited his followers to flood the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday to protest as Congress counted the state-certified electoral votes in a democratic process that is usually routine.

Equal Time: Faith and politics

The late evangelist Billy Graham, known as America’s pastor, was as world famous as the presidents who sought face time with him. But after a friendship with Richard Nixon affected that image, Graham backed away from the political spotlight. His son has chosen a different path. Mary C. Curtis speaks with the Rev. Franklin Graham.

Tidings of victimhood and ‘revenge’ for a holiday, excuse me, Christmas season

Behaving badly, in a way contrary to anyone’s idea of norms or traditions, has become a badge of honor for far too many of our nation’s leaders and citizens, for which they feel neither shame nor a need to apologize.

Do unto others? Not quite. All those questions that should give pause — “Would you want someone to call your mother that name?” “What kind of example are you setting for your child?” — don’t work.

Incivility is winning, just in time for the holiday season.

Breaking the ‘pale and male’ barrier

Former Ambassador Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley has usually been the only African American, female diplomat in the room. It’s a reflection, she tells Mary C. Curtis, of how few Black women — or women in general — are senior diplomats. Abercrombie-Winstanley makes the case for diversity in national security, talks about her role in creating the organization Leadership Council for Women in National Security and why she is hopeful that change is on the horizon.

Donald Trump, Confederates and the GOP — brethren in the new Lost Cause

You can tell a lot about people by studying their priorities.

President Donald Trump is not spending too much time worrying about coronavirus surges and more than 270,000 Americans dead, as Dr. Anthony Fauci offers warnings about being vigilant while waiting for vaccine distribution. You did not hear the president express sympathy for those waiting in long lines for food over the holidays.

Instead, he has played a lot of golf and wailed on Twitter and television, refusing to accept his loss last month to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. Oh, yes, and the Justice Department found time to amend protocols to allow firing squads and electrocutions as a means to execute as many federal prisoners as possible before a new administration takes over.

Trump is also forging ahead with his campaign promise to veto the annual National Defense Authorization Act if changes are not made. There are several items in both House and Senate versions, including on troop movement and, most recently, liability protection for social media companies, over which legislators themselves and the president are still haggling. However, a bipartisan provision that has set Trump off for quite awhile is one that would rename bases and remove symbols from military installations that honor Confederate generals and leaders. This is despite consensus not only from both parties but also from members of the

The power of Jill Biden and the women Joe Biden trusts

When Barack Obama won the presidency, many tipped a hat to Michelle Obama, his wife and partner, including Barack Obama himself. It was true in 2008 that the candidate was a smart man, a gifted orator and an exceptional politician as he broke through to become the first Black president of the United States. But he could not have done it without Michelle Obama.

That’s my take, anyway.

In North Carolina, red and blue don’t make purple

North Carolina is a political player, a battleground state visited and fought over by national candidates in both parties. And Charlotte has had challenges that mirror those of many big American cities: protests and debates over police reform and frustrations that all citizens don’t share in its economic growth and opportunity. Mary C. Curtis speaks to Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles about the election and what comes next.

Where does America go from here? ‘Too early to call’

There was no Democratic or Republican blowout. There was no final result. On Tuesday night going into Wednesday morning, America was left with a message that was far from clear — “too early to call” or “too close to call,” the cable stations said about tight races in battleground states.

What could be a better description of where we are right now?

President Donald Trump falsely declared victory before all the ballots were counted, and sent all-caps email missives to supporters asking for donations to fight the “chaos” of counting completely legal mail-in ballots: “THE DEMOCRATS WILL TRY TO STEAL THIS ELECTION! … I need YOUR HELP to ensure we have the resources to protect the results. We can’t allow the Left-wing MOB to undermine our Election.”

In the midst of a night of surprises that defied polls and pundits, you could count on Trump to remain infuriatingly true to form, reacting to the incomplete results with a promise to sic his phalanx of lawyers on the courts to challenge everything. While Vice President Mike Pence offered more calming advice to “remain vigilant” as the votes were counted, America’s president, as always, was the voice his stalwart fans chose to hear.

Compare the president’s statement to former Vice President Joe Biden, speaking in Delaware, calm as he said, “We feel good about where we are,” and in reference to the uncalled races, “It ain’t over until every vote is counted, until every ballot is counted.”

‘Republicans often racialize poverty. Democrats often run from poverty’

MacArthur “genius” grantee, founder of Repairers of the Breach, and organizer of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, Rev. William J Barber II has made eradicating poverty his life’s work. He sits down with host Mary C. Curtis for a candid and surprising conversation.

What’s in a name? Identity, pride and love. Ask Kamala Harris

Every person’s name is special. It demands respect.

I learned how seriously I felt about that at a pre-coronavirus conference, when a speaker who fancied himself Don Rickles but came off more like the rude uncle at a holiday party, prefaced his remarks with a self-styled roast. It supposedly poked “fun” at the attendees, including, apparently, those he barely knew. (And frankly, except for an occasional greeting at conferences past, I did not know this man from a can of paint.)