Instant Opinion: General election is an ‘unpopularity contest’

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Tuesday 10 December

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The Week’s daily round-up highlights the five best opinion pieces from across the British and international media, with excerpts from each.

1. Rachel Sylvester in The Times

on a race to the bottom

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This election is an unpopularity contest

“Mr Johnson and Mr Corbyn are politicians for whom the ends justify the means. They want power and, like Hogarth’s caricatures, they will do almost anything to get there. Whichever of them is installed in No 10, they will be faced with the reality of hard choices and competing demands. It is often said that the seeds of victory lie in defeat but at this election the seeds of defeat will lie in any victory.”

2. Alana Lentin in The Guardian

on missing the point when discussing prejudice

All the talk of racism in this election reveals how poorly we understand it

“With unprecedented attention being given to antisemitism in these elections, anti-racists have asked why there has been a dominant tendency to treat this form of racism as so much more severe than that facing black people, Muslims, Roma people, migrants and asylum seekers. Rather than understanding that all racisms, while distinct, are entangled with each other, we are encouraged to regard racisms as organised on a hierarchy of severity – one that perversely mirrors the power imbalance established by the idea of race itself. The reason why antisemitism is seen as more representative of ‘serious’ racism is precisely because it has largely been seen as belonging to a ‘more racist era’ in the past. In contrast, the fact that Facebook ruled Islamophobic posts did not violate its ‘community standards’ shows that Islamophobia has seeped so much into the everyday as to be seen as something other than racism.”

3. Emir Suljagic, former deputy defence minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina, on Al Jazeera

on the ‘otherness’ of Bosnia in Europe

Peter Handke and the power of denial

“With the decision to award Handke its prize for literature, the Nobel Committee excluded Bosniaks from the European moral universe once again; and this decision was no accident. It is indicative of a shift in the European attitude towards Bosnia and, I daresay, towards Muslims in general. The horrors that were uncovered by the trials at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia pushed into the background for a brief period some of the more virulent elements in the European political mainstream which were whitewashing war crimes. Throughout the war, these members of the European political elite continuously justified and rationalised the slaughter of the Bosniaks by presenting the genocide as an operation carried out by a ‘professional military’ against a people that does not belong in Europe.”

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4. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor in The New York Times

on the slow creep of progressive politics

Bernie Sanders’s path to victory? The multiracial working class

“Mr. Sanders has reached the typically invisible, downwardly mobile working class with his language of ‘class warfare’. He has tapped into the anger and bitterness coursing through the lives of regular people who have found it increasingly impossible to make ends meet in this grossly unequal society. Without cynicism or the typical racist explanations that blame African-Americans and Latino immigrants for their own financial hardship, Mr. Sanders blames capitalism. His demands for a redistribution of wealth from the top to the rest of society and universal, government-backed programs have resonated with the forgotten residents of the country.”

5. Former ambassador Mahmood Hasan in The Daily Star (Bangladesh)

on Aung San Suu Kyi’s ICJ appearance

Nobel peace laureate will defend genocide

“Why should she stake her position to defend the crimes committed by the military? Her international reputation has been tarnished substantially for not doing anything about the atrocities committed by the military against the Rohingyas. By leading the Myanmar team to The Hague, Suu Kyi is now openly admitting that she is a party to the decisions and the military’s genocidal actions against the Rohingyas. Strangely, after suffering incarceration for 15 years at the hands of the military and even after having strained relations with Army Chief Min Aung Hlaing, she has proved that she is a virulent defender of the military.”

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