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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. Rafael Behr in The Guardian
on Conservatives who celebrate the US president’s ascent
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Donald Trump’s Tory cheerleaders have brought lasting shame on Britain
“Some said there was a better man behind the mask, but there was no mask. The racist snarl, the bully’s sneer and the infantile pout were all his. The face of the campaign was true to the character of the candidate. The only way to see a nobler Trump was to mould one from delusion, cowardice and self-interest – plentiful resources in a government embarking on Brexit. Those who found Trump’s appeals to white nationalism a little vulgar retreated to arguments based on realpolitik. The transatlantic relationship is bigger than personalities, they said. We honour the office of president, regardless of who sits there... The problem is that Trump is a malignancy eating away at the authority of his office. He has no concept of alliances based on mutual interest. Like any despot, he demands submission, then despises as weaklings those who submit. Britain’s loyalty should be to the institutions of liberal democracy in the US and around the world that Trump attacks.”
2. Daniel Finkelstein in The Times
on the way we talk about race in the UK
Language matters when we talk about race
“The great power of the assertion that black lives matter is that it correctly argues that they haven’t mattered enough: to the police, to the justice system, to businesses. It demands that this be changed. White privilege instead makes white people the centre of attention. Then there is the political problem with it. To people, and I’m certainly one of them, who are reasonably affluent, well established and have a degree of power at work, it may be irksome to be told you are privileged. But the provocation at least has a purpose. It makes you reflect on the advantages you have and where they come from. It prevents you being carried away with the idea that all you achieve is on merit. Yet many people experience it very differently. People who are struggling to hold down a job or on modest incomes or with difficult family lives or in poor health are told that they should feel lucky to be so privileged. It’s a message often delivered to them by university students or young urban professionals.”
3. Karen Attiah in The Washington Post
on the historical parallels between two murdered black men
George Floyd has become the Emmett Till of this moment
“[George] Floyd’s violent death is a uniquely American tragedy. Like Garner, in his last moments Floyd pleaded, ‘I can’t breathe.’ It is a horrifically familiar line in America’s dark song of racism and police brutality. And yet, Floyd stands apart, his death a spark that has set the country and the world on fire — Emmett Till for a digital generation... As Floyd is laid to rest in Pearland, Tex., I worry about the protection of his gravesite. While the critics of black protest decry damage done to buildings, I cannot help but think about how white racists desecrate black graves and memorials. In Mississippi, Emmett Till’s memorial marker was shot at so many times they had to make the sign bulletproof. In America, racism doesn’t even let its black victims rest in peace.”
4. Matthew Jenkin in The Independent
on talking to children about racism
I didn’t think I had to talk to my mixed-race daughter about racism – until she hinted she wants to look white
“The Black Lives Matter movement should be a wake-up call to white families too. As the demonstrations continue around the world, I am reminded of a parent who admitted to changing the story of Rosa Parks – the American activist who played a pivotal role in the US civil rights movement of the 1950s by refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger. The mother was afraid her child would be too upset to learn that someone could be discriminated against because of their skin colour, so she rewrote the iconic moment in history. What was once a brave stand against black repression became a watered-down fight between rich and poor. When your child is unlikely to ever be the victim of racism, decisions like those are easy choices to make. But I refuse to shield my children from a painful reality they will likely face one day. The best way to protect them is to prepare them: to show them what injustice looks like and equip them with the tools they will need to stand up against it when the time comes.”
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5. Con Coughlin in The Daily Telegraph
on the pandemic’s derailment of the world’s fastest growing superpower
Coronavirus is destroying China's bid for global domination
“Until the coronavirus pandemic, China’s quiet emergence as a major force in global politics encountered little serious resistance. The desire to forge lucrative trade ties with Beijing meant Western politicians were more inclined to turn a blind eye to Chinese intransigence on issues such as Tibet, Taiwan and even Hong Kong. This approach, at least so far as most Western democracies are concerned, has changed irrevocably because of China’s role in the pandemic... With the US leading the charge to contain Beijing’s global ambitions, China may well find that its options are limited. The Chinese economy was already in trouble before the pandemic struck, and Beijing’s difficulties could deepen further if the vast loans it has made in the financial markets collapse in value. For even the CCP must now realise that it is China, and not the Western democracies, that has most to lose from the pandemic it helped to create.”
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