Instant Opinion: ‘remember bad behaviour’ after Covid-19

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Monday 14 September

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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. Libby Purves in The Times

on an imminent day of reckoning

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We’ll remember Covid’s heroes and villains

“Tick the list, note the brands, remember bad behaviour. Like that of Sports Direct, where workers were told that stores would remain open despite the order for non-essential businesses to close for everyone’s safety. An outcry turned that round, in the same way that Britannia Hotels shuffled hastily back after being publicly outed for sending the staff at one site a letter headed ‘Services no longer required’ and ordering them to vacate their accommodation immediately. It’s that first impulse that gets remembered, though. And since a lot of callous behaviour is not actually illegal, why not check with anyone you meet — especially those on short or zero-hour contracts, or newly hired — how their employer behaved about redundancy, illness, safety and quarantine? Spot the graceless, grudging Scrooges, and support companies that treat workers with more respect in a crisis.”

2. Ann Fotheringham in The Herald Scotland

on a notorious video circulating social media

It is time to ditch livestreaming from platforms used by children

“I am a big fan of TikTok – it gives young people the chance to be hilarious and creative and clever, and my friends and I would definitely have loved it when we were daft 13-year-olds, prancing around, lipsyncing to the Fame soundtrack. But there is a huge issue surrounding what kids can stumble upon, even with restrictions and watchful parents in the background. Is it really good enough to say that the sheer volume of stuff being uploaded to sites like TikTok and Facebook makes it impossible to watch every one in advance?”

3. Norman Tebbitt in The Telegraph

on reductive protesting

The teenage activists of Extinction Rebellion should leave the climate change debate to the grownups

“I do not dismiss as fools all those who see real dangers to the human species from rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, the melting of glaciers, the dumping of plastic waste and the reckless and wasteful use of the resources of our planet. What worries me is the reluctance to see, indeed a wilful blindness, to the root cause of these problems. That is that there are simply too many of our species, crowding out our fellow creatures and consuming more of the Earth’s resources than we can replace.”

4. EJ Dionne Jr. in The Washington Post

on Trump fatigue

A realist’s case against despair

“It’s hard to remember a gloomier time in our public life. So much of the analysis we read, the news we consume and the hot takes that fly by us on social media suggest that the exits from this dreadful era are blocked. We’re led to believe that our country faces inexorable decline and that those who see the possibility of reform and redemption are deluded. We owe much of this pessimism to the presidency of Donald Trump, and not just because of his blindingly obvious failures. Unlike most incumbents in our history, he has bet his political survival on the proposition that the country is living through a dystopian nightmare that only he can dispel.”

5. Matthew Albracht in CNN

on the destruction of California’s forests

So much magnificence is gone

“While we are hardly the only people slammed by disaster on the planet, we who live here have lost so much. We will have much to figure out as we recover and move forward in this charred, complicated landscape. But for now, I am simply grieving over the enormity of what is lost. I won't lie, it's heavy. I just learned that part of my most cherished nature spot, in the Armstrong Woods State Natural Reserve, was wiped out by fire. Now it lives only in my memories. It's the latest reminder of a hard truth: The climate crisis is unyielding in its ferocity and has already irreparably injured my home state, with much more to come.”

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