Best columns: The U.S.
Black despair in the age of Trump
Erin Aubry Kaplan
Los Angeles Times
In the run-up to the election, the media spent a lot of time examining the fears and anger of Trump voters, said Erin Aubry Kaplan. “Who are they, what makes them tick?” But there’s been precious little coverage of how black Americans feel about the dawning age of Trump, “so in case anybody’s listening, I’m officially angry.” Trump’s “open racism,” his sneering dismissal of Black Lives Matter protests, and the “white rage” that fueled his election have filled our communities with despair and anxiety. The gains we made under President Obama were just swept away in a single night. Having risen to national prominence by questioning the citizenship and legitimacy of America’s first black president, Trump has trafficked “in the worst kinds of stereotypes” and sent dog whistles of support to the racist alt-right and white nationalists. During this election, we watched Republican-controlled states liberated by a Republican-controlled Supreme Court deliberately try to suppress the black vote, by closing polling places and demanding photo IDs. As if taunting us, Trump invited African-Americans to vote for him, asking, “What do you have to lose?” Now we face the grim reality that “with him in office, we have everything to lose.”
Spare us the partisan ‘analysts’
CNN was right to dump Donna Brazile—and “it should keep going,” said Jack Shafer. Last week, the network fired the interim chair of the Democratic National Committee from its roster of on-camera “contributors” after hacked emails revealed Brazile had fed questions to the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign before two CNN primary debates. That naked partisanship was unforgivable, but the real problem is “the whole ecosystem of paid partisan yakkers” who now populate cable news shows. Former politicians and political consultants such as James Carville, Paul Begala, Mike Huckabee, Corey Lewandowski, and other “political hacks” are supposedly paid by networks to provide insight and the illusion of “impartiality.” The shallow, predictable punditry these paid shills provide “isn’t journalism,” since Brazile, Lewandowski, et al. remain loyal to their primary employers: the Democratic and Republican parties. “Did CNN really think that the elementary concepts of journalistic fairness would govern” Brazile’s conduct? It would make more sense for these networks to pay actual journalists to ask tough questions of party surrogates, and stop blurring the line between legitimate journalistic analysis and partisan advocacy.
Redefining ‘do no harm’
Haider Javed Warraich
The New York Times
A patient recently implored me, “If my heart stops, doctor, just let me go,” said physician Haider Javed Warraich. When I asked why, he replied, “Because there are worse states than death.” Indeed, while medical advances offer immense benefits and have extended human life, they have also “changed death into dying,” transforming terminal illness into long, anguished months or years of disability and pain. For good reason, many patients now fear prolonged hospital treatment “more than death itself.” That’s why Colorado this week joined five other states and the District of Columbia in legalizing physician-assisted suicide—even as “the group most vehemently opposed to it hasn’t budged: doctors.” Doctors’ resistance is grounded in the Hippocratic oath, which tells us to “do no harm.” But modern doctors must reassess what that means. Isn’t it harmful to subject dying patients to invasive treatments and artificial life support that cannot save them, and can only prolong their suffering? With strict safeguards in place, “assisted suicide can help give terminally ill patients a semblance of control over their lives as disease, disability, and the medical machine try to wrest it away from them.”
“If you’re like me, you may find yourself wondering why campaigns for the highest office in the land invariably play out at the lowest common denominator. Just once, I wish candidates would demonstrate that they’ve given serious thought to some of the tensions built into America’s civic culture—such as equality vs. liberty, or individual liberty vs. the common good—and are able to discuss them with more depth than bumper-sticker sloganeering. Just once, I wish candidates would place as great a premium on maintaining their personal decency as they do on achieving political victory—that they would be intent, in other words, not merely on winning, but also on deserving to win.”
Jeff Jacoby in The Boston Globe