The Week’s daily round-up highlights the five best opinion pieces from across the British and international media, with excerpts from each.
1. Emma Brockes in The Guardian
on “suckers” and “losers”
Nothing sticks to Donald Trump. But could this be an exception?
“‘Nothing sticks’ has become the received wisdom about Trump, but amid the fallout from The Atlantic story last week, there were indications this might be an exception. On social media, people reported Trump-loving relatives and neighbours, many of them veterans, being given pause about the president for the first time. Trump himself seemed rattled, so much so that he sent out Melania to speak up for him – the Atlantic story ‘is not true’, she tweeted, and called it ‘activism, not journalism’ – a rare intervention by the first lady. And there was mild disturbance in the polls. Trump should, last week, have received a boost from the Republican nominating convention, and all his ‘law and order’ rhetoric around social unrest in Kenosha and Portland. Instead, he remained behind in every swing-state poll.”
2. Allister Heath in The Telegraph
on straining the British social fabric
Britain’s second lockdown will be even more terrible than the first
“Britain’s brief period of semi-freedom has ended, and with it any hope of a return to cultural, social or economic normality. We were out on parole, it turns out, and with a second wave of the virus seemingly starting to break, our liberties are being revoked. The heady days of August, with their subsidised meals and makeshift staycations, were as good as it got – a passing, delusional moment. We are entering another period of oppressive social control that could last until spring, a partial Lockdown Mark II which starts with the six-person limit on gatherings. It may be that the Government will keep the virus under control through luck (if we are closer than thought to herd immunity) or skill (the authorities have greater information thanks to testing, and better tools than they had in March). But if measured cases surge enough, as they have in France, Spain and Israel, and if the number of hospitalisations begins to rise, as they have in places such as Marseille, panic will set in across officialdom.”
3. Aly Kassam-Remtulla in Al Jazeera
on the surfacing of an ugly trend
Sinophobia, the new Islamophobia
“Just as September 11 prompted a resurgence of Islamophobia, the pandemic has catalysed a new wave of Sinophobia. Historians have chronicled American Sinophobia dating back to the 1850s and its government sanction in numerous laws including the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act. While much has rightly been made of US President Donald Trump’s jingoistic emphasis on the origin of the coronavirus and the tepid response of the Justice Department to anti-Asian violence, focusing solely on these actors detracts from an uncomfortable truth. Millions of liberals and conservatives across the country – consciously or unconsciously – harbour anti-Chinese sentiments. They view those of Chinese ancestry and other Asian Americans, as competent and hard-working but also cunning, unidimensional and clannish. After all, if the virus had originated in Sweden, would we be seeing the same kinds of attacks on Scandinavian Americans?”
4. Nick Tyrone in The Spectator
on ‘limited and specific’ diplomacy
Why is the UK breaking international law now?
“If it turns out our reputation for upholding international rules isn’t actually important, why did we bother to go through with the pain of the last four years? If international law was of no concern, we could have defaulted on payments to the EU, we could have ignored Freedom of Movement and opened and closed our border at will. We could have done what we liked as a nation state and dared the EU to throw us out. This would have been win-win from a Eurosceptic perspective – either we get to stay in the EU with all of the benefits and none of the supposed downsides, or they kick us out and Brexit happens by default. Put another way: why didn’t we try having our cake and eating it too?”
5. Mathew Nicholson in The National
on an aggrieved archipelago
The key to Shetland’s autonomy debate, and no it’s not about independence
“If Shetlanders feel the tide of centralisation and budget cuts continue unabated, support for autonomy will surely grow. But if the Government makes real efforts to meet the Council’s concerns, including the long-running matter of internal ferry funding, some councillors may conclude this goes far enough towards resolving Shetland’s grievances. That one of Scotland’s peripheral Councils has emphatically rejected centralising policies by the Scottish Government certainly puts the SNP in an awkward position. It may even undermine the SNP’s moral case for independence. But the decision to explore self-determination is not fundamentally linked to the question of Scottish independence and should instead be understood as a manifestation of Shetland’s desire for greater local control on its own terms, in whichever form this ultimately takes.”
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