The best man for the job of US president is currently a woman
Opinion Digest: time for a female US president, the right to offend online and why history needs facts
EVERY weekday morning from The Week online - a daily wrap-up of the best comment and opinion articles from the morning papers and the top political bloggers. If you think we've missed a good one, please let us know. Contact us via Twitter @TheWeekUK.
A FEMALE US PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE WOULD WIN
LOUISE MENSCH ON US POLITICS
In the run up to the US elections it seems Barack Obama is only ahead because Mitt Romney's gaffes are bigger, says Louise Mensch in The Times. Whichever party you favour, "the best man for the job is presently a woman". Obama has done America and the world a huge service far beyond the lacklustre achievements of his presidency. As an African-American, he has proved that racism is no longer a barrier to the ultimate in American achievement. "Now it is time to prove that sexism has similarly lost its power." Sarah Palin gave John McCain a huge boost in his 2008 campaign because America's women were ready, willing and eager to vote for a woman. A better candidate could easily have bested Obama. Now the likes of Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton outshine their nominees. "The first party to nominate a woman in 2016 wins."
WE MUST BE FREE TO OFFEND ON SOCIAL MEDIA
MUNIRA MIRZA ON FREEDOM OF SPEECH ONLINE
As prosecutors consider new guidelines on abusive tweeting, we have to act to protect freedom of speech, says London Deputy Mayor of Education and Culture Munira Mirza in the London Evening Standard. Until recently, optimists believed that social media would promote free expression. "With millions of messages texted, tweeted and emailed every day, we could reasonably expect the state to intervene only to prevent the gravest of transgressions" – incitements to violence or terrorism. "That is how it should be in a mature democracy." Perversely, the opposite has happened. Hardly a month goes by without the arrest and even imprisonment of people who have expressed views deemed offensive to the majority in tweets or YouTube recordings. Even a bad joke can end in prosecution. But a free society has many ways of shaming or ignoring offenders. We don't need courts and authorities "to cover our ears as if we were children".
FANTASY HISTORY IS FUN BUT DANGEROUS
SIMON JENKINS ON HISTORICAL MYTHS
The recent discovery of a papyrus fragment suggesting Jesus had a wife is certainly a good story, says Simon Jenkins in The Guardian, but was soon dismissed as no more than that. Then up pops Richard III's corpse in a Leicester car park to reopen "the oldest can of medieval worms". Was he a good king or a bad king? Did he kill children? Was the Leicester find, as some Ricardian apologists suggested, the apotheosis of a king "maligned by gossip, political manipulation, Victorian sentimentality and literary licence"? We mustn't be seduced by partisan history, but stay studiously humble before the evidence. Researching must be "a ceremony of reason, a rebuttal of ancestral myth, a way of looking at the past with the same rigour that we ought to apply to the present". To surrender a dispassionate search for truth to the cause of fantasy, however enjoyable or profitable, "is to court superstition and fanaticism".