In Depth

Instant Opinion: ‘Bigotry entrenched in British society’

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Tuesday 10 March

The Week’s daily round-up highlights the five best opinion pieces from across the British and international media, with excerpts from each.

1. Omar Khan in The Guardian

on bigotry and racial stereotyping

Islamophobia and racism aren’t restricted to a few Tories and far-right thugs

"It’s understandable that many British institutions dominated by the middle class would prefer to talk about ‘anti-Muslim hatred’ and pretend that’s all there is to say about racism. But it’s not working-class people who make ethnic minorities send out 80% more CVs to get an interview, who design Treasury budgets that hit the poorest black women hardest, or who award fewer firsts to ethnic minority graduates than white graduates. Instead it’s middle-class graduates in decision-making positions, who have done relatively little to address these inequalities... As long as we think individuals are to blame, we ignore the bigotry and racial stereotyping entrenched in British society.”

2. Hugo Rifkind in The Times

on myth and misinformation

A fake news virus is spreading like wildfire

“It is not only the virus that is going viral. Myths, hoaxes and fake news are, too. If I were to take a deep breath (while any of us still can) and dive right in, I could probably fill the rest of this column with simple lies and untruths about coronavirus which are surging around the global consciousness... Hugh Grant blamed the ‘careerists, narcissists and ultra right wing nut jobs’ of our own government for the lack of checks and tests at Heathrow on flights from Milan... His is the comforting logic of the conspiracy theorist; the person who yearns for a villain they can imagine punching. Viruses are hard to hate. They don’t care what you tweet, either.”

3. Stephen Bush in the New Statesman

on preparing for large-scale coronavirus relief

The biggest economic test facing the government over coronavirus

“The Italian government’s biggest crisis-fighting measure on [homeworking] so far is mortgage relief for homeowners: a big and very useful measure but one which won’t be felt by many. But it’s the type of economic relief needed and one that is far more effective than merely delaying the point when small businesses have to make payments to HMRC. One important difference between the UK and Italy is that the Italian state is very poorly equipped to funnel money directly and swiftly to individual households. The UK’s tax-collecting bureaucracy and infrastructure makes it well-placed to deliver the type of large-scale household relief that might be needed – and the level of willingness to do so and think imaginatively is now the biggest test of tomorrow’s Budget.”

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4. Jennifer Senior in The New York Times

on the US president’s narcissism

President Trump Is Unfit for This Crisis. Period.

“Whose side is the Trump administration on? Based on every public appearance we’ve seen so far - whether it’s from a cabinet member or the director of the Centers for Disease Control or the president himself - the answer is clear: not the public’s. President Trump, hellbent on re-election, is focused on massaging numbers and silencing bearers of bad news. That’s what autocrats do. And it’s endangering lives... What’s so frightening - so hideous - is that our president is least equipped to [confront the epidemic]. This crisis has unhelmed and unmasked him. He’s incapable of leading. When it comes to Trump, truth, decency and self-possession have been in quarantine from the start.”

5. Stephen Daisley in The Spectator

on the consequences of political tribalism

How should we handle progressives who spread coronavirus fake news?

“Government may not be able to control the Wuhan virus but the most efficient way to control the outbreak of misinformation would be to take remedial measures against Twitter and other social media sites. Whitehall’s unit challenging fake news related to the virus is a reactive measure; preventing misinformation spreading in the first place is the more brutally effective approach... Maybe government should order Twitter to remove such tweets or suspend users who post them on pain of tighter regulation or even prosecution. It would offend hopeless liberals like me but be entirely in line with what progressives call for when it’s someone else doing the misinforming.”


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