In Depth

Instant Opinion: BLM is ‘disturbing threat to racial progress’

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Thursday 13 August

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

1. Sherelle Jacobs in The Telegraph

on the invisible hand of the market

Marxist-chic BLM is a disturbing threat to racial progress

Recently – as an adult who is thankfully at ease with her dark hue – I visited a toy shop and was shocked: dolls of all races, along with shaved-head Barbies, vitiligo Barbies and Barbies with prosthetic limbs. The shift is profit-driven. By the millennium, Mattel was losing market share to more diverse brands, as the latter took a gamble on white-middle class parents ambivalent about “blonde bimbo” dolls, and a rising number of ethnic minority customers. Mattel jumped on the bandwagon, profits climbed – and, as you read this, millions of non-white girls are happily playing with dolls with dark skin just like theirs. This is testament to the power of capitalism. For all the railing against ‘structural racism’, there is a new black British middle class, and brands are responding.

2. Ibrahim Ozdemir in Al Jazeera

on religion and reaction

What does Islam say about climate change and climate action?

“You would think that those most affected by climate change would be the most eager to stop it. This is not always the case. Many Muslim countries are reluctant to impose Western concepts of environmentalism, or to bow to pressure from countries which have already gone through industrialisation without having to address pollution or curb emissions. Environmental colonialism is not the answer. What would work, and has been proven to work, is using the principles of Islam to encourage conservation in Muslims. Islam teaches its followers to take care of the earth. Muslims believe that humans should act as guardians, or khalifah, of the planet, and that they will be held accountable by God for their actions. This concept of stewardship is a powerful one, and was used in the Islamic Declaration on Climate Change to propel change in environmental policy in Muslim countries.”

3. Theo Hobson in The Spectator

on the religious undertones of modern protest

Racism is a sin – and we are all sinners

“In the past, moral campaigns were tied to concrete demands for changes in legislation, or government policy. Ban the bomb, legalise homosexuality, overthrow capitalism, and so on. The BLM movement is rooted in frustration: it knows that laws already exist outlawing discrimination, but feels that such laws are hugely inadequate. For such laws cannot uproot systematic racism, which is built into the mindset of the majority. It declares that liberalism is too vague, too non-judgemental, too laissez-faire. In some ways, such radicalism seems to revive the absoluteness of Marxism, but it lacks the concrete goal of revolution. It is unconsciously reviving a more religious worldview: people should be judged according to the desires of their hearts. If you do not desire racial justice and do not express this desire in the proper pious way, you are complicit.”

4. Gregg Gonsalves in The Moscow Times

on rushing salvation

Putin is playing Russian Roulette with the coronavirus vaccine

“One only has to look back a little further in Russian history, before Sputnik, to see where the big men of the past looking for easy answers went horribly wrong. I am talking about Trofim Lysenko, who said he could grow orange trees in Siberia and was put in charge of Soviet agricultural policies by Joseph Stalin. To the millions killed deliberately in the Holodomor — Stalin’s man-made famine in Ukraine — Lysenko added millions more who perished when the imposition of his policies led to widespread crop failure. When bad science meets politicians looking for easy answers, you can get a whole lot of trouble.”

5. Scaachi Koul in BuzzFeed News

on anti-black racism

Dinesh D’Souza’s attacks on Kamala Harris are part of a bigger problem in the Indian community

“There are many legitimate critiques to make of Kamala Harris, especially now that she’s the Democratic vice presidential pick. You can criticize her for being too much of a centrist while young Democratic voters are looking for more progressive representation. You can go after her for being a pro–law enforcement attorney general whose views don’t align with more progressive abolitionist views of the police. But going after her Blackness, and arguing that she isn’t actually Black because some of her ancestors might have been slave owners — as is true for many Black Americans, something beyond their control — is hardly relevant. It’s hard to deny that D’Souza has built his career off making ad hominem attacks against Black people. As a brown man in the media, D’Souza gets more cover than his white, conservative counterparts: It’s as if he’s saying, ‘Me, a racist? That’s unpossible! I’m an ethnic!’”

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