In Depth

Instant Opinion: what happens ‘when a president gets sick’?

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Friday 2 October

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

1. Freddy Gray in The Spectator

on weaponising Covid-19

When a president gets sick

“Trump was, rather touchingly, so concerned about Boris that he tried to send in top American medical companies to treat the Prime Minister in his hour of need. Boris should repay the favour now by telling him to switch off for a few days, ignore the hubbub of the election, and concentrate entirely on getting through the infection. Maybe one of Trump’s advisers - not his counsellor Hope Hicks, who tested positive just before Trump - should take away his mobile phone so he can’t spend all day in bed tweeting. That would bring all sorts of benefits. Obviously lots of nasty people on social media want Trump to suffer and die - and are tweeting unpleasant remarks to that effect. But most aren’t so twisted, thankfully, and don’t want to turn his misfortune into another skirmish in the culture war. As we saw with Boris Johnson, the public will wish and pray for their leader to make a speedy recovery. Whether that goodwill will translate into political capital ahead of the election is another question - perhaps best left for tomorrow.”

2. Hassan Al Kontar on Al Jazeera

on a sombre anniversary

Jamal Khashoggi, the human

“There have been precious few people like Jamal - people who have known power, who have wielded it, but have chosen to give it up, speak up and uplift the powerless and the voiceless. His death was a loss not just to his family, friends and his country, but also to the whole region, where greed for power has left many of us destitute and despaired. Eventually Canada accepted my asylum application. The Malaysian authorities escorted me from the jail directly to the airport and put me on a flight to Canada. Today, in the safety of my new home, I remember Jamal, the human, and I wish there would be more people like him in the Middle East and the rest of the world. Rest in peace, Jamal. The truth will not die, justice will prevail, one day.”

3. Sophie McBain in the New Statesman

on online radicalisation

The new age of misogyny

“Young people’s confusion about sex makes them more susceptible to far-right misinformation. Many teens follow meme accounts on Instagram, where the sexist, racist, Islamophobic and transphobic content is disguised as humour and given appealing labels such as #edgymemesforedgyteens. Many are avid YouTube users, at the mercy of the site’s algorithm, which pushes ever more inflammatory content in an effort to keep them hooked. When Bates, as an experiment, clears her internet cookies and types ‘what is feminism’ into YouTube one of the first videos that comes up is a pro-feminism speech by the actress Emma Watson: so far, so good. The video that plays automatically thereafter is an interview with the far-right agitator Milo Yiannopoulos in which he describes feminism as ‘primarily about man-hating’ and it only gets worse from there.”

4. Paul Embery on UnHerd

on health and safety obsessives

How hysterical leaders fail workers

“The brutal truth, however, is that one thing has been missing throughout this entire debate: proportion. Safety in the workplace, as anywhere else, should be about implementing sensible and proportionate control measures to alleviate risk. It is this principle which underpins health and safety legislation. Instead, we have arrived at a point where, for many in positions of authority, any risk at all is too much and, where it exists, drastic action is required to eradicate it. That attitude serves no-one. Society becomes afflicted by paranoia, and individuals lose their ability to quantify risk — an essential skill in the armoury of any human being. The easy thing for a trade unionist like me would be to go along with it all. After all, as long as most union members are still drawing a salary, why should it matter?”

5. Nandita Rao and Iti Pandey in The Indian Express

on femicide in India

Brutality of Hathras crime, brazen police abdication, have shaken and shamed us all

“People who died of the plague or some other contagious disease were carried out of the village and their bodies were burnt without the dignity of a proper cremation. This indignity to our loved ones was accepted as a public health necessity. But Wednesday night, when images streamed in on social media and news channels, of a sobbing mother in Hathras being denied her young daughter’s body, followed by the images of police personnel, deployed in full force, burning this young girl’s remains, without any right in law, in a lonely field outside the village, it was an injustice that was morally and legally too much to bear. It was a reminder of a time when, in this country, a person relegated by oppressors through the unscientific and inhuman caste system as an untouchable, could be treated as worse than animals are - with social and legal impunity.”

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