In Depth

Instant Opinion: ‘This 4th of July, Americans are fighting over what American should mean’

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Thursday 4 July

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

1. Zachary B. Wolf for CNN

on American patriotism

This 4th of July, Americans are fighting over what ‘American’ should mean

“It turns out there’s almost nothing more divisive to a national identity than building a presidency around nationalism. Trump revels in putting his definition up against other people's. That’s why he stoked his fight with kneeling NFL players for so long. And that’s why so many are frustrated that he’ll hold a rally on the National Mall -- a ‘Salute to America’ -- on the Fourth of July. He’s saluting his own version of America and he’s not very charitable to anyone else’s, which can be an offensive thing at a time when people are basically streaming to the US as refugees from Central America. It can be offensive when there is an undercurrent of racism in his acceptance of white nationalist protesters or his defence of Confederate statues.”

2. Owen Jones in The Guardian

on an alleged civil service conspiracy against Labour

Forget what you think about Corbyn: a partisan civil service is a threat to us all

“Park what you think about Corbyn for a moment. Britain is supposed to be a democracy. In a democracy, the civil service has to be studiously neutral. In the code they are supposed to follow, officials are told: ‘Ensure you have ministerial authorisation for any contact with the media’, and ‘act in a way which deserves and retains the confidence of ministers, while at the same time ensuring that you will be able to establish the same relationship with those whom you may be required to serve in some future government’. Briefing a newspaper about the unsuitability of the leader of the opposition is a flagrant violation of this code.”

3. Peter Franklin in UnHerd

on polarisation

How politics became polarised

“A spectre is haunting democracy: the spectre of polarisation. It’s one thing to have our differences and to settle them at the ballot box; but if these differences diverge too much then our capacity to agree to disagree is diminished. Everything that the other side says, does and wins is seen as illegitimate – thus undermining the democratic process.”

4. Sally Peck in the Daily Telegraph

on the gender hypocrisy over sporting celebrations

Women footballers should show 'grace and humility'? Please

“We all love to categorise things. You know, girls are like this, boys are like that. Four legs good, two legs bad. Really clear, foolproof delineations. But, when it comes to football, this requirement by so many commentators and trolls online with (their notion of) feminine characteristics really gets my goat.”

5. Helen Rumbelow in The Times

on eating meat

Carnivores will soon have to eat in secret

“A tipping-point is not far off. I remember when people smoked freely in each other’s houses. Then they asked permission, and with some tutting, the hostess would produce an ashtray. Next, they had to go outside. Now, smokers are sad pariahs. With the news full of catastrophes in our intestines and rainforests, how long before meat-eaters go the same way?”

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