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Instant Opinion: ‘All America’s billionaires must run for president’

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Tuesday 19 November

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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. Jon Schwarz in The Intercept

on being politically out of touch

All of America’s 607 billionaires must run for president

“There’s no possible downside here. We already have a guy who calls himself a billionaire as president, and that’s going great. Things could only get better with more of this billionaire magic. History makes this clear too. Two thousand years ago, in A.D. 19, the politics of the Roman Empire had become a plaything of its ultrarich. We haven’t checked, but presumably we would have heard if anything’s gone wrong for the Romans since then.”

2. Former prime minister Gordon Brown in The Guardian

on the death of British unity

We are becoming a United Kingdom in name only. Politicians must heal the divide

“Central to the new politics of division and hate across the UK is the displacement of an outward looking patriotism by narrow, adversarial nationalisms which need – and invent – enemies, and make it almost impossible to unite the country around any common purpose or shared direction. With the SNP now threatening the hardest of ‘hard’ separations and the Conservatives whipping up English nationalism with their claim that under a Labour government Scotland would run England, the great British virtues – tolerance, civic responsibility, reciprocity between nations and pragmatic internationalism – are being consigned to history by a new breed of nationalists not interested in ending divisions but in exploiting them.”

3. Thomas L. Friedman in The New York Times

on Trump’s right-hand man in Washington

Mike Pompeo: last in his class at West Point in integrity

“I have only met Pompeo once. I found him in private smart and engaging — but then we didn’t discuss ethics. So many in the State Department have now lost all respect for him — with good reason. His behavior is one of the most shameful things I have seen in 40 years of covering US diplomacy. How can Pompeo think he’s got what it takes to make the hard decisions needed to lead a nation as president, and send soldiers to war, when he can’t make a clear-cut easy decision to protect one of his own diplomats from being smeared by people acting outside our system.”

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4. Joshua Keating in Slate

on the extermination of Chinese Muslim cultures

Apparently no one cares that much about ethnic cleansing

“And yet, the global response to the detention of up to 1 million people in concentration camps on the basis of religion, a systematic attempt to wipe out a cultural identity that verges on cultural genocide, still feels fairly muted. Few companies or organizations are boycotting China. In two years, the Beijing winter Olympics are likely to go off without a hitch. The US response is undermined by the fact that the officials drawing attention to the camps do not include President Donald Trump, who for all his criticism of China rarely discusses human rights and did not mention Chinese Muslims in a recent high-profile speech on religious freedom.”

5. Jemima Lewis in The Telegraph

on grappling with grief

The reality of death is too vast and too confounding to be described in just one word

“The difficulty now is that we live in a secular society, but rely on the consolations of faith. Christian phrases that once had literal meanings are now reduced to unctuous platitudes. Few modern Britons really believe that the dead are ‘with the angels’ or ‘looking down from Heaven’. For the recently bereaved, these empty sentiments can in fact be the opposite of consoling. I remember, after my baby nephew died, feeling a rush of rage towards someone who assured me, with syrupy eyes, that he had ‘gone to a better place’. Better than his mother’s arms? It’s not a comfort: it’s an insult.”

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