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Instant Opinion: Reaction to Stormzy comments ‘proves him right’

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Tuesday 24 December

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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. Nadine White in HuffPost

on a vicious cycle in British media

The reaction to Stormzy’s comments on Britain's racism only proves him right

“Throughout Sunday afternoon into the evening, I kept wondering how all of this had made him really feel. Because, as much as we have a collective tendency to elevate celebrities to god-like status, Stormzy is a human being with actual feelings. He is capable of experiencing pain and reacting to it as much as the next person.”

2. Kerry Hudson in The Guardian

on helping the homeless

I found Christmas the loneliest time of year. Then I started working at Crisis

“The turning point for me was volunteering for Crisis at Christmas. The joy that many of the visitors exhibited in the face of all they had come from and would go back to was truly humbling; and, like me, many of the volunteers were there because they were not with their families. I realised I was far from alone. There, I rediscovered the coping mechanism that had got me out of my troubled childhood: gratitude. I learned to appreciate every joyful, small thing.”

3. Ahsan I Butt in Al Jazeera

on the end of a second decade in Afghanistan

The Afghan war: A failure made in the USA

“Officially, the war that began in October 2001 was aimed at eliminating al-Qaeda as a threat. As a corollary, this meant a government in Kabul that would deny that terrorist organisation sanctuary. Could the Taliban be such a government? The US seemed to believe that because Taliban leader Mullah Omar had not taken a sterner line against al-Qaeda during the late 1990s, that he could not be relied upon to do so post-2001. This was a reasonable but tragically flawed line of thinking.”

4. Caleb A. Scharf in the Scientific American

on the future of technology

Rise of the machines

“We still struggle with some outstanding questions at the hairy edge of speculation and extrapolation to do with how machines might explore the universe on a grander scale, and what that might really look like. For instance, it may be that sending biology between the stars is next to impossible, but sending autonomous, self-replicating machines is a way for any sentient species to explore and expand their reach.”

5. Mustafa Akyol in the New York Times

on the changing face of global religion

A new secularism is appearing in Islam

“How far can this secular wave go? Only God knows, to offer a religious answer. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that this wave differs from the kind of secularism imposed on the Muslim world about a century ago, under authoritarian Westernizers like Ataturk of Turkey or Reza Shah of Iran. Theirs was a top-down revolution, imposed by the state and was widely perceived as inauthentic. This time, however, we are speaking of a bottom-up trend, coming from society, from people fed up with all the ugly things done in the name of religion.”

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