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Instant Opinion: Italy lockdown ‘warning from the future’

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Monday 9 March

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

1. Rachel Donadio in The Atlantic

on a strange week in Europe

Italy’s coronavirus response is a warning from the future

“Italy has long been a political laboratory, for better or worse, and a harbinger of developments that later spread. It’s also a rule-bound country where rules are often ignored, a place that often falls short on long-term planning but rises to the occasion in emergencies and has a knack for improvisation that its northern neighbors lack. It is a free society in which information is often unreliable and politicized. Today, it is an experiment in which free movement of people and goods meets free movement of a deadly virus. Countries across Europe and the world are watching how Italy handles an epidemic that knows no borders, has been putting tremendous strain on public-health structures, and is pushing the country’s already fragile economy to the brink.”

2. Una Mullally in The Irish Times

on 2016 repeating itself

Biden’s rise shows Democrats have learned nothing

“Biden is a poor candidate. His messaging is uninspiring. His performances in debates have been terrible. At a time when the only energy being injected into the Democratic Party is coming from young candidates with grassroots campaigning power, particularly women of colour, they’re gravitating towards an elderly white male candidate who already held the office of vice-president. The Democratic Party is falling into the same patterns that created a context where they convinced themselves Hillary Clinton was a good idea. Like Clinton, Biden has already had his shot. Like Clinton, he doesn’t want to rock the boat. Like Clinton, he has baggage. But at least Clinton’s candidacy stood for a broader idea: the idea of the first female president. What does Biden have going for him?”

3. Vidya Subrahmaniam in Al Jazeera

on a history of violence

India's Muslims are punished for asking to be Indian

“Both the [1984] Sikh massacres and the [2002] Gujarat pogroms started in response to alleged atrocities committed by the members of the targeted communities. Last month’s anti-Muslim violence in Delhi, however, was not ‘revenge’ for anything. It was not preceded by a major infraction against the Hindu majority. The Muslim community did nothing that could even remotely warrant retaliation. The only thing they had done in the weeks prior to the attacks was to peacefully protest against the country’s new, discriminatory citizenship law. Thus, unlike in 1984 and 2002, there was no ostensible cause for the violence. This time, Muslims were punished, only for being Muslim and asking to be Indian. And because of this, last month’s attacks mark the beginning of a new, frightening chapter in Indian history.”

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4. Sada Mire in The Guardian

on the significance of ancient rituals

We won’t eradicate FGM if we keep misunderstanding its history

“As an archaeologist I’ve been researching the history of FGM, and I’ve found it to be far more deep-rooted in cultural traditions than most campaigners – not to mention many who practise it – realise. These roots are long forgotten, even within the north-eastern African societies where it began. And this lack of knowledge has hampered efforts to tackle the issue. Campaigners often claim the tradition is mainly about virginity, chastity, paternity confidence or control of women’s sexuality. I’ve found that FGM began instead as an act of sacrifice to the divine. In other words, the initial intention was not about relations between humans but rather between humans and the gods: an act of self-preservation related to sacred blood, existence itself, and reproduction.”

5. Kirsten Short on CBC

on coping mechanisms

Concussion had made my life a mess. So I gave my brain injury a name

“My concussion was changing everything about me and everything about my life. I could barely walk, talk, think, see or sleep. I was a mess. We named that mess Stella. It was the first name that came to mind. I quickly realized that by naming my concussion, I had inadvertently added humour to my situation. Rather than bursting into tears when I got lost in my own neighbourhood or when I used the freezer as a microwave, I’d giggle and mumble, ‘Oh Stella, not again’. While shopping online for a lawn chair, I accidentally purchased a journal with a lawn chair on its cover. Once I got over the initial disappointment — I really wanted that lawn chair — I shared Stella’s misstep with my friends and family. By turning Stella into a punchline, laughter became my medicine and sharing my story became my therapy.”

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