In Depth

Instant Opinion: Black Lives Matter ‘risks becoming an empty slogan’

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Thursday 11 June

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

1. Joseph Harker in The Guardian

on the tools to defeat racism

‘Black Lives Matter’ risks becoming an empty slogan. It’s not enough to defeat racism

“If I hear one more white person say ‘Black Lives Matter’ I think my head will explode. The slogan, powerful when first popularised by black people after the shooting of Trayvon Martin in 2012 in the US, has now become so ubiquitous as to have lost almost all meaning. A way for people to endlessly repeat ‘I hate racism’ while doing nothing to actually stop it. White people, I assume you don’t like the idea of other people being treated as inferior just because of the colour of their skin. But that’s such a basic sentiment that you shouldn’t be giving yourself a buzz from saying it. When even Boris Johnson can say ‘Black Lives Matter’ – the same Boris Johnson who talks of African piccaninnies, of ‘bank robber’ burqa wearers, who leads a party riven by Islamophobia but refuses a proper investigation into it, and who was part of a government that deported black British citizens, and continues the injustice of the hostile environment to this day – well, you know the slogan’s cultural appropriation is complete.”

2. Tom Peck in The Independent

on the UK’s coronavirus death toll

It’s not ‘too early’ for Boris Johnson to admit he’s wrong – he’s just too much of a coward

Perhaps the lesson we can all learn is that old one from science, about Brownian motion, just by watching the daily Downing Street briefing, where the blame for everything having gone so utterly wrong seems to move in random around the screen under the heavy and continuous bombardment in all directions from molecules of utter bulls***. This country has been debating for a while whether or not it has ‘had enough of experts’. Boris Johnson likes nothing more than to say he has been ‘guided by the science’, even when almost every other country in Europe, if not the world, was guided by its science in the complete opposite direction... It is not the passing of insufficient time that is preventing Boris Johnson from doing the same. It is an insufficient supply of moral courage.

3. Tim Dawson in The Daily Telegraph

on the ‘cancelling’ of an award-winning British comedy

No good comedy will survive the progressive purge that has killed Little Britain

“Hauling Vicky Pollard and Bubbles Devere out of the iPlayer and dropping them into the metaphorical harbour, may seem like a liberal victory, but the reality is the opposite. For a start, this knee-jerk decision – taken, presumably, by metropolitan executives desperate to appease the rioters we saw deface Churchill’s monument at the weekend – sets a dangerous precedent. If Little Britain, not so long ago BBC Comedy’s star attraction, can be reduced overnight to cultural contraband, what next?... It is a depressing development, the latest antediluvian skirmish in the UK’s increasingly bitter culture war. Britain’s inimitable, cheeky, self-deprecating sense of humour is not just famous throughout the world but – as international sales of everything from Keeping Up Appearances to, yes, Little Britain demonstrate – widely exportable. It is part of our global image; an image we are all too enthusiastically, and all too callously, dismantling. A nation that can no longer laugh at itself is a nation no longer at ease with itself. Erasing our culture, high and low, sends out completely the wrong signal.”

4. Gerard Baker in The Times

on an unexpected share price bounceback

Can Wall Street defy the prophets of doom?

“The growing band of Americans who apparently identify as socialists must be shaking their heads this week at the affirmation of heartless capitalism they’re watching play out in the markets. For the last three months the US has been afflicted by pandemic, death, mass unemployment, collapsing family incomes, skyrocketing bankruptcies and, most recently, the biggest outbreak of civil unrest in 50 years, with cities in turmoil and the raw and open wounds in American society exposed once again. But on Wall Street, it’s Morning in America. As neighbourhoods burn and a repentant Hollywood censors Gone With The Wind, capitalists are lighting fireworks and leading dancing choruses of We’re in The Money... The turnaround in fortunes, even as uncertainty about the economic outlook, the pandemic and political and social unrest persists, has been head-spinning and has caught some of the most successful investors off-guard.”

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5. Michael Tomasky in The New York Times

on the question that confounds political commentators

Why Does Trump Lie?

“Mr. Trump’s lies are different. Not just in quantity, but also in quality. He lies for a different purpose than every other president — yes, even, I would argue, Richard Nixon, the biggest presidential prevaricator until Mr. Trump came along. What is that difference? In a nutshell, it is this: Our democracy has, to use a word that former Vice President Joe Biden employed in his powerful June 2 speech in Philadelphia, certain guardrails that, as Mr. Biden put it, ‘have helped make possible this nation’s path to a more perfect union, a union that constantly requires reform and rededication.’ Every president before Mr. Trump has been mindful of those guardrails. When they lied, they lied out of respect for those guardrails. Mr. Trump lies to crush those guardrails into scrap metal.”

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