Instant Opinion: the year is 2022 - so ‘what does life look like’?
Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Friday 10 July
The Week’s daily round-up highlights the five best opinion pieces from across the British and international media, with excerpts from each.
1. David Leonhardt in The New York Times
on the post-coronavirus future
It’s 2022. What Does Life Look Like?
“It’s 2022, and the coronavirus has at long last been defeated. After a miserable year-and-a-half, alternating between lockdowns and new outbreaks, life can finally begin returning to normal. But it will not be the old normal. It will be a new world, with a reshaped economy, much as war and depression reordered life for previous generations. Thousands of stores and companies that were vulnerable before the virus arrived have disappeared. Dozens of colleges are shutting down, in the first wave of closures in the history of American higher education. People have also changed long-held patterns of behavior: Outdoor socializing is in, business trips are out. And American politics — while still divided in many of the same ways it was before the virus — has entered a new era. All of this, obviously, is conjecture. The future is unknowable. But the pandemic increasingly looks like one of the defining events of our time.”
2. Billy Bragg, musician and activist, in The Guardian
on how speech is only free when everyone has a voice
‘Cancel culture’ doesn’t stifle debate, but it does challenge the old order
“The ability of middle-aged gatekeepers to control the agenda has been usurped by a new generation of activists who can spread information through their own networks, allowing them to challenge narratives promoted by the status quo. The great progressive movements of the 21st century have sprung from these networks: Black Lives Matter; #MeToo; Extinction Rebellion. While they may seem disparate in their aims, what they have in common is a demand for accountability. Although free speech remains the fundamental bedrock of a free society, for everyone to enjoy the benefits of freedom, liberty needs to be tempered by two further dimensions: equality and accountability. Without equality, those in power will use their freedom of expression to abuse and marginalise others. Without accountability, liberty can mutate into the most dangerous of all freedoms – impunity.”
3. Iain Martin in The Times
on Rishi’s rapid rise
Sunak’s road to No 10 gets bumpy from here
“It is already possible to see how at some future critical moment in this pandemic, or when there is an electoral reverse or constitutional crisis, Mr Johnson could become the latest victim of Conservative Party ruthlessness. There are pitfalls for the chancellor, though. Mr Johnson is dangerously competitive. Soon, it will also be possible for opponents to label the chancellor Mr Unemployment. Often the Tory frontrunner doesn’t win and for all the spin that everything is lovely between Nos 10 and 11 right now, it won’t always be. A small but vicious band of Johnson ultra-loyalists will defend their man and their power. All that fun is to come. But it is worth pausing for a moment to admire the manner in which someone who just a year ago was serving as parliamentary under-secretary of state for local government rose to become the likely next prime minister.”
4. John T Bennett in The Independent
on a president losing grip at the worst possible time
I’ve documented Trump every day of his presidency — and now he’s in free-fall
“The more Trump follows his instincts, the further he seems to fall. He has stumbled before during his term. But after watching every day of his presidency since he was sworn in on that grey day in January 2017, this correspondent sees a president in free-fall. He has no message for voters on why they should hand him a second term. His potential legal problems mounted Thursday when the Supreme Court ruled his office does not grant him automatic immunity from a Manhattan district attorney’s subpoena seeking his tax and financial records. His poll numbers are dismal. The virus is spreading again like wildfire. On issues from wearing masks to guard against Covid-carrying droplets ejected from our fellow humans to flying the Confederate flag to whether coronavirus is even that serious to the real state of the virus-hobbled economy, Trump’s know-it-all approach to life leaves him more and more isolated.”
5. Fraser Nelson in The Daily Telegraph
on an obscured truth about Britain’s care chaos
The real story behind Britain’s Covid care home crisis isn’t what you think
“Care homes argue, still, that their business model depends on being able to pay people less than supermarkets do. Their complaint about Brexit, even now, is that it makes it harder for them to import cheap labour and keep wages down. Their bigger concern should be what the Covid crisis has shown about their ability to protect those in their care. Deciding what to do about care homes is, we’re told, high up on Boris Johnson’s list – but the more important point is what lessons can be learned now. If there is to be a second wave of Covid, it’s pretty clear what ought to happen: care home workers should be isolated and put up in a hotel if needs be. And – needless to say – forbidden from working from multiple homes. It will cost, but looking after the elderly can’t be done on the cheap. The last few months have proved, yet again, the real price of low-cost care.”