In Depth

Instant Opinion: Mike Pence’s debate performance ‘bugged me out’

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Thursday 8 October

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

1. Frank Bruni in The New York Times

on a historic vice-presidential debate

Mike Pence’s debate performance bugged me out

“It was a memorable debate even apart from the insect. (Now there’s a sentence I never imagined writing.) It was historic: Harris is the first woman of color on the presidential ticket of one of America’s two major parties. Her status as a trailblazer was openly acknowledged, and it informed — and gave extra force to — her disapproval of Pence when he wouldn’t acknowledge implicit racial bias in policing. She and Pence were separated not only by 12 feet but by plexiglass shields, which called to mind sneeze guards, conjured thoughts of salad bars and prompted me to wonder which ingredient each of the candidates represented. (I’m going with cottage cheese for Pence.) The Pence camp had resisted these droplet dams — which, truth be told, many public health experts said were of questionable use — but given how freely the coronavirus had been permitted to rampage through the White House, the Harris camp would have been justified in demanding that Pence debate from the inside of a giant Ziploc bag.”

2. Donald Earl Collins in Al Jazeera

on racism in America

Why race relations are an abusive fantasy

“The video that shows Kyle Rittenhouse killing two protesters and wounding another in Kenosha, Wisconsin on August 25 has made him into the very embodiment of American race relations. He is yet another white male vigilante killing in the name of so-called law and order, as well as a self-described Blue Lives Matter supporter. He took it upon himself to leave his home in Antioch, Illinois, cross state lines, seek out a crowd of Black Lives Matter demonstrators protesting on behalf of Jacob Blake, and discharge his AR-15 into the crowd. Rittenhouse personifies the power and the toxic lethality of whiteness, its abusive and narcissistic uncaring for the suffering and death that it causes.”

3. Mark Smith in The Herald

on the great outdoors

The natural solution to virus anxiety

“Let me tell you about the column I didn’t write. I didn’t write a column about the latest virus restrictions. I didn’t write about the people I know who work in pubs and cafes and restaurants who are coming to the end of their tether, and I didn’t write about the people on Twitter who are angry about Trump, and Sturgeon, and Johnson, and everything else. That’s what I didn’t do. Instead, I went outside. I went to Lanarkshire, to an old Roman encampment a couple of miles outside the town, and I met a bunch of people there, gardeners and volunteers, and we weaved in and out of the trees until we reached a clearing and we planted some saplings and shrubs. Mint and raspberry bushes by the path. Willow further in. And wild roses. And oak. So that’s what I’m going to write about instead: the effects I noticed – on the forest, and on us.”

4. Jenni Russell in The Times

on Boris Johnson’s chores

Why should a PM have to make his own lunch?

“There is a remarkable contrast in our prime ministers’ lives between the support system for official business and what happens when the official day stops. From the minute they leave the No 11 flat their days are organised with smooth precision, from security briefings to G7 summits to cabinet. Nobody expects a prime minister to look up their own train timetables, check colleagues’ diaries or order their own cars. Their time and energy are precious resources. That concern evaporates in their private time. The only domestic help in Downing Street is a cleaner. There’s no housekeeper, no chef; they must do it all themselves. A prime minister making momentous evening phone calls on whether to bomb Syria or leave the EU without a deal is simultaneously still responsible for doing his share of the laundry and making family supper.”

5. Lijia Zhang in the South China Morning Post

on historical revisionism

China needs open debate on the Korean war to lay ghosts to rest

“Seventy years ago this month, the People’s Volunteer Army crossed the Yalu River, marking China’s entry into the Korean war, known in China as the ‘War to Resist America and Aid Korea’. In September, when the remains of 117 Chinese soldiers were returned to China from South Korea, the editor-in-chief of the nationalist Global Times, Hu Xijin, took a swipe at America in a tweet: ‘70 yrs ago, the newly founded PRC showed no fear to the US power. Never underestimate Chinese people’s determination to safeguard national security.’Instead of trying to use the occasion to score points against America, amid intensifying tensions between the world’s two biggest economies, China should take the opportunity to re-examine the war, a watershed event that shaped the course of East Asian history. At school, we were taught that the conflict was China’s great victory against American aggression. Was it?”

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