Instant Opinion

‘Ghislaine Maxwell has all but eclipsed Jeffrey Epstein’s bad acts’

Your digest of analysis from the British and international press

1

Kat Rosenfield at Unherd

Will Ghislaine Maxwell get a fair trial?

on making a monster

The investigation into Jeffrey Epstein’s misdeeds “has found a new villain”, says Kat Rosenfield at UnHerd. Ghislaine Maxwell has “all but eclipsed the man without whose bad acts there would never have been a story at all”. Much has been made of the relationship between the pair, but Maxwell “is increasingly the object of fascination and derision”. Once painted by the press as “more of a curiosity than an accomplice”, her guilt is now considered “a foregone conclusion” in much of the public sphere, and she is commonly labelled a “monster”. “The female villain who wields power in the form of manipulation is an ancient fictional archetype,” writes Rosenfield, and “these narratives serve men”. The more focus is put on Maxwell, “the less agency Epstein seems to have”. This type of rhetoric is “how we decide that Prince Harry is just a hapless lump acting at the Machiavellian whims of his wife”. There’s a fine line between feminism and sexism “when we set out to condemn the nearest woman in the place of a dead, bad man”.

2

Melanie Phillips at The Times

All-powerful Stonewall has overreached itself

on ill-considered influence

“The Stonewall affair reminds us that it’s not just in parliament where lobbying is a questionable activity,” says Melanie Phillips at The Times. The extent of the LGBT rights charity’s influence is “astounding”. The BBC, Ofcom and NHS have all been advised by Stonewall, and “its influence has penetrated the heart of government”. Some of these institutions are now cutting their ties with the charity over its trans agenda, says Phillips. “Now trans people say they’re entitled to change the rules on pronouns, lavatories, competitive sport and the rest of it on the same basis as Stonewall’s original demand – that their agenda of upending foundational values must determine policy for everyone else.” But by siding with the trans lobby, “Stonewall has abandoned the gays and lesbians for whom it transformed society”, says Phillips. “The revolution is once again eating its own,” but “not before it had already swallowed the country’s institutions whole”.

3

Eugene Robinson at The Washington Post

The Grand Old Party of disarray

on an unshakeable ruler

One of America’s two major political parties is in an embarrassingly chaotic state. “Hint: it’s not the Democrats,” says Eugene Robinson at The Washington Post. We are bombarded with daily “tales of woe” about Joe Biden’s administration, while the Republican Party “somehow evades similar scrutiny and scepticism”. Today, supporters of the Grand Old Party (GOP) “agree wholeheartedly on one thing”, writes Robinson: “ambition for power”. But they lack it, as well as a coherent philosophy. “The GOP’s big problem, of course, is [Donald] Trump.” Whether or not the former president intends to run in 2024, “it is abundantly clear that he means to reign as the party’s de facto emperor for the foreseeable future”. The GOP is stuck with Trump and his influence, “beholden to his moods, whims, obsessions and machinations”. It’s saddled too with “his most unhinged acolytes”. Yes, the Democrats are struggling to implement their ambitious agenda, but the GOP is more like “a group of hostages and hostage-takers” than “some kind of unstoppable juggernaut”.

4

Clemmie Moodie at The Sun

British Army is taking on its toughest enemy yet… Generation Z

on woke wars

“There’s a creeping enemy force” that the British Army appears unable to overcome, says Clemmie Moodie at The Sun: “Generation Z”. One suspects the career of Corporal Kimberley Hey, a female instructor responsible for training recruits, “is now in the ditches” after being demoted for behaviour she claimed was “banter”. “Somebody’s ‘banter’ is another’s bullying,” says Moodie, but troops “will inevitably see and face some horrific things” that are “far, far, far worse” than Cpl Hey’s alleged actions. “Soldiers are now allowed to cry off fitness sessions if they don’t feel very well,” while 6,000 troops were classified in June as “too fat to fight”. Surely no one signs up to serve “expecting Enid Blyton-stylee teddy bear picnics”, says Moodie. “We can’t afford” for the British Army to go in the same “woke” direction as schools, offices and books, which have done so “often to disastrous effect”.

5

Jenny Eclair at The Independent

Covid has killed the office Christmas party

on things of the past

“One more potential casualty of the pandemic seems to be the office Christmas party,” says Jenny Eclair at The Independent. A survey has found many businesses are forgoing this year’s festivities, some perhaps to “save some cash”, while “for others, it’s a question of health and safety”. “For many workplaces, the prospect of the annual knees-up turning into a super-spreader event just isn’t worth the grief,” says Eclair, who wonders how many people will greet the cancelled occasions “with a sigh of relief”. The writer “can’t think of anything worse” than attending an office Christmas party, but “it’s another piece of life as we used to know it” that she will miss. “Office parties are a right of passage” – “how else do you learn to deal with shame?” You can learn “a valuable lesson” by trying to silently vomit in the staff toilets the morning after. If office parties are a thing of the past, “I can’t help feeling a pang of nostalgia for its passing”.

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