Instant Opinion

‘Brittney Griner is suddenly ensnared in a geopolitical chess game’

Your digest of analysis from the British and international press

1

Peniel Joseph on CNN Opinion

What Brittney Griner’s quiet face is saying to the world

on a ‘human rights tragedy’

News that “one of the best basketball players on the planet” is currently detained in Russia “has the sports world – and anyone concerned about the plight of Americans in Russian custody – on edge”, says Peniel Joseph at CNN Opinion. While in Russia, Brittney Griner has been detained by authorities who claim they found cannabis oil in her luggage “and accused her of smuggling a narcotic substance – an offence that carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison”. Now, Griner is “ensnared in a geopolitical chess game controlled by Russian officials at an increasingly perilous and uncertain moment”. Joseph adds that “her identity as a Black gay woman athlete facing the Russian legal system is a precarious one”, and “Americans must not look away”. Griner has become “one of the quiet faces of a human rights tragedy unfolding before the eyes of the world”.

2

David Aaronovitch at The Times

Britain’s record on refugees is nothing to brag about

on too little, too late

“And I say unto you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a Ukrainian refugee to enter the kingdom of Britain,” says David Aaronovitch at The Times. “A rich man, on the other hand, faces no such problem.” As of yesterday morning, Ireland had taken 2,500 Ukrainian refugees compared to Britain’s 760. And “those few visas we do grant are subject to a process that has to be completed outside Britain, using facilities that barely exist or that are utterly inadequate”, he continues. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent fleeing of civilians “has not been met by any kind of generosity on the part of our government”. In fact, “quite the reverse”, says Aaronovitch. “We have done as little as we could, as late as we could get away with.”

3

Patricia Park at The New York Times

I’m done being your model minority

on attacks on Asians

Patricia Park says she “learned street smarts early”. Growing up in the Big Apple, “I kept my head down, my money in my sock and my mind on my business.” Writing in The New York Times, Park says: “It takes a lot to faze me. And yet, as an American of Korean descent, I now fear for my life.” She finds the steep rise in reported bias incidents against Asians alarming and suspects “many, many more crimes and aggressions against Asians go unreported – in part because of language barriers or immigration status, but also because of a cultural phenomenon that is intuitively understood in our communities”. That, she continues, is “the fear of disrupting our ‘model minority’ reputation”. When attacked, Asians are “expected to respond the way we have historically: stay quiet, and keep working, heads down”. Park is “tired of how Asians” in America are treated, and she’s “done” with fitting the mould of that minority “model”.

4

Stefanie Seddon at The Independent

The story of Endurance has a plot more gripping than any Hollywood blockbuster

on Antarctic exploration

Stefanie Seddon is a self-proclaimed super-fan of ships of the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration. Writing for The Independent, she says she builds “historically accurate wooden model” versions of them, and Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance “is my next project” – “little did I know that its namesake would be discovered this week, 107 years after it sank in an Antarctic sea”. The Heroic Age often conjures up images of “haggard men in frosted beards”, overcoming “glaciers, starvation, hope and regret”. But Seddon says “the real heroes of these stories are the ships” that transported them to the region. News that an expedition force had located the Endurance – complete with “her finest features” preserved in “astonishing detail” – has “reignited a passion for the heroics of this extraordinary age”.

5

Esther Rantzen in The Guardian

If you feel old, lonely and wary of the internet, do what I did – learn Zoom

on staying connected

Esther Rantzen says she doesn’t want to lecture her “elders and betters”, but she thinks others might benefit from “an important lesson” she has learned in the two years since Covid hit. Writing in The Guardian, she notes that her generation can be “wary of the internet”, but that she learned to her surprise during lockdown that technology can “offer a solution” to “combat loneliness”. “If only Boris Johnson had realised, as I did, that he could use Zoom to hold parties.” Rantzen says she still does, and despite living “deep in a forest”, she feels “connected with the outside world”. “It’s up to us oldies to take the first step… and it’s worth it.” And “if at first the computer defeats us, it’s a wonderful excuse to ring up our grandchildren and ask them for help”. 

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