The Week’s daily round-up highlights the five best opinion pieces from across the British and international media, with excerpts from each.
1. Walter Isaacson in The Washington Post
on the breakthrough the world has waited for
“Even after we defeat Covid-19, new viruses will come along. When that happens, it will take only days to code a new RNA sequence to make a vaccine to target the new threat. Tools made with RNA will enable us both to edit our genetic material and to devise easily reprogrammable vaccines. It’s been a miserable pandemic amid an annus horribilus. It’s nice that both appear to be ending with RNA – the fundamental molecule that probably spawned the existence of life on our planet a few billion years ago – giving birth to a new era of biotechnology.”
2. Nicole Hemmer on CNN
on triumph over voter suppression
“Democracy is more than elections, and the assault on democracy goes much further than the ballot box. Efforts to overturn the results of elections have been a hallmark of GOP politics in certain states. In 2018, a majority of Floridians voted to re-enfranchise people who had been convicted of felonies and served their sentences. The governor of Florida could not stop the law from being enacted, but he did require the payment of a series of byzantine fines and fees – in essence, a poll tax – for re-enfranchisement, meaning most of the disenfranchised remained that way. In North Carolina in 2017, after Democrat Roy Cooper won the governor’s race, Republican legislators quickly tried to strip the governorship of its power.
3. Charles Moore in The Daily Telegraph
on insurgent leftism
“The problem with the trust is naivety. It has been rolled over by extremists who care nothing for the membership or the collection. At the angry virtual AGM on Saturday, many NT members protested indignantly at the disrespect shown to former occupants of trust houses, such as Winston Churchill. They attacked the trust for seeming to accept the agenda of Black Lives Matter (BLM), following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. In reply, Tim Parker, the trust’s chairman, defended BLM as ‘a human-rights movement with no party-political affiliations’. Mr Parker is beside the point. No one has ever accused BLM of party affiliations; and I fear that almost all pressure groups invoke human rights. The general point about BLM is that it is a hard-Left campaigning organisation, committed to defeating capitalism, ‘defunding’ the police, destroying the ‘nuclear’ family and rejecting white people’s capacity to understand racism – a view which is itself racist. BLM is an extremist movement which flirts with violence.”
4. Eliot Wilson in City A.M.
on the reliable world of PPPs
“It is rare that officials from government agencies become household names, but you are likely familiar with both of the above. Dido Harding and Kate Bingham have both, in their own way, become bywords for incompetence and cronyism. The principle behind their appointments is sound. Whitehall is bad at managing major capital projects and is often prone to delays and cost overruns. In the case of tackling Covid-19, losing time can mean losing lives, as well as the obvious economic and social cost. So short-circuiting the traditional processes with an injection of urgency and can-do spirit from the private sector makes sense. (For how badly public sector projects can be managed, one only has to look at the Ministry of Defence’s record on procurement.)”
5. Louise Perry in the New Statesman
on the commodification of sex
“The sex industry is booming, by which I don’t just mean the straightforward buying and selling of real-life sex. The online porn industry has grown ever larger as it has come to offer more and more extreme content, the sexualisation of entertainment and advertising continually pushes new limits, and businesses such as the high street retailer Ann Summers have successfully monetised the mainstreaming of BDSM. We are seeing this rapid growth and diversification of the sex industry partly as a consequence of the digital revolution, and partly as a consequence of business innovation.”