5 Best Sunday Columns

Tony and Daniel Judt spar on Fathers' Day, Bono weeps over the Bloody Sunday report, and more

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  • Tony and Daniel Judt on the Gap Between Generations  Tony Judt is a world-renowned historian and scholar who is struggling with Lou Gehrig's disease; Daniel Judt is his teenaged son. Together, the two write a conversational New York Times column discussing the oil spill, President Obama, and faith in government." Daniel holds his own, arguing that the "damage" his fathers' generation has inflicted on the world "will be the issue for my generation." His arguments ring idealistic and antagonistic: "To actually effect change, you need to come in thinking that real change is possible...You owe us this." Tony cuffs his son for going easy on Obama, and asks him of his goals, "Are you up to it? If you want to change the world, you had better be willing to fight for a long time." Daniel gets the last word: "We are old enough to understand better than you what has to be done, but far too young to do it. All we can do is say it."
  • Jessica Stern on Victimhood and Terror  Stern, a scholar at the Hoover Institution, gives an introspective account of how she developed a professional fascination with terrorism. She traces her interest in "the secret motivations of violent men" indirectly to a rape she experienced while young. Though small noises and crowds can arouse fear, she feels little terror when confronted with truly terrifying situations. These responses makes her therapist suspect Stern has PTSD, leading Stern to look through the police report of her rape. Her explorations raise new questions about the psychology of terrorists: "Is there a link between possible abuse and alienation and vulnerability to terrorist recruitment? Could terrorism sometimes reflect a kind of perverse post-traumatic evolution?"
  • Bruce Feiler on Dads and the 'End of Men'  Writing in the Washington Post, Feiler confronts "daddy bashing" on a day appropriate for such an exercise. He calls out the Atlantic's latest cover story, and particularly a piece by Pamela Paul asking "Are Fathers Necessary?" Citing statistics, Feiler argues that fewer families now have fathers present, although the benefits of two-parent households are clear. He concludes, "Articles and arguments like "Are Fathers Necessary?" grate because they put men into the same trap that women have been clambering out of for years. It reduces us to our biology (give us your sperm, and we'll take care of the rest) and our stereotypes (fathers roughhouse, but mothers nurture)."
  • Mort Zuckerman on 'Incompetent, Amateur' Obama  Earlier this weekend, Zuckerman, the owner of U.S. News and World Report, published a widely-read, long column criticizing Obama's leadership on the international stage. He starts from the exceptionalist premise that only the United States can provide "global leadership" such that "most of the world still looks to Washington for help in their region and protection against potential regional threats." Obama has not lived up to this responsibility, he argues, and this can be seen in his administration's failure to close Guantanamo, as well as his inability to change relations with Arab countries, China, and Iran. Citing overseas' perspectives, he sums up, "America right now appears to be unreliable to traditional friends, compliant to rivals, and weak to enemies."
  • Bono on the 'Bloody Sunday' Report  Writing in the New York Times, the U2 frontman and international activist calls the release of a report that puts responsibility of those 14 deaths largely on British soldiers' soldiers "one of the most extraordinary days in the mottled history of the island of Ireland." He gives high praise to Britain's new Tory prime minister David Cameron, who apologized for the killings last week and "suddenly looked like the leader he believed he would be. From prime minister to statesman." Bono ends on a stirring note "If there are any lessons for the world from this piece of Irish history ... for Baghdad ... for Kandahar ... it’s this: things are quick to change for the worse and slow to change for the better, but they can. They really can."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.