5 Best Wednesday Columns

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  • Christine Stansell on the Forgotten Fight for Women's Suffrage   In a New York Times op-ed, Stansell looks back at the long struggle for women's suffrage and the turmoil the movement's early leaders faced as they fought for gender equality at the polls. While it now seems "inevitable" that women would receive the vote, it didn't come easily until "black women, working women and immigrants joined white reformers in a stunningly successful coalition" in the early 1900s. Stansell, a University of Chicago history professor, concludes with a comparison to the contemporary fight over same-sex marriage: "Today the country is again divided over how far the rights of citizenship extend. ... How remarkable, then, that a parallel conflict -- one that similarly exposes the fears and anxieties that the expansion of democracy unleashes -- is now largely lost to memory."

  • Thomas Friedman on 'Waiting for Superman' While the rest of the media, according to Friedman, is consumed by discussing whether the president is a Muslim, or was born "in outer space," The New York Times columnist highlights the "movement stirring" to reform American education. Riffing on the forthcoming documentary Waiting for Superman, he observes a "whatever-it-takes" seriousness in parents who shuffle through public and charter schools and are willing to anything to ensure their children's success. Unfortunately, there is no miracle cure, only the ferociousness of controversy-stirring reformers such as Michelle Rhee and the "quiet heroism" of teachers and parents who are willing to "[implement] the best ideas" to make their schools "just a little bit better and more accountable every day."

  • David Tafuri on Wireless Gaza  Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Tafuri argues that expanding Internet availability in the Palestinian territories is essential in the campaign to bring peace to the area. Acknowledging that "it will take more than a couple of key strokes to reset the agenda for one of the world's most enduring conflicts," Tafuri notes "Palestinians' isolation--and inability to travel and import or export goods--means that the Web is their main way to connect with the outside world." The close proximity to Israel ("the region's leader in Internet development") and high rate of literacy in the Palestinian territories make such a plan feasible. The Internet, Tafuri believes, offers Palestinians the "freedom to challenge the status quo and organize for a different future."

  • The Boston Globe on Mitt Romney's Park51 Capitulation  Mitt Romney's silence on the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque" is the height of hypocrisy, writes The Boston Globe editorial board. Romney, perhaps more than any other politician on the national stage, knows the pain of religious demagoguery. "Just as Romney's critics took pieces of Mormon doctrine and twisted them to create rumors of current-day polygamy and rejection of Jesus Christ," writes The Globe, "some critics of the mosque in Lower Manhattan have sought to portray all of Islam as warlike, and the decision to build a mosque as an act of triumph." Romney, the paper observes, gives the impression of being "a reasonable person who wishes he didn't have to contend with his party's angry base." All the more distressing, then, that "on an issue that speaks directly to his own experiences, [Romney] has chosen to take the path of least resistance."

  • Ross Devol on the Case for Economic Optimism   Turn that 401(k) frown upside-down, orders The Wall Street Journal's Ross Devol: there's reason to be optimistic about this economy. Inflation is low, economic growth in developing countries has spurred demand for American exports, and business confidence is on the upswing. Growth is likely to be more spread out and "the fulfillment of pent-up demand will be subdued because consumers were living so far above their means during the bubble years." The American consumer hasn't changed, he argues. Rather, it's the way he consumes now that's different. Devol believes that bleak assessments of the economy have the potential to do serious damage. "There's a point at which pessimism becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy, scaring businesses away from investing or hiring," he writes. "The dark tone of today's discourse is at risk of doing just that."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.