Five Best Monday Columns

Tariq Ramadan on Arab democracy, William D. Cohan on the SEC's craziness, Richard Sander and Stuart Taylor Jr. on affirmative action, Howard Kurtz on Romney's negative narrative, and Noah Feldman on human rights law. 

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Tariq Ramadan in The New York Times with ways to get an Arab democracy "The time has come to stop blaming the West for the colonialism and imperialism of the past," Ramadan writes. "Muslim-majority societies must jettison their historic posture as victims and accept that they are empowered actors." An Arab democracy requires in-depth reflection on historical contradictions. "When it turns to the task, the awakening will truly have begun."

William D. Cohan in Bloomberg View on why the SEC has lost its mind The SEC sent a "cease and desist" letter to the one ratings agency that is paid by investors instead of security issuers. The security-backed ratings agencies are "akin to allowing the Hollywood studios to pay the nation’s film critics for their opinions." But instead of going after those poorly behaved agencies, the SEC is attacking the one ratings agency that responds to investors.

Richard Sander and Stuart Taylor Jr. in The Washington Post on why courts are looking at affirmative action again Supreme Court looked at affirmative action less than a decade ago with Gratz v. Bollinger and Grutter v. Bollinger, and it's hearing another diversity in higher education argument next week because Gratz/Gutter "laid out a strategy for containing affirmative action that clearly, objectively failed." The two required reforming race in admissions, but instead "racial preferences have become larger and more mechanical than before."

Howard Kurtz in The Daily Beast on Romney's negative narrative "Dissecting Romney’s various weaknesses has become a cottage industry, fueled by a sense of incredulity that he isn’t running a stronger race," and reinforced by bad poll numbers. "With five weeks to go, he has to change the prevailing story line, one that has branded him a loser. And that, from the moment he effectively clinched the nomination, is something Romney has been unable to do."

Noah Feldman in Bloomberg View on the court and human rights The Supreme Court surprised human rights activists when it decided to revisit a settled law that said "private individuals who tortured foreigners abroad could be sued," a precedent that helps "shed light on outrageous abuses in a trustworthy venue." Now, in a case where the court rules on whether Royal Dutch Petroleum aided the Nigerian government in rapes and murders, a new issue arises: are corporations individuals in international law?

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