Five Best Wednesday Columns

Wilbert Rideau defends prisoner protests of solitary confinement, Clive Crook on the lack of effective banking legislation, Jorge Ramos warns about a Hispanic flight from the Republican party, Shani Hilton on the power of Black Twitter, and Jack Shafer on the need for partisan journalism.

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Wilbert Rideau in The New York Times on ending prisoner solitary confinement The massive scale of California prisoners' 30,000-strong hunger strike against solitary confinement sounds a familiar chord with Rideau. "I know something about solitary confinement, because I’ve been there. I spent a total of 12 years in various solitary confinement cells," Rideau writes. "And I can tell you that isolating a human being for years in a barren cell the size of a small bathroom is the cruelest thing you can do to a person." Using solitary for dangerous and violent prisoners makes sense, but not as general punishment for any infraction, as the strikes protest. "And if prison officials actually listened to inmates, they would find that their demands are often reasonable." Former prison worker, prominent reform activist, and Boston Magazine writer Jean Trounstine tweets that it's a "worthy op-ed." And NBC News' Ali Azhar-Fateh writes "Excellent point! Why should we be concerned about the inhumane conditions of prolonged solitary confinement."

Jorge Ramos in Univision on a Hispanic move away from Republicans "Here is a political no-brainer," Ramos writes in a copy of his article translated from Spanish. "If Republicans in the House of Representatives vote against the immigration reform legislation ... they will lose the presidential election in 2016." George W. Bush needed Hispanics in Florida to be elected, and neither Romney nor the next Republican candidate can do so without Hispanic support, he argues. If Boehner and Republicans withhold a House vote on the legislation, "how many years will they have to wait for Hispanic voters to forgive them?" In NBC News, a group of journalists led by Chuck Todd and Mark Murray write that "it could leave a long-term mark." And this warning shot is not from just any old commentator: "Jorge Ramos is to the Latino community today what Walter Cronkite used to be in U.S. media," writes Daily Kos founder and publisher Markos Moulitsas.

Clive Crook in Bloomberg on the lack of effective banking legislation Despite five years of legislation and rule-writing, the finance industry is not significantly safer from a crash than it was before. "Once the residual fear from the last crisis fades and the appetite for risk revives, financial systems might be more at risk than before, not less." The main problems are a combination of overly confusing legislation and a lack of real will power. "Calls for bolder financial reform have come mostly from people who want to punish Wall Street and put bankers in jail — an understandable sentiment, but also a distraction." Jon Rauch, a contributing editor at The Atlantic, agrees that the U.S.' "Timid response leaves the financial system less resilient, not more." After five years, where does regulation stand? "Answer: about where we started," writes Bloomberg editorial board member Marc Champion.

Shani Hilton in BuzzFeed on the power of Black Twitter As Hilton explains, "Black Twitter" is quite simple, and is an informal association of thousands of African-American twitterers interested in race issues that "tweet A LOT." But it's had powerful media effects on raising the case of Trayvon Martin, Paula Deen's racial comments, ending the book plans of Juror B37 of the Zimmerman trial, and even making ABC's show Scandal a hit. "Now, black folks on Twitter aren’t just influencing the conversation online, they’re creating it," MSNBC political editor Perry Bacon Jr. writes "If you watch Scandal or follow politics or both, you have to read this piece." CNBC contributor Keith Boykin tweets to Hilton "Love this article. Thanks for sharing."

Jack Shafer in Reuters on the need for (good) partisan journalism Is it appropriate for a journalist to also be an activist? In reference to The Guardian's Glenn Greenwald's anti-U.S.-secrecy activism, Shafer certainly thinks so. The reactions of Greenwald's media critics show "a painful lack of historical understanding of American journalism," which was based on journalism with a clear political point. Think pamphleteers like the revolutionary Thomas Paine, or muckrakers like Jacob Riis, who exposed the awful conditions of tenement buildings. "I care less about where a journalist is coming from than to where his journalism takes me," he writes. Shafer includes an "Honor roll of partisan journalism through history," tweets The New York Times editor Margaret Sullivan, and Shafer provides links to each story. However, BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith notes that praising partisan journalism "doesn't mean journalism needs to be partisan."

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