Five Best Thursday Columns

Gary Younge on George Zimmerman's trial, Matt Miller on tax policy deceptions, George Will on drug policy, Karl Meyer on the Toulouse killings, and Fred Barnes on Romney's election strategy

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Gary Younge in The Guardian on George Zimmerman's arrest Florida authorities charged George Zimmerman with second degree murder Wednesday, six weeks after the killing of Trayvon Martin. "What follows from here has the potential to be every bit as divisive as the OJ Simpson trial and every bit as inflammatory as the Rodney King case," writes Younge. Polling already shows that white people and black people diverge greatly when asked whether they think the crime was racially motivated, or whether the President's comments expressing solidarity with Martin were appropriate. "Given that it was political pressure that made the trial possible, it would be naive to suggest that, now Zimmerman is in the hands of the law, his fate is now merely a legal matter. The 'stand your ground' law was political, as are the lax gun laws, and the issues of race that have propelled this case to international news."

Matt Miller in The Washington Post on tax policy deceptions While Americans file their taxes, Miller takes a look at the lies both parties propagate about tax policy. "The big Republican lie is that we don’t need to raise taxes at all, even as the boomers retire and we double the number of people on Social Security and Medicare. The big Democratic lie is that we can get America’s fiscal house in order by raising taxes only on people who earn more than $250,000 a year." Congressional Budget Office officials will say honestly that taxes must be raised to cover entitlements, and they must be raised on more than the super rich. But it benefits neither party politically to admit to this. Miller argues, as he often does, "If we had a serious third voice in the presidential campaign, Romney and Obama wouldn’t be able to sustain these deceptions."

George Will in The Washington Post on drug policy Will points out that with both alcohol and illicit drugs, about 20 percent of users consume 80 percent of the products. "Reducing consumption by the 80 percent of casual users will not substantially reduce the northward flow of drugs or the southward flow of money," he says. As we examine the growing support for legalization, he points to the costs we incur by imprisoning small-time drug dealers with little apparent effect on drug supply or price. He outlines several other inefficiencies with our drug policy that prop up crime rings and cartels, and he wonders, "Would the public health problems resulting from legalization be a price worth paying for injuring the cartels and reducing the costs of enforcement? We probably are going to find out."

Karl Meyer in The New York Times on multiculturalism and the Toulouse killings When Mohammed Merah, a French citizen of Algerian descent, killed seven people in Toulouse, he reignited a debate over the place of Arabs in French society. "These opposing approaches to what it means to be French — one rooted in an uncompromising ideal of assimilation, the other grounded in the messy realities of multiculturalism — struck a chord with me," writes Meyer. While researching a book on multiculturalism in France, Meyer discovered a very different attitude in the port city of Marseille, which has a higher proportion of Arab-French people and has long been more welcoming to immigrants. "The effects of this exclusionary mindset are palpable ... Can and should the Marseillais spirit of civilized tolerance spread northward?"

Fred Barnes in The Wall Street Journal on Romney's general election strategy Rick Santorum's exit from the race this week made Mitt Romney the presumptive Republican nominee. "To defeat President Obama and capture the presidency, Mr. Romney will have to make significant changes in his campaign," writes Barnes. First, he'll have to reassure and capture the conservative base that tended to prefer his primary opponents, because without them, states like North Carolina will go blue. Barnes suggests several ways he can reach out to conservatives. Romney should also learn to talk about his wealth more confidently by emphasizing his family's more humble origins. And he should soften his rhetoric on immigration, because he'll need Hispanic voters. "To defeat Mr. Obama on Nov. 6, Mr. Romney must perform at a higher level than he did in the primaries."

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