Five Best Monday Columns

Bill Keller on erasing your Internet history, John Tamny on the "Wall Street" metonym, Jonathan Cohn on Obamacare's implementation, Amir Ahmad Nasr on the web's influence on Muslims, Rebecca Mead on the feminism of Amanda Knox.

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Bill Keller in The New York Times on erasing your Internet history Assessing an ongoing Connecticut trial, concerning a woman's quest to remove damaging stories about her from the Internet, Bill Keller weighs the web's record of humanity: "It seems almost everything is permanently recorded and accessible to almost anyone — potential employers, landlords, dates, predators. In Europe, where press freedoms are less sacred and the right to privacy is more ensconced, the idea has taken hold that individuals have a 'right to be forgotten,' and those who want their online particulars expunged tend to have the government on their side. I sense that the idea is gaining traction here." Keller quotes professor Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, who specializes in Internet regulation: "If we are continually reminded about people's mistakes, we are not able to judge them for who they are in the present. We need some way to put a speed-brake on the omnipresence of the past." At Gizmodo, Kyle Wagner is less certain: "No one you know who's spent any amount of time on the internet ... is without humiliating memories. ... There's just too much stupid now, ours and the world's, to really shame you the way you feel you deserve."

John Tamny at Forbes on the "Wall Street" metonym Does the term "Wall Street" — e.g., Wall Street vs. Main Street — mean anything anymore? "To navigate the numerous newspapers, magazines and websites that chronicle the financial world is to regularly be inundated with commentary about 'Wall Street.' To believe all that is written is to buy into a lot of attention-sapping myths," writes John Tamny. These myths are both geographic — "the financial world that is symbolized by 'Wall Street' is for the most part no longer on or even near the actual Wall Street in lower Manhattan" — and structural: "The false narrative still in existence that 'Wall Street's' health is inimical to that of "Main Street," or that financial firms work against the needs of clients is not credible. No business can exist for long if it’s actively seeking to bring harm to its customers." Add to that another myth: Wall Street's very dominance. "Wall Street is no longer the beacon of high pay and innovation it once was, thanks in part to a raft of new regulations, including those that curb compensation," writes Suzanne Kapner at The Wall Street Journal. "Once idolized by some for its "greed is good" mentality, the Wall Street of today still faces a barrage of public criticism for the carnage unleashed during the financial crisis."

Jonathan Cohn at The New Republic on Obamacare's implementation "Max Baucus thinks it might be a 'train wreck.' David Brooks is predicting chaos. And Democratic senators are telling the White House they are panicked. They're all talking about Obamacare and what happens next year, when it starts making insurance coverage available to nearly all Americans," opens Jonathan Cohn, who makes the case for optimism: "Believe it or not, the conversation represents progress. Instead of talking about whether we should have a health care reform law, we're talking about how well (or not well) the law is going to work. ... It's not going to work as well as many of us would like, and the initial adjustment may not be easy. ... And that'll be ok—because it will still do a lot of good and make life better for most people, particularly with the passage of time." The Washington Post's Greg Sargent called Cohn's discussion a "must, must read." At the National Review, meanwhile, Avik Roy agreed with one of health care reform's central premises, despite his criticism of Obamacare's entire package: "If we were to repeal Obamacare, it would be necessary to ensure that uninsurable people with pre-existing conditions could get coverage." He's hopeful too of turning health care around at all: "Our $1.5 trillion-a-year health-care leviathan was built over 70 years, and it won't be fixed overnight."

Amir Ahmad Nasr at Bloomberg View on the web's influence on Muslims What happens to Islam on the Internet? Acknowledging that several prominent terrorists were radicalized on underground online forums, Amir Ahmad Nasr argues that the Internet also provides a space for learning and growth, even liberation: "By the time I ventured online in 2006 and accidentally discovered the secular Egyptian blogosphere, I had already begun questioning my traditionalist upbringing as I wrestled with the fundamentalist beliefs my former Salafi teacher had taught me. I also wasn't as discontented; my personal grievances were shifting and became directed at the rigid traditionalists and bearded authoritarians around me who wanted to confine me within narrow mental boundaries. In my case, the Web liberated me. It helped free my mind from the dark, stinking and suffocating dungeons of religious dogmatism and intolerance." As Joan Walsh at Salon notes, the Boston Marathon bombers suspects for a compelling case study: "With all the rich detail about the Tsarnaevs, I'm struck by how little we know, by comparison, about Newtown killer Adam Lanza’s family. ... We had nothing like the detail about the Lanza family that we already have about the Tsarnaevs. ... Adam Lanza left no digital footprints — he even destroyed his computer’s hard drive — while the Tsarnaevs were all over social media, from Russian social networks to YouTube to Twitter."

Rebecca Mead at The New Yorker on the feminism of Amanda Knox Discussing the travails of Amanda Knox, the American student imprisoned in Italy for four years before being acquitted of murder, Rebecca Mead highlights the way Knox's attempts to challenge herself — in her sexuality, relationships, and more — ultimately backfired. "Knox went to Europe with the guileless project of seeking to be debauched. ... In this respect, if in no other, her experience is not so different from that of many young American women now, caught in a post-post-feminist narrative in which it is proposed that sexual emancipation may be achieved through emotional disengagement. ... If empowerment ... means anything it means being able to say no as well as yes, without censure or shame. It means neither being reflexively condemned as a volpe cattiva—a wicked fox, as the Italian press translated her nickname—nor submitting unthinkingly to contemporary pressures." At The Huffington Post, Edward Jay Epstein, discussing an Italian court's decision to throw out Knox's acquittal, notes how the prosecution attacked Knox's reputation, and hope to continue to do so: "It would also ... be a travesty of justice for an Italian prosecutor to use her case as a means to revive a his reputation, as an advocate of Satanic and 'she-devil' conspiracy theory."

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