Five Best Monday Columns

Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel on the hunger strike at Gitmo, Jason Farago on New York's housing market, James O'Keefe on taping politicians, Jillian Keenan on abuse in polygamist communities, and Heather Mac Donald on stop-and-frisk.

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Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel in The New York Times on his detention at Guantánamo Bay "I've been detained at Guantánamo for 11 years and three months. I have never been charged with any crime. I have never received a trial," expalins Yemeni detainee Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel, who was captured in Pakistan under the suspicion that he served as a guard for Osama bin Laden. Henceforth denied a trial, he describes, through a translated phone call to his lawyers, the disturbing treatment he undergoes in retaliation for the ongoing hunger strike at the prison: "I will never forget the first time they passed the feeding tube up my nose. I can't describe how painful it is to be force-fed this way. As it was thrust in, it made me feel like throwing up. I wanted to vomit, but I couldn't. There was agony in my chest, throat and stomach. I had never experienced such pain before." He places specific blame on President Obama, who promised to close the Gitmo prison: "The only reason I am still here is that President Obama refuses to send any detainees back to Yemen. This makes no sense. I am a human being, not a passport, and I deserve to be treated like one." Glenn Greenwald called the letter "one of the most powerful Op-Eds ever."

Jason Farago in The New Republic on New York City's housing market In New York, everything is about real estate. "Biography is real estate. ... Politics is really about real estate, as Jimmy McMillan of the Rent Is Too Damn High Party perennially reminds us. Food is really about real estate. Nightlife is really about real estate. Culture is really about real estate. (Have you seen David Zwirner’s new gallery on 20th? The concrete-and-teak facade, the giant skylights, the endless oak floors! Five stories!) And sex, too. Sex in New York, it’s sad to say, is really little more than a matter of real estate; marriages are effected in order to get people's names on leases ... Bodies are transient; real estate endures." Jason Farago, while reviewing Constance Rosenblum's book on urban life, takes the pulse of New York's housing market, and finds its lifeblood not to be money, exactly, but the bloodsport of finding the best deal on the sweetest, most centrally-located flat. "Market rents are for suckers," he writes. The latest example? As the New York Post noted in March, a woman living in a rent-stabilized apartment in her aunt's name concealed her aunt's 207 death  for six years, in order to keep paying a mere $287 in rent.

James O'Keefe in The Daily Beast on taping politicians James O'Keefe, the young journalist whose undercover tapes brought down the urban collective ACORN, treats the recent Mother Jones recording of Mitch McConnell's campaign aides as an opportunity to reflect on the First Amendment. Freedom of the press, O'Keefe writes, is difficult to remember when political opponents most deserve them: "While the two young people who allegedly recorded McConnell, Shawn Reilly and Curtis Morrison, may have overstepped the line this time, conservatives need to understand that the potential punishment they face is incommensurate with the crime under the present law." The ability to publish unfiltered information, he continues, is what's at stake in the McConnell recording, and those who may face criminal liability for obtaining them. "Raw and unfiltered recordings are the best tools we have to expose things as they really are. ... David Corn said of his McConnell tape, 'No one needs to listen to me or any commentator to know what it means ... It’s all there ... It’s journalism verité.' As someone who shares David Corn's vision of bringing veritas to the vulgate, or truth to the people, I wholeheartedly agree." Meanwhile, Kentucky's Courier-Journal criticized McConnell for trumping up the recording as something akin to the Watergate scandal. "The efforts of Progress Kentucky made the bungled, 1972 Republican break-in of Democratic National Committee headquarters look downright professional. It would be [comic] ... if it weren't so sad."

Jillian Keenan at Slate on ending abuse in polygamist communities Observing the array of abuses seen in America's polygamist families, Jillian Keenan wonders if legalizing polygamy would help end them. "Legalizing consensual adult polygamy wouldn't legalize rape or child abuse. In fact, it would make those crimes easier to combat," she says. "Right now, all polygamous families, including the healthy, responsible ones, are driven into hiding ... In the resulting isolation, crime and abuse can flourish unimpeded. Children in polygamous communities are taught to fear the police and are not likely to report an abusive neighbor if they suspect their own parents might be caught up in a subsequent criminal investigation." Keenan goes on to frame legalized polygamy as a feminist victory: "As women, we really can make our own choices. We just might choose things people don’t like. If a woman wants to marry a man, that’s great. If she wants to marry another woman, that’s great too. ... And if she wants to marry a man with three other wives, that’s her damn choice." Conservatives were less convinced. On Twitter, Michael B. Dougherty asked, "Why stop with polygamy? We need legal, respected, sanctioned concubinage now!" And at The American Spectator, Benjamin Brophy takes issues with the notion that polygamy liberates women: "I'm not quite sure what could be more chauvinist than a man deciding on a daily basis which of his three wives he's going to sleep with." The debate continues in light of a question at oral arguments in a gay marriage case brought up a polygamy connection.

Heather Mac Donald in the New York Daily News on the images of stop-and-frisk As the New York City Police Department undergoes a federal trial concerning its controversial "stop-and-frisk" policy, Heather MacDonald warns of seeing an incomplete picture of the violence in question: "The stop, question and frisk lawsuit against the New York Police Department has featured testimony about being frisked and searched that is almost pornographic in its detail. Under questioning from their lawyers, plaintiffs have luridly described how officers ran their hands up the insides of their legs or patted down their backsides ... Such testimony is powerful and deserves to be heard," she writes, before challenging how images of violence are being considered as the trial moves forward. "The picture of NYPD policing being drawn ... is fatally incomplete. Here is what we are not hearing that would balance the equation: equally graphic descriptions of how bullets tear through flesh, what a homicide victim looks like after being shot and how morgues smell in the middle of the night." But to those closest to the policy's implementation, stop-and-frisk remains humiliating, despite its good intentions to reduce crime. As the Flatbush hip-hop artist Issa Dash told Vice, "There's no way to stop the discrimination aspect of stop-and-frisk. We all have premeditated thoughts about each other."

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