Five Best Tuesday Columns

Glenn Greenwald on the mourning of Margaret Thatcher, Bret Stephens on the other kind of marriage, Judith Miller on Jana Winter's jail prospects, David Plotz on his abusive high school basketball coach, and Jeffrey Goldberg on the legacy of the Iraq War.

This article is from the archive of our partner .

Glenn Greenwald at The Guardian on the mourning of Margaret Thatcher Do world-historical figures like Margaret Thatcher, once they die, deserve the automatic respect we give the dead? "News of Margaret Thatcher's death this morning instantly and predictably gave rise to righteous sermons on the evils of speaking ill of her," Glenn Greenwald observes, joining a chorus of second guessers. "This demand for respectful silence in the wake of a public figure's death is not just misguided but dangerous. That one should not speak ill of the dead is arguably appropriate when a private person dies, but it is wildly inappropriate for the death of a controversial public figure, particularly one who wielded significant influence and political power." David Corn at Mother Jones agreed, taking the opportunity to survey Thatcher's controversial influence on the country she ruled. "Thatcher was a historic figure. But that does not mean she was a great leader," he wrote. Salon's Alex Pareene was less circumspect: "She intentionally immiserated millions of English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish people in order to carry out a liberalization of the British economy that benefited the wealthy at the expense of nearly everyone else." Andrew Sullivan, meanwhile, explored his devotion to Thatcher in a long essay on her influence on his career: "I was a teenage Thatcherite, an uber-politics nerd who loved her for her utter lack of apology for who she was. I sensed in her, as others did, a final rebuke to the collectivist, egalitarian oppression of the individual produced by socialism and the stultifying privileges and caste identities of the class system."

Bret Stephens in The Wall Street Journal on the other kind of marriage Banning gay marriage doesn't just prevent gay people from marrying each other, argues Bret Stephens; it forces those seeking respectability to deny who they are, and produces deeply unhappy marriages. Describing the well-known phenomenon of gay men marrying women in order to be accepted by society at large, Stephens makes what he calls a conservative case for gay marriage: "Gay people generally want to lead lives of conventional respectability. So much so, in fact, that many are prepared to suppress their sexual nature to lead such lives. The desire for respectability is commendable; the deception it involves is not. To avoid deception, you can try to change the person's nature. Good luck with that. Or you can modify a social institution so that gay people can have what the rest of us take for granted: The chance to find love and respectability in the same person." Commentary editor John Podhoretz called Stephens's column "dazzling" and "the most original conservative case for gay marriage yet written." Wired's Steve Silberman agreed, but reminded Podhoretz that Stephens's argument has been circulating for years. (See this video, entitled "Gay Men Will Marry Your Girlfriends.")

Judith Miller in the Los Angeles Times on Jana Winter's jail prospects Fox News investigative reporter Jana Winter should not go to jail for protecting a source, writes Judith Miller, the embattled former New York Times journalist who spent 85 days in jail, in 2005, for refusing to reveal the identity of Scooter Libby. In this case, Miller explains, Winter is vulnerable to being jailed for declining to reveal who told her that Aurora, Colorado shooter James Holmes had sent a disturbing notebook to his psychiatrist. "Winter had gotten a world-class scoop that shed light on the crucial question of what had motivated the alleged crime," Miller writes, praising Winter's skill in news-gathering, and the risk to her First Amendment rights that her jailing would pose. "A nation cannot remain free if the government alone decides what information its citizens are entitled to have." As John Cook at Gawker points out, however, sympathy for Winter has been hard to come by because of Winter's employer: "Not as many people care about [Jana Winter] as much as they ought to, which is one of the consequences of working for a nakedly partisan shitshow masquerading as news outlet," he wrote, referring to Fox News, which according to Cook "has literally created a multi-billion dollar behemoth on the notion that reporters ... are treasonous scoundrels and liars who don't deserve the protections of the First Amendment." (Winter is safe from jail for now, though.)

David Plotz at Slate on his abusive high school basketball coach The recently leaked tapes of even more recently fired Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice, who threw balls at the heads of players in between calling them "fairy" and "faggot," brought back memories for Slate editor David Plotz, who admits that, as a teenager, his own abusive coach made him a better player. "When I was a high school freshman, my basketball coach shoved me, pushed me, mocked me, and chucked basketballs at me. He compared me in unfavorable ways (and remarkably foul language) to girls and senior citizens," Plotz explains, before admitting that he sympathizes with Rice because his own experience "didn't register as bullying or abuse, just as coaching." Still, Plotz readily admits that he, too, would have confronted Rice if those basketball players were his own children: "If my kids endured what I did, I would be in the principal’s office demanding heads. Yet I’m a hypocrite, because I’m certain that the abuse I would abhor today made me a better basketball player and a better teammate, and possibly even made me a better person." For support, Plotz mentions his colleague Emily Bazelon, who pointed out last week that some players — especially mediocre ones — say they appreciate brutal coaching methods. Elsewhere, Christina Sommers at the American Enterprise Institute praised Plotz's take, calling it "wonderful"; The Daily Beast's Justin Green added that Plotz captured "how I felt about most of my high school coaches." But others were less persuaded. The writer Stephanie Lucianovic noted that "Plotz proves how abusers brainwash the abused into thinking the abuse is good for them." And Jerry Carino at USA Today thinks such acceptance of abusive coaches indicates a larger cultural rot: "Driven by pride, adrenaline, the specter of big money and a degree of zealotry, we accept behavior from coaches that we would never tolerate from a teacher in a classroom or a colleague in a workplace."

Jeffrey Goldberg at Bloomberg View on the legacy of the Iraq War Highlighting a recent remark by the Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison on the justification for invading and occupying Iraq, Jeffrey Goldberg ponders what actual citizens of Iraq think about the past ten years. "So much of what has happened over the past 10 years in Iraq has been undeniably disastrous. The cost in Iraqi and American blood and treasure is appalling, and the damage done to our country’s reputation — and to the ideas that animate liberal interventionism — may be irreparable," he admits, before reporting a conversation he had with Barham Salih, the former deputy prime minister of Iraq and a chairman of the American University of Iraq in Sulaimani. "From the perspective of the Kurdish people — and I dare say the majority of the Iraqi people — it was worth it," Salim tells Goldberg. "War is never a good option, but given our history and the brutality of Saddam’s regime, it may have been the only other option to end the genocidal campaign waged by Saddam against the Kurds and other communities in Iraq." Goldberg eventually returns to Morrison, whose beliefs he considers valid, before appraising his own involvement as a journalist. "I thought that Iraq, with competent American help, could make the transition to at least semi-democracy, even after suffering such physical and psychological damage during the bleak years of Saddam’s reign," he writes. "But those who believe the invasion was an act of insanity ... should at least ask Saddam's many victims for their opinion on the matter before rendering final judgment."

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