Five Best Monday Columns

Ahmed on Gaza, Villaraigosa on U.S. public schools, Gardam on The Church of England, Cantú on the homeless, and Bloomberg View on Dodd-Frank. 

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Qanta Ahmed in USA Today on why the influence of political, extremist Islam is the real threat in Gaza. Ahmed writes that Islam has been usurped by political Islam, which marginalizes mainstream Muslims. "These Islamists subscribe not to Islam but a totalitarian ideology disguised as religion. While Islamists may fervently believe they are Muslim subscribers to Islam, what they adopt is a totalitarian politicization of Islam." He ties the threat of political Islam not just to Israel but to moderate muslims as well, writing, "Heavy criticism has been leveled at Israel's emphatic assault on Gazans and the Gaza Strip because of the escalating casualties. Less well acknowledged is that Israel is combating not just an organization devoted to securing its territory in a conflict over land, but a totalitarian ideology that definitively leaves no room for either Israel, Israelis or moderate Muslims to exist."

Antonio Villaraigosa in The Wall Street Journal on why Democrats shouldn't block important changes to public schools. The former mayor of Los Angeles and lifelong Democrat argues for public school change and the benefits of Common Core testing standards. "At a time when only one in 10 low-income children is earning a four-year college degree and two out of three jobs of the future will require one, change is needed. At a time when more than half of young people attending community college need to retake high-school classes because the education they received was not rigorous enough, change is needed. At a time when American 15-year-olds trail their counterparts in 30 countries in math, 23 in science and 20 in reading, change is needed." Villaraigosa praises teachers but argues that some standardized testing helps parents know if their children are learning. "Parents will not tolerate resistance to common-sense changes that are necessary for preparing our children for the future. We can do the right thing for our children and for our teachers. We can hold ourselves accountable without demonizing one another and we can all be honest about our shortcomings. Let's cool the rhetoric, find common ground and get to work."

Jane Gardam in The New York Times on why allowing female bishops into the Church of England is true to the history of the church. Gardam praises the decision and writes that while more traditional churchgoers may object, there is a history of important women in the Church of England. "And yet in Yorkshire for a thousand years we had formidable female saints who could eat any number of male bishops for breakfast with their flagons of ale, including the glorious Hilda, abbess of Whitby, a unisex establishment of both monks and nuns. Whitby Abbey, more than 1,350 years old, stands now roofless and looks on the cliff-top rather like a rotten tooth. But even roofless, to this day it is said you’ll never see birds fly over its grassy nave. It is too holy. They fall down dead." Gardam writes that after centuries, the Church of England is finally returning its history of strong female leaders. "I think that Hilda, Mildred and all the women who have been essentially running the church since the seventh century — perhaps even my mother — would agree."

 in Al Jazeera English on how the United State's is trying to sweep its homeless under the rug. In many cities across the country new laws are being written to get people off the streets, enacting penalties for camping, begging, sleeping, sitting or eating in public. Unfortunately, Cantú writes, there is not an equal effort to solve the root problem. "This crackdown is happening without equally forceful measures to develop the nation’s supply of affordable housing, which has fallen by 12.8 percent since 2001 because of fewer subsidies for federal housing. The U.N. Human Rights Committee even condemned the trend as 'cruel, inhuman, [and] degrading' in a recent report on the United States." He contends that the country's homeless are being pushed away to make room for developers and are often charged with minor crimes. Cantú cites Utah as a model of how dealing with the poor can be both humane and cost efficient. "It can be different. Utah began giving away apartments to homeless individuals after realizing how much money could be saved. Policymakers realized that, on average, it costs about $16,670 a year to jail a person and $11,000 a year to set him or her up with an apartment and social work. Since a program called Housing First was launched in 2006, homelessness in Utah has decreased 78 percent, despite a recession-fueled plunge in median income. The state estimates that all Utahans will be housed by next year."

Bloomberg View on why the Dodd-Frank financial regulation legislation has failed.  Most of the previsions of Dodd-Frank, set up during the Great Recession to better regulate the financial system and prevent another crash, have not been enacted. "At its core, the Dodd-Frank Act was supposed to work like a three-stage containment system. Better monitoring and limits on risk-taking would make accidents less likely to happen. If financial institutions did get into trouble, added capital would make them more likely to survive. If they nonetheless failed, advance planning and new resolution mechanisms would allow them to do so without bringing down the broader financial system and the economy. Despite all the progress regulators have made, they have yet to complete any level of this fail-safe system." The editors argue that regulators have struggled to enforce the regulations, which are complicated and do not fit seamlessly into the existing market. "Markets have already offered their verdict on the success of Dodd-Frank: Various studies show that creditors lend money more cheaply to the largest banks, on the assumption that the government will have to rescue them in an emergency just like it did in 2008 and 2009. The International Monetary Fund has estimated that this implicit taxpayer subsidy was worth as much as $70 billion a year in 2011 and 2012."

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