Five Best Tuesday Columns

Helen Verongos on Nadine Gordimer, Anne Bayefsky on Israel's right to self-defense, Ben White and Maggie Haberman on Hillary Clinton's Wall Street friends, Bill Simmons on Carmelo Anthony, and David Stoll on Central American immigration.

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Helen Verongos in The New York Times on Nadine Gordimer's relationship with apartheid in her writings. Nobel laureate Nadine Gordimer passed away on Sunday. Her writing was characterized and shaped by living through South African apartheid, but she tried not to be a political writer. "But whether by accident of geography or literary searching, she found her themes in the injustices and cruelties of her country’s policies of racial division, and she left no quarter of South African society unexplored, from the hot, crowded cinder-block neighborhoods and tiny shebeens of the black townships to the poolside barbecues, hunting parties and sundowner cocktails of the white society." Verongos adds, "When the Nobel committee awarded Ms. Gordimer the literature prize in 1991, it took note of her political activism, but observed, 'She does not permit this to encroach on her writings.'"

Anne Bayefsky in The Jerusalem Post on why the United Nations continues to undermines Israel's right to self-defense. Whenever Israel fights back against Hamas aggression, the U.N. criticizes Israel. Bayefsky says this criticism is mostly baseless and fabricated. "In accordance with this pathology, U.N. actors manufacture a cycle of violence that begins with Israeli aggression; assert a moral equivalence between Arab terrorists and their Israeli victims; and concoct a litany of Israeli human rights abuses. They conclude that Israeli actions in self-defense are crimes, and Israel’s enemies are understandably, if a tad too fervently, protecting human rights." She continues that the United Nations fails to fairly uphold the backbone of international law by blaming Israel for bystander deaths, when they should be blaming the ones who use bystanders to protect themselves. "International law does, however, outlaw the use of human beings 'in attempts to shield military objectives from attacks or to shield, favor or impede military operations.' The cause of a human shield’s death is the person using the shield – just as the cause of the death of a hostage shot by police in the course of a kidnapping is the kidnapper – not the police."

Ben White and Maggie Haberman in Politico on the challenge Hillary Clinton faces in 2016 by being too close to Wall Street. Even though Bill Clinton remains incredibly popular among Democrats, the party has shifted from when he was president. Now, perhaps more than ever, the Democratic party dislikes big business. Unfortunately, for the Clintons, they are almost inescapably tied to it. "On a broad range of issues from tax policy and Wall Street reform to religious rights, more than a dozen senior Democratic strategists and people who have worked with the former first family told POLITICO that Hillary Clinton will have to craft a platform that reflects the party’s shift left and populist sentiment across the political spectrum that distrusts entrenched interests and worries about growing wage inequality. Some described this balancing act as one of the most significant issues for the potential presidential candidate." In the 90s, Bill Clinton's biggest gift was his ability to move to the right. Now, Hillary must do the opposite. "The test for Democrats in the Clinton era was proving they supported Big Business. Their challenge now is proving they are serious about holding Wall Street accountable. And Clinton, whose gaffes about her own wealth made headlines on her book tour, will need to demonstrate that she can connect with the policies her party cares most about in the lead-up to 2016."

Bill Simmons in Grantland on why Carmelo Anthony returning to the Knicks means we'll never know how good he could have been. Carmelo Anthony has been teetering on the edge of Star and Superstar since he came into the league. Simmons explains why his decision to stay in New York means that he will never cross over to the next level. "Why weren’t Knicks fans freaking out that they might lose their franchise player for nothing? Why were so many Bulls fans (and I know three of them) saying things like 'I’d love to get Melo, but I hate the thought of giving up Taj [Gibson] for him'? How did Anthony, only 30 and still in his prime, become the NBA’s most underappreciated and misunderstood player?" Carmelo Anthony's personal numbers show that he should be a superstar, but a myriad of factors have never put him in the right situation to win consistently at the highest level. "The problems start here: Carmelo Anthony is definitely better than your typical All-Star, but he’s not quite a superstar. You know what that makes him? An almost-but-not-quite-superstar. He’s not Leo DiCaprio or Will Smith — he can’t open a movie by himself. He’s more like Seth Rogen or Channing Tatum — he can open the right movie by himself. There’s a big difference."

David Stoll in The Wall St. Journal (subscription) on how crossing the border is often not economically helpful to Central American families. Stoll, who has spent significant time reporting on a village in Guatemala, explores what really happens when family members cross the border and send money home. "....remittances are never a secure income stream, and not merely because of U.S. deportation policies. Many migrants fail to find steady work. Some fall victim to cheap beer and other amusements. The longer they stay in the U.S., the more likely they are to start a second family." He also notes that family reunification is extremely difficult and the more money someone sends home, the more prices rise in villages and towns where most people can't keep up. " Where I work in Guatemala, remittances have inflated the price of land to astounding levels; most families are unable to buy property unless they can place at least one wage-earner in the U.S. So every family is under pressure to send someone north. Migrants must borrow at least $5,000 to pay human smugglers. Many pay 10% monthly interest and put up family land as collateral. So they're betting the farm. When something goes wrong, they lose it."

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