Five Best Monday Columns

Dana Stevens on 12 Years a Slave's Oscar wins, Adam Minter on an ambassador's racist send off by China, Marwan Bishara dissects AIPAC, Jackee Budesta Batanda on Uganda's anti-gay bill, Paul Krugman on Texas success and oil.

This article is from the archive of our partner .

Dana Stevens at Slate on 12 Years a Slave's Oscar wins. “The Best Picture race in particular was framed, sometimes explicitly, in moral terms: American Hustle vs. American history, Gravity vs. gravitas. An unpleasantly scolding example of this tone was the 12 Years Oscar-campaign slogan, “It’s time,” which struck me as implicitly suggesting the movie didn’t deserve to be awarded on its own merits,” Stevens writes. “It was a highly predictable ceremony overall, the biggest shock of the night being how radically John Travolta managed to transform the name of Idina Menzel into another entire name in his introduction of her Best Song performance. (God bless Adele Dazeem! That lady can sing.) But the mere fact that an unsurprising Oscar outcome could contain not only this much diversity, but also this much valuation of serious, difficult work was heartening.”

Adam Minter at Bloomberg on an ambassador's racist send off by China. “The state-owned China News Service last week bid farewell to the ethnically Chinese, outgoing U.S. ambassador with a pseudonymous news item referring to him as a “yellow-skinned white-hearted banana man.” What, perchance, could ignite a Chinese-language newspaper to use what non-Chinese would ordinarily regard as a racial slur? As outlined by this 64-year-old, Communist Party-controlled, globally-oriented CNS, he had favored U.S. interests over Chinese ones,” Minter writes. “Nonetheless, it’s worth nothing that CNS isn’t writing from the fringe, entirely. From the moment that Locke was announced as the U.S. ambassador in 2011, he’s been the subject of considerable, racially-oriented curiosity.” Bloomberg’s David Shipley tweets, “China bids farewell to U.S. ambassador Gary Locke with...insults.”

Marwan Bishara at Al Jazeera dissects AIPAC. “The annual "schmooze Israel" convention that opened in Washington this week has been overshadowed by two issues: the US administration's preoccupation with the Ukraine crisis and its insistence on negotiations with Tehran and on Palestine. Neither, however, seems to have diminished AIPAC conventioneers' optimism regarding the future of the US Israel relationship,” Bishara writes. “AIPAC's influence over Congress and its legislative agendas are paramount for its overall lobbying effort in the capital, on the White House and America's foreign policy in the Middle East and beyond. AIPAC's strategy is one of barter, pure and simple. In fact, regional experts argue rather convincingly that the Israel utilitarian argument fell short on accomplishments — at least — since the end of the Cold War. So much so, they argue, that strategically for America, Israel has been more of a burden than an asset.”

Jackee Budesta Batanda at The Guardian on Uganda’s anti-gay bill. “In a country struggling with high unemployment, the youth need an outlet to vent the frustrations ailing them, and the LGBTI community is the current unfortunate scapegoat. The newly signed bill, the outing of people and western countries withholding aid combine to make a perfect recipe for pre-meditated attacks on the LGBTI community,” Budesta Bantanda writes. “Discussion on the anti-gay bill in most cases turns into a black and a white debate; there is no grey line and it more or less ends up in name-calling with critics of the bill quickly labelled as homosexuals or gay lovers. This shows the failure for many people to understand that the bill might lead to potential cases of human rights violations for a minority within the country. The bill can now be seen as a yardstick to measure the level of tolerance – or lack of it – within the country. And by the looks of it, it is hitting an all time low.”

Paul Krugman at The New York Times on Texas success and oil. “Philip Longman has a very good article in the Washington Monthly debunking the hype about the Texas economy. But I wanted to follow up on one particular point: the role of oil and gas in recent years. What you learn from these data right away is that Texas is indeed king of the extractive expansion. This mining expansion must also have had a multiplier effect, as mining operations and workers spent money in the local economy, raising incomes, and generating further increases in demand,” Krugman writes. “What about the rest? Partly we’re seeing the continuation of the long-term movement of U.S. population and jobs to the Sunbelt; Ed Glaeser likes to point out that the single best predictor of state growth is the number of winter degree days. On top of that, Texas does do one very important thing right: it has relaxed zoning, which keeps housing abundant and cheap.”

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