Five Best Thursday Columns
E.J. Dionne, Jr. on Pope Francis' message to Obama, John Sandweg asks: Who should be deported?, Archie Panjabi on the continuing battle against polio in the global south, Lily Hay Newman on Apple's (and everyone else's) desire to diversify emojis, Alexander Aciman on why colleges must stop hassling alums for money.
E.J. Dionne, Jr. at The Washington Post on Pope Francis’ message to the Obama. “President Obama’s first salary as a community organizer was paid by a Catholic group. He identified with Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, then Chicago’s archbishop, whose consistent ethic of life encompassed a dedication to the poor. You could thus imagine the president asking Pope Francis at their meeting on Thursday: Why can’t these American bishops get along with me?” Dionne writes. “But this meeting will underscore something else: While Francis has decidedly moved the church back toward the social justice Catholicism with which Obama connected as a young man, Francis’s worldview is plainly not American. Efforts to shoehorn him into our debates have a distorting effect.”
John Sandweg at The Los Angeles Times asks: Who should be deported? “President Obama recently directed Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson to examine U.S. immigration enforcement policies to see how the department can "conduct enforcement more humanely within the confines of the law." The answer to the president's directive is surprisingly simple: Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement division, known as ICE, should eliminate "non-criminal re-entrants and immigration fugitives" as a priority category for deportation,” Sandweg, the former acting director of ICE, writes. “To be sure, those who repeatedly cross our borders illegally or abscond from the immigration court bear culpability. However, making this population a priority detracts from ICE's ability to track down and arrest the increasing number of much more serious public safety threats the agency identifies.”
Archie Panjabi at the Guardian on the continuing battle against polio in the global south. “This week a regional certification commission is expected to declare the World Health Organisation south-east Asia region polio-free. I could not be prouder about this historic achievement. By the mid to late 1950s, effective vaccines were in wide use, and within two decades or so polio was gone from most of the developed world,” Panjabi writes. “I am happy to report that today polio is 99% gone, down from about 350,000 cases a year in the 1980s to barely 400 in 2013. With India now free of the disease, only three countries remain polio-endemic: Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan. That means we must keep the pressure on our political, business and philanthropic leaders to generate the resources to finish the job.”
Lily Hay Newman at Slate on Apple’s (and everyone else’s) desire to diversify emojis. “Across mobile, and especially in iOS, people use emojis to express deep and complicated emotions. But the lack of diversity in the human-related emojis makes it hard to accurately represent life through these pictograms. The abstract colors are all right, but don't really cut it when there's such a critical mass of emojis depicting white people,” Newman writes. “Without a hard timeframe, it's hard to tell how serious Apple is, or how much power the company can wield over the Unicode consortium (which develops international software standards). But the campaign for more diverse emojis has been raging for almost two years now, and includes proponents like Miley Cyrus.”
Alexander Aciman at the New Republic on why colleges must stop hassling alums for money. “In addition to the calls, I also sometimes get as many as two or three fundraising emails a day from my school. Needless to say, I have stopped answering calls from a 773 area code, but like a brokenhearted ex-lover, the alumni house can’t quite seem to get the hint,” Aciman writes. “The email spam and inconvenient phone calls, however, aren’t the problem. It is the fundamental unseemliness of universities’ relentless solicitation of donations from recent alumni in a country where the current balance of outstanding student loans is 1/15 of the nation’s entire GDP. Universities must realize that many of us cannot spare the donation required to get a mug with our class year on it.”