Five Best Thursday Columns

Steven W. Thrasher on which state will be the last to introduce marriage equality, Joan Vennochi on the 9/11 Memorial Museum's gift shop, Daniel Henninger on the American response to Boko Haram, Dana Milbank on Obama's passivity towards the VA scandal, Stephen Kinzer on why there's no comparison between Syria and Rwanda.

This article is from the archive of our partner .

Steven W. Thrasher at the Guardian on which state will be the last to introduce marriage equality. “States have been falling for marriage equality so fast this week it's hard to come up with the right analogy to express the speed. How fast have they been falling – like dominoes, in a parlor game with the rather high stakes of American civil rights? Or like tears dripping from the face of National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown?” Thrasher writes. “When I started writing this article, Oregon was the 17th state to fall; in the middle of my draft, Pennsylvania became the 18th – the second in less than 24 hours, and the fourth federal decision for marriage equality (rendered by judges appointed by Democratic and Republican presidents) in just the last month. As it moves through the federal judiciary, maybe the Virginia case will end up at the Supreme Court and become the Loving v Virginia of its day. Or maybe it'll be Montana. Or maybe not – as I was writing this, four couples there filed suit as well."

Joan Vennochi at The Boston Globe on the 9/11 Memorial Museum’s gift shop. “When it comes to tragedy, there’s a thin line between solemn commemoration and crass commercialization. The New York Post recently reported that relatives of 9/11 victims are outraged that the National September 11 Memorial Museum will be home to a gift shop that peddles T-shirts, mugs, and rescue dog vests, as well as books and other educational material relating to the deadly terrorist attack,” Vennochi writes. “The commercialization of tragedy is not just an American phenomenon. There’s a bookstore at the Auschwitz-Birkenau museum, and souvenirs are available at Anne Frank’s House. Two days after the Boston Marathon bombing, the Daily Mail reported that the US Patent and Trademark office received applications from two retailers rushing to market the ‘Boston Strong’ slogan. But what’s offensive to some is fine with others, or retailers wouldn’t roll the taste dice.”

Daniel Henninger at The Wall Street Journal on the American response to Boko Haram. “The tweeting has subsided. That tends to happen in a trending world. Now what for the kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls? At a what-to-do-about-the-girls summit of Western and African nations in Paris, U.S. Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman said: ‘You know, I think it's now become our girls, not just Nigeria's girls, it's the world's girls.’ Some have been having sport with the hashtag campaign for the kidnapped girls and about them being ‘the world's girls.’ It sounds like a Michael Jackson foreign policy: ‘We are the world’,” Henninger writes. “The cure to al Qaeda's cancer is not watchful waiting. But with some notable exceptions, such as the invaluable drone strikes, watchful waiting is what the U.S. does most of the time. The U.S. foreign-policy bureaucracy has known about Boko Haram for years. The emphasis there is on bureaucracy.” Radio host Michael Graham tweets, “Great column on US weakness in face of #BokoHaram and other Islamist violence #BringBackOurGirls”.

Dana Milbank at The Washington Post on Obama’s passivity towards the VA scandal. “It doesn’t inspire great confidence that President Obama, on the day he finally decided to comment about excessive wait times for veterans’ medical appointments, showed up late to read his statement. The White House briefing room is only about 100 feet from the Oval Office, but Obama arrived 13 minutes after the scheduled time for his remarks, the first since the day the scandal broke late last month with a report that 40 veterans had died in Phoenix while waiting to see doctors,” Milbank writes.“Obama spoke of only ‘the possibility that somebody was trying to manipulate the data’ on appointment wait lists, and he suggested that ‘whatever is wrong’ may be ‘just an episodic problem.’ But there are no ‘ifs’ about it: Numerous inquiries and leaked memos over several years point to ‘gaming strategies’ employed at VA facilities to make wait times for medical appointments seem shorter — and these clearly aren’t limited to those reported in Phoenix; Albuquerque; Fort Collins, Colo.; and elsewhere.”

Stephen Kinzer at Al Jazeera America on why there’s no comparison between Syria and Rwanda. “From the moment the Syrian crisis began three years ago, there have been voices in Washington urging direct American intervention. They have had trouble selling the idea of intervention to the American people. Now they are testing a new approach: we must intervene in Syria to prevent ‘another Rwanda’,” Kinzer writes. “This reference shocks us into paying attention. The word ‘Rwanda’ has become a new code for interventionists. It is a simple term that is understood to carry a set of clear meanings, like ‘Munich’ or ‘Pearl Harbor’ or ‘Vietnam.’ This is not only insulting to the victims in Rwanda. It is a cynical attempt to drag the United States into another Middle East conflict without the slightest assurance that intervention would, in the long run, benefit suffering Syrians.”

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