Five Best Monday Columns
Charles M. Blow on misogyny and #YesAllMen, Robert J. Samuelson compares inequality today and a century ago, Diana Darke on Syria's farce of an election, Tom Rogan on Obama, Putin, and Ukraine, Jennifer Graham on the power of movies and perception.
Charles M. Blow at The New York Times on misogyny and #YesAllMen. “As I drove my son back to college last week, he said something that struck me: ‘I believe it’s very important for everyone to be a feminist.’ Fighting female objectification and discrimination and violence against women isn’t simply the job of women; it must also be the pursuit of men,” Blow writes. “Not all men are part of the problem, but, yes, all men must be part of the solution. The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women has reported that in Australia, Canada, Israel, South Africa and the United States, violence by intimate partners accounts for between 40 percent and 70 percent of all murders of women. Empathy is not particularly elusive. It only requires an earnest quest to understand and act on that understanding. The problems women face in this world require the engagement of all the world’s people. ‘It’s very important for everyone to be a feminist.’ #YesAllMen.”
Robert J. Samuelson at The Washington Post compares inequality today and a century ago. “It’s not the 1920s. One common line in the debate over economic inequality is that the income gaps between the rich and everyone else have reverted to levels not seen since the ’20s or earlier. The conclusion is damning. It implies that we’ve lost nearly a century of social progress. But as economist Gary Burtless of the Brookings Institution shows, it’s ‘flatly untrue’: Inequality isn’t as great now as in the ’20s. Although the debate over inequality is legitimate and important, we shouldn’t distort it with misleading and overwrought rhetoric,” Samuelson writes. “The figures that have invited comparisons between now and then come from economists Thomas Piketty, author of the controversial book ‘Capital in the Twenty-First Century,’ and Emmanuel Saez of the University of California at Berkeley. But in thrashing out what’s happened and why — and what, if anything, to do — we should stick to the facts and avoid careless historical comparisons.”
Diana Darke at the Guardian on Syria's farce of an election. “What an irony. Fear of the Syrian government and its many-tentacled security apparatus is even greater now than it was before the revolution began. Yet anyone who knows Syria from the inside knows full well that the Assad regime's generosity and grace is to be feared above all else,” Darke writes. “As the presidential election is held tomorrow in regime-held areas only, Syrians know full well what it means. It is not so much an election – everyone knows the result after all – it is more like a head count of government supporters. To vote for anything other than Bashar al-Assad is to sign your own death warrant and that of your family, and not to vote at all means you are forfeiting your chance of any kind of future in Syria. While western democracies will scoff at Syria's election process, Russia and Iran will use it to their advantage.” Emily Wight at the Phnom Penh Post tweets, “The absurdity of Assad's election tomorrow.”
Tom Rogan at the National Review on Obama, Putin, and Ukraine. “In an already unimpressive speech, that line — ‘We don’t know how the situation will play out, and there will remain grave challenges ahead. But standing with our allies on behalf of international order, working with international institutions, has given a chance for the Ukrainian people to choose their future, without us firing a shot’ — defied belief. Because, just as a high-interest mob loan does not make a man rich, the Ukrainian election does not make Obama successful. In fact, what’s happening in Ukraine proves a very different conclusion: Putin is winning. That Obama cannot see this truth is both absurd and deeply concerning,” Rogan writes.“Yes, the Ukrainian people have elected a new president. This is good news. Mr. Poroshenko, though hardly a vision of financial propriety, seems determined to restore his country’s sovereignty. Unfortunately, as with Assad’s chemical weapons, Putin’s latest scheming will bear a heavy cost for freedom. And so, while Obama declares himself the diplomatic winner, Putin toasts a quiet victory.”
Jennifer Graham at The Boston Globe on the power of movies and perception. “Even with competition from the X-Men, the Amazing Spider-Man continues his joyous romp through the nation’s theaters, eviscerating the dastardly Electro and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg with cheerful aplomb. True, Zuckerberg isn’t in the movie. The latest Spider-Man is portrayed by Andrew Garfield, who, four years ago, played Zuckerberg’s friend-turned-foe Eduardo Saverin in ‘The Social Network,’ the movie about Facebook’s founding at Harvard. But recently I watched the film again with my teenage son, and everything had changed. Zuckerberg had lost all cuddly qualities and become a pompous, ruthless jerk, a highly functioning, pitiless grifter. That’s because he was no longer facing off against Eduardo Saverin, but was up against Spider-Man,” Graham writes. “Such is the power of Hollywood, even in a time of dwindling theater attendance. They don’t call it the big screen for nothing, and a film’s influence is still disproportionate even if we see it in our living rooms. There is no moral conundrum that can’t be made clearer by a good-looking guy wearing a cape or swinging from building to building.”