US Press: pick of the papers

The ten must-read opinion pieces from today's US papers.

1. How 9/11 changed religion in America (USA Today)

Politicians must display their Christian credentials, says Stephen Prothero, and for many, Islam is the sworn enemy.

2. The President's Do-Over (New York Times)

Ross Douthat outlines the first-term agenda that should have been.

3. How much has Obama learned? (Washington Post)

Obama must stick with an analysis of the nature of our political fight that sees it as it is, not as he wishes it were, says E J Dionne Jr.

4. Perry, Romney and Social Security (Wall Street Journal)

Amid their high-flying rhetoric, neither candidate is helping the cause of reform, says this editorial.

5. Social Security far from a 'Ponzi scheme' (USA Today)

This editorial mounts a staunch defence of social security. Elsewhere in the paper, Rick Perry reiterates his views on the matter.

6. As the boomers turn (Los Angeles Times)

Karlyn Bowman and Andrew Rugg suggest that if more boomers are led to embrace the GOP, it could affect the 2012 vote.

7. A bad but realistic decision on EPA (Star Tribune)

Obama was forced to stand down on new clean-air standards by the GOP and the faltering economy, says this editorial.

8. The GOP's immigration nonsense (Washington Post)

This editorial is critical of the Republican candidates for dodging the facts at last week's debate.

9. An Impeccable Disaster (New York Times)

The moralizers, who hate the idea of letting nations off the hook for alleged fiscal sins, are sending the euro over the edge, says Paul Krugman.

10. Government static disrupts a phone connection (Chicago Tribune)

This editorial argues that the FCC and the US Department of Justice need to help AT&T and T-Mobile merge.

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Must I unremember the day I wept over the long, slow suicide of a 27-year-old man?

At that time we did talk about the occupation of Ireland. Now we have to pretend we didn’t and it’s all the jolly UK and thank you, England for the peace process.

The misremembering of history interrupts these tales of my own squalid past. Very often I find myself wishing my memories were wrong, or that I’d forgotten more than I have. This would certainly be the case were I to be a politician, albeit a small-time one in big-time government. In the era of renunciations and sincere apologies, I would have to say sorry most of the time.

But I can’t. I can’t get past that clear day in May 1981, when the tangy cold spring air of a New York day got right inside me. Ambling home from another long, messy night in the Village, I was near 52nd when I saw people carrying a coffin.

“It’s not him, of course. It’s a fake coffin,” said a woman who saw the shock on my face. Maybe I was already crying. I knew and didn’t know but asked anyway.

“Yes. Bobby.”

Bobby Sands had died. Crowds were gathering with banners about Smashing Long Kesh and Smashing Thatcher.

The shock of it has never left me and God knows “martyrs” come two a penny now. Yet the idea that someone can starve themselves slowly to death for an idea is shocking. The idea that someone can let them do it, either “for” a United Ireland or “for” a United Kingdom, remains profoundly disturbing to me.

I need no lectures about what vile and murderous bastards the IRA were, or the numbers of innocents they killed. Nor about the smeary sentimentality of martyrdom itself. All I can say is that I had little idea of what “we” did in Ireland as long as I lived in England. A boy at school had run off to join the IRA. My mum said, “Well, he’s always been tapped, that one.”

We were kept ignorant. For some stupid reason, I did not think that Thatcher would let the hunger strikers die.

Their demands, remember, were the right not to wear prison uniform or to do prison work, rights to free association and education within the prison, one visit, one parcel, one letter a week. They wanted to be treated as political prisoners. Thatcher said Sands had no mandate. He was actually an MP, with more votes than she ever won in Finchley.

In New York that day, when we got to Third Avenue, there was anger and then solemnity. There were mumblings about what a death like that entailed . . . Mandela then instigated a hunger strike on Robben Island. There were protests in Milan and Ghent. French towns would name streets after Sands.

At that time, though, yes, we did talk about the occupation of Ireland. Now we have to pretend we didn’t and it’s all the jolly UK and thank you, England for the peace process.

So, must I unremember that day when I sat down on the pavement and wept over the long, slow suicide of a 27-year-old man? Let me know how to uncry all those tears shed for that terrible, terrible waste.

Suzanne Moore is a writer for the Guardian and the New Statesman. She writes the weekly “Telling Tales” column in the NS.

This article first appeared in the 01 October 2015 issue of the New Statesman, The Tory tide