US Press: pick of the papers

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

1. Grand rhetoric, smaller ideas (Washington Post)

State of the Union speech is full of soaring rhetoric but skips over some major challenges, says this editorial.

2. State of the Union: Mixing politics and policy (Los Angeles Times)

Obama offers economic fixes -- and previews his 2012 campaign -- in his State of the Union speech, according to this editorial.

3. Romney's Fair Share (Wall Street Journal)

The candidate's tax return is an argument for tax reform, argues this editorial.

4. A test for Egypt: hearing all voices (New York Times)

Egypt won't be a full democracy until its people value the lonely defiance of a man like Maikel Nabil, argues Michael Wahid Hanna.

5. Republicans and the constitution (Chicago Tribune)

The Republican presidential candidates talk a lot about amending the constitution, but they don't mean it, writes Steve Chapman.

6. Defence cuts and America's outdate miltary (Wall Street Journal)

Yes, the US spent more after 9/11 -- but in ways that impeded modernization, writes Mackenzie Eaglen.

7. Central America's free-fire zone (Miami Herald)

Dramatic crisis in Honduras demands action, argues this editorial.

8. Obama's common touch (Los Angeles Times)

It was a blue-collar State of the Union speech, aimed at the swing voters the president needs to woo, writes Doyle McManus.

9. A way to make people buy homes again (New York Times)

There is a way to buy a home with less risk to one's hard-earned cash: a down-payment protection plan.

10. Now, GOP ought to be licking its chops (New York Post)

Barack Obama doesn't have his mojo back, writes John Podhoretz.

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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