Excerpts from recent editorials in the United States and abroad:
The Khaleej Times on the explosion in Beirut, Lebanon:
In times of adversity it is incumbent upon brother nations and, indeed, the whole world to share the grief and the burden of the loss. What happened in Beirut is a disaster of huge proportions ... and constitutes one of the largest explosions recorded in human history.
In the aftermath there will be much heart-searching and even recriminations that this massive stockpile of ammonium nitrate was left unattended in such a sensitive place as the docks. But for now it is incumbent on everyone to display solidarity and offer tangible solace as the death toll escalates to more than 135 and the injured figure crosses 5,000. The shock wave has not yet dissipated and with the ringing in the ears it literally is difficult to wrap our heads around the enormity of the explosion ...
The UAE was instant in its expression of togetherness and reflected the sense of agony in the emotionally drenched words of Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Gargash who said: “Our hearts are with Beirut and its people.” The UAE also dispatched emergency medical assistance to Lebanon.
The tribute is echoed by every person in the Emirates and was posted alongside an image of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa illuminated in the colours of the Lebanese flag.
“Our prayers during these difficult hours are that God ... protects brotherly Lebanon and the Lebanese to reduce their affliction and heal their wounds,” the message ended on a note of deep and abiding sadness.
The Dallas Morning News on the National Museum of the American Latino:
Latino influence in the United States is everywhere. It takes the shape of farmworkers’ rights, civil rights reporting and Supreme Court representation. The toil of Latino labor is in the food that we eat and the names that line our streets. It precedes the foundation of this country, yet the recognition often gets overlooked if not erased entirely.
The important legacy of Latino Americans cannot be overlooked, and especially not now as we memorialize the first anniversary of the killings of 23 people in El Paso by a North Texas gunman who targeted them for their race.
And that’s why, after the bill to create the National Museum of the American Latino passed through the House unanimously, we celebrate. It’s time that the narrative shifts and that Latinos are recognized for the wealth of expertise, hard work and culture they have given to this country.
The move to support the museum follows years of effort to create a space to highlight the contributions of Latinos to the United States. Work toward this museum dates to at least 1994, when a study revealed that Latinos had been largely left out of exhibits and programming in the museums that line Washington’s Constitution Avenue. Legislation for the museum was introduced in 2013. It’s exciting to see an official step forward, though the end result is years away as the bill must still pass through the Senate and begin its earliest stages of planning ...
Currently, Latinos constitute nearly a fifth of the U.S. population, the second largest group behind only the white population. In Texas, that percentage of Latinos doubles to two-fifths. The state has also been home to major events that involve Latinos and have shaped the U.S. as it stands now, including the Mexican-American War in the 1840s.
The establishment of such an institution will allow that history to be seen in greater depth and color, telling the American story from a perspective that has been too often untold.
We must not forget, the Latino story is an American one.
The Los Angles Times on President Donald Trump and the U.S. Postal Service:
To hobble the U.S. Postal Service under the guise of “treating it like a business” is to undermine public confidence in yet another vital American institution at exactly the time when confidence is most needed, as much of the nation prepares to vote by mail in the Nov. 3 election. ...
President Trump has long railed against the Postal Service as a money-losing operation, and it’s quite true: Public mail delivery isn’t a profit-making business. Nor should it be. It’s a government service that should no more be expected to produce profits than, say, the Food and Drug Administration.
Trump also reportedly dislikes the Postal Service because it delivers packages for Amazon, which is owned by Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post, which is critical of Trump in its coverage. That may be a stretch, or it may be right on the money; Trump has indeed criticized the Postal Service for charging Amazon rates that he says are too low.
Of more concern, though, is Trump’s constant harangue against voting by mail, which he says — without evidence — is a hotbed of fraud. Many states plan to conduct their balloting by mail, so making sure the Postal Service has a hard time delivering election-related material in a timely fashion — or even appearing to do so — gives him ammunition to attack the validity of election results that don’t go his way.
In June, the all-Trump-appointed U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors selected major Republican Party fundraiser Louis DeJoy to lead the agency as postmaster general. In the weeks since, DeJoy has put in place cost-cutting policies that he says are meant to stem financial losses, but that Democrats and other critics say may result in post office closures and slower and less reliable delivery service just as the election approaches. ....
This country is already suffering from a series of self-inflicted wounds, the most obvious of which is its inept handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. What it needs now is a shot of confidence in its most basic process, voting, to shore up the integrity of its most basic value, democracy. That coincides with the nation’s interest in keeping the Postal Service intact and its service reliable. Unfortunately it does not coincide with the interests of the nation’s adversaries. Or its current president.
The Washington Post on the presidential debates:
The University of Notre Dame last week pulled out of hosting the first presidential debate, scheduled for Sept. 29, citing “constraints” brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. It was the second school to pull the plug; the University of Michigan said it couldn’t host the debate slated for Oct. 15 because the challenge of trying to reopen the campus safely amid the covid-19 outbreak made it “not feasible.” The two debates have been moved to other locales — Cleveland and Miami, respectively — but the decisions by these schools should serve as a reality check on how to conduct the debates.
Foremost among the issues to be decided by the Commission on Presidential Debates, the nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that convenes the general-election debates, is: why have in-person audiences in the first place? Even if the pandemic weren’t making large indoor gatherings risky, audiences bring no value to the debates. In fact, they detract from the effort to get candidates to engage in a thoughtful exchange about their plans and policies.
The debates during the last presidential election in 2016 reached a particular low with partisans of the candidates — Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton — shouting out, clapping and generally disrupting the events. Debate moderators tried hard — some were better than others — to remind members of the audience they were there to watch and listen, but that didn’t stop the outbursts. No surprise that Mr. Trump delighted in the reality show cast given to the debate ...
The public health issues posed by covid-19 give the debate commission an opportunity to rethink the format so that the debates can become more useful. The first televised presidential debate, between John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon in 1960, took place in a television studio, not a grand hall, and served its purpose. But tickets to attend the debates have become one more perk for big donors. Universities had been willing to serve as hosts because they, too, could raise money from the prestige of holding such an event.
Businesses, social organizations and other institutions have adjusted to the pandemic with new approaches. The Commission on Presidential Debates should be equally nimble.
The Wall Street Journal on teachers' unions and the pandemic:
For most Americans the coronavirus is a scourge. But teachers unions seem to think it’s also an opportunity—to squeeze more money from taxpayers and put their private and public charter school competition out of business. That’s the only way to read the extraordinary effort by national and local union leaders to keep their members from returning to the classroom.
Last week Randi Weingarten, leader of the powerful American Federation of Teachers, declared support for “safety strikes” if local unions deem insufficient the steps their school districts are taking to mitigate Covid-19. And on Monday an alliance of teachers unions and progressive groups sponsored what they called a “national day of resistance” around the country listing their demands before returning to the classroom. They include:
- Support for our communities and families, including canceling rents and mortgages, a moratorium on evictions/foreclosures, providing direct cash assistance to those not able to work or who are unemployed, and other critical social needs
- Moratorium on new charter or voucher programs and standardized testing
- Massive infusion of federal money to support the reopening funded by taxing billionaires and Wall Street”
The phrase for this is political extortion. Rather than work to open schools safely, the unions are issuing ultimatums and threatening strikes until they are granted their ideological wish list. Children, who would have to endure more lost instruction, are their hostages. ...
The teachers unions have a cynical interest in forcing their competitors to shut down. What a humiliation it would be if charter and private schools reopen and demonstrate that in-person education can be done with the right risk mitigation. Or if parents unsatisfied with the public schools’ response to the coronavirus decide a private school would be better for their child.
If there’s a silver lining here, it’s that Americans are getting a closer look at the true, self-interested character of today’s teachers unions. They are allies of the political left. And they wield monopoly power that they are now using to coerce parents and taxpayers to dance to their agenda if they want their children to learn.
The proper political response should be to give taxpayer dollars to parents to decide where and how to educate their children. If parents want to use the money for private schools that are open, or for new forms of home instruction, they should have that right. No political force should have veto power over the education of America’s children.
The New York Times on the coronavirus and Capitol Hill:
Representative Louie Gohmert, Republican of Texas, is not the first member of Congress to test positive for the coronavirus. At least 14 lawmakers, hailing from both parties and both chambers, are known to have either tested or been presumed positive for the coronavirus.
But something about the diagnosis of Mr. Gohmert, who has belligerently flouted public health recommendations such as mask wearing and social distancing, prompted a convulsion of rage on Capitol Hill.
From maintenance workers to legislative aides, employees came forward with anonymous accounts of how the patchwork of precautions — each lawmaker’s office operates with its own rules — and cavalier behavior by some members was endangering the thousands of people who keep the Capitol complex running. In addition to the lawmakers and members of their staff who have been infected, around 90 workers in support roles such as the Capitol Police and the Architect of the Capitol, are known to have contracted the virus.
Many lawmakers are approaching the pandemic with appropriate seriousness: running skeleton crews in their offices, encouraging masks and following social distancing guidelines.
Others are not. Some are ignoring public health advice for political reasons, while others seem to believe the virus cannot touch them. Representative Clay Higgins, Republican of Louisiana, told CNN that wearing a mask was “part of the dehumanization of the children of God.”
This sort of denial leads to unnecessary tragedy, as was driven home by the death of Herman Cain. The former pizza magnate and Republican presidential candidate tested positive for the coronavirus nine days after attending President Trump’s June 20 campaign rally in Tulsa, Okla. — where he was shown in a number of photos sitting close to other attendees without a mask.
Elected officials have a particular responsibility both to model responsible behavior during this pandemic and to take extra precautions so they don’t become super spreaders. ...
The danger extends far beyond Capitol Hill. Members of Congress have an essential and unusually public, mobile job. In any given week, hundreds of members jet back and forth across the country, some to coronavirus hot spots. Representative Kay Granger is currently self-quarantining after sitting next to a non-masked Mr. Gohmert on a flight back to Washington from their home state of Texas on July 26. Representative Raúl Grijalva, Democrat of Arizona, has been self-quarantining as well, after chairing a hearing on July 28 that Mr. Gohmert attended, at times unmasked. On Saturday, Mr. Grijalva announced that he had tested positive for the virus. Who knows how many other people Mr. Gohmert may have potentially exposed?
In response to the Gohmert news, congressional leaders reminded members of the safety protocols already in place. The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, went further, tightening the rules on mask wearing to require face coverings on the chamber floor and inside the House office buildings. (Mask wearing has been mandatory in committee hearings since mid-June.) Those who fail to comply can be denied entry or removed by security.
This is a welcome, if belated, step. But that may not be enough. For one thing, Mr. Gohmert’s experience has led to renewed calls by members and staff workers to implement a testing regimen on the Hill. That’s an important next step. ...
This spring, the House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, looked into a preliminary testing plan. One suggestion from the experts he consulted was to focus on members and staff members scheduled to participate in hearings or other meetings requiring prolonged contact with others. Likewise, Hill employees who face a higher risk of exposure probably ought to be prioritized.
More ambitious plans include testing members every week or two, before they fly back to their home districts. ...
Congress members are influential figures, and in this time of crisis they ought to be leading by example. By taking steps to protect themselves, their staff members and their constituents, lawmakers can send a signal about the seriousness of this situation to a confused and weary public.