Kamel Riahi on Tunisian Unrest In The New York Times, novelist Kamel Riahi contributes a personal account of the current upheaval in Tunisia. Riahi describes the violence, looting, and insecurity, and how they sit alongside a larger sense of freedom that has ensued since the dissolution of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali's oppressive regime. "I hear that the militias are driving around in requisitioned ambulances," Riahi writes. "They are transforming the vehicles from carriers of mercy to carriers of death. The country has suddenly become the setting for a Hollywood gangster movie, its peaceful, enlightened people the extras."
Harold Meyerson on Rupert Murdoch's Journalism Washington Post columnist Harold Meyerson acknowledges the widely held view that Rupert Murdoch--who has found a way to make money with web journalism, first with The Wall Street Journal and now with the upcoming iPad publication The Daily--has saved journalism. But, he says, "the political slanting of news from News Corp. outlets ... is conscious and constant"--especially from the crowd at Fox News. Meyerson concludes that "time will tell if Murdoch has found a way to save journalism. It's already clear that he's found a way to degrade it."
The Economist on How Chinese Media Will Cover Hu Jintao's Trip The Economist's Asia View blog takes a look at the Chinese media coverage leading up to Hu Jintao's visit to the United States this week, and notes a pronounced skew. Only strong, nationalist opinions are allowed uncensored on the Internet, and a recent English-language newspaper's opinion poll portrays a positive public attitude toward the United States, despite a year "in which the state media have poured vitriol on the country for selling arms to Taiwan, for Barack Obama's meeting with the Dalai Lama, for supporting Liu Xiaobo, for staging wargames in the Yellow Sea and various other sins." Even so, the author writes, in the age of digital media "it will not be easy for Mr. Hu to guide public opinion at home."
Paul Waldman on Invoking Religion in Politics As accepted as it is for presidents and politicians to talk about God on the election trail or Capitol Hill, Waldman, a senior writer for The American Prospect, says that it is quite simply not right. Waldman points out that for every time an elected official invokes a Supreme Being as the protector and comforter of Americans, he is also sending those who do not share that politician's religion, or any religion at all, a subtle signal of exclusion. "The border around what religious identities are considered truly American is constantly being redrawn by the ways we discuss religion," writes Waldman. "When God is invoked with the unspoken assumption that we all believe he/she/it is up there, it draws that circle around most--but not all--Americans and says to the others, 'You are outside.'"
Emily Bazelon on Lieberman's Decision to Shove Off Denouncing Lieberman as a senator who never fails to disappoint as well as a sanctimonious individual who "never let anyone forget he was the 60th vote," Bazelon, a Connecticut resident, writes in Slate that Lieberman's upcoming departure is "the end of the reign of the politician I despise most." Among Lieberman's offenses: embracing the Iraq war, delaying the health care bill, and "his irritating, me-me-me flirtation with caucusing with the Republicans after he lost his Democratic primary to Ned Lamont." Bazelon says that even positive moves, such as backing the end of "don't ask, don't tell," couldn't dilute her loathing, because the "con" list for his tenure was, and remains, far too great.