Quotes from The Week: Old news.
If you don’t read The Week you definitely should: it’s a weekly magazine that rounds up news from all over the world and breaks it down into easier to digest chunks. There’s a UK edition and a US edition; I get the UK edition, which is (in my opinion) a slightly left-leaning but generally impartial view on the most important news from the previous week.
It’s my favourite news source because it allows me to continue what I think is a good habit I have developed for consuming news. I like to wait until a story has almost blown over before I read about it. That way my opinions are more evenly weighted with the benefit of hindsight, and being able to consider the facts of what actually happened. There’s no hot headed or rushed or rash or one sided arguments otherwise associated with up-to-the-minute news.
The Week is weekly and therefore it’s considered — there’s no pressure for it to report breaking news. So it’s perfect for my preferred cadence of reading the news.
I want to highlight an example from the 3rd December edition that demonstrates this ability to enjoy the news in a relaxed and nonpartisan fashion. From the Letters page, which of course features arguments from both sides of the table, right next to each other:
On the topic of Castro’s death
To The Guardian
In praise of Castro
Without presenting myself as an apologist for Castro, let’s get a little perspective here. Despite history being rewritten by the bitter dispossessed mafia-type businessmen who were thrown out of Cuba, Castro’s revolution disposed the worst dictator in Latin America, who was hell-bent on turning Cuba into the world’s leading supplier of prostitutes (11,500 in Havana alone), drugs and gambling opportunities. Batista made the mafiosi families immensely rich while the people starved.
Ejected from the country, and their mansions and assets confiscated, they finished up in Florida, from where they have conducted a 58-year-long propaganda war, brokered over 500 failed assassination attempts, attempted a pathetic invasion, and stole the Bacardi and Tropicana brands from Cuba.
On the plus side, education was amongst the best in the region, exceeding even the US for literacy rates. There was healthcare for everyone, more doctors were trained than anywhere else, and they were sent to help in disasters and epidemics worldwide. Everyone in Cuba was fed, at least up to the standards of wartime rationed Britain. There was little they could not have achieved in economic terms had it not been for the blockade.
Dorian Kelly, Colchester
To the Guardian
A flawed socialist hero
Many on the left of politics have been paying tribute to Fidel Castro because of the socialist aspects of Cuba under his rule. But given that Castro’s Cuba is also strongly associated with abuses of human rights, and restrictions on liberal values, it doesn’t make sense for the political Left to sympathise with him. Either such abuses of human rights are necessary for establishing that kind of socialist state or they are not.
If they are necessary, then the example of Cuba has shown that such a socialist state is unacceptable as a social system. If they are not necessary, then by committing such human rights abuses in Cuba, so that they become associated with the idea of a socialist state, Castro has unnecessarily caused significant damage to that cause.
But either way, Castro hasn’t helped the socialist cause and shouldn’t be lauded as one of it’s champions.
David Wall, Northampton
In fact there are several other excellent examples on the same page, so I will put the whole thing below.
Gives the phrase ‘old news’ a whole new meaning.