Editorial voices from elsewhere

July 4, 2014

Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States as compiled by the Associated Press:

Anniston (Ala.) Star

If Baghdad is indeed becoming Saigon – a city overrun by opposition and violence after the departure of the U.S. military – Peter Arnett would know.

He intimately knows both places. Working for the Associated Press, Arnett won the Pulitzer Prize in 1966 for his reporting from Vietnam. In spring 1975, Arnett witnessed the calamity that ensued when U.S. personnel abandoned Saigon just as North Vietnamese forces were overtaking the city. In the 1990s, Arnett became a household name to a new generation of Americans following his blow-by-blow coverage of the first Gulf War on CNN.

Arnett, now retired as a foreign correspondent, wrote in Monday’s Washington Post that a Saigon-like future “may be the fate that awaits Baghdad if the march of ISIS continues. The Sunni insurgency has already captured much of Iraq’s north (much as the Vietcong had) and is steadily pushing southward. If it reaches the city, what I saw unfold in Saigon nearly 40 years ago is probably a good proxy for what to expect.”

A smattering of U.S. troops can’t glue together what’s coming apart in Baghdad. Arnett’s prediction of Iraq’s future may be more proof of the Iraq War’s undeniable folly.

Los Angeles Times

Facebook is an extraordinary tool, but its pitfalls have become increasingly apparent. Users’ personal information, interests and habits are all fair game for the company, which has little compunction about analyzing the data and selling them to advertisers. Now Facebook has gone beyond capitalism and into creepy. For a week in 2012, it seems, the company manipulated users’ news feeds as part of a psychology experiment to see whether happier or sadder content led users to write happier or sadder posts. The result? Facebook appears to have altered people’s emotional states without their awareness.

This was wrong on multiple levels. It was unethical for Facebook to conduct a psychological experiment without users’ informed consent. And it was especially wrong to do so in a way that played with the emotions of its users. That’s dangerous territory.

In the study, Facebook asserted that users gave informed consent, which is standard protocol in psychological research, when they agreed to the company’s terms of service, which caution that users’ data can be mined for analysis and research. But that’s disingenuous. It’s hard to believe that users who took the time to read Facebook’s 13,000-word service agreements would have understood they were signing on to be lab rats.

San Antonio (Texas) Express-News

On July 2, 1964, with a stroke of a pen, President Lyndon B. Johnson did what should have been done long before: He did the right thing.

After two months of debate, Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act – legislation that is viewed, 50 years later, as the crowning achievement of the civil rights movement. It ended segregation in public places and banned discrimination in workplaces.

We are a flawed country, but flawed countries recognize their imperfections, and they strive, sometimes against great odds, to correct the evil perpetrated on their own citizens. The Civil Rights Act built a significant fortress around minorities who had come to fear for their safety – and even their lives – thus assuring that some wrongs of the past would remain in the past.

The act did not end bigotry. Legislation cannot expel the cold, naked hatred within the hearts of some human beings. But it did provide protection for those Americans who had faced discrimination based on their race or color.

With the Civil Rights Act of 1964, we took a hugely important step toward true freedom and equality. The bill made us a better nation.



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