Police stand outside a mosque in Linwood, Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday, March 15, 2019. Multiple people were killed during shootings at two mosques full of people attending Friday prayers. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
Scenes from one of New Zealand's 'darkest days'
02:26 - Source: CNN

Editor’s Note: Sign up to get our new weekly column as a newsletter. We’re looking back at the strongest, smartest opinion takes of the week from CNN and other outlets.

CNN  — 

The grieving began quickly after the mass murder of 49 worshipers at two mosques in New Zealand Friday, and so did the debate about what awfulness could lay behind such a catastrophe.

It hit home for Jaimee Stuart, a New Zealand psychologist and university lecturer who studies rapidly changing, multicultural nations — like her own. The shootings in peaceful Christchurch, her hometown, make her “grieve for our loss of innocence,” she wrote. “We should be looking to the broader global environment to understand how the seeds of hatred are being spread to all corners of the world – and have now infiltrated some of these places that we thought were immune.” 

The accused terrorist is clearly a man of his time, wrote Peter Bergen, since the atrocity combines “three emerging trends in the West: attacks against Muslim targets, the use of social media as a platform for terrorists to share livestream videos, and the violent targeting of houses of worship.” 

Muslims speak out

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Muslims were outraged, though unsurprised. “We run your convenience store, drive your cabs, feed you late-night food when you’ve had a drink or look after you when you’re ill. We serve our communities,” wrote British political commentator Ayesha Hazarika. “Yet we have become the victims of harassment, hatred and now terrorism.” 

Dean Obeidallah noted that the news media have too long downplayed the dangers posed to Muslims by politicians who demonize them — “like President Donald Trump, media figures and others – without any consequence in terms of their electoral prospects or careers.”  

Imam Omar Suleiman recalled taking his kids to a synagogue in Dallas the night after the massacre at Tree of Life in Pittsburgh “to grieve and show solidarity with the Jewish community.” He wrote: “the message we must both live and give our children is one of resilience. That they should wear their hijabs and yarmulkes with pride, embrace each other as people, and face this bigotry with perseverance.” 

A President’s tone

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The White House quickly condemned the Christchurch massacre, but was soon facing questions about President Trump’s failure once again to acknowledge the spread of white nationalism.

He could learn something from President Bill Clinton, suggested Julian Zelizer. After the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing by white nationalists, Clinton denounced the “loud and angry voices in America” spreading hate, wrote Zelizer. “The debates about his words were less about a lack of empathy than his willingness to give a tough appraisal of the climate that fueled extremism.”

Clinton’s former White House press secretary Joe Lockhart, now a CNN political commentator, urged close attention to Trump’s words earlier in the week. In an interview with Breitbart, the President hinted that his “tough” supporters in the military, police and Bikers for Trump could retaliate against his critics: “and then it would be very, very bad.” Lockhart asked: “Should we all care that our coarse President is threatening Democrats with Bikers for Trump?  Probably not.  Should we all care that we’ve become numb to all this? Absolutely…this is dangerous.”  

Trump also faced pushback from members of his own party Thursday, with 12 Republicans joining Democrats to pass legislation canceling Trump’s national emergency, declared to build his Mexico border wall.  Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, also a Republican, had pressed them: “It’s time for Republicans in Congress to put country over party.”  On Friday, Trump vetoed their bill.

St. Patrick’s Day: not just about the Irish

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Colleen Hennessy said her two Irish-born children will proudly wear “their green and gold Kerry Gaelic Athletic Association jerseys and revel in the one-day celebrity status being Irish in America gives them on St. Patrick’s Day.” But Hennessy, the Irish-American wife of a formerly undocumented Irish husband, is thinking about immigration. 

“It is my hope that while the 34 million of us who claim Irish ancestry sip Guinness and boil cabbage…we also consider our role in honoring the experience of millions of Irish refugees throughout history by insisting on policy that reflects the facts of our nation, policy that creates incentives for safe and efficient legal immigration options that match today’s global workforce and economy.”

College scam

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Federal prosecutors last week exposed what they said were the ridiculously expensive (and highly criminal) exertions made by some ridiculously rich parents to guarantee their kids’ acceptance into elite universities.

Two Hollywood stars, some CEOs, doctors, lawyers and several other powerful parents face charges in an alleged fraud-and-bribery scheme that spotlights “how hollow the ideology of meritocracy in American higher education is,” wrote Shan Wu

Actors Lori Loughlin (“Full House”) and Felicity Huffman (“Desperate Housewives”) were the best known of the 33 parents accused of paying William Singer millions for scams that included photoshopping kids’ faces onto athletes’ bodies, faking disability, getting stand-ins to take the ACT, and bribing test proctors. The goal: admission to places like Yale, Stanford, USC and Georgetown.  

Why did rich parents even bother?  “Legacy” admissions, expensive tutors and college prep courses already give them a leg up, wrote David Perry. “If someone can get their kid into Harvard by buying a building,” Perry wrote, “the scandal isn’t just what’s illegal, but what’s legal as well.” 

Coaches, university officials and others were also implicated. That’s painful, wrote Asha Rangappa, the former admissions dean at Yale Law. She worried about “future talented college applicants from underprivileged backgrounds who may opt out of reaching for the most selective schools, believing that the deck is already stacked against them.” 

Beto O’Rourke muscles in

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With a folksy video (and a gushy Vanity Fair profile), Beto O’Rourke officially entered the 2020 presidential race this week—and swiftly put his foot in his mouth. His wife, Amy, is “raising, sometimes with my help,” their three kids, he told a crowd in an Iowa coffee shop shortly after announcing his run.

Can’t imagine a female candidate getting away with such a statement,” one commenter tweeted. Exactly, wrote Kara Alaimo. O’Rourke apologized for the line, which he’s used before, but that kind of helper-not-partner characterization reinforces “the still-widespread idea that moms should shoulder the primary responsibility for raising kids” a stereotype that holds women back in the workforce, she argued.

Another 2020 contender, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., saw a surge of donations after his well-received CNN town hall Sunday night. In a CNN Opinion piece, he lamented that “Americans have been offered a vision of greatness that means turning back the clock. We need big, bold policies that are shaped by what we want our country to look like generations from now.”  

Michael D’Antonio drew a sharp contrast between the mayor and another Hoosier in public life:  Buttigieg is the human rebuttal to everything Mike Pence stands for, he wrote. 

Some other smart 2020 takes:

–David GergenIf Biden runs, he should commit to just one term. 

–David Axelrod‘Beto’ and ‘Bernie’: The meaning of a single-name candidate

You told us your stories (thanks!)

Reyes Sonya Manzano

We asked readers to respond to a Reyna Grande commentary. She wrote of learning English as a young Mexican immigrant and rejecting her “mother tongue”—and, for a while, her own (Spanish-speaking) mother.  Reader feedback was tremendous–“diverse and powerful,” marveled CNN Opinion’s Jane Carr and Jhodie-Ann Williams, who curated the responses.

Bakir Brown, of Richmond, Virginia, “was first introduced and fell in love with [Spanish] by watching ‘Sesame Street.’ I just loved how the words just literally rolled off the tongue. It was beautiful.”   

Nadezhda Ayala, from San Antonio, came to the US from the Soviet Union, and recalls “translating for my parents and getting frustrated that they were not understanding something simple… It was not until I visited my birth country 18 years later as a 20-year-old that I truly appreciated the ability to communicate with my grandmother and family in Belarus.”

Read more responses here

Tucker Carlson’s pre-existing condition

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“It is not breaking news that Tucker Carlson has a sexism problem,” Jill Filipovic observed. But that didn’t make it any less shocking last week to hear the Fox News host in newly unearthed on-air radio conversations between 2006 and 2011 downplaying child rape, defending an imprisoned child rapist, calling various prominent women “white whores,” “c***y,” ugly and pigs, and warning about being castrated by Hillary Clinton.  Filipovic noted: Carlson didn’t apologize and neither did Fox, giving the rest of us a simple choice. Fox is “a propaganda network catering to a largely hateful audience. Turn them off.” 

Justin Trudeau’s “Lav-Scam”

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Four years ago Justin Trudeau was Canada’s dreamboat—a telegenic, liberal, feminist, photo-bombing and forward-looking prime minister. Today? “Trudeau has lost two of his star female cabinet ministers, both resigning with claims that his government has lost its moral compass,” wrote Michael Bociurkiw. “He is also defending himself against accusations of political interference with the top prosecutor in the land over a criminal case involving one of Canada’s largest companies,” SNC-Lavalin.  Election Day is October 21, Bociurkiw noted. Can the “golden boy of Canadian politics…shed the impression of backroom sleaze, business-as-usual politics” in time to win?  

Boeing under scrutiny

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A Boeing 737 crashed in Ethiopia last Sunday, killing all 157 aboard—a disaster, wrote former airline pilot Les Abend, that bore “uncomfortably similar characteristics” to a crash of the same type of plane last fall in Indonesia. Both jets were Boeing’s 737-800 MAX, and both had pilots struggling to control their ascent at takeoff, before crashing minutes later, he wrote.

After waiting three days, President Trump and the Federal Aviation Administration gave in to pressure and joined more than 40 other countries in grounding the “Max 8” planes. 

Talmon Joseph Smith, in The New York Times, suggested the delay might have had something to do with “the close relationship that Boeing, a major political force in Washington and a large government contractor, has with American officials.” 

Bomb cyclone? Oh, yes, it’s real

The ferocious winter storm that pummeled the Midwest with hurricane-force winds and blizzard conditions was awful. But did it really rate its terrifying sounding moniker—bomb cyclone?  Allow physicist Don Lincoln to explain:  Normally, atmospheric pressure changes about 12 millibars over 24 hours.  “To be a bomb, the pressure must change by one millibar or more per hour for at least 24 hours.”  This one had a pressure change of 33 millibars from Tuesday to Wednesday–and was accompanied by 100 mph winds.  That’s a bomb cyclone.  March can come “in like a lion and out like a lamb,” Lincoln observed.  “If that’s true, I think that this year we can look forward to a glorious April.

Don’t miss these:

–Kate Maltb
y: Yes, I will keep listening to Michael Jackson

–Sherrod Brown, Ro Khanna and Bonnie Watson Coleman on a tax policy that could transform American lives.

–Robert Klitzman: Would you take a pill containing a computer chip? They’re here.

–Scott Jennings on why Nancy Pelosi’s impeachment remarks were laughable.

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