Editorial roundup

Aug. 13

The Wall Street Journal on the white nationalist rally on the anniversary of last year’s deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia:

Anyone who pays the slightest attention to the daily passage of events in the news was aware that white-supremacist alt-right groups were planning a rally in Washington, D.C., this past weekend. The anticipatory media coverage of the event didn’t quite reach Super-Bowl hype levels, but it was close. And the number of white supremacists who showed up for the Sunday rally?

Not 200. Not 100. About 20.

This whimper of an alt-right rally raises some interesting political questions about what has transpired in the year since the tragic confrontation in Charlottesville between alt-right groups and left-wing groups like antifa left one woman dead.

In the last 12 months, the left — abetted by some in the media — has transformed Charlottesville into “Charlottesville” — a one-word symbol of civic and racial strife presumably at large in Donald Trump’s America.

To be sure, Mr. Trump ham-handedly gave the left this opening by issuing an equivocal statement about the Charlottesville violence. He deserved criticism, and he got it.

The left, nonetheless, has kept alive the notion that the Trump Presidency is an enabler of larger, latent white supremacist sentiment that is supposedly surging in the U.S. The truth is closer to the pathetic reality of Sunday’s mini-rally in Washington.

Until recently, the various aggregations of alt-right sentiment were called fringe groups because they were exactly that — extremists operating on the loony edge of American politics. And the white-supremacist movement seen in Charlottesville last August has largely collapsed the past year because of infighting and disorganization.

But with the help of social media, the lunatic fringe has forced its way into the mainstream media and been made to look larger and more important than it is. The left recognized that the newly visible alt-right could be turned into a political weapon by drawing a straight line between Trump voters and white supremacists, thereby hoping to scare off more mainstream supporters of the current government.

We wish Mr. Trump was more adept at navigating through this minefield. We also wish we didn’t have to read in the second paragraph of the New York Times coverage of Sunday’s microscopic rally that “even with the low turnout, almost no one walked away with the sense that the nation’s divisions were any closer to healing.” Even no news is bad news these days.

One person who deserves commendation is D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. Before the rally she said, “While we are opposed adamantly to what we are going to hear, we know what our responsibility is — to protect First Amendment events.” In the current climate, Mayor Bowser’s admirable defense of free speech will need all the support it can get.

Online: https://www.wsj.com


Aug. 14

Khaleej Times on Turkey’s currency crisis:

It’s not just Turkish lira, but many other currencies that are weakening and touching new lows. The slide is creating nervousness, and impacting the performance of stock markets, which are essentially barometers of confidence in economies they represent. So, is the Turkish lira to blame for this? How is its performance connected with fluctuations in stock markets elsewhere, and falling currencies in emerging markets (read: Indian rupee, South African rand, Indonesian rupiah)? Well, the answer primarily lies in the strength of the dollar and relatively less demand for gold.

Traditionally, investors have viewed gold as a safe haven. Individual and institutional investors, especially from the emerging markets, have been investing in the yellow metal for uncertain times. However, the trend seems to be changing in favour of the US dollar. The price of gold has tumbled about 14 per cent since the last quarter of 2017, and the US dollar instead has risen. With interest rates rising in the US, investors could be finding it more profitable to invest in the greenback, which is keeping the demand high.

The strengthening US dollar, rising debt levels in Turkey, and lack of sufficient foreign exchange reserves are pulling the lira down. And this is a problem for Turkey, and a lot of other markets that have exposure to it. Over the years, Turkey has relied heavily on foreign-currency debt to fuel growth. Data from the Bank for International Settlements suggests, Turkish borrowers owe Spanish banks about $83.3 billion; $38.4 billion to the French; $17 billion to Italian banks; and $14billion to the Japanese. If Turkey fails to honour its commitments, it could impact banks and economies in Europe and elsewhere, which is why jitters are being felt way beyond the shores of Turkey.

Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been in power for more than a decade, had insisted on keeping interest rates low for years. Populist policies don’t always work in the best interests of the people, and leaders like Erdogan would do well to realise that. It’s a shame that a country that was once among fast growing economies is now on the verge of bankruptcy. Turkey won’t achieve much by boycotting US electronics; it must swallow the bitter pill of reforms and seek help to contain the crisis, before it spills across the world.

Online: https://www.khaleejtimes.com