The slaughter in Syria should outrage us. Yet still we just shrug | Jonathan Freedland

Trump, Brexit, even Strictly – we focus on anything rather than the bloodletting. That makes us complicit in these atrocities

Almost anything is more interesting than the massacre of civilians in Syria. Just look at today’s front pages. The Guardian leads on the slaughter of unarmed residents in the Damascus suburb of eastern Ghouta, but for the rest it’s a mix of continuing scandals in international aid charities, the tax record of a newly appointed financial regulator, and Brendan off Strictly having an unauthorised waltz with Camilla.

Against all that, the bloodbath in eastern Ghouta is deemed too dull to compete. Sure, the government of Bashar al-Assad may have pounded the rebel-held area so hard that it killed 194 people in 40 hours, many of them children. It may have targeted seven hospitals in two days, repeatedly hitting medical workers as they sought to rescue the injured and dying. And yes, this may signal the escalation of a siege that has denied supplies to a population of 390,000 for months, squeezing them between bombardment and starvation. All that may be meticulously documented by the UN. But who, if we’re honest, gives a damn?

Related: Fresh strikes kill civilians in Syrian rebel enclave

Continue reading...

Brexit reveals our political system is failing. The 48% must have a voice | Jonathan Freedland

The government is on a course that defies all logic, but the opposition refuses to oppose. No wonder people feel betrayed

Britain makes its most disastrous mistakes when its two main parties agree with each other. So it has proved in the past – and so it is proving now. Next month will mark the 15th anniversary of the fateful night in the House of Commons when Labour and Tory frontbenches united in whipping their MPs to vote for military action in Iraq. Yes, there were rebellions: some 84 Labour members said no to Tony Blair’s war, while 69 abstained. But the official tally – 412 out of 659 – spoke of cross-party consensus. Outside the Palace of Westminster, the country was rancorously divided on this fundamental question. But inside, the prime minister and the leader of the opposition were on the same side.

Related: We can leave the EU, but not Europe. Isolation is no longer splendid | Simon Jenkins

Related: As a Labour Brexiter I say we should stay in the customs union | Nigel Willmott

Continue reading...

Trump’s desire for a military parade reveals him as a would-be despot | Jonathan Freedland

If the president insists on flexing his muscles on the streets, the opposition should have an alternative parade to mock his strongman tactics

The genius of Donald Trump, it has long been observed, is to turn subtext into text. What was hinted at or hidden is, with him, brought shamelessly to the surface.

So it is with his latest scheme, his instruction to the top brass of the US armed forces to lay on a military parade in the nation’s capital, perhaps on 4 July. He’d been nagging the generals about this for a while but, according to the Washington Post, he gave the order at a meeting at the Pentagon last month.

Related: Donald Trump orders Pentagon to plan grand military parade

North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!

Continue reading...

Poland can’t lay its Holocaust ghosts to rest by censoring free speech | Jonathan Freedland

The Polish government is wrong to ban discussion of the nation’s role in the Nazi slaughter of the Jews. It needs to face the demons of the past

History is complicated enough without getting the police involved. But in Poland debates about the darkest event of the 20th century could soon spill over from the seminar room and editorial pages and into the courts, even the prison cells. That’s because a new law, awaiting the president’s signature, would impose a fine or up to three years in jail for anyone found guilty of blaming “the Polish nation” for the Holocaust.

It’s an obvious, nationalistic move by the hard-right Law and Justice party, which rules Poland. But it raises tricky questions, not only about that country but about how to best to safeguard the truth, a question that has become increasingly vexed – even urgent.

Related: Poland provokes Israeli anger with Holocaust speech law

The truth is rescuers were the exception, a ‘tiny, terrorised group who feared, most of all, their own neighbours'

Related: Beware the illiberal alliance of Poland and Hungary, a grave threat to the EU | Will Hutton

Continue reading...