How COVID-19 killed the office and other commentary

Culture critic: How COVID Killed the Office

The concept of telecommuting has been around since the 1970s, Rory Suth­erland notes at Spectator USA, yet it wasn’t until “a plague descended” that it “escaped the limbo between invention and implementation.” As ­recently as last year, only about 5 percent of British adults worked primarily from home. Fast-forward to the post-COVID age, and “half of employed adults are now working from home. And to almost everyone’s surprise, it works.” Stuffing thousands of workers into tall glass buildings now seems plain silly, and more than that, “lockdown has revealed that a large part of the busy-ness of business was driven by the need to signal commitment (presentee-ism), rather than the creation of value.” Good riddance, then, to the “worthless bustle” and “stressful commutes” of office life!

Foreign desk: Britain’s False PC Virtue

Oxford’s “glorious” High Street, longtime resident Peter Hitchens writes at First Things, features a “rather ugly graven image of the businessman, politician and philanthropist Cecil Rhodes,” a figure long associated with British imperialism — and, for that reason, now facing calls to have his statue removed. Rhodes is only one of many embronzed historic figures “being investigated, to see if they in some way celebrate a wicked past,” among them Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln at Westminster. No doubts these men “did things that we might now think of as bad.” But removing their images from the public square serves only a “cheap simulation of virtue, which comes from damning sins we have no mind to, while committing the ones we are inclined to.”

Urban beat: Atlanta’s Prosecutorial Overkill

Local prosecutors recently indicted Atlanta ex-cop Garrett Rolfe on 11 charges, including felony murder, in the recent shooting death of Rayshard Brooks. Yet it’s “hard to square those charges” with the complex facts, argues The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board. After failing a Breathalyzer, Brooks “wrestled with Officer Rolfe and the other officer on the scene, grabbed that officer’s taser and punched Officer Rolfe.” Then he ran away; Rolfe gave chase, firing three rounds after Brooks “fired [the stolen taser] backwards at Officer Rolfe.” No, Brooks didn’t deserve to die, but “the situation was moving fast, and Officer Rolfe may not have known” the taser was empty. The danger: Prosecutorial overkill could mean “officers will take fewer risks in harm’s way,” knowing “prosecutors will assume the worst about any altercation.”

Iconoclast: All of Us Appease China’s Xi

Among the bombshells in former National Security Adviser John Bolton’s new memoir, The Week’s Matthew Walther reports, “is what the president is alleged to have said about China: namely, that he is indifferent to the fate of as many as 1 million Uighurs Muslims living in concentration camps there.” If he indeed made it, the president’s remark is gross. But far worse is that we Americans “are addicted to the endless supply of plastic junk and to the Chinese slave labor that makes it possible.” And “we do not especially mind if our military hardware and pharmaceuticals and technology infrastructure are sold to us by a totalitarian regime as wicked as the ones we spent the better part of the last century fighting.” Thus, if Trump “told Xi Jinping to go ahead and do what he had to do,” the sad truth is that the president “was speaking on our behalf.”

2020 watch: Don’t Dismiss Trump’s Chances

The latest polls show President Trump far trailing Joe Biden, but “polls are not an accurate gauge for predicting the November election outcome,” warns Joshua Sandman at The Hill. “After all, if all the polling data up to the day of the 2016 election was correct, Hillary Clinton would be president.” Pollsters especially and consistently underestimate the president’s populist message, which remains his “enduring strength” and has him solidly securing his base among the working class — a story “general poll numbers do not” fully account for. Mere Trump fatigue and cascading crises, moreover, aren’t guaranteed to propel Biden across the Electoral College finish line. Bottom line: “It is an eternity until November. By then, today’s bleak outlook for Trump could very well be a bleak outlook for Biden.”

 — Compiled by Sohrab Ahmari

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