China's Low Self-Esteem
Newsweek on why the Olympic host suffers from a national "inferiority complex."
New Republic, Aug. 13 The cover story describes the "demographic inversion" occurring in American cities like Chicago, which is "coming to resemble a traditional European city. … The poor and the newcomers are living on the outskirts" while the white and affluent dwell in the center. The "deindustrialization" of the city, decreased street crime, and higher gas prices contribute to the inward movement. But it's also a case of "young adults expressing different values, habits, and living preferences than their parents."… A piece details John McCain's "lifelong romance" with boxing—and his ferocious opposition to Ultimate Fighting. Boxing is a "cultural throwback … but it also appeals to [his] impish side." It represents "the pure, noble, manly art of fighting"—as one source puts it. To McCain, its no-holds-barred cousin, Ultimate Fighting, violates a "core sensibility: that there is such a thing as a good fight—one that is both clean and fair." (In 1997, Slate's David Plotz detailed McCain's beef with Ultimate Fighting.)
Newsweek, Aug. 4 In the cover package on the Beijing Olympics, an article considers China's national "inferiority complex," arguing that "the most critical element in the formation of China's modern identity has been the legacy of the country's 'humiliation' at the hands of foreigners, beginning with its defeat in the Opium Wars in the mid-19th century and the shameful treatment of Chinese immigrants in America." One Chinese filmmaker says, "There is something almost in our DNA that triggers autonomic, and sometimes extreme, responses to foreign criticism or put-downs."… A piece looks at the field of "oncofertility," which studies how cancer patients can preserve their fertility after they recover from the disease. Oncologists now refer younger patients to reproductive specialists before they begin cancer treatments. One common tactic is to harvest a woman's eggs and freeze them for later use.
The New Yorker, Aug. 4 An article investigates the legacy of Alan Rogers, a gay soldier who was killed in Iraq. After his death, gay advocacy groups wondered "if he might not qualify as the first known gay casualty of the Iraq war" while some in Rogers' circle moved to conceal information about his sexuality. They removed information about his sexual orientation from a Wikipedia entry and threatened to press defamation charges after the Washington Blade outed him in an article. But "the cover-up, such as it was, was not the result of any coördinated government campaign but a freelance effort enabled by the good intentions of colleagues and friends whose own experiences with Rogers made it hard to conceive of him as a dissident of any kind."… A profile of Tavis Smiley examines his "tangled web of alliances." The political commentator and entrepreneur generated controversy within the black community when he held back support for Obama in the primaries because "[y]ou can't short-circuit the process of holding folk accountable just because you fall in love."
Texas Monthly, August 2008
A piece tells the story of four high-school football stars who, one post-season Friday night, gruesomely clubbed two deer to death in their small West Texas town. A few weeks after the animals were discovered with bashed-in skulls, the boys (who many in the piece describe as "good kids") confessed to their school principal and received light punishments. Almost a year later, after a PETA-fueled online explosion of discussion about the misdeed, those who know the perpetrators still remain "baffled" as to why they did it. … An article explores the Texas School for the Blind, a haven for visually impaired students, where "they can star in a school play, compete on a team, be a cheerleader, have a boyfriend. And they don't have to miss out on that quintessentially American rite of passage, the prom."
GQ, August 2008 In the comedy issue, a profile of cover boy Seth Rogen asks whether he will be "the Woody Allen of Generation Xbox when he's 35—acting, writing, unlikely-sex-symboling, creating his own material, making his own lane."… An article, punctuated by vignettes about the dead, reports on the grisly rapes, killings, and disappearances in Juárez, Mexico. President Felipe Calderón's aggressive offense on drug trafficking "may be hurting the Mexican people more than it hampers the drug trade." More government patrols and conflict between federal and local enforcement means destroying the little order previously imposed by drugs lords, allowing "little gangs" to proliferate. The border city also attracts hopeful immigrants, who frequently fall into drugs, prostitution, and gang life when they can't make it to the United States.
Weekly Standard, Aug. 4 An article criticizes "Every 15 Minutes," a program that stages drunk-driving accidents at high schools to educate teenagers. The program's point, says the piece, "isn't to provide accurate information, it's to scare the bejesus out of a bunch of impressionable kids." Every 15 Minutes "capitalize[s] on the deep love of drama in the heart of every teenager" while exaggerating the number of deaths caused by drunk driving and making money off the "ridiculous" merchandise on its Web site. … A piece advises "anyone who wants to understand Barack Obama … to stay away from the radio and the TV" and read his speeches instead so as not to be distracted by "that rich baritone, the regal bearing, the excellent drape of his Burberry suits."… A piece observes France's reaction to Obama's visit, noting that the candidate, whom the French press calls "le Kennedy noir," is "the ultimate arm-candy for embattled European leaders"—like French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Morgan Smith, a former Slate intern, is a law student in Austin, Texas.