Can we stop calling each other names and making snide remarks all the time? School kids do it and the common yahoo does it ad infinitum on internet political forums around the world, but do journalists writing for the Wall Street Journal on-line and who’ve been to journalism school need to do it, too?
Drum-roll, please, and feel free to sing the first paragraph of the Wall Street Journal article to the tune of The Battle Hymn of the Republic–the author must have been humming Glory, Glory, Hallelujah! while writing. Those of you who are “lyrically impaired” may want to skip this section:
1st line: “Saturday’s tragic train crash near Wenzhou, in the coastal province of Zhejiang” [you have to run-up quick a little bit at the end of that first line, and omit “of Zhejiang” or you’ll lose the cadence]
2nd line: “raises important questions about the Chinese government’s ability” [pause]
3rd line: “to ensure basic safety standards as it pursues the glory of” [long pause]
4th line: [then simply recall ‘His truth goes marching on,’ and sing, quick-time:] “superlative-inspiring trophy projects.”chorus:Glory, glory Mao Ze Dong-yah,Itty-Bitty* put it to-yah,Economic plums are falling,[sing, “Superlative-inspiring trophy,” as one word] Superlative-inspiring trophy projects march on!
[*Itty-Bitty refers to Premier Deng Xiao Ping who, at 5′0″ in 1978 or ’79, effectively shelved communism and harnessed the great motivating power of greed inherent in capitalism to get China off the starting blocks.]
If you’re still with me and not hyperventilating after mucking through all those bracketed comments I made, here’s my beef: “Trophy.”
China is being told she’s a bad girl because she is using her new found wealth to build-up her infrastructure with “trophy” projects, like American men who now can come to China (in the past your American passport kept you standing outside the gate–I remember standing in Hong Kong’s New Territories within a few meters of the barbed-wire-topped 12-foot cyclone fence, and I took a picture of the fence and a sign in several languages that, in so many words, said, “Scram!” and wished I could get in) and pick up “trophy” wives? Is that the idea?
We all know what a trophy wife is, but what’s a trophy project–especially a “superlative-inspiring” one? Let me think, are there other examples? The Eiffel Tower? The Egyptian pyramids? The Empire State Building? The Super Dome? The (truly ‘superlative-inspiring’) American Interstate Highway System where tripple-trailer-tractor rigs roar down three-and-four-lane wide asphalt in freezing rain at 90 mph supplying the hog butchers and candlestick makers and grocers in every nook and cranny of America? How about Amtrack that derails on a regular basis?
Image by Gemma Sydney http://www.alphabetagemma.wordpress.com
Accidents happen. And they happen a lot in China. But accidents in China have nothing to do with “China pursuring the glory of superlative-inspiring trophy projects”–just ask the hundreds, thousands of coal miners who get buried alive every year in mining accidents. Or the college students who burn to death in dormitories that keep all their doors barred and locked at night, including the fire exits–what fire exits?
I’m always thrilled when the Chinese send up a rocket and it makes it, or they win a gold medal! So they must be doing some things right. But even though China can cheer me, it can also horrify me, and I would never defend China’s ability to screw up, any more than I would defend America’s. A case in point is the lack of workmanship and attention to detail in home construction in China. The moldings and baseboards in my house look like rats have been chewing on them, and they get worse every time I move some furniture or swat a fly. New apartment houses six months after completion often look like they’re ten years old, and it used to be that after a month they looked completely dilapidated. That’s China. But McDonald’s has moved in, and service is getting better! And China’s trying to keep up.
So if you must cast snide remarks, let the first one come from somebody who has never tried to create English à la Shakespeare with a made-up hyphenated adjective-gerund adjective. Which makes me ask, what, exactly, do they teach in journalism school these days?