Century Marks

Century Marks

Not my business

A video seen by tens of millions of Chinese is causing a national debate about Chinese character and personal responsibility. The video shows a foreigner fainting on a Shanghai subway train earlier this summer. All the passengers around him scattered; no one came to his aid. When the train stopped at the next station, hundreds of people rushed out, nearly trampling over each other. One Chinese commented: “Everyone is hoping someone else will take care of him. . . . No one wants to be dragged into things that aren’t their business” (NPR, September 1).


Plans are under way to turn Hitler’s birth home in Austria into a museum called “House of Responsibility.” Since World War II the site has served as a library, bank, school, home for the disabled, and a pub. It has also been a site for neo-Nazi pilgrimages on Hitler’s birthday (Tablet, September 2).

Where most needed

Pediatrician Alan Jamison, who was in Liberia when the Ebola virus broke out, treated as many patients as he could until the country slipped into chaos. Then his sponsoring organization pulled him out. But Jamison wants to go back. “This is where the need is,” he said. “This is my calling.” This epidemic has killed more than 2,000 people and sickened nearly 4,000 in five West African nations. It cannot be stamped out unless enough health-care workers like Jamison are willing to confront it directly (AP).

Over the top

Richard Dawkins, militant atheist and evolutionary biologist, was recently asked by a woman what she should do if her fetus has Down syndrome. He said: “Abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice.” It was not only abortion opponents who reacted negatively to Dawkins’s advice. One pro-choice advocate said that Dawkins was turning a choice into an obligation (The Week, September 12).

Conflict over

Class warfare in America is over, says Nick Carnes, and the well-to-do have won. The result is that the less well-to-do are being shut out of the decision-making process. Very few working-class Americans get into government, even at the state level. Running for office is so expensive that only wealthier Americans aspire to elected office. Once in office they reflect their own class. “Social safety net programs are stingier, business regulations are flimsier, and tax policies are more regressive than they would be if our politicians came from the same mix of classes as the people they represent,” says Carnes (Vox, September 3).