Other Magazines

Are Gay-Bashers Gay?

New York Times Magazine, Sept. 3

The cover story charts the renaissance of black comedians. Performers such as Chris Rock and Chris Tucker got their starts in all-black comedy clubs in the late-’80s, but their movies have crossed over to white audiences. Tucker claims to have no race consciousness and never to have suffered from racism. A piece profiles Chernobyl 14 years after the disaster. Under pressure from the West, the nuclear facility is closing, and the only people protesting are the 26,000 people who lived and worked there. They happily traded high cancer rates for good pay and beautiful new homes and are livid about being laid off. An article about the changes at Monday Night Football argues that sports, once thought to be the ultimate reality TV, is too boring for modern audiences. Viewers want to watch only highlights, not the whole game, so Monday Night Football is making its broadcast irreverent by adding a comedian to the broadcast booth and more visceral by deploying referee cams and on-field microphones to capture the grunts and smashes.

Advocate, Sept. 12

The cover story explores the dilemma facing Dick Cheney’s lesbian daughter: Is her obligation to gay rights or to her father (and his anti-gay politics)? Mary Cheney appeared with her family at the Republican convention and has maintained a careful silence ever since. Chastity Bono, another lesbian daughter of a famous anti-gay pol, says she never publicly supported her father. A piece compares two theories about the psychology of gay-bashing. One school argues that gay-bashers harbor their own gay tendencies, and when they attack gays they are symbolically killing the gay parts of themselves. This theory could explain why gay-bashings tend to be extra-brutal. A competing school claims that gay-bashing is primarily a violent response to peer pressure and the threat of social rejection.

New Republic, Sept. 11

The cover story debunks the myth of the hollow military hyped by the Bush-Cheney campaign. In fact, U.S. armed forces remain the most powerful in the history of the world. Their weaknesses are bloatedness and slowness to react to the post-Cold War realities, but as the Pentagon starts aggressive weapon procurement again in the near future, most of the inefficiencies could be ironed out. An article chronicles the resurgence of liberal pollster Stan Greenberg. A proponent of  activist government and an architect of the Clinton-Gore 1992 victory, Greenberg was fired by Clinton after the health-care fiasco. But Gore hired him and has repackaged the Greenberg doctrine in his recent populist appeals. A piece argues that it would be better for Israel if Yasser Arafat unilaterally declared a Palestinian state than if he arrived at a final peace settlement with Ehud Barak. Israel doesn’t need the occupied territories, the peace process has snowballed out of control, and Ehud Barak is offering Arafat far too much for a peace that Arafat will probably violate.

Economist, Sept. 2

The cover story argues that détente between the two Koreas could throw off the delicate balance of power between China and Japan. Japan has long used its proximity to unstable North Korea as an excuse for the military buildup that also protects it from China, but peace in Korea would force Japan to admit that it is gearing up for conflict with only China. A piece claims that the $1.3 billion U.S. aid package to Colombia will only further entangle America in nasty civil war. The aid is intended for the drug war, but it will be used against left-wing guerrillas by a military connected to right-wing paramilitary groups. An article previews the upcoming European Union foreign ministers meeting. The most pressing concern will be finding a way to save face while ending the boycotts against Austria that grew out of the right-wing Freedom Party’s inclusion in the coalition government.

Time, Sept. 4

The cover profile of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan explains his idealistic global doctrine: The organized world should intervene whenever lives are at stake. Though most leaders applaud his good intentions, they believe he would initiate too many unwinnable humanitarian wars. A piece contrasts the Bush and Gore tax plans. Bush’s $1.6 trillion cut is simple, would mostly benefit the rich, and has yet to catch on with voters. Gore’s more-complicated $620 billion cut would reward working-class people for specific behavior (sending a kid to college or taking care of an elderly relative, for example). Neither plan will win the approval of a sharply divided Congress. An article doubts that Pope Pius IX deserves his upcoming beatification, a step on the way to sainthood. The 19th-century pope called Jews “dogs” and generally opposed the democratic movements that spread through Europe during his papacy.

Newsweek, Sept. 4

The cover story reports on the U.S. diabetes epidemic. As America has gotten fatter and less white, more and more people, including an alarming number of teen-agers, are suffering from type-2 “adult-onset” diabetes. Although drug treatments have improved in the last decade, diet and exercise are the best way to halt the disease. A Howard Kurtz book excerpt criticizes the Wall Street media culture created by the bull market. Obsessed with spreading the news immediately, business networks such as CNBC often report rumor as fact. Stock prices rise and fall with their reports. Brokers know how important the business media are and leak selectively when it suits their needs. CNBC is less an objective news organization than another part of the stock forecasting game. An article applauds hip-hop founding father Russell Simmons’ attempt to bring the rap generation to mainstream politics. The co-founder of Def Jam Records, who was known more as a bon vivant than an activist, Simmons recently organized Rap the Vote, held a fund-raiser for Hillary Clinton, and spearheaded an anti-police brutality march.

The New Yorker, Sept. 4

A John McEnroe profile traces his evolution from gifted brat to respectable tennis ambassador. Once known for swearing at judges and throwing his racket, he’s now the best player on the senior circuit, a well-liked TV commentator, and an outspoken supporter of the faltering U.S. Davis Cup team. An article wonders how many women serial killer Hadden Clark killed. A homeless handyman who suffers from multiple personality disorder, he is serving 60 years in prison for two murders but claims to have killed at least three other women. Authorities can’t find the bodies and don’t know if he’s making it all up.

Washington Monthly, September 2000

The cover story blasts U.S. News & World Report’s annual college rankings. The formula was devised in the late 1980s to ensure Harvard, Princeton, and Yale were always near the top, and now defenders of the ranking system offer the supremacy of those venerable universities as proof that it works. The statistical approach leaves out the most important part of the college experience: the quality of the learning that occurs at a given institution. College administrators have become so obsessed with rankings that they skimp on real reforms and put resources into improving their standing with U.S. News instead. The public would be better served if the magazine simply published information about colleges without attempting to rank them. (For Slate’s take on the U.S. News rankings, posted this time last year, click here.) A piece shows how the super-rich get away with not paying taxes by relating the ridiculous story of the Wildensteins, art billionaires who spend lavishly everything but manage not to give the IRS anything. The IRS is lax about tracking down high-income nonfilers.