Will Lewis over at Experience Not Logic has an interesting post up riffing on my post wondering why China cannot produce an elite point guard, nicely weaving in the David Brooks/James Fallows/John Pomfret/Harold Meyerson discussion on individualism versus collectivism. (I always love it when someone elevates one of my posts to a higher intellectual plane, figuring at least something good has to rub off on me because of it.)
Will quotes this from Pomfret, questioning why Mayerson viewed China’s putting a 9-year old hero in the Olympics’ opening ceremony as a sign of totalitarianism:

What am I missing here? How is a sense of responsibility, instilled in any leader, no matter how small, in any society (ever hear of a class president?), taken as a sign of totalitarian brainwashing or a propaganda campaign? Don’t we hear this kind of sentiment in the voices of Americans who go down into mines or back into fires to save their comrades? “I’m the fire chief, I couldn’t leave my men behind.” And so what if it’s a 9-year-old? Bully for him. If anything, China’s system discourages the type of initiative evidenced by pint-sized hero. Maybe that’s the reason he was marching next to Yao.

I do think Mayerson has it wrong and I think he is being too cynical to boot. From the song, “Nothing Man,” we see how heroes typically denigrate the “specialness” of what they have done:

You can call me Joe
Buy me a drink and shake my hand
You want courage
I’ll show you courage you can understand

And from the song, “Into the Fire,” about the firefighters who went into the Twin Towers after 9/11, we learn about how “duty” plays a role in heroics in the U.S. as well:

It was dark, too dark to see
You held me in the light you gave
You lay your hand on me
Then walked into the darkness of your smoky grave
Up the stairs, into the fire
Up the stairs, into the fire
I need your kiss, but love and duty called you someplace higher
Somewhere up the stairs, into the fire

Like every country, China has kids who go back into schools to save classmates and teachers who run away.
UPDATE: CnReviews just came out with a great post highlighting what it calls “The Online Evisceration of David Brooks” by the China blogosphere. The post nicely summarizes what has happened to Brooks online since he wrote his piece, while highlighting six blogs. I have to assume CnReviews doesn’t like the Boss as it left me off of the list.