Monday, March 16, 2015

From The Department of Missing The Point

I feel, as an atheist, about people like Richard Dawkins and Bill Maher the way that Christians must feel about Fred Phelps. Look, being an atheist means you don’t give a fuck about what anyone believes in. I don’t think any of it’s real, but you can go ahead and do it. I’m not trying to destroy religion. I just don’t care about it.

-- Patton Oswalt, humorist
Amen to that.

I think it would be fair to say that, as America's foremost Brooksian observer and critic, I take second chair to no one when it comes to my belief that David Brooks = Everything that is bent and depraved about American political and cultural media.

And I am usually more than happy for the company when some fellow traveler shows up to help me walk the usually-pretty-lonely David Brooks beat.

That being said, having cataloged and written the book on all 103 different ways a writer can break down a David Brooks column, until today I was unaware that a 104th method existed.  And the reason I was unaware of its existence is that it never occurred to me that anyone would invent a way to lump me and my wife and my ex-wife and my Mom and most of the people I have ever worked with and David Brooks all together in the same category...and then go completely out of their way to try to alienate and insult everyone in that group, which presumably contains a substantial number of the people who the writer is trying to reach.

After which, ergo propter David Brooks.

Or something.

David Brooks, religious clown: Debunking phony Godsplaining from the New York Times’ laziest columnist 
But what to make of Friedman and Kristof’s seemingly milquetoast colleague, David Brooks?  No shame attaches to him, though by publishing his pro-faith columns, he validates a stupendously (if surreptitiously) baleful Weltanschauung that should long ago have disappeared from our world.  ... That those who have shrugged off – or laughed away – the comically outlandish claims advanced by the Abrahamic creeds about our world and origins as a species are the ones with the explaining to do.  Should he not be called to account?
Yeah.  True.

For about a hundred other things.

None of which the author seems even vaguely aware of.

Maybe I've been outside the walls too long, but this?  Really?  

The author continues:
Moreover, Brooks’ recent Op-Ed, “Building Better Secularists,” leaves me no choice, or, better said, offers me an opportunity I cannot pass up for commentary.  “Building Better Secularists” is nothing less than an anti-religion writer’s dream come true, an essay remarkable for its utter and complete susceptibility to refutation and repudiation.  The title hints that Brooks intends to teach us godless folks a thing or two.  The result?  He succeeds only in beclowning himself by authoring a sanctimoniously gaseous tract that befits not America’s august Paper of Record, but a highbrow version of Watchtower, the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ End-is-Nigh rag...

The point is not than one or another religion is better or more correct, or more guilty or less guilty of producing “bad outcomes” such as the aforementioned, but that all are equally man-made, equally false, equally irrational, and equally capable of being used just as they have been used: as merciless ideologies of control and repression.  All this immediately renders null and void the credentials of any journalist who would preach faith-tainted advice about how to live to rationalists.

Brooks proceeds to list the challenges he demands be met if atheists are to prosper.  Each of these challenges he presents in contradistinction to its religious equivalent.

Let’s take them one by one...

No.  Let's not.

Let's instead say that, over the last 20 years, Mr. Brooks has become wealthy and powerful by being the wheel man for uncountable Conservative lies, slanders and acts of public policy mayhem.  His job has been to tear-ass all over the "respectable" media world in their getaway car, and to-date he has gotten away with it all of it.

Gotten away it.
Is getting away with it.
Will continue to get away with it.  And any other conjugation of "to get" you care to name.

Comes now Slate magazine writer Jeffrey Tayler, whose makes a living is calling people of faith (among other things_ dangerous, delusional and insane.  In other words, calling me and my wife (who is a far better person than me in every measurable way) dangerous, delusional and insane.

Far from bothering me, this amuses me immensely on various levels, but mostly it is of great comfort to me to know that Mr. Tayler is part of that long line of professional writers -- from Bloody Bill Kristol to David Brooks to Jonah Goldberg (who is also unnaturally attached to the word "beclown") to Jeffrey Tayler -- who pay their rent and provide for their loved ones by calling me and my wife stupid or demented or unAmerican.

Apparently I am the tent-pole which holds up America's political media and keeps it's scribblers employed.  Lord Jesus, whatever would they do without me?

But, OK, you wanna step up and try to take a bite out of the Most Insufferable Man in American Journalism, g'head.  

I'll be over here at the judge's table.  


And if you moved past at a blur, what you would see is Mr. Tayler pulling David Brooks' getaway car over and reading him the riot act. Which, from a distance, looks like a fine thing.

But then you move in closer, and you notice that while Mr. Brooks has a metaphorical dead hooker hanging out of the trunk, 40 pounds of coke on the floor, a pile of pipe bombs and machine guns in the back seat and is driving a wreck riddled with bullet holes and painted with blood...

...what the author is really exercised about is the plastic Jesus on his dashboard.

And as a bonus to you the reader, after Mr. Tayler is done kicking the shit of that little plastic Jesus. Mr. Tayler would like you to line up for the same dressing down.  

Because even if you do not have a metaphorical body in your trunk, a garbage bag of blow in your lap and an armory of unlicensed firepower in your back seat, if you, sir or madam, happened to be driving back from church, or temple or synagogue then you are just as bad as David Fucking Brooks.

As I said, I find that funny as hell.  


dinthebeast said...

In other words he gets all het up about using religion as a justification for bad behavior and then goes ahead and uses it as a distraction from bad behavior?
Poor Jesus, he never deserved to have these assholes come along and stomp his teachings into the dirt.

-Doug in Oakland

DeistPaladin said...

If after I die, I find myself standing before Jesus and next to David Brooks, I should think I'd have far less to fear than he or any other Republican-for-Jesus. Surely it is far better to doubt someone's existence than to claim to follow them and do in their name the very opposite of what they commanded. It never ceases to amaze me how they can take one said "as you treat the least among you, so you have treated me" and reconcile that with Randite philosophy.

David Brooks and other Republicans should abandon any pretense of Christianity with its peace-loving-welfare-giving-hippy-icon and instead create a new religion that better fits their ideology. The Invisible Hand can be their god, Ayn Rand their prophet, Saint Ronnie their divine intercessor, Big Gubmint can be their devil, and the promised land of endless prosperity if-only-we-cut-taxes-and-regulation-enough their mythical Heaven. Really, they've got all the components they need. They can call it "Reaganity".

Front Range said...

I'm baffled that anyone still reads David Brooks, let alone responds to him, but the New Yorker considered his column as well.

Kathleen O'Neill said...

Brooks deserves unceasing mockery, which our host does here quite proficiently.

Jim Jones said...

I'm beginning-ish to relate a little bit to your irritation at DB as he decided to weigh in on something that I study, that being labor obsolescence.

And, after reading the article, he makes the exact same mistake everyone else makes.

When will people realize that we just don't have enough good paying jobs due to the fact that all of our technological advances have focused primarily on labor reduction.

DeistPaladin said...

Oh, and in regards to my earlier post, if Bible-Bitch hasn't yet done a reading of Matthew 7:20-29, could she please consider it. The verses seem to speak to GOP Christians.

It's the part about "those who heard my words and did them not".

Bob Roth said...

Rabbit's foot or rosary it's all the same oogedy-boogedy.

Unsalted Sinner said...

"Look, being an atheist means you don’t give a fuck about what anyone believes in."

I'm sure most atheists, Dawkins and Maher included, would love to ignore religion. And if you're someone like Patton Oswalt, that's probably fairly easy to do. But if you're a woman who needs an abortion, or a gay person who would like to marry the person you love, things get a bit tricky. Similarly, if you're someone who cares about the rights of women or gay people, or anyone else who find religious people poking their noses into what should be their private affairs, things also get a bit tricky. Because while we atheists would love to ignore religious people, they have never shown much willingness to ignore us.

Not that this has much to do with David Brooks. His sanctimonious drivel doesn't seem to spring from any deep religiosity.

Marc McKenzie said...

Someone ought to send this to Luciano over at the Daily Banter. He can't go for one day without writing yet another piece about how religion sucks and how anyone who is religious is "dangerous, delusional and insane". Nice use of the broad brush.

I guess people like him forget that many scientists are religious, as are many progressives (who believe in gay rights) and that our VP is Catholic. Yes, I cannot stand the fundamentalist assholes (and David Brooks) but Dawkins and company are interested in tossing out the baby with the bathwater regardless.