Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Famous Beltway Fairy Tale Curator Would Like Better Fairy Tales Please

As one infamous Libtard freebooting blogger once noted:
...Mr. Brooks only really has four very dull tools in his op-ed toolbox:  lying about the past, burying the unhappy present under a pile of false equivalence, making up pleasing fairy tales about the bright future that is just around the corner, and pseudo-rabbinical argle bargle about Values and Community and Faith, about which Mr. Brooks may well be sincere, but which are wildly at odds with everything his Republican party has been saying and doing for the last 40 years.
And today, from within the stale ideological coffin where he assembles his columns, you can once again hear the clank and thud of each of the tools of Mr. Brooks' dishonest trade.

Pseudo-Rabbinical Argle-Bargle:
One of the things we’ve lost in this country is our story. It is the narrative that unites us around a common multigenerational project, that gives an overarching sense of meaning and purpose to our history.

For most of the past 400 years, Americans did have an overarching story. It was the Exodus story. The Puritans came to this continent and felt they were escaping the bondage of their Egypt and building a new Jerusalem.

The Exodus story has six acts...
False equivalence:
Today’s students get steeped in American tales of genocide, slavery, oppression and segregation. American history is taught less as a progressively realized grand narrative and more as a series of power conflicts between oppressor and oppressed.

The academic left pushed this reinterpretation, but as usual the extreme right ended up claiming the spoils. The people Gorski calls radical secularists expunged biblical categories and patriotic celebrations from schools. The voters revolted and elected the people Gorski calls the religious nationalists to the White House...
The market for Making Up Pleasing Fairy Tales About The Bright Future has taken a helluva hit since the election of President Stupid but Mr. Brooks still slips in a little rah-rah for his vision of tomorrow:
It should be possible to revive the Exodus template, to see Americans as a single people trekking through a landscape of broken institutions. 
But when it comes to the task of dismantling today's exercise in Brooksian' Lying About The Past, today I gratefully hand the microphone over to Mr. Peter Laarman, reprinted here in LA Progressive:
David Brooks Gets Lost in a Lily-White History

...Brooks’s overall congeniality makes it easy to forget that he is consistently wrong about the nature of the still-unfolding economic crisis, which he (in neoliberal fashion) thinks is mainly about economic losers needing to acquire some discipline and bootstrap themselves to success.

And Brooks can be spectacularly wrong about other things, as he has just demonstrated in an unbelievably fatuous column on the “Unifying American Story,” which he frames as a story of exodus and covenant. Brooks rings all the changes on this theme, from the Puritans’ righteous “errand into the wilderness,” to the Founders’ identification with the oppressed Israelites, to the stated wish of Frederick Douglass to be included in the American destiny, and, finally, to the waves of immigrants seeking to make their own exodus from oppressive cultures elsewhere.

Brooks cites this story’s “many virtues as a national organizing myth,” including the way it “welcomes in each group.” He concludes by blaming lefty academics for trashing the national story and portraying U.S. history as “a series of power conflicts between oppressor and oppressed.”

Wow, just wow...
With example after example, Mr. Laarman then efficiently dispatches the predicate on which Mr. Brooks' entire column is based before concluded that:
Brooks ends his column with a wistful plea for a new Moses to come along to revive the Exodus template and “tell us what our goal is.”

My plea is that someone will come along and tell Brooks what our actual history is – and how his kind of misty-eyed mythologizing gets in the way of seeing it clearly.
Lord knows I've tried, Mr, Laarman.  Year after years after year.  But "actual history" is the Beltway pundit's Kryptonite: they seal it in another layer of lead and bury it even deeper every time it threatens to leak out and sap them of their powers.

One more observation.  

Mr. Brooks concludes that:
What’s needed is an act of imagination, somebody who can tell us what our goal is, and offer an ideal vision of what the country and the world should be.

And guess what?  We actually we had such a person. And he was actually president for eight years! 

So yay for us!

Unfortunately, instead of joining President Obama as a genuinely loyal opposition dedicated to rebuilding our broken institutions, Mr. Brooks'  party chose to spend every fucking minute of those eight years working tirelessly to slander him, cripple him, obstruct him and obliterate his legacy, and fuuuuuck the good of the country.    

Because as Brother Charlie Pierce notes, even now, raving, unhinged hatred of the first black president remains the most powerful animating principle of the Party of Lincoln.  
This Is About Destroying the Presidency of Barack Obama

Digesting the Supreme Court nomination hearings of Neil Gorsuch.
Which Mr. David Brooks might have noticed if his ongoing search for the "The Unifying American Story" ever took him anywhere but straight up his own ass.


Andrew Johnston said...

Can I point out one thing in Laarman's post that is really common in these critiques of Brooks and kills me every goddamn time I see it?

Personal research conducted among my lefty friends shows that for many liberals, reading David Brooks amounts to a kind of a guilty pleasure. Brooks is witty, urbane, occasionally brilliant...

The most critical part of the unbreakable kabuki ritual over any criticism of Brooks is the initial supplication, with some variation on "But you have to admit that he's a great writer." No I fucking don't, he's a terrible writer. He's repetitive, fond of overlong and nonsensical metaphors, has a weak grasp on basic sentence structure, lards out everything he pens with cheap truisms and bromides...The Road to Character was un-fucking-readable, why do so many people think it was brilliant?

My working hypothesis is that this is a result of decades of reinforcement overriding people's actual opinions. Anyone who comes to the big boy politics table is told many, many times that Brooks is the most brilliant thinker in the history of thinkers. It creates a rather profound cognitive dissonance when they read him and their own natural judgment tells them that he's shit. There are two ways out, at least if you want any kind of future: Either you overwrite your own opinions and convince yourself that you were wrong and he really is great, or you simply shut your gob and pretend that "moral furniture" is a terribly witty and insightful bit of imagery. Whichever you choose, you then become part of the chorus convincing those younger than you that their opinions, too, are wrong.

I may have dumped this all in a comment section before, it's sure as shit not the first time I've thought it.

D. said...

Andrew Johnston: Maybe for people who need to be all Seeeeeeeerious. Me, I can't read even the brief excerpts that Driftglass runs here without wanting to scream and claw out my eyes. He continually distorts history, he's not at all funny, and when he starts with the smarminess about morality, I start hunting for custard pies.

Drifty: Thank you for busting Brooksie down to his basic parts, and for reminding me what an envious little twerp he is.

dinthebeast said...

But David, those "...American tales of genocide, slavery, oppression and segregation..." are true. So are you saying that what we need is for someone to LIE to us? We really seem to have quite enough of that particular resource just now.
At least some of us get the motivation you seem to think we need more of toward the, how did you say, overarching story? Yeah that's what you called it. Anyway, we get our motivation to hold up our end of that story from a genuine desire to make it a better story.
It only gets all complicated when you start trying to cover for the assholes who really want to make it a horror story.
So overarch this, David.

-Doug in Oakland

Hubert Vale said...

Brooks is just another George Will wannabe (as if we needed another ). 🙄

bluicebank said...

"For most of the past 400 years, Americans did have an overarching story. It was the Exodus story." -- DFB

Uh, we suddenly NOW have an Exodus story. Hell, we even have immigrants fleeing oppression, albeit into Canada or sanctuary cities. So Brooks is wrong on the facts.

Comment from Andrew Johnson: "No I fucking don't, he's a terrible writer."

Yes, he is. I once got a writer like that fired. From a weekly newspaper. A throwaway broadsheet, no less. For writing like Brooks.
"I hope you're happy," he sniffed.
"Fuck you. This is journalism, asshole."

Neo Tuxedo said...

We don't need another George Will wannabe. Hell's teeth, we didn't even need the original George Will. Somewhere around the time he was caught writing speeches for Ronald Reagan and then writing columns for Even the Liberal Washington Post praising those speeches, he should have been told to take it somewhere else, buster.

Lawrence said...

"Today’s students get steeped in American tales of genocide, slavery, oppression and segregation. American history is taught less as a progressively realized grand narrative and more as a series of power conflicts between oppressor and oppressed."

I haven't noticed Howard Zinn in my daughter's homework yet. But she's 10. Maybe they start that in middle school. Maybe DFB could fact check this with his new love interest. From that creepy Facebook pic she looks like high school is a recent memory. Or is he bitching about what goes on in college? Because college isn't supposed to be the sugary feel good propaganda about 1492 and Columbus sailing the ocean blue to grab some slaves and get medieval (literally) on them. College is supposed to be the grown up truth. I don't know if this is still true but China used to not have full normalized diplomatic relations with Japan because the Japanese were not honest with their children in school about the occupation of Manchuria. And plenty of people in DFB's party, in the actual government, are mighty proud of all those things we did. They would love to talk openly about their fondness for this past, and are increasingly emboldened to do so.

Robt said...

You all are spoiled Americans living in the decay of American capitalism.

RT TV is coming to save you from the lying pathetic fake failing American decaying capitalist media.

You need RT TV, Comrade. And DFB is not included.

He cannot apply for a job at Breitbart or Info Wars because comey is investigating those Anal Centers of Deep state for Russian ties because they either funneled the Russian propaganda against HRC knowingly, paid to or unwittingly. And unwittingly can still be a crime.

proverbialleadballoon said...

Lawrence: College is supposed to be the grown up truth. I hate to use such a well-worn cliche below all these germane words printed in the comments here, but Truth has a liberal bias. Anyone who's taken a history class in college learned a couple things about the United States that might make them question the wholesomeness they were taught in grade-high school. Long story short, republicans want to play fairy tale, and we are not playing fair when liberals point out inconvenient truths. David Brooks helps write the fairy tales. Evil, twisted fairy tales, because fairy tales are supposed to impart a valuable lesson, and his do the opposite of that. Why, someone could come away with the wrong lesson from reading a David Brooks column, if they didn't know any better. Better they not know any better, from the republican standpoint.

n1ck said...

It's hilarious that Brooks discusses how America's narrative of "escaping...bondage" is what allowed the country to have a shared purpose, but then laments that evil libruuls on college campuses discuss oppression and oppressors. As if people escaping bondage weren't escaping oppression in the midst of power conflicts.

David Brooks is a fucking idiot.