It's about being "woke". And, wow, however bad you imagine it to be, go back and imagine harder.
But first, context!
Chronologically, the earliest story Mr. David Brooks tells about himself (over and over and over again) is actually a story about what a couple of indulgent, lefty chumps his parents were:
When I grew up in Greenwich Village in the 60’s, my parents were somewhat in the left. They took me to a thing in 1965 called a “be-in”. Where hippies would go just to “be”. One of the things they did was set a garbage can on fire and threw their wallets in it to demonstrate their liberation from money and material things. And I was five and I broke from the crowd, reached into the fire, and grabbed some money, and ran away. That started my first step forward to the right.
And for the last 53 years, Mr. David Brooks has lived with the mortal dread that those hippies were gonna track him down, kick in his door in and make him give that money back. With interest.
Seriously, anyone who actually reads Mr. Brooks (and why would you?) over any length of time knows that beneath his carefully fabricated veneer of America's Most Ubiquitous 'Umble, Multi-Millionaire Moralizing Conservative Public Intellectual, Mr. Brooks is a bitter little man who seethes with barely-contained contempt for the fuzzy-headed, indulgent Left, despite the fact that Reality keeps slapping Zombie Reagan's dick out of his mouth and rubbing his face in the fact that he consistently wrong about everything.
According to Mr. Brooks, Liberals were "brainless and self-destructive" for suggesting that that Bush Administration policies were about to wipe out the Clinton surplus, run up another gargantuan deficit and put Social Security under the gun.
"Pelosi Democrats" were stupid, crazy and about to wander off into "Paul Krugman-land" for believing such piffle. Because on the Right, nobody's pay has ever been docked for joining the "Pelosi is a Dirty San Francisco Commie" pile-on
According to Mr. Brooks, the War in Iraq was a brilliant idea, perfectly executed and decisively won, and anyone who can't see that is a scurvy, lying, self-deluded, self-indulgent Libtard who history will soon sweep aside.
Oh, and we're also antisemitic!
I mentioned that I barely know Paul Wolfowitz, which is true. But I do admire him enormously, not only because he is both a genuine scholar and an effective policy practitioner, not only because he has been right on most of the major issues during his career, but because he is now the focus of world anti-Semitism. He carries the burden of their hatred, which emanates not only from the Arab world and France, but from some people in our own country, which I had so long underestimated
And once all his fake-patriot whoop-de-shit Iraq War talk began to turn to ash in his mouth, Mr. Brooks got down to the serious business of writing an entire column...
...about how Harry Reid is a whiny, paranoid, tantrum-throwing baby.
No kidding. That really happened. Here are some of highlights.
Harry Reid sits alone at his kitchen table at 4 a.m., writing important notes in crayon on the outside of envelopes. It's been four weeks since he launched his personal investigation into the Republican plot to manipulate intelligence to trick the American people into believing Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.
Reid had heard of the secret G.O.P. cabal bent on global empire, but he had no idea that he would find a conspiracy so immense...
Reid now knows that as far back as 1998, Karl Rove was beaming microwaves into Bill Clinton's fillings to get him to exaggerate the intelligence on Iraq....
Reid now knows that in the late 1990's, Dick Cheney and other Republican officials used fluoridated water in the State Department and other government agencies to brainwash Clinton administration...Harry Reid sits alone at his kitchen table at 4 a.m., writing important notes in crayon on the outside of envelopes. It has been four weeks since he began investigating this conspiracy and three weeks since he sealed his windows with aluminum foil to ward off the Illuminati. Odd patterns now leap into his brain. Scooter Libby was born near a book depository but was indicted while at a theater. Karl Rove reads books from book depositories but rarely has time for the theater. What is the ratio of Bush tax cuts to the number of squares on a frozen waffle? It is none other than the Divine Proportion. This proves that Leonardo da Vinci manipulated intelligence on Iraq and that the Holy Grail is a woman!
Harry Reid sits alone at his kitchen table at 4 a.m. He knows now that seven centuries ago at a secret meeting of the Bilderberg Society-Trilateral Commission-American Enterprise Institute, the six High Lords of the Secret Order of the Neocons decided to implant alien life forms into potential Democratic officials that could be activated in case there was a need to manipulate intelligence on Iraq...
Harry Reid sits alone at his kitchen table at 4 a.m. Odd thoughts rush through his brain. He cannot trust the letter "r," so he must change his name to Hawwy Weed. Brian Lamb secretly rules the world by manipulating the serial numbers on milk cartons.
Reid realizes there is only one solution: "Must call a secret session of the Senate. Must expose global conspiracy to sap vital juices! Must expose Republican plot to manipulate intelligence!"
Harry Reid sits alone at his kitchen table at 4 a.m.
See, Mr. Brooks really, really does not like to be wrong, and often reacts very badly when he is caught looking stupid. Which, unfortunately, for him is pretty much always.
Like, for example, when he got up his hind legs and insisted that Saint Ronald Reagan had never said or done a single god damn racist thing in his whole life you fuckers! And was swiftly and firmly corrected and told to sit down and shut the fuck up by pretty much the entire internet, from his fellow NYT columnists, to proprietors of shitty blogs out on the fringes of respectability.
Or when he confidently predicted -- less than one year before Donald Trump oozed down the Escalator of Doom and into the hearts of GOP voters -- that his Republican party was definitely over it's infatuation with toxic, Sarah-Palin-style politics and was back to being a respectable, optimistic, forward-looking yadda yadda yadda.
Or when he confidently predicted -- almost six months to the day before Donald Trump locked up the Republican nomination -- that his Republican party would never nominated Donald Trump and that Marco Rubio had it in the bag.
See, being a Conservative, means that Mr. Brooks' most primal instinct is to ridicule foolish Liberals and blame them for pretty much everything all the time. However, being a Conservative also means that Mr. Brooks is wrong in huge, humiliating, public ways almost all of the time. And being a quaggy and otherwise talentless person, the only high-paying job for which Mr. Brooks is suited is extruding Moralizing Conservative Public Intellectual columns which flatter the deeply inbred prejudices of the credulous chumps who oversee The New York Times op-ed pages.
But at some point, even the credulous chumps who oversee The New York Times op-ed pages eventually get tired of being laughed at by everyone on planet Earth for being a six-figure sinecure for writers who routinely humiliate themselves in big, public ways.
So you can see what a professional pickle Mr. Brooks found himself in, what with the Right going very publicly insane and the Left being shown, day after day, to have been right about the Right all along!
Clearly the solution was to... invent a new genre!
One in which Mr. Brooks was free to reluctantly admit that, just maybe, some elements of the Right are a wee bit off their rockers...
...while at the same time wallowing in his creepy, life-long obsession with loathing Lefties for throwing the contents of their wallets in a fire when he was five years old.
And thus Both Siderism was born! And one million dirty hippie straw men were pressed into service. And since that day, with a few exceptions along the way, Mr. David Brooks has written exactly this same column over and over and over again, to the evident satisfaction of the credulous chumps who oversee The New York Times op-ed pages.
And almost since that day, with a few exceptions along the way, your humble scrivener has been documenting Mr. Brooks' atrocities. From me in April of 2005 (Jesus AARP Christ I feel old):
BoBo pleads for “compromise”. Again....“Fact is” you wormy little Quisling, the Dems spent the 90’s compromising their fool asses off – precisely like it says right here on the prescription that Dr. BoBo wrote out for us.For their troubles they got Newt Gingrich and his GOPAC Little Red Hatespeech Book launching a carefully planned, deliberately executed verbal blitzkrieg again the Democratic Party. A coordinated national campaign of that came with a detailed list of words (Free In Every Box of Cracka’ Jacks!) to be used to demonization and humiliate Democrats at every opportunity.For their troubles we get Tom DeLay rising like the Asshole Kraken from the absolute depths of bigoted-ignorant-demagogue-politics to become a proud leader of your party. And trailing behind him like the smelly brown tail of a feculent comet, all the rest of the escapees from “The Island of Doctor Moreau” that own and operate the GOP.For their troubles they got the Democratic President of the United States hunted like a wild animal for seven years – for sport – by Republicans riding along on a rhetorical tsumani of Absolute Ethical Standards. Virtually shutting the country down to impeach him for a b-l-o-w-j-o-b, not because you wanted to -- Heavens No! -- but because any hint of impropriety on the part of any president need to be ferreted out, no matter the cost.Well the per-capita number of Ferrets in your party has certainly skyrocketed since then, so where are all the investigations of the possible High Crimes and Misdemeanors of the administration of George Walker Bush? Where are the Select Committees? The Special Prosecutors with unlimited lines of credit? Has Cheney been excoriated and rebuked for secretly rigging up a new energy policy? Has GW been subpoenaed yet? Has Rice? Perle?Of course not, BoBo, because your party is infested top to bottom with CHUDS and poltroons, liars and hypocrites, Elmer Gantrys and Jeff Gannons. You already own the Executive and Legislative branches and the only thing standing between them and the Jesusland, Inc. fantasy that you all cream over is the courts……so let’s expend a Brooksie columns beating up on judges by cowardly proxy. Hey, how about Liberal Supreme Court Judges? Who are dead? And how about we try to throw the dogs off the scent by waving the word “Abortion” around and seeing if that’ll confuse them.Face it, BoBo in the sharp illumination of your party’s own words and deeds, you sound idiotic, but hey, if you really want to disarm and play nice, fine. And since we spent a decade trying to find compromise with the "Napalm a Progressive for Christ" wing of your party (now better known now simple as The Republicans) and got our skulls bashed in with big, old GOP crowbars for our trouble, how about you going first, and we’ll meet you at the half-way point.The REAL halfway point, which at the rate your party has being sprinting into the doughy arms of the Fundamentalists, is now about nine billion miles to your left.
So here we are, many, many words and links and histories and sidebars down this goat path and I'll be damned if I haven't even posted the actual content of David Brooks' column today.
Well, that was kinda the point. Because by now, regardless of what the nominal "topic" may be, you know exactly what shape that column will take. But for you pedants out there:
The Problem With Wokeness...This comment elicited a lot of hatred on social media, of a very interesting kind. The general diagnosis was that I was doing something wrong by not maximizing the size of the problem. I was draining moral urgency and providing comfort to the status quo.
This mental habit is closely related to what we now call “wokeness.”...
But wokeness jams together the perceiving and the proposing. In fact, wokeness puts more emphasis on how you perceive a situation — how woke you are to what is wrong — than what exactly you plan to do about it. To be woke is to understand the full injustice.
There is no measure or moderation to wokeness. It’s always good to be more woke. It’s always good to see injustice in maximalist terms. To point to any mitigating factors in the environment is to be naïve, childish, a co-opted part of the status quo...
In 1952 Reinhold Niebuhr complained...
The problem with wokeness is that it doesn’t inspire action; it freezes it. To be woke is first and foremost to put yourself on display...
By the way, if this sounds remarkably familiar, it should. It is, in tone and direction, nearly-identical to Mr. Brooks' front-page article in The Weekly Standard back when he was shitting all over anti-war protesters because, in Mr. Brooks's opinion, they were spoiled, self-indulgent clowns who cared much more about their displays of Liberal piety than the actual cause they were protesting:
In certain circles, it is not only important what opinion you hold, but how you hold it. It is important to be seen dancing with complexity, sliding among shades of gray. Any poor rube can come to a simple conclusion -- that President Saddam Hussein is a menace who must be disarmed--but the refined ratiocinators want to be seen luxuriating amid the difficulties, donning the jewels of nuance, even to the point of self-paralysis.
Meanwhile, let us return back to the here and now just in time for Mr. Brooks to veer into a jarringly non sequitur detour for no reason other than throwing an elbow at Ta-Nehisi Coates --
There’s a debate on precisely this point now surrounding the writer Ta-Nehisi Coates. Coates is, of course, well known for seeing the problem of racism in maximalist terms. The entire American story was and continues to be based on “plunder,” the violent crushing of minority bodies. Even today, “Gentrification is white supremacy.”-- before delivering his inevitable punch line (emphsis added):
The greatest danger of extreme wokeness is that it makes it harder to practice the necessary skill of public life, the ability to see two contradictory truths at the same time...Indignation is often deserved and always makes for a great media strategy. But in its extreme form, whether on left or right, wokeness leads to a one-sided depiction of the present and an unsophisticated strategy for a future offensive.
And that, kiddies, is all I have to say about Mr. Brooks this week.
You see, a couple of days ago I got laid off again. "Nothing personal," I was told. "We're just going in a different direction," I was told. And that plus losing half of our Professional Left podcast revenue when Amazon abruptly cut us off has me a more than a little freaked out.
However, as freaked out as I may be at the moment, let me add this.
Mr. Brooks is dead right about one thing.
The Dirty Hippies are back.
And we are gonna take his stuff.
Behold, a Tip Jar!