Friday, July 13, 2018

David Brooks Discovers Racism


As longtime readers already know, for Mr. David Brooks of The New York Times it doesn't matter what topic Mr.Brooks happens lands on on any given day, because every topic will be mashed into a fine paste, passed through the lower intestine of The New York Times'  very own carbon-based Both Sides Do It algorithm, and will emerge as a steaming lump of Reasonable Centrism exactly the same size, shape and consistency as every other steaming lump of Reasonable Centrism that Mr. Brooks has ever extruded.

Excerpted from myself, eight years ago ("How To Write a David Brooks Column"):

1) Pick a subject. Any subject. From Tasseled Loafers to Torture, it literally does not matter.

2) Quote extensively from one person or group on the subject. It's OK to just more-or-less copy and paste in big hunks of what whatever-you-happen-to-be-reading-at-the-moment to flesh out your 800-word column. Here at the Times we call that "research"!

3) Quote from some other person or group on the same subject who appears to hold a different opinion. If no actual opposition exists, just put on your Magic Green Jacket and invent an opposing opinion.

4) Although such is not the case with today's subject, as often as possible, try to impute these fictional distinctions to the different hemispheres of the political Universe. So no matter how bigoted, reckless or just bugfuck crazy the Right behaves, you just go right ahead and blandly assert with no supporting evidence whatsoever that the Left is equally and oppositely bad in exactly the same qualities and quantities. Here at the Times we call that "seriousness"!

5) Discover in your final paragraph or two that -- amazingly! -- the precise midpoint between those two completely artificial positions on an imaginary spectrum just happens to be exactly the Right and Reasonable answer!

Oh boy!

6) Rinse and repeat. No matter what the subject, no matter how false or bizarre the equivalence, just rinse and repeat. Twice a week.

7) Every week.

8) Year.

9) After year.

10) After year...

This is really all there is to Mr. David Brooks: long trail of nearly-identical Both Siderist droppings going back more than 20 years.  Sometimes, when the subject is trivial or just flaky, but Mr. Brooks will always conclude that responsibility for whatever-it-is should be equally divided between the Left and the Right

Another of Mr. Brooks' more repulsive writing tics is when he scowls owlishly over the mighty wall of extreme privilege he has built around his life and piously scolds the rest of the world for not bringing to his attention some chronic social or political problem that has been perfectly obvious to everyone else all along.

Oh if only someone had warned him that George W. Bush was not a military genius and that the Iraq War would be a catastrophe of staggering proportions, that massive tax cuts and wars-on-a-credit-card would wipe out the Clinton surplus and drive us right back into debt, that his Republican party had not, in fact, detoxified its brand in 2014, that a Great Conservative Renaissance was not just around the corner, that Donald Trump was an actual threat and that Lil Marco was not going to save the GOP. 

And so forth.

So when Mr. Brooks puts both his reflexive Both Siderism and his privileged Conservative myopia on full, Technicolor display by suddenly discovering that racism is real?

Well that, my friends, is something extra fucking special:
The Quiet Death of Racial Progress
Quiet? Really?  Well maybe riding in the Acela Corridor Quiet Car while wearing earmuffs made from chapters of Charles Murray books  it may well have seemed that way.  But outside of Mr. Brooks' Reasonable Conservative terrarium it was loud as Hell.

Mr. Brooks' continues:
Over the past few months, I’ve been trying to write a comforting column. The thesis was going to be that even though Donald Trump is doing his best to inflame racial division, we are still making gradual progress against racism and racial disparities...

Unfortunately, this is not that comforting column. The deeper I dug into the evidence, the more I came to doubt the idea that we are still making progress on race. For every positive statistic indicating racial reconciliation, there was one indicating stagnation or even decay.
Poor Mr. Brooks -- forced to once again ignore aside his lifetime of Conservative platitudes and homilies, don his Simms G47 Stockingfoot Waders and slog into "the evidence" to see what is actually going on outside his cozy, little bubble.  Oh if only someone had warned him sooner that race relations in this country were actually in steep retrograde.

Well, actually, someone did. 

Back in 2015 Mr. Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote an entire, terra-stomping book on the subject, a copy of which sits on our bookshelf and -- fun fact -- fans of Luke Cage would have seen being read by Power Man himself this year in episode one of season two.  And while Mr. Coates' book was not specifically directed at Mr. Brooks' at all, Mr. Brooks nonetheless felt compelled to write an entire column telling Mr. Coats, in so many words, to sit down and be quiet.

From Mr. Brooks, almost exactly three years ago, with the original, reeking condescension intact and my favorite passage emphasized:
Listening to Ta-Nehisi Coates While White

I read this all like a slap and a revelation. I suppose the first obligation is to sit with it, to make sure the testimony is respected and sinks in. But I have to ask, Am I displaying my privilege if I disagree? Is my job just to respect your experience and accept your conclusions? Does a white person have standing to respond?

If I do have standing, I find the causation between the legacy of lynching and some guy’s decision to commit a crime inadequate to the complexity of most individual choices.

I think you distort American history. This country, like each person in it, is a mixture of glory and shame. There’s a Lincoln for every Jefferson Davis and a Harlem Children’s Zone for every K.K.K...

In your anger at the tone of innocence some people adopt to describe the American dream, you reject the dream itself as flimflam. But a dream sullied is not a lie...

This dream is a secular faith that has unified people across every known divide. It has unleashed ennobling energies and mobilized heroic social reform movements. By dissolving the dream under the acid of an excessive realism, you trap generations in the past and destroy the guiding star that points to a better future.
In my capacity as America's leading Brooksologist, in my opinion phrase "dissolving the dream under the acid of an excessive realism" may only be equaled in patronizing sanctimony which quickly turned out to be 100% wrong by Mr. Brooks' vintage, Iraq War Pimp-era "jewels of nuance"
The leading Democratic presidential contender, John Kerry, has become the political standard-bearer of the high-toned, agnostic, and incomprehensible. He begins his speeches on sunny days and under crisp skies and proceeds to lay down such a miasma of equivocation and on-the-other-hands that the sun is blotted out and you can't see the question marks as they fly by in front of your face. The fog of peace is thick indeed.

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. 
So, Mr. Brooks has finally discovered racism.

Well bully for him.

So what should we do about it? 

Well if I had a column in The New York Times that reached millions of readers every day, I would begin by simply acknowledging this historical fact that Mr. Brook's Republican party has spent decades ruthlessly weaponizing racism in this country in order to win elections.  That they turned racial animus and white resentment into sprawling and very profitable business and that playing his part in advancing the fortunes of this Party of Hate has made Mr. Brooks a wealthy man. 

Or perhaps I would ask New York Times readers to just admit the self-evident truth that there is simple no equivalence to be found between the political party which nominated and elected Barack Obama twice...

...and the political party which deliberately sabotaged Obama Administration every way it could, called him a liar on live teevee during his address to a joint session of Congress, manufactured an entire “birther” movement to whip Republican bigots and imbeciles into an electoral frenzy , stole a supreme count seat from the sitting president and nominated and elected an openly racist madman because he promised to burn down everything Obama had ever touched.

That's what I would do.

Mr. Brooks, on the other hand and to no one's surprise, mashes the entire subject of racism in America into a fine paste, passes it through his lower intestine, and poops out yet another steaming lump of Reasonable Centrism exactly the same size, shape and consistency as every other steaming lump of Reasonable Centrism that Mr. Brooks has ever extruded:
That is to say, the left-wingers have it correct when they point to the systems of oppression that pervade society: the legacy of residential segregation; the racist attitudes in the workplace that demonstrably make it much harder for African-American men to get jobs; the prejudices — in the schools, in the streets and in the judicial system — that make it much more likely that African-American males will be punished, incarcerated and marginalized.

But conservatives are right to point to the importance of bourgeois norms. Three institutions do an impressive job of reducing racial disparity: the military, marriage and church...

We’ve fallen into a bogus logjam in which progressives emphasize systems of oppression and conservatives emphasize cultural norms...
For the record, here is video of the last Democratic president very ably and comfortably encompassing all of the "cultural norms" that Mr. Brooks would like you to believe that Liberals do not notice or care about.  And, at no additional charge, the video also contains the Fox News Conservative response to the Kenyan Usurpers thoughtful remarks about race and poverty.

Bu none of that counts, of course, because all of it happened in the Past, and dragging the Past into any discussion of how we got into the mess we are in now clearly violates the spirit of the Beltway Iron Rule of David Brooks.

Instead we should focus on the fact that Great White Father has discovered racism in America and has taken to his pulpit in The New York Times to sternly warn Both Sides to stop with all the "bogus logjamming".


That should do it.

Behold, a Tip Jar!


Eric Schmidt said...

So if you are a 15 year old black kid who likes physics, but not God, hates conformity, and prefers solitude to marriage, there is always prison, another bourgeois norm.

dinthebeast said...

"and conservatives emphasize cultural norms..."

Says the man who supports the party which right this real minute, not some imaginary future one, is busily setting fire to as many cultural norms as they can pour napalm on and set alight.

-Doug in Oakland

Davis Statton said...

No, the Lincolns are vastly outnumbered by the Jefferson Davises.

"excessive realism" sounds like Blanche Dubois