Nailing David Brooks on the Head

James Grimmelmann· nails David Brooks right on the head·:

David Brooks is an intellectual money-launderer; he repackages the elitist misanthropy that is conservatism into vaguely humorous but reassuringly bland “observations.”

What bothers me so much about David Brooks is his insidiousness. Conservative clowns like Jeff Jacoby· preach only to their own choir; everyone else tends to write their drivel off as.. well, drivel (“the demonizing of John Ashcroft during the past four years has been just about the ugliest spectacle in US politics·”). I actually suspect that the Boston Globe carries Jacoby’s column despite it’s liberal leanings because Jacoby makes conservatives look stupid.

David Brooks, on the other hand, is an undercover agent, and he appeals to a lot of my fairminded left- or liberal-leaning friends. His message is: “Hey, I’m one of you. When I lambast liberals in a pleasant friendly way, I’m really just making fun of myself and my “bobo” values.” He attempts to reduce the opposition to a set of social quirks; a preference for organic goods grown under fair conditions is equated with blue hair and piercings.

Of course, Brooks is to some extent correct that people’s politics are driven as much by socialization as reason and passion (my own characterization). But his superficial attempts to inject some humour and self-deprecation into the debate belie a deeper anti-democratic agenda that only reveals itself when Brooks is writing for his own conservative audience.

See also David Plotz·’s article in slate·, Why liberals are turning on their favorite conservative, for a more in-depth critique.

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