For some reason, all I’ve seen over the past few days are takedowns of New York Times columnist David Brooks. Here’s one excellent, high-minded example over at U.S. Intellectual History by Robin Marie:
David Brooks is a special kind of stupid. How can we describe it? It is a skilled stupidity, really; Brooks, more than any other conservative posing as not-completely-delusional and/or shameless, is extremely talented at transforming thoughtless middle-class biases into what thoughtless middle-class people then take to be wisdom.
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I do have something to say, however, about Brooks’ latest masterpiece. In a column entitled “The Nature of Poverty,” where he recycles nearly every lazy assumption and distortion about “the culture of poverty” that the Right has been spouting for half a century – half a century folks, that’s half of 100 years of this stuff! – he ends, after explaining that poverty is not really about money but “relationships,” with this gem: “The world is waiting for a thinker who can describe poverty through the lens of social psychology.”
Apparently, Brooks has never heard of Albert K. Cohen. In 1955, he wrote a book calledDelinquent Boys, which explained deviant behavior in the working class as the product of social failure.
She then goes on to review the half-century of social science that David Brooks has internalized in order to blame the victims of poverty for their poverty, but of which he is entirely ignorant. I learned a lot! (So would Brooks, if he bothered to read up on the stuff he writes about once in a while.) For years, I’ve thought that Brooks was yet another conservative resentful of actual scholars but too lazy and too well-rewarded where he is to, you know, do the coursework and research that it takes to become an actual scholar. Marie’s work here makes me even more confident in this assumption.
When David Brooks’s marriage collapsed, reportedly, around the end of 2013, it should have freed him to enjoy the spoils of pundit-class celebrity. He would be Out There, America’s most eligible thinkfluencer, thinkfluencing a perky publishing assistant onto his elbow for mutually rewarding committed relationship action and/or love!
It has been a whole damn year since then, but where are the hot online singles? David Brooks sought them on their dating websites, but they were too busy ogling each others’ believable smiles and firm abdominal muscles.
People who date online are not shallower or vainer than those who don’t. Research suggests they are broadly representative. It’s just that they’re in a specific mental state. They’re shopping for human beings, commodifying people. They have access to very little information that can help them judge if they will fall in love with this person. They pay ridiculous amounts of attention to things like looks, which have little bearing on whether a relationship will work.
Apes! Intellectual lotus-eaters! This is a source of bitter disappointment for David Brooks. Why won’t they ogle his firm belief in the importance of social psychology? What is a “six-pack,”compared to a regular seat on the “Meet the Press” panel?
HA-hahahaha!!! Don’t click on that link unless you’re OK with the repetitive invocation of the words “wiener” and “dick webs,” as in, cobwebs covering your codpiece. You’ve been warned!