I am taking a small detour from my planned fundraising journey down memory lane to celebrate another decade-long tradition of this blog.
My ongoing observations on the inexplicable existence of the New York Times' very own , in-house Professional Moral Hector, David Fucking Brooks.
Who I was quite prepared to ignore this week until I opened my New York Times to discover that the recently-divorced, heterosexual David Brooks had turned part of his J-Date profile into an editorial in which he enunciates Many Opinions about the gays.
Because who better?
Mostly, according to Mr. Brooks it comes down to politeness. More specifically, in Mr. Brooks' professional opinion, the gay rights movement should shut the fuck up now and stop bitching. I mean they can marry. Sorta. And they have their own parade for Chrissake, so why they gotta be so goddamn prickly?
Why can't they be more polite?
Why can't they be more like, well, David Brooks?
First, we get the infinitieth reprise of Mr. Brooks' broken, Both Siderist record:
On the one hand, there is a growing consensus that straight, gay and lesbian people deserve full equality with each other...
On the other hand, this was a nation founded on religious tolerance. The ways of the Lord are mysterious and are understood differently by different traditions...
And then, inevitably, comes the lecture:
Morality is a politeness of the soul. Deep politeness means we make accommodations. Certain basic truths are inalienable. Discrimination is always wrong. In cases of actual bigotry, the hammer comes down.
No, Mr. Brooks, Quite often, the hammer does not come down, as anyone with a functional memory and an ounce integrity knows. In fact, Mr. Brooks, the power base of your entire party depends on putting millions of bigots in-harness and lavishly flattering their paranoia and feeding their rage. As anyone with a functional memory and an ounce integrity also knows.
But do please continue scolding the rest of us:
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But as neighbors in a pluralistic society we try to turn philosophic clashes (about right and wrong) into neighborly problems in which different people are given space to have different lanes to lead lives. In cases where people with different values disagree, we seek a creative accommodation.
In the Jewish community, conservative Jews are generally polite toward Orthodox Jews who wouldn’t use their cutlery. Men are generally polite to Orthodox women who would prefer not to shake their hands. In the larger community, this respectful politeness works best.
The movement to champion gay rights is now in a position where it can afford to offer this respect, at a point where steady pressure works better than compulsion. ...
Let us be clear. As was revealed under steady, binary questioning by George Stephanopoulos this Sunday, what's happening in Indiana under Republican Governor Mike "Big Sharia" Pence is is about hatred. Religious hatred. The hatred of a minority out-group that the majority in-group somehow finds inferior or tainted or otherwise icky. Hatred that has been sanctified and dandied up with scripture and then institutionalized under the color of law.
The issue is about using a religious pretext for legal discrimination. The facts of the case are clear and unambiguous:
But for Republican apologists like Mr. Brooks, inconvenient facts are always sent out of the room so he can set up yet another, simple-minded morality puppet show about the virtues of not making people like Mr. Brooks uncomfortable, Because once a hated out-group has fought its way to a place where the in-group is forced to stop treating them like vermin (even though they still may really, really want to) Mr. Brooks' answer to their grievances is always to make them step back into a posture of supplication and ask pretty, pretty please for the basic human rights which every member of Mr. Brooks' privileged in-group takes for granted as their birthright.
"Morality is a politeness of the soul"? What kind of dog's breakfast is that? Jesus His Own Self said he brought not peace, but a sword. If Brooks wants to stand with religious-based bigotry, with the Micah Clarks of the world, he should just do so and stop wasting all of our time as a sewage-treatment plant for the worst instincts in our politics. "Neighborly problems"? If Brooks wants to say that discrimination against LGBT citizens is not really discrimination worthy of the law's attention, he should just say so, and stop wasting all our time putting Bull Connor in a $500 suit. Here's a "creative accommodation" for you. Don't be a bigot.
Au contraire mon frere. For it is the received wisdom of our social and moral and financial superior, that the hated out-groups bear the the social and moral obligation to be polite and respectful of the in-groups' fee-fees.
Because something something Orthodox Jews something something conservative Jews something something handshakes and cutlery.
Because apparently there were no even more ludicrously stupid and wrong analogies immediately available in Mr. Brooks' pencil box.
And because, from income inequality to climate change denialism to the derangement of the GOP to to the Penn State rape case, Mr. Brooks has always leaped to the defense of the establishment and the rights of the privileged insider to go through life unmolested by the rude and ragged outsider. That's how he pays his mortgage and living expenses. That's what will cover the cost of his divorce. That's how he gets away with making up comforting fairy tales and passing them off as math and history.
OK, here is where I have to confess to a little exaggeration myself.
As an astute and generous reader, by now you may have noticed that I have used the word "always" (as in " Mr. Brooks has always leaped to the defense of the establishment") rather promiscuously in this post. But as any student of Mr. Brooks' public writing knows, there is one, glaring exception to his lazy habit of mind.
This week, the recently-divorced, heterosexual David Brooks stated just how firmly he believes that the gays should meet the codified religious hatred of those who would treat them as less than human with "politeness", "respect" and "steady pressure" rather than "compulsion".
But where did the Jewish David Brooks stand on the same subject -- how to deal with codified religious hatred being used to treat others as less than human -- just last week? And what happened to Mr. Brooks' ample supply of terms like "respect" and "politeness" when the subject was religious-based hatred directed at a group to which Mr. Brooks belongs?
How to Fight Anti-Semitism
Anti-Semitism is rising around the world. So the question becomes: What can we do to fight it? Do education campaigns work, or marches or conferences?
There are three major strains of anti-Semitism circulating, different in kind and virulence, and requiring different responses.
When anti-Jewish religious hatred is public, aggressive and virulent, Mr. Brooks advocates "deterrence" and "fear" (translation: bombing the shit out of the offenders):
The region is still rife with the usual conspiracy theories — that the Jews were behind 9/11, drink the blood of non-Jews, spray pesticides across Egyptian lands.
This sort of anti-Semitism thrives where there aren’t that many Jews. The Jew is not a person but an idea, a unique carrier of transcendent evil: a pollution, a stain, a dark force responsible for the failures of others, the unconscious shame and primeval urges they feel in themselves, and everything that needs explaining. This is a form of derangement, a flight from reality even in otherwise sophisticated people.
This form of anti-Semitism cannot be reasoned away because it doesn’t exist on the level of reason. It can only be confronted with deterrence and force, at the level of fear.
When anti-Jewish religious hatred is public and virulent, but operating just beneath the level of official approval, Mr. Brooks suggests massive, public, confrontational, hippie-style (and probably very impolite) protests:
Thousands of Jews a year are just fleeing Europe. But the best response is quarantine and confrontation. European governments can demonstrate solidarity with their Jewish citizens by providing security, cracking down — broken-windows style — on even the smallest assaults. Meanwhile, brave and decent people can take a page from Gandhi and stage campaigns of confrontational nonviolence: marches, sit-ins and protests in the very neighborhoods where anti-Semitism breeds. Expose the evil of the perpetrators. Disturb the consciences of the good people in these communities who tolerate them. Confrontational nonviolence is the historically proven method to isolate and delegitimize social evil.
And here in Murrica, Mr. Brooks bemoans the fact that the young 'uns have been brainwashed by "moral relativism" to the point where they apparently have no idea that anti-Jewish religious hatred not about some public policy disagreement but is, in itself, a uniquely "virulent evil" --
There are others who see anti-Semitism as another form of bigotry. But these are different evils. Most bigotry is an assertion of inferiority and speaks the language of oppression. Anti-Semitism is an assertion of impurity and speaks the language of extermination. Anti-Semitism’s logical endpoint is violence.
-- which Mr. Brooks insists must be publicly called out as evil and cancerous --
Groups fighting anti-Semitism sponsor educational campaigns and do a lot of consciousness-raising. I doubt these things do anything to reduce active anti-Semitism. But they can help non-anti-Semites understand the different forms of the cancer in our midst.
-- at every level and at every opportunity.
Which does not sound polite or respectful at all.
I agree with Mr. Brooks that the ways of the Lord are mysterious.
But more mysterious still are the ways of the executives at the New York Times who continue to employ Mr, Brooks at heavy expense to extrude this claptrap, twice a week, every week, forever.
Crossposted at Driftglass.blogspot