For you budding Brooksologists out there, one thing that's very helpful to understand when parsing David Brooks' terrible writing is that virtually every David Brooks column is about David Brooks.
These columns are usually occasioned by one of Mr. Brooks' many, barely-contained insecurities or loathings being dislodged by events in the world, which then comes pouring out refracted and sublimated under the cover of an op-ed on ... whatever.
Harvard’s False Path to Wisdom
Sometimes sin is an opportunity for redemption.
-- you can be damn sure that something has happened which feels like it threatens the equilibrium of ecosystem in which Mr. Brooks operates.
Today's inciting incident was Harvard's revocation of Kyle Kashuv's admission to their university based on some incredibly racist and antisemitic (h/t Yastreblyansky) things he wrote when he was in high school and which have only recently come to light.
For Kyle Kashuv, this means he has once again joined the billions of human beings on Earth who won't being going to Harvard. Sad! After all, Harvard is a Privilege Factory with more money than God and Mark Cuban (it is frequently referred to as a "hedge fund with a university attached") and when it comes to admissions it can do pretty much whatever it wants to do.
But for David Brooks, this is his nightmare scenario.
The nightmare of a Conservative who had made his way into one of America's most elite Privilege Factories --
Most of the famous Parkland students lean progressive and support gun control laws. Kashuv leans conservative. He’s appeared on conservative media, got to meet Donald Trump and lobbied for the STOP School Violence Act, which would create an annual $50 million grant to schools for training programs and reporting systems. He became a student face for the gun rights crowd.
-- only to find himself suddenly kicked out because of things he had written in the past.
The nightmare that someone other than a few nobody Liberal bloggers might actually take a look at the shit David Brooks has actually written over the decades -- the saccharine schlock, the incompetently researched/cherry-picked propaganda, the hypocrisy, the venomous hippie-punching and the interminable Both Siderism.
The nightmare that someone with actual, decision-making authority within the privileged Beltway media ecosystem might open the books on Mr. David Brooks and discover that he is almost always horribly wrong about everything and then decides that the time has come for Mr. Brooks to seek employment elsewhere.
A nightmare which has already almost happened.
The first time it happened was when the scale of the failure of George Bush's Iraqi Debacle became so overwhelmingly obvious that some of the people who had been critics of the Iraq War (and of its loud and unremitting supporters) began to make some measurable headway.
So when I see Mr. Brooks using his column in The New York Times to sermonize on the subject of moral formation --
Moral formation is not like learning math. It’s not cumulative; it’s inverse. In a sin-drenched world it’s precisely through the sins and the ensuing repentance that moral formation happens. That’s why we try not to judge people by what they did in their worst moment, but rather by how they respond to their worst moment.
-- I cannot help but be reminded of examples like this of Mr. Brooks as a forty-five-year-old paid professional grown-ass man on The Chris Matthews Show in 2006 continuing to slander Liberals like me as crazy even as the Bush Administration and its Iraqi Debacle were collapsing around his ears just as Liberals like me had warned it would:
I cannot help but wonder when Mr. Brooks' own "moral formation" will kick in. Because the implosion of the Bush Administration sure as hell didn't move him to any greater moral awakening.