Do as I say, not as I've done

Ira Lacher highlights the hypocrisy of New York Times columnist David Brooks. -promoted by Laura Belin

America’s loudest self-apologist is at it again.

Ever since Donald Trump’s election allowed the maggots of Reaganomics to go forth and multiply, New York Times columnist David Brooks, one of the right’s most influential pundits, has been on a flagellation campaign. He has repeatedly chastised the very politiconomic conditions that he and his colleagues brought to bear on Americans, who only wanted to live better than their parents and now find themselves living worse — some considerably so.

And Brooks has done it again with his latest. In Tuesday’s Times, Brooks devotes his latest column to a scholarly paper which says, in effect, that the same people who bought into Republicanism are most suffering its ill-effects.

“We have a culture that takes the disruptive and dehumanizing aspects of capitalism and makes them worse,” Brooks pontificates, citing from the paper by Kathryn Edin, Timothy Nelson, Andrew Cherlin, and Robert Francis. What he fails to admit is that this culture results from the Republican Party’s combining a slavish devotion to corporate profits with a slavish preference of individual rights uber alles.

“Cultural forces have also played a role, namely the emphasis on autonomy — being your own person, focusing on your own personal growth, shucking off any constraints,” Brooks writes. But that doesn’t come from the la-la-la-la-live-for-today, free-sex hippie Boomers. It comes from those who insist on the right of an individual to not inoculate their children from disease, and keep a loaded handgun in their unlocked car.

Brooks also points out how the white, blue-collar men who were interviewed for the research have largely disassociated themselves from organized religion. This is a favorite canard from the right: just let America be a Christian society and all will be as God intended.

But the subjects of the research don’t agree. “They pray but tend to have contempt for organized religion and do not want to tie themselves down to any specific community,” Brooks writes. Could this result not from Christianity being under siege but from report after report of scandals involving priests, ministers, and rabbis?

Now that they see what unbridled capitalism has metastasized into, Brooks and other pseudo-repentant conservatives are trying to recast themselves, not as Ayn Rand disciples but Doctor Frankensteins, arguing that all the mayhem is the fault of the monster while denying that they created it.

Better that they own up to the fact that the “greed is good” cultural and political capitalism they helped erect has instead become an infestation of termites in America’s house. It will take a total turnabout in the way we view ourselves to keep that house from completely collapsing under the rot.

  • As a Boomer myself...

    …I cannot, in all conscience, just point at Republicans and say “our hyper-individualistic culture is entirely THEIR fault.” I’ve known some self-described liberals in my generation who were convinced that individual unattached personal freedom was the ultimate key to happiness, and acted accordingly.

    One of the things I find most annoying about Brooks is that while he writes a lot about the deterioration of relationships in America, he never seems to mention what is arguably the most dysfunctional and dangerously-deteriorated relationship of all — the relationship between humans and the biosphere that enables us to survive. Unless that relationship can be at least partly healed, we are headed over a cliff.

  • Innocuous

    The David Brooks piece is innocuous.

    It begins with a statement of the obvious — capitalism as a concept is good, capitalism, manipulated by men to the point it evolves into fascism. That fact is followed by a summary of a recent article in an Economics publication.

    The criticism here is of the summary, which is accurate.

    Girding Mr. Lacher’s commentary is a curious mix of animosity toward Mr. Brooks, and criticism the Catholic church. Missing here is a nexus between Mr. Brooks’ opinion piece and the animosity, and criticism. The anger is misplaced.

    It may be that the men with whom Mr. Lacher spends his time are devout in his faith community. The examples in Mr. Brooks’ piece are accurate. Throughout the “field,” as it were, of Christian churches, women carry the majority of tasks, not men. And Christian churches have evolved from places of contemplative worship to performance arenas where — and this is true — the stadium seating features movie theater-level comfort chairs, with cup holders for the refreshments you can get from a kiosk as you walk in.

    Anything for a Congregation. Although Alcoholics Anonymous is supposed to be a program of attraction, rather than promotion, for example, the Lutheran Church of Hope built AA into its business model. It offers AA as a selling point to the community.

    The very purpose of Christianity, that of following the teachings of Christ, has been perverted. What once was a mature, disciplined, contemplative search for truth in the New Testament, with a very real awakening that would cause one to proclaim, “I have come to know that Jesus is my Savior!” has been dumbed down to the level of, “Oh, so all I have to do is say, ‘Jesus is my Savior,’ and I’m good to go, now and forever? Well then, ‘Jesus is my Savior.’”

    And from that springs the Evangelical movement, which discards the New Testament, altogether, most especially Jesus’ entreaty — no, his order — to his Disciples, found in the Gospel of John: “Love one another, as I have loved you.”

    The Evangelical movement is, by its own admission, a group whose objective is to force a political philosophy on this nation that involves severe judgment of, and the explication of condemnation on, others.

    Catholic men have a definite concept of Christ that is consistent with the New Testament, and some are very active in their faith communities. But few spend much time in contemplation regarding their purpose in life or God’s plan. That does not make them bad people, and it is not an indictment of their Church as a failure.

    It is simply a true statement about the country in which we live.

    That being said, there seems no point to Mr. Lacher’s vituperative remarks about Mr. Brooks or the Catholic Church. If his issue is with Mr. Brooks and the Catholic Church, then demeaning a down-the-middle book report about an Economics article is the wrong venue.

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