David Brooks, the man the New York Times drafted in to flatter the upper middle classes has a habit of putting his foot in it. Behind the elegantly crafted sentences that include words like ‘invocations’, ‘accoutrements’ and ‘cloying’ (all in one breath), is a pretty nasty guy who thinks Egyptians are mental degenerates, Haitians are responsible for their own misery, and anyone who opposed the Iraq war was a ‘Chicken Little’. Brooks comes across as a nice guy, but he really isn’t.
Many have made a sport out of bashing Brooks (Matt Taibbi, Hamilton Nolan etc.), and for good reason. Brooks pens piece after piece justifying an exploitative economic system that props people like himself up, even writing a book dedicated to the genetic supremacy of rich white people.
Lately, Brooks turned his attention to the crisis in Egypt, arguing that its inhabitants don’t have the mental ingredients’ to sustain a democracy. With his extensive background in high paid punditry and upper middle class American suburbia, Brooks was surely the man to analyze the situation.
No one should have been surprised by Brooks’ assertion that Egyptians were less than human given his history of spouting offensive nonsense. Here are 7 of his most offensive statements over the past few years (and there were MANY to choose from):
1. “It’s easy to see why politicians would be drawn to the populist pose. First, it makes everything so simple. The economic crisis was caused by a complex web of factors, including global imbalances caused by the rise of China. But with the populist narrative, you can just blame Goldman Sachs.”
– David Brooks in the NYTimes arguing that poor people should cut big banks some slack after destroying the global economy
2. “Haiti, like most of the world’s poorest nations, suffers from a complex web of progress-resistant cultural influences. There is the influence of the voodoo religion, which spreads the message that life is capricious and planning futile. There are high levels of social mistrust. Responsibility is often not internalized. Child-rearing practices often involve neglect in the early years and harsh retribution when kids hit 9 or 10. We’re all supposed to politely respect each other’s cultures. But some cultures are more progress-resistant than others, and a horrible tragedy was just exacerbated by one of them.”
– David Brooks arguing that hundreds of years of slavery, colonialism, exploitation and natural disaster are not the reason why Haiti is poor. It’s because they are black and lazy.
3. “It’s not that Egypt doesn’t have a recipe for a democratic transition. It seems to lack even the basic mental ingredients.”
4. “This week, Chicken Littles like Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd were ranting that Iraq is another Vietnam. Pundits and sages were spinning a whole series of mutually exclusive disaster scenarios: Civil war! A nationwide rebellion! Maybe we should calm down a bit.”
– David Brooks blasting liberals for predicting civil war in Iraq.
5. “They resent us for our power and at the same time expect us to be capable of everything.”
– David Brooks one month later realizing Iraq was descending into civil war and a nationwide rebellion
6. “People who are part of that culture tend to adopt the values of George W. Bush, regardless of the values they had in their old towns. These include order and neatness over disorder and dysfunction; achievement, sports, and competition; and a sense of responsibility and success.”
– David Brooks on the great values George W. Bush passed on to suburban rich people.
7. “I don’t think it was just a Penn State problem. You know, you spend 30 or 40 years muddying the moral waters here. We have lost our clear sense of what evil is, what sin is; and so, when people see things like that, they don’t have categories to put it into. They vaguely know it’s wrong, but they’ve been raised in a morality that says, “If it feels all right for you, it’s probably OK.”
– David Brooks blaming child rape on women’s lib.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.