We’ve covered New York Times columnist David Brooks quite a bit this week, particularly after he penned another typically offensive column on poor people, attacking him for being, for lack of a better term, a complete jack ass.
I took a bit of heat in the comments section of a piece I wrote after asserting that Brooks thinks poor people are poor because they lazy. “You’ve obviously bought into the narrative that Conservatives and Republicans all think the poor are poor because they’re just lazy,” wrote the commenter, “Which has resulted in you effectively misinterpreting what Brooks said (again), compounding your error in maintaining a fiction.”
The commenter believed that Brooks’ latest column was not attacking the poor for being lazy, stating that “the effects of not being able to get full time work or any work at all are more relevant than is raising the minimum wage in addressing their struggling economic situations.”
This, I believe, is a very, very generous interpretation of Brooks’s writing. Firstly, let’s look into the facts. The record shows that David Brooks loves rich people – that’s why the Times hired him. He even created a new term for them: the ‘Composure Class’, and wrote a lengthy pantheon to their genetic superiority in a book called ‘The Social Animal’. It’s a bit harder to uncover Brooks’s feelings towards the poor, but if you read between the lines, all becomes clear.
Here are 5 quotes from Brooks that prove, if you look a little harder, that he believes rich people are superior to poor people not just because they have more money, but because they arebetter people.
1. “I’d say today’s meritocratic elites achieve and preserve their status not mainly by being corrupt but mainly by being ambitious and disciplined. They raise their kids in organized families. They spend enormous amounts of money and time on enrichment. They work much longer hours than people down the income scale, driving their kids to piano lessons and then taking part in conference calls from the waiting room.”
– David Brooks explaining why rich people are generally better than poor people
2. “After the boom and bust, the mania and the meltdown, the Composure Class rose once again. Its members didn’t make their money through hedge-fund wizardry or by some big financial score. Theirs was a statelier ascent. They got good grades in school, established solid social connections, joined fine companies, medical practices, and law firms. Wealth settled down upon them gradually, like a gentle snow.”
– David Brooks denying wealth, social background and family connections have anything to do with being part of the ‘Composure Class’.
3. “He is asexually handsome, with a little less body fat than Michelangelo’s David. As he crosses his legs, you observe that they are immeasurably long and slender. He doesn’t really have thighs. Each leg is just one elegant calf on top of another. His voice is so calm and measured that he makes Barack Obama sound like Sam Kinison. He met his wife at the Clinton Global Initiative, where they happened to be wearing the same Doctors Without Borders support bracelets.”
– David Brooks’s creepy description of a genetically superior white upper middle class male
4. “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 Haitians are poor not because of a brutal history of slavery, exploitation and theft, but because their culture sucks.
5. “The rich don’t exploit the poor. They just out-compete them.”
– David Brooks talking out of his ass.
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.