Trump World Grab-Bag--A Collection

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Brooks can't lift Coates' Hat



Because David Brooks is a columnist of the paper of record, NYT, I think that their endorsement of him because of the content of what he writes is an endorsement of the quality of his output. In other words--I think they truly believe he produces quality content, despite the degree to which he serves as fodder for the Left, who mostly deride his privileged viewpoint and decry his generalizations about things according to his own limited and privileged perspective.

And, although I know scholars like Driftglass or Charles Pierce might do far better, I think I have to address the stupidity that is Brooks thinking about Ta-Nehisi Coates. While white, like he could be anything but? I have but one statement to really address:

This dream is a secular faith that has unified people across every known divide. It has unleashed ennobling energies and mobilized heroic social reform movements. By dissolving the dream under the acid of an excessive realism, you trap generations in the past and destroy the guiding star that points to a better future.
What constitutes "excessive realism"? Because, for black Americans, the US is comparable to Rwanda.

It would make sense for awake people to want to review that problem with as much realism as they needed. Because while David Brooks might be looking at Ta-Nehisi Coates' life to try and understand why this pessimism exists, maybe he needs to look at the story of Sandra Bland. The whole future was ahead of her. But then something happened to derail that.

What happens to a dream deferred? Does it explode? Is it "excessive realism" that traps people? Or is it the grind of history being too real? Is it what happens to black girls when the rainbow is definitely not enough? Is it history? Is it something we all need to look at?

I think Brooks needs to get that his privilege isn't just a geas on how we talk about it--it's how we do something about it. Because if we don't-- The acid isn't realism--the acid is racism. The anger of awake people about what is eroding their future isn't a dissolution of a dream--but an awareness of what destroys all dreams on contact. We can not sleep on it, any of us. We need to read what is current, and act.

4 comments:

Formerly Amhert said...

Hi Vixen, conservatives are always amused at the idea that David Brooks in any way, shape, or form speaks for them. He's a thoughtful wonk, and some people like to have something to think about with their coffee.

My recommendation would be Michael Medved. He went to school with Bill and Hillary and is not the most conservative man on the planet, but he definitely represents real conservative opinion and not weenie opinion. He has all the academic credentials and sophisticated affectations required for the job.

Something might mildly interest you. Before someone can become a member of our lodge they undergo an interview process that can take pretty much however long is needed. Today we do occasionally have someone show up with the idea that there is some vaguely defined notion called white privilege. As we have to try and purge the corruption of popular opinion from them in order for them to be qualified to discover deeper levels of reality, a lot of things must go.

I try to explain to the candidates that sometimes bad people try to flatter them, try to kiss up to them, try to get them to experience self-aggrandizement as if their personality is something remarkable and important.

And so I explain that the idea of white privilege is just the negative view of the same thing. People try to define an identity for them rather than them having the freedom to discover their true identity for themselves. We explain that we never force our definition of who someone is on them because it is their right as a spiritual person with integrity to define who they are for themselves.

The popular corruptions are simply an attempt to manipulate them into a fraudulent guilt so that people who do not know better can accomplish what they wish. Just as self-hatred is anger turned inward, the idea of white pride is just false flattery turned negative.

After all, in my business the name of the game is not to discover what is called the positive non-self or the negative non-self, but the authentic self, unbesmirched by social and cultural corruption. The discovery of the Self is not an easy task, and our culture places ideology before the truth. In my lodge though you cannot take the second step unless you have completed the first. Trying to find a way to make people hate themselves is an evil that we do not have to deal with, because the consequences in the future are grave and outside our responsibility.

In the long process of self-discovery of our authentic Being you cannot harbor delusions in either direction. One learns that supernatural simply means more natural. And the highest grade on the tree, Ipsissimus, roughly means "the one who is most truly their Self."

Vixen Strangely said...

Yeah, white privilege is an awkward concept, because it kind of implies that someone is by nature granted something, and the alleged flip-side of that is white guilt. But I think that isn't necessarily so--if white privilege is "unearned privilege", then it's just something that comes along for no good reason--and there's also no good reason to feel guilty about this odd social quality. What I do feel bothered about is a sense of injustice or inequality, and not talking about it feels kind of on a par to me with not reporting a crime. I talk about politics, but in a way, I'm probably the worst person personally at it, because when I see thing, regardless of politics, I have to sound it out. So if I see one group identified and disproportionately imprisoned, killed by police, unemployed, saddled with arrest records and so on, I talk about it because that difference is meaningful to me because it is unjust--not because I think I have anything to do with it--

Except that if I saw it and did not talk about it, I think I wouldn't be doing the right thing.

I'm coming to terms with the idea that my preoccupation with justice is a way of working out my own tendency to be judgmental. But I think that looking beyond labels like "white privilege" sometimes avoids dealing with the uncomfortable math Nate Silver reminds us of. There is a mathematical edge. My blue eyes didn't see how it happened and my pasty behind didn't put that edge there. But there's a part of me that remembers history and realizes some of my forefathers must have. And to an extent, I am concerned with the maximallization of potential for all people because stressors like climate change and religious and political extremism are basically guaranteed, and I would like the species to survive, for the most part. Even if we look like our own worst enemy right now.

I don't like labels because I think they limit our expectations about people. But they also are handy sometimes in understanding the paradigm that groups have to relate to. It says nothing about where someone is necessarily going, but often provides markers about where they are coming from. This separating of one thing from another, I totally get, is a failing. If it matters, I don't like it very much. I still think regarding those realities helps in dealing with people affected by them. To me, getting where other people are coming from, and what they need, makes me understand how to respond to them. My occupation is customer service, my vocation is political writing(I got told by a professor once my poetry was not a vocation but an advocation--I'm not sure he got what my poetry was about and also he misused the term "advocation"). I pretty much do everything (even though I'm kind of an introvert) with the idea that someone out there benefits.

The distinction sucks. but I do not think I suck for making it. I'm just trying to be honest about the world as I see it.

Vixen Strangely said...

We have a local conservative commenter, Mike Smerconish. He might be in the Medved vein: more of a big picture guy--not always dogmatic. Brooks is what I think of as a dogmatic centrist of High Broderism--he tries to see how "both sides" are doing the same thing, and misses that conservatism and liberalism have distinct flavors, and even if pols do similar things, they are often for very different reasons. You have to ignore a lot to be a centrist. I think liberals who deride him kind of get that he isn't getting any part of it right--and that this is the problem. He's not bad because he's a conservative--he's bad because he's a "Villager" (Beltway) hack. A sincere partisan of either side might be more honest. Liberals have Ruth Marcus ding the Brooks thing lately. It's really gibberish, and why columnists are totally overpaid, and being a person who blogs at least four-or-five days out of the week, I'd totally love to collect such a salary. (But I do this for the love, naturally.)

Formerly Amhert said...

Hi Vixen, blue eyes, red hair, and pale skin sound pretty provocative.

You're very generous in your point of view about white privilege. I notice that a Democratic group has on their agenda a discussion about whether there should be a “white privilege tax.” The Democratic Party has simply moved too far when ideas like that actually have enough respectability for discussion.

My understanding is that your family is Italian and Irish. That being the case, it is entirely possible that they arrived in the US after the War Between the States, like millions of other Americans, and therefore you have no vestigial responsibility.

In fact, one must necessarily believe in the concept of inherited guilt to find a way for them, personally, to have responsibility. And in the US very few people even know who their ancestors were during those slavery years, let alone believe they are responsible for what some great, great, great grandparents may have done.

You know there is something in the idea that black neighborhoods similar to Rwanda. I don't know the current statistics, but before President Obama took office, one third of blacks were part of the middle class. And one of the discussions that went on was the fact that as soon as they became part of the middle class, they immediately moved out of black neighborhoods so they could get away from all the factors that you call attention to.

In some black neighborhoods in urban centers, for example, the President's old neighborhood, the level of murder and violence is high. However, the neighborhoods of the third of black Americans who are part of the middle class simply share the same statistics as the white neighborhoods.

I think there is some validity when one listens to disgruntled black citizens complaining that the President has not begun to do enough to impact black neighborhoods. Naturally, the real answer is to pursue success goals so that citizens can move to a safer neighborhood.

I think you show real insight and an ability for introspection when you realize that perhaps your quest for justice may be in part a projection from your own psyche. You know, one of the easiest ways we can discover our own shadow is by our emotional reactions to events and people in the world. If we have some big reaction, that is often a “tell” that we are really seeing a projection from our own psyche, and the ameliorative action rests with straightening that out. For example, if you think a bunch of people are alienated, there's a good possibility that unconsciously you may feel alienated, and so on.