Posted by: Donna
From Timothy Burke, Professor of History at Swarthmore College, comes a magnificent rebuttal to David Brooks’ latest pile of festering sanctimonious hooey in the New York Times.
Swarthmore thoroughly pastes Brooks for his tedious habits of hypocrisy and useless moralizing, but he also takes down the “identity politics” canard peddled by guys like Mark Lilla (who was cited favorably by Brooks in his column, of course). Behold (emphasis mine):
You’re the guy with the ball, you’re the columnist with a valuable soapbox. There’s the goalpost: call the play, in detail. Be predictive for once, and stick to it when people do, in detail, something of what you want. Don’t wave more than half your players off the field and tell them to come back when they’ve diagrammed a play that will move the ball all the way to the endzone in a single down. What’s the call right now, David, that uses all the players on the field with their talents and inclinations? What’s the rallying cry that calls a sixty-year old conservative woman from Niles, Michigan and a lesbian Latina millennial in New York City home to an America that can stand against “brutalistic nationalism”? If you answer, “Whatever makes the woman from Niles happy, no matter what that is”, you’re not in the game with us. If you answer, “Well, actually, I guess it’s brutalistic nationalism only slightly less Trumpy”, you’re not in the game with us. You’re a drunk asshole sitting outside the stadium at a tailgate, watching on a bad-reception TV, yelling loudly after every play about how it was the wrong thing to do…
And it’s not just Brooks shirking his obligation. People who rail against “identity politics” from the left will often insist they support racial and gender and other types of equality not directly related to economic class. That’s great, but if they’re going to make that claim, the onus is on them to show us how they plan to win over white voters who went for Trump, while also keeping core Democratic constituencies comprised of the very people many of those white voters loathe engaged. I haven’t seen that play yet. What I’ve seen so far does not inspire confidence in the left economic populism emerging out of this election.
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