Sunday, July 19, 2015

brooks resents tahnussy resents uhmurkah while the sages smile and continue prepping for hard rain...,

 

crooksandliars |  In his much-mocked column "Listening to Ta-Nehisi Coates While White," David Brooks makes a great show of deference to his subject, and to black political activists in general:
The last year has been an education for white people. There has been a depth, power and richness to the African-American conversation about Ferguson, Baltimore, Charleston and the other killings that has been humbling and instructive.

Your new book, “Between the World and Me,” is a great and searing contribution to this public education. It is a mind-altering account of the black male experience. Every conscientious American should read it.
But I think Corey Robin reads the column correctly:

Near the end of the column, Brooks actually seems to blame Coates himself for black Americans' failure to achieve the American Dream:
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.
Read that last sentence again. Brooks is suggesting that Coates's own book is going to destroy the American Dream for multiple generations of black people -- a dream to which they could otherwise readily gain access.

The opening statements of respect in this column are not to be read literally. They're Brooks's version of "Brutus is an honorable man." Brooks may respect Coates's book as memoir, but, as political and cultural analysis, it's repellent and dangerous, in his view. Don't let the kind-sounding words fool you.