David Brooks is a popular columnist for the New York Times. Today, the Times published a column from Brooks titled "The Uses of Patriotism" — a response to the anthem protests spearheaded by Colin Kaepernick. It is an abjectly and remarkably terrible piece of writing; a paternalistic and condescending screed on American history and race that intended to serve as sober enlightenment (I guess) but instead read as this week's most prominent example of a capital letter White Person WhitePeopling. It should be used in every Freshman-level English and/or creative writing class on every college campus; distributed by each professor as an example of what not to do, and then repurposed as single-ply toilet paper to keep the campus green. So terrible, in fact, that I think he read Mitch Albom's almost as terrible piece about the same subject earlier this week, and got jealous that ol' Mitch was going to steal all of the myopic middle-aged White man writing terrible shit about race shine. David Brooks, apparently, is a greedy motherfucker.
(Also, can someone please explain to me why these dudes are in such a rush to be on the wrong side of history? Every other time in American history that a bunch of Black people decided to protest and bring attention to a race-related cause, history eventually proved that we were right. Every single time. Do these guys not see the eggs that will be on their faces 20 years from now? Do they not fear the sting from the yolk in their eyes?)
Anyway, by my count there are 44 sentences in Brooks's piece. Below are the 10 worst.
(Category One: "This is stupid")
10. "When you stand and sing the national anthem, you are building a little solidarity, and you’re singing a radical song about a radical place."
9. "If these common rituals are insulted, other people won’t be motivated to right your injustices because they’ll be less likely to feel that you are part of their story."
(Category Two: "Just shut the fuck up")
8. "When Europeans first settled this continent they had two big thoughts."
7. "Critics like Ta-Nehisi Coates have arisen, arguing that the American reality is so far from the American creed as to negate the value of the whole thing."
(Category Three: "He's just trolling us now")
6. "When we sing the national anthem, we’re not commenting on the state of America."
5. "We’re fortifying our foundational creed."
4. "We’re expressing gratitude for our ancestors and what they left us."
3. "We’re expressing commitment to the nation’s ideals, which we have not yet fulfilled."
(Btw, each of the sentences in category three are from the same paragraph. This was an impressively shitty paragraph. A best-of-Tyga mixtape level of unintentionally pervasive shitty. )
(Category Four: "This dude is on crack")
2. "This civic religion was based on a moral premise — that all men are created equal — and pointed toward a vision of a promised land — a place where your family or country of origin would have no bearing on your opportunities."
1. "You will strengthen Donald Trump’s ethnic nationalism, which erects barriers between Americans and which is the dark opposite of America’s traditional universal nationalism."
The Trump quote gets the hammer because it synopsizes the premise of Brooks's piece. That the solution to racism and injustice isn't protest or disruption. Because it'll just give more fuel to racists to continue to be racist. Instead, we should just…like, want it really, really badly. Like, want it so bad we can taste it. And if we want and wish for it bad enough — without actually doing anything about it, other than grilling some steaks on the 4th — it will happen. And we will solve racism through some sort of pre-racial telekinesis.