Tuesday, November 08, 2016


David Brooks is fretting about American morality again -- and deftly deploying the passive voice to avoid blaming people who deserve blame.

He writes (emphasis added):
Over the past 50 years, most of us have benefited from feminism, the civil rights movement, mass immigration, the information age and the sexual revolution. But as Charles Murray points out, one class has been buffeted by each of these trends: white workers.

The white working class once sat comfortably at the core of the American idea, but now its members have seen their skills devalued, their neighborhoods transformed, their masculinity delegitimized, their family structures decimated, their dignity erased and their basic decency questioned. Marginalized, they commonly feel invisible, alienated and culturally pessimistic. This year the workers overthrew their corporate masters and grabbed control of the Republican Party.

That would be progress and even inspiring, but -- maybe because of the candidate who is leading it -- the working-class revolt has been laced with bigotry, anti-Semitism, class hatred, misogyny and authoritarianism that has further rent the American fabric.
That's right: Working-class whites have been victimized by all these forces, but the result is that their revolt "has been laced" with hatred for all the groups allegedly gaining at whites' expense. So who's doing the lacing, David? Brooks won't say, because he's in romanticizing-the-proles mode and doesn't want to assess blame. To the extent he'll name a culprit, he blames Trump -- as if the crowds responding to Trump's hatemongering are deeply pained by it rather than cheering it on.

Scroll down a couple of paragraphs, and here comes the passive voice again:
... this year Donald Trump has decimated the codes of basic decency without paying a price. With his constant, flagrant and unapologetic lying, he has shredded the standards of intellectual virtue -- the normal respect for facts and truth that makes conversation possible. With his penchant for cruelty, bigotry, narcissism, selfishness and even his primitive primate dominance displays, he has shredded the accepted understandings of personal morality that prevent the strong from preying on the weak.

Most disturbing, all of this has been greeted with moral numbness.
"Has been greeted" by whom, David? Not by liberals, Democrats, or even disaffected Republican moderate women. The people who've greeted this with moral numbness have been Trump's base, as well as members of the Republican establishment who either don't worry about any of this or are biting their tongues in the hope that Trump will sign all their Kochite bills if he reaches the Oval Office.

Yes, Trump has shredded social norms -- but he hasn't done it alone. He'll get 60 million votes' worth of backup today. And Brooks won't give any of those voters their share of the blame.


Leo Artunian said...

". . . but now its members have seen their skills devalued, their neighborhoods transformed, their masculinity delegitimized, their family structures decimated, their dignity erased and their basic decency questioned."

The passive voice is pretty useful here, too. Who has devalued the skills of white workers? Industries in search of cheaper labor overseas. What has transformed their neighborhoods? The lack of well-paying jobs. What has delegitimized their masculinity? Its toxicity. What has decimated their family structures? Poverty, if not their own lack of commitment to their professed values. Who has erased their dignity? If they support Trump, they've done it to themselves, and that in turn properly raises questions about their basic decency.

Oddly, none of what Brooks says afflicts white workers is the fault of minorities, immigrants, women, LGBTQI people, Jews, Muslims, progressives, or any of the other groups white workers tend to vilify.

Victor said...

Prro, poor, Bobo...
He not only can't see the forest for the trees, he can't see the trees for the brushgrass!

Why do he, mini-Bobo, MoDo, and Friedman, still have the valuable Op-ed real estate they have at the NY Times.
Never mind.
Don't answer that...
I already know the answer.