Monday, January 12, 2015


Charlie Pierce directs our attention to an absurd assertion from David Brooks on yesterday's Meet the Press:
But the central antipoverty program is law and order. You can't get rich if you're afraid of getting shot in the back of the head at night.
Pierce argues that plenty of people have gotten rich under precisely those circumstances:
Here with an opposing view are Mr. A. Anastasia of New York, Mr. J. Gallo of New York, Mr. P. Castellano of New York, Mr. P. Escobar of Bogota, and several gentlemen from Brighton Beach in Brooklyn. You can get very, very rich while simultaneously worrying about getting shot in the back of the head, or the front of the head, or the side of the head, or in everything attached to your head, including your head. That is because Americans can do more than one thing at once. National Greatness conservatism taught me that.
But you may be wondering: What inspired Brooks to say this? The answer is terrorism. Here's the quote in context -- and let me add that in context it makes even less sense:

David Brooks, 17 people are dead in Paris, 2,000 Nigerians in the name of Islamic radicalism also were killed this week, Boko Haram in Nigeria. It's worldwide. What is this?


Well, it's failed states. And I would say, say you're in college or say you want to give money, but we give money to bed mats, we give money to clean water, all that antipoverty stuff. But central antipoverty program is law and order. You can't get rich if you're afraid of getting shot in the back of the head at night. And so if you're giving as an individual, if you're thinking as a state, giving to law and order groups like International Justice Mission, things like that, that is essentially the basis to get an antipoverty program. So Bono's doing great stuff with the diseases and the Gates Foundation. Law and order always conserves.
So was Cambridge, Massachusetts, a "failed state" when the Tsarnaevs were growing up there? The Fort Hood shooter, Major Nidal Hassan, was born in Arlington, Virginia -- was he radicalized by Virginia's lawless anarchy? And Mohamed Atta worked on the 9/11 plot while living in Germany, which is the polar opposite of a failed state. The perpetrators of two recent terrorist attacks in Canada were both born in that country -- do Brooks's failed states include Canada?

Obviously, most of the recent perpetrators of terrorist attacks are immigrants from troubled countries or the children of immigrants; some lived in ethnic enclaves where it was difficult to thrive. All clearly felt alienation and split loyalties.

But for Brooks to invoke International Justice Mission -- a charity that fights slavery, sex trafficking and other abuses -- misses the point. Yes, that may be relevant to Boko Haram's atrocities, but not to a terrorist attack carried out by two men born in Paris.

And the notion that a lack of "law and order" is all that prevents the world's Muslims from living lives of sunny contentment also misses the point. The states to which the alienated trace their descent are, generally speaking, poorly and undemocratically governed; the states where they live are plagued by racism, inequality, and a lack of opportunity for outsiders and have-nots. That's the problem, not a lack of the orderliness and self-restraint that fill Brooks's heart with joy.


Raymond Smith said...

Brooks is just rambling some of his inner fears.

Victor said...

Brooks is one of the greatest and longest-running "Illusionists" in history!

With his rambling word-turds, he somehow or other gives people the 'illusion' that he knows what the f*ck he's talking about.

Houdini died after years of doing dangerous escape and magic tricks.

Bobo will keep pulling his illusory columns out of his ass, until the day they pry his handheld from his cold, dead hands...

Yastreblyansky said...

"orderliness and self-restraint that fill Brooks's heart with joy" or the freeze-dried joy-like substance with which he has learned to make do.