Friday, March 08, 2019

The Rightness Lag


David Brooks has changed his mind ("The Case for Reparations"):
Nearly five years ago I read Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Atlantic article “The Case for Reparations,” with mild disagreement. All sorts of practical objections leapt to mind. What about the recent African immigrants? What about the poor whites who have nothing of what you would call privilege? Do we pay Oprah and LeBron?
But I have had so many experiences over the past year — sitting, for example, with an elderly black woman in South Carolina shaking in rage because the kids in her neighborhood face greater challenges than she did growing up in 1953 — that suggest we are at another moment of make-or-break racial reckoning.
Then he calms down a bit. He's got the theological idea, which I really do, no snark, appreciate, that systemic racism is a sin, for which white society needs to atone, but he's more interested in Christian confession and absolution for himself than Jewish atonement and repair for the victims: looks like it's not the money that he expects to do the job, but the process of talking about it:
Reparations are a drastic policy and hard to execute, but the very act of talking about and designing them heals a wound and opens a new story.
It'll make him feel all tingly, as David Brooks might say. So that's nice, and better than what his friends have done with the Universal Basic Income idea (used it as an excuse for planning the devastation of the social safety net), but it's pretty Brooksish in the end, and I'm not swooning.

Also it occurs to me that at the beginning of the week he seems to have read something about the Sanders "Medicare for All" proposal with "mild disagreement" and "all sorts of practical objections" and concluded that it was an "impossible dream". Does this mean that sometime in 2024 he's going to decide that it needs to be done, or at least discussed, after he has a conversation with an elderly diabetic who's been condemned to death by the price of insulin?

Come to think of it, wasn't it around 2008 that Brooks decided George W. Bush had made some "bad calls" at the beginning of the Iraq war? (He was applauding the "courageous and astute" 2007 surge)? Is Brooks installed with some kind of five-year rightness lag?

Cross-posted at The Rectification of Names.

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