The 10 Worst Parts Of David Brooks’s The Uses of Patriotism, Ranked From “This Is Fucking Stupid” To “This Dude Is On Crack” » VSB

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The 10 Worst Parts Of David Brooks’s The Uses of Patriotism, Ranked From “This Is Fucking Stupid” To “This Dude Is On Crack”

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.

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for GQ.com And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at damon@verysmartbrothas.com. Or don't. Whatever.

  • It’s almost like he believes we can sing America into harmony and justice. He just couldn’t resist propping up MLK (because there are no other Black examples of protesting patriots?) or taking a jab at TNC. Where his piece fails for me is it fails to acknowledge the ongoing history of Black protest of American jingoistic symbols. It fails to acknowledge the very act of protesting hollow symbols as deeply American.

    • RhetoricalReverie

      They LOVE to use King as an example. Somehow, they fail to realize he was arrested somewhere around 30 times for peacefully protesting. They think he was a magical negro who gave amazing speeches, and somehow that completely alleviated racism. Dr. King would be in full support of Kaepernick.

      • grownandsexy2

        And what did MLK get for his non-violent, peaceful protests – a bullet to the face and neck.

        • RhetoricalReverie

          Which is ANOTHER thing I think they forget. Why yes, MLK protested peacefully…Y’all STILL killed him.

        • Beauty In Truth

          !!!

      • rhymeswithbrucelee

        Dr. King was surveilled and harassed by the FBI, maliciously prosecuted for tax crimes, and considered one of the most dangerous men in America

    • Sigma_Since 93

      Cause you know they love out sanging

    • kingpinenut

      His piece fails because it come from David Brooks

  • Darnell Lorraine


    This Mr. Brooks piece is one of those sardonic, self-deprecating, sarcastic, parody pieces where he’s actually in on the joke and making fun of people who think like this right? RIGHT?!

    Lord…I’m over here rubbing my temples. I’m exhausted by this sh*t on y’all behalf.

  • grownandsexy2

    3. “We’re expressing commitment to the nation’s ideals, which we have not yet fulfilled.”

    And if history is any indicator, you don’t plan to.

    • Sigma_Since 93

      I’m Sigma_Since 93 and I approve this message

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    • NonyaB

      ? ?

  • thutch24

    crackers gon cracker…it’s that simple

    • Dcetstyle

      It really is just that simple.

  • ED

    I wanna read the article but I don’t wanna waste one of my ten free monthly NYT articles.

    • RhetoricalReverie

      The struggle is real

      • ED

        Really real lol

    • Negro Libre

      If you dont mind pdfs

      https://nodefiles.com/b7sbg8stztah

      • ED

        Doing the Lord’s work! Thanks!

    • Danil Safin

      Open an incognito tab and paste the link of the article

    • Kas

      Go in clear your browsing history after you read 10 articles. Don’t log in. I read about 10 articles a day, every day, on my phone.

      • Val

        Or just have the right browser. ;-)

        • Kas

          We aren’t all super sleuth like you. :)

        • Kas

          Down vote for the air of superiority you displayed.

          • kingpinenut

            Bruh you see she gots TWO eyes!

            • Kas

              So you co-sign my downvote, good. Let’s get some more people onboard.

      • NonyaB

        Or you could get on AdBlock and never have to worry about these things…

        • Kas

          Down vote. Go sit in the corner with Val.

          • NonyaB

            So quaint. Come on, you too can embrace technology, Kas!

            • Kas
              • NonyaB

                Don’t be flinging the Based POTUS into this ’cause he’s on my side! No countreh for troublemakers called Kas.

            • Kas

              Technology is why I can’t get a good job in manufacturing. Get off my lawn.

              • NonyaB

                Pssht, like you were ever so inclined. Are you even handy, bro? There’s probably a ban against you touching tools at chez Kas.

                • Kas

                  I’ve been told by many women that I am very handsy. Is that the same thing as being handy?

                  • NonyaB

                    Good day, sir! #Incorrigible.

      • Nik White

        Thanks Kas!

    • Adrienne_in_MTown

      After the article loads, I hit the “x” to stop the script from running. Unlimited articles!!!!

    • LMNOP

      Lol, that’s exactly what I thought.

    • NonyaB

      If you were about that AdBlock life, that NYT hussy could nevah talk that smack to you…

  • Gibbous

    You are parsing very finely to find such distinctions between Category One: “This is stupid” and Category Four: “This dude is on crack”. I mean, I can’t tell the difference between such infinitesimal shades of sh*t. I bow to the master disambiguator.

    • Damon Young

      this is true. it was hard.

  • HouseOfBonnets

    “A best of tyga mixtape level of unintentionally pervasive shifty. ”

    Real time reaction from me:

  • always right

    the absolute worst part is that he actually believes this. i mean, he thought about it, wrote it, proofread it, did some edits, and read it again and still believed it. sometimes i feel like this world (united states esp) is the twilight zone or something. like how can something so obvious to any rational adult not be obvious to these college educated people?

    • Kas

      People are good at believing stuff that gets them paid or allows them to assuage their guilt.

      • always right

        i know you’re right, it just still disgusts me. i just want to sceam at them to look outside of themselves. but people don’t seem to be good at doing that.

  • Dcetstyle

    The only good thing that I can say about the article is that I am fully expecting Ta-Nehisi Coates to clap back in epic fashion. I know he’s kinda been on a sabbatical working on other projects, but he just has to respond to that BS.

    • Cleojonz

      Oh let it be so, pretty pretty please!

    • Mochasister

      Off topic but your fur baby is so cute. It reminds me of my fur baby who is deceased.

  • Adrienne_in_MTown

    I just read this sitting in my office and thought I have to go sit in a meeting with this complete nonsense on my brain wondering the following:

    Why can’t they grasp this utterly simple concept?

    Why does the anthem – to them – have to represent everyone? It didn’t when it was written, didn’t when they lied to freed slaves, hung us for trying to vote, disenfranchised us by giving a lot of felonies disproportionately to us and then making it illegal for a felon to vote. This is in addition to targeting by LEOs of all races.

    Why are they so MAD???

    And lastly, I’m REALLY tired of explaining this.

    • HouseOfBonnets

      I’ve simply decided to stop explaining, at this point I’d they don’t understand they simply don’t want to. Google is free I am not.

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