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”

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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.

  • Gibbous

    “When Europeans . . . ” you can just stop right there!

    “We’re expressing gratitude for our ancestors . . ” Whose ancestors?

    David, David, David, you know not of what you speak.

    • Darkchloe144

      How can you tell us to express solidarity of any kind when you single out one portion of the population above all others? How do we express gratitude for ancestors (not ours) who did everything to make our ability to express solidarity non-existent for so long?

    • lissen…
      Europeans stole this land from the American Indians, you then poisoin them. AND EUROPEANS go and kidnap/take people from other countries because EUROPEANS were too lazy to work their own land.

      Miss me with that today…

      • Mary Burrell

        And they are still trying to rob them of their land. Isn’t there a situation in Oklahoma with the Native Americans/First Nation people where they were protesting about their land and some corporation wants to drill for oil and this is where their water supply and sacred burial ground is? They turned attack dogs loose on them.

        • Yes, yes yes!!! Buy you see there hasn’t been much coverage about it in the news

          • Tambra

            TYT did a series on it.

            • Amy Goodman has a warrant out of her arrest because she supposedly trespassed on oil company land or some such nonsense. Other progressive talk shows have been covering it. You can’t look to MSM for news anymore. They are owned by the same corporations trying to build this pipeline.

              • Tambra

                Yeah I saw that there is an arrest warrant out for her. Plus ca change, plus ce le meme chose.

        • BeeJayGee

          North Dakota

          • Mary Burrell

            Thank you I stand corrected

  • David Brooks is a bad writer that a certain type of White person likes. He isn’t particularly dumb, but generically dumb, if that makes sense. If anyone can make sense of the string of consciousness David Brooks wrote, let me know.

    Also, there’s the real value of racial bias. That stuff has redistributed more income than socialism ever will, but that’s just me.

    • Negro Libre

      Thanks for pointing out that he’s an awful writer…jeez.

      David Brooks is really just a male Ann Coulter that got castrated sometime along the way.

      • Ann Coulter can be so annoying at times that her presence can be entertaining. David Brooks is something else.

        Though I wonder who many people who back Kaepernick somehow think Snowden is a traitor. Apparently civil rights violations are OK if under a Black president…

        • Negro Libre

          I said this the other day, but I’m increasingly coming to the conclusion that we just can’t have coherent arguments about serious issues anymore, including race or police brutality.

          You go back in the 60’s and you see people, even flat out racists, being able to provide coherent arguments for their points (coherent ? true; it just means sensible arguments that can be challenged or can be exposed as being fallacious to a rational audience), today, even the “intellectuals” like Brook can not create a sensible argument for or against anything…and they get paid to do so.

          It’s the same thing with Kaeprenick and Snowden being viewed as traitors, such conclusions aren’t grounded on reason, but rather strong feelings that those who hate them have, but have never spent time to understand or check to see if they are justifiable or not.

          • Sigma_Since 93

            “….Kaeprenick and Snowden being viewed as traitors…”

            While Cliven Bundy is viewed as some Patriot. Let the VSB crew try to overtake a Federal Building with gats and stuff. There will be a lot of singing and flower bringing as the Feds snuff us out with extreme prejudice.

            • OrigamiBird

              Seriously VSB, don’t do that. “You might get stabbed, shot, killed or hurt.” Definitely one of the above.

          • Val

            I would really like to see examples of White racists in the 60s making coherent arguments, NL. The same ish that they are spouting today is what they were spouting back then.

            • L8Comer

              That would be a cool side by side. I’m sure the language and logic mirrors each other closely.

            • Negro Libre

              No I don’t think so, today’s racist are a lot dumber than they were in the 1960’s. We also don’t have much debates in the political arena anymore, what we have instead are spin and appeals to one’s political side. We don’t get arguments, we get conclusions only.

              People like Buckley were racist, but they were far from dumb:

              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oFeoS41xe7w

              • Val

                Come on, NL. You’re really going to pull out William F Buckley? I mean, he’s the perfect definition of an outlier. He is not at all representative of the majority of White racists of the 60s.

                • Negro Libre

                  But you’re acting like the vast majority of people debate anything that has to do with politics? Furthermore, debate measures thinking on your feet and an ability to come up with persuasive arguments about solutions to issues, rather than how representative they are of the average person’s opinion. It’s not like Baldwin was representative of the average black person in the 1960’s either.

              • Val

                Also, what is there to debate? Are we really going to debate whether we deserve the same rights as everyone else? Are we going to debate whether our lives matter?

                I mean, no one is more of a fan of James Baldwin than I am but this debate is meaningless. Why debate when you know you have the moral high ground.

                People say there are two sides to every story but what they leave out is there’s a right side and a wrong side. It’s a falsehood that the same voice should be given to the wrong side of the story as is given to the right side.

                • Negro Libre

                  That wasn’t the topic of the debate though…

              • Guest

                “No I don’t think so, today’s racist are a lot dumber than they were in the 1960’s.”–Agreed! They just keep getting dumber and dumber.

          • Kas

            Current days discussions are all about how it makes me feel, not a debate of the actual issues. So now our discussions are centered around trying to make someone feel differently.

            • Negro Libre

              The benefits of debates is that they force you to think deeper and wider on issues, when they come about – Politics, throughout history whether it is in the most tribal of societies or the most cosmopolitan of cities has always been rooted in debates as the source of resolving conflicts of interest between groups. They force you to examine perspectives on issues that you have not looked at before, which then forces you to update or reform your strategies on attaining political ends and goals.

              We have Clinton and Trump for a reason…

  • Val

    David Brooks is an example of White mediocrity. I occasionally watch him on Fridays on the PBS News Hour and I am constantly amazed at how someone with so little insight has not one but multiple jobs that require insight.

    Anyway, these sort of op-eds are directed at middle of the road White people. They aren’t designed to tell any truths. They are designed to make racist White America feel okay about its self.

    If someone in the NY Times is saying that they agree with you in your anger about what Colin and others are doing then you can’t possibly be a bad person, right?

    It’s all about co-signing and mainstreaming hating Black folks in America. Always has been.

    • Ari

      Always.

    • Paul

      Have you ever read one of his books? I tried to read Bobos in Paradise once but halfway through I was seriously considering suicide. Instead I just drank bleach and felt way better.

      • kingpinenut

        Bobos == idiot in spanish….good thing you stopped reading

    • Phil Chapman

      Brooks article isn’t his best. But he rarely writes about race. He mostly writes about character formation.

      I didn’t think his article was anti black. I agree it came off as patronizing. I also agree that blacks need to be disruptive.

      • Cheryl Washer

        No, he is anti-black because he constantly thinks blacks have the wrong character and if they just changed it, their lives would be better. He also applies this racist, bigoted warped thinking to women, to the non-religious, and, well, basically anyone who isn’t like him.

      • Gromet

        Being patronizing to almost everyone black = being anti-black, genius.

      • Tamara Jeffries

        Phil, honey, please stop. Okay? Stop.

      • Mochasister

        I think you should just quit. I would say while you’re ahead, but…

      • Rford

        Brooks is a hack. Brooks is a known hack. That’s all.

    • Mary Burrell

      And don’t forget to throw in “white fragility.”

      • truthseeker2436577@yahoo.com

        Yes, we should never forget about “white fragility.”

        • Mary Burrell

          Exactly Brother Truth

          • Beauty In Truth

            I believe truth seeker is a woman.

  • Brandon Allen

    I read it and while all of the points Damon has here are bad here are the 2 sentences that weren’t included that ultimately highlight the entire problem with this piece:

    1. “I’m going to try to persuade you that what you’re doing is extremely counterproductive.”
    2. “We have a crisis of solidarity. That makes it hard to solve every other problem we have.”

    How about YOU show YOUR solidarity to US maybe that will actually persuade the racists.

  • Ari

    I refuse to think David Brooks actually believes any of this. At this point in the game wypipo who say these things have to either be hysterically delusional or flat out indifferent. Anything else will force them to have to see their reflections. David Brooks is just willfully ignorant like most of his like-minded peers. This is why stopped engaging and explaining to white people a long time ago. Most of them know better.

    • Val

      He knows his audience and he knows his place. No one looks to him as a leader, he’s just a parrot. He says what middle America is thinking and what they want to hear.

      • Ari

        “He says what middle America is thinking and what they want to hear”

        It’s definitely more financially beneficial to him to be this way.

    • Mary Burrell

      Or morally blind and tone deaf they just don’t care about black people and other people of color.

  • Glo

    You know, if someone had told me that Kaepernick was going to sit or kneel during the national anthem as a form of protest, I would have literally laughed and said, “So? I highly doubt anyone will even notice a protest that small. If he’s not messing with people’s money or inconveniencing their lives, no one’s going to care.” I am honestly amazed at how kneeling during the national anthem could make so many people so angry.

    Major, MAJOR props to Kaepernick for finding a way to protest so effectively. This is THE definition of a peaceful protest, and people are still furious. When people claim that they don’t like BLM because “the methods negate the message” or whatever other BS they try to claim, I’ll just point to Kaep. The widespread negative reactions to his protest show that people want us to just shut up, smile, and entertain them instead of fighting a system that is against us.

    • Val

      Right. And, they say there are other ways to protest but funny thing is no matter how we protest it’s not the right way.

      • Sigma_Since 93

        Someone please start a love offering. This is all that needs to be said.

      • Kas
      • truthseeker2436577@yahoo.com

        Right Sister.

      • Mochasister

        The only right way to protest is not to protest.

    • cakes_and_pies

      It makes White people angry because they’re no longer just field chattel performing for their amusement, they actually have to acknowledge the players as human beings. That makes them uncomfortable, which makes then mad.

      • Phil Chapman

        Chattel getting paid 12 million a year? Yes there is a sentiment that the show must go on, but kaep has more wealth and autonomy than 95% of ppl in this country. He gets paid to play. It’s fine if he protests. He should still do his job. Blacks, whites, asians, latinos all want ppl to do their jobs

        • Kas

          What’s your point?

          • YBM

            There is none. Hes just wypipoing right now. And we know that because at no point did kap ever not do his job nor did he insinuate that he wouldnt do his job. His job aint to stand for the anthem. His job is to attend practice and other team related activities, dress for game days, and speak to the media. He has done all of that…

          • NonyaB

            QTNA

            I’m always amazed at the ease with which people with precisely zero insight or grasp of facts on a given issue saunter into convos to share that zero.

            • Glo

              “to share that zero.” I cackled.

              • NonyaB

                I’m saying, tho. When you look up puzzled at the noise of hot air zooming all around, yet detect nothing tangible within the noise cloud…

                • Blueberry01

                  Like an ambient noise machine…

            • Blueberry01

              #WhitePeoplePrivilege

              Meanwhile, a Black person would have been Googling facts like i s h before they posted.

              • Mochasister

                #WhitePeopleIgnorance

        • Glo

          He’s never once pretended to be a victim or ignored his privilege. He’s using his status to be a voice for people who are underrepresented and ignored.

          And he is doing his job…? Like, he didn’t stop throwing for the Niners, so I’m confused about what your point is.

          • L8Comer

            I was like, did I miss something? He’s still doing his job right?

            • Okitech623

              Part of his job is to stand up and shut up apparently.

              • L8Comer

                oh yeah. forgot about that

          • Mochasister

            He doesn’t have one. That’s the point.

        • cakes_and_pies

          Come at me when you find the salaries of the owners of these teams who don’t risk the body and literally their mind from being on the field.

          Find me the first owner who died from CTE and tore up ligaments and broke bones and permanently damaged their bodies and brain while working for the NFL. Find me the first owner who makes LESS than the actual personal on the field.

          The players make pennies in comparison while the fat cats collect a check for sitting in a nice sky box.
          Nice try though.

        • Mary Burrell

          No whitesplaining today Sir.

          • Ger Wil

            “whitesplaining” or “whixplaining”

            *added to dictionary*

        • Guest

          I could’ve sworn he played each and every time after he protested. But since a lot of you think he’s protesting against the military, I can see how you’d be confused that he’s not doing his “job” either.

        • thutch24

          go troll somewhere else cracker

        • TD

          Last I checked his employer is allowing him to do this, and even donated a check up assist with solutions. If his employer isn’t phased, why are you?

          Last I checked, having lots of money never stopped a person from being discriminated against or harassed due to their race. Ex: Oprah at a store in Switzerland, Dr. Dre outside of his House, the Black members of the LA Clippers, etc.

        • iByron

          But seriously. Do explain how kneeling during the national anthem is somehow not “doing his job.”

          Really. I need a good laugh today.

        • Beauty In Truth

          Without black players Jews and undereducated white girls (cheerleaders) would have nothing to aspire to. The players ARE the NFL. Without them those “owners” and coaches would be broke. They can do (protest) whatever the fk they want.
          ” Boi Stoooppppppp!”

        • AngryYoda

          First He doesn’t get paid to stand during the national anthem, he gets paid to play football. So he does his job. Second, the Army pays the NFL to have the players on the field during the anthem (since 2009), and the players do not get a cut. And if he is on the field kneeling or sitting the league still gets payed. Third, every player that is drafted out of college comes into the league as chattle. You play for the team that elected you or you don’t have a career. Curt Flood sacrifice his career in protest in the 1960’s to stop career long chattle status. Regardless, there were slaves that were paid when they had uniquely valuable skills sets during American slave history. That’s how some were able to buy their freedom. Those that had a conscience always worked to free their brethren who were not as fortunate. In that respect Kaep is truly honoring ***his*** American history.

          So now we established that he simultaneously protests and does his job (without costing the league money), and does both quite well. So since he’s given people what they want are you going help organize Blacks, whites, asians, and latinos to give him what he wants.

      • Mary Burrell

        Now it makes sense to me why athletes are referred to as million dollar slaves. They may be making the big bucks but the white slave master the NFL big honchos still want them to know that they own them.

        • cakes_and_pies

          They don’t call it the combine for no reason.

        • TracerBullitt

          You wrote, “big bucks”, I read, “big black bucks”. Both would apply to your statement…

    • truthseeker2436577@yahoo.com

      You’re right.

    • GOWMFER

      “the methods negate the message”
      The method/medium is the message. If it ain’t offending, it’s only pretending.

    • TD

      This comment…

  • Chaud_et_Froid

    I didn’t even read it and I HAVE a subscription to NYTimes. I just have boundaries for myself. I already know the majority of people are fcuked up, especially white people. Reading that BS article would be like going to the worst eyebrow lady in town: the sh*t is only going to make me mad beyond comprehension.

    With that being said, thanks to Damon for analyzing the piece for our reading (dis)pleasure. You’re better than me, dude.

  • Medium Meech

    It’s funny that the exact same people that will tell you that not standing for the national anthem is un-American will stand on a stack of bibles and explain why displaying the confederate flag, a literal symbol of treason, is freedom of speech.

    I wonder what the difference is…

  • Vanity in Peril

    Shutting the fuque up is still free, last time I checked.

    He should try it.

    • HouseOfBonnets

      Trying to spread the word girl buy they don’t wanna listen….i need to get into pr.

      • Vanity in Peril

        Really, though. Like, can I go ONE day without having to make this face at Dwight nonsense?

        • lkeke35

          Nope! No you can’t! If you spend any amount of time in the general vicinity of yppl, you WILL be making that face at all the ytnonsense you’ll have to put up with, all day long.

        • Mochasister

          Oh, Lawd! That face tho!

    • HouseOfBonnets

      Also I’m borrowing this lol

    • Val

      True but it’s always good to know what they enemy is thinking. Also, this kind of article is edifying for Black folks who think respectability is the way.

      • Vanity in Peril

        Agreed on the intel angle but it’s like they only know how to play one song and they can’t even be bothered to get the lyrics right.

  • HouseOfBonnets

    Meanwhile on Twitter……Trump just locked down backing from the national fraternal order of the police.

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