Thursday, September 16, 2004

David Brooks is an effin' jerk

Brooks never fails to piss me off. It's not his conservative ideology or his irritating lip-smacking prose style. No. What just makes me want to jam pencils into his temples is his insistence that the fictions he creates are valid sociology. I've always figured that Paradise Drive and the rest were just a conservative's Lake Wobegan. They don't exist, but they can occaisionally provide insight into the human condition. The problem with Brooks is he never bothers to point out that what he's talking about is almost entirely made up, whereas everyone knows Lake Wobegan never existed. In fact, Brooks actively ignores and or distorts facts that don't fit his narrative. That's not sociology sir, that's fiction, and I wish he'd just cop to it.

Today's column is a perfect example of one of his favorite tactics - make up a non-existent dichotomy, then show how it manages to fit the usual "sensible people like Republicans, whimsical people like Democrats" stereotype.

I have so many beefs with this column, but I'll stick to one, because I think it's illustrative. "There is less intellectual diversity in academia than in any other profession". ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME? The claim is absurd on its face. There may be less political diversity(which is what his numbers are showing), but political affiliation is one tiny sliver a person's intellectual makeup. Yet this logical jump allows Brooks to do a very polite version of the standard issue "tenured radicals/liberal tyranny of the academy" riff. Just because Brooks can't seperate his politics from his intellectual pursuit doesn't mean other people can't. Even Noam Chomsky, probably the quintessential tenured radical doesn't mix his politics and his linguistics(I defy anyone to find a "liberal bias" in Aspects of a Theory of Syntax). But Brooks isn't a scientist or an intellectual, he's a polemecist trading in the worst sort of left/right cliches. Just because he's more polite than Rush doesn't make him any better.