Tuesday, October 11, 2011

David Brooks Went From Zero to "OWS are Anti-Semites" in Four Paragraphs

This has to be a new record.

Sure, the piece itself is ridiculous nonsense. He bandies about that raising the income taxes on people making "between 1 and 10 million" would only cut 1% of the national debt, completely ignoring that it's the national deficit that matters, that salaried income aren't their only (or even principal) source of wealth, or that extreme concentration might mean that people making more than ten million might be part of the problem. It certainly doesn't help that he's sourcing some right-wing think tank instead of a reputable source, either, nor that he won't acknowledge just how concentrated wealth is.

There's also a great wealth of bullshit about how dividing up the country is "self-limiting", when the whole point of the OWS movement is that the country is already divided.  But, hey, never mind that,the whole point of his sort is to make the rest of us identify more with this wealthy "sliver" (in his words) than with each other.

But, accusing them of anti-semitism? That's a new low.

Take the Occupy Wall Street movement. This uprising was sparked by the magazine Adbusters, previously best known for the 2004 essay, “Why Won’t Anyone Say They Are Jewish?” — an investigative report that identified some of the most influential Jews in America and their nefarious grip on policy.
 Wow. Brooks is actually arguing that the only thing that Adbusters is known for is this seven-year-old article about supposedly "nefarious Jews", and therefore is not only anti-semitic but has rendered OWS anti-semitic as well.  This despite the fact that Adbusters has been around for decades, and is hardly the only or principal reason why OWS started.

Never mind that this is insulting and quite possibly libelous. Is it really a good idea to try to discredit a movement decrying wealth concentration by calling it anti-semitic? Doesn't that sorta internalize the absurd notion that Jewish people are all wealthy bankers and movie moguls and whatnot, instead of just being, well, Americans? The vast, vast majority of Jewish-Americans are part of the 99%, just like anybody else; so why the hell is Brooks trying to build up this notion of a connection between extreme wealth and Judaism? It is poisonous and destructive. Why on earth would he DO that?

Well, okay, we all know why. He wanted to get a cheap shot in, and didn't think of the connotations or the consequences. He didn't realize that this is about to absolutely enrage pretty much every Jewish-American who is tired of these stereotypes, along with any who would resent being so cynically exploited.

(It's also going to do nothing to affect OWS. If anything it'll embolden them: this is such an obvious and pathetic cheap shot that it could hardly do otherwise.)

I'm sure he'll get away with it. Those who truck in stereotypes and myth to defend the interests of that "sliver" get enough cover to get by. But it's a useful lesson for any of you who think that Brooks is some sort of "moderate". He isn't. He may not give a shit about social issues...but when it comes to defending the interests of his precious sliver against the interests of the rest of the world, he will say ANYTHING. No matter how odious.

Edit: The Jewish magazine Tablet has much the same take.  And I missed the lovely bit where Brooks said that OWS has nothing to say about "wage stagnation or polarization". That's pretty comical, considering that's the entire damned point of the exercise.

As Dean Baker reminds us, he's little more than "the bard of the 1%". He's just there to make them feel better about themselves, which is probably why his hateful little scrawling attempts to call OWS "ineffective" and "milquetoast". It's wishful thinking by the bucketload.


  1. Anonymous12:16 AM

    David Brooks is the one who is spreading incendiary and offensive anti Jewish stereotypes in this matter. I don't doubt that many of the good people who are out there right now protesting are Jewish and are not appreciative of Brooks' low blow.

  2. Thanks for this. Excellent analysis and expose of David Brooks' real agenda. I don't know if he makes enough at the NYT to be considered one of FDR's 'Economic Royalists' himself, but he definitely lets no opportunity to kneel to them pass without his avid participation. Brooks is nothing more than a right-wing wolf in moderate sheep's clothing, but this outrageous hint that OWS is anti-Semitic is low even for his usual reptilian standards.