As is usually the case with Brooks, he is convinced he's writing about very profound and "deep" ideas, when it's just not the case. I am too often embarassed for him, making reading his columns that much more cringe-worthy. (And please, in no way do I profess to be a Mensa candidate -- all the more worse for Brooks).
In his latest "thought piece," Brooks is apparently struggling (surprise!) with a chicken and egg dilemma: do we arrive at opinions on our own independently, or do we just adopt them from membership groups? Original thought or groupthink? Meanwhile, Rome (aka USA) burns, but I digress.
Busy fighting communism and fascism, people back then emphasized individual reason and were deeply allergic to groupthink.
We don’t think this way anymore, and in fact thinking this way can get you into trouble.This is exactly the kind of Brooksian generality that drives me nuts! Just lazy prose. People back then what? Oh sure, back then people were all about "individual reason" and were not in any way susceptible to "groupthink" -- really? Show evidence! Brooks is much like Fox News: say or write it, and -- poof -- it's true. No need to provide proof with facts and sources. Just sound off with generalizations that seem to sound right (to him), don't bother doing any actual research to bolster and support your claims.
It's like my older relatives who wax nostalgic about the "good old days" (1950s), mentioning several positives, but of course selectively leaving out many negatives. Preferring to just broadly generalize based on memories and notions. I'll dare to say to them, "But what about the many diseases then (now gone)? What about how women were regarded as second class citizens? What about racism? What about intolerance for gays? Bullying in schools? What about the pollution and lack of protective regulations?" By then, I get brushed aside with a hand gesture, not wanting to be heard. Facts are often inconvenient and bothersome.
More from Brooks:
How many times have we all heard somebody rise up in conversation and say, “Speaking as a Latina. …” or “Speaking as a queer person. …” or “Speaking as a Jew. …”?
Now, when somebody says that I always wonder, What does that mean? After you’ve stated your group identity, what is the therefore that follows?The inference being that the person is about to say something that stems from his/her group identity and not anything originating independently from the individual. Again, more lazy thinking based on a tired notion and assumption. How does Brooks draw this conclusion? And frankly, I believe when a person makes this sort of intro to a statement, it's not to then expound a groupthink-derived idea or sentiment, but rather is simply letting the listener know that the person has at least some direct relevance to what is about to be said. In other words, rather than saying something that is likely an assumption or commonly-held notion (Brooks' forte), the person is giving a helpful heads up "been there, done that, i.e. I know at least a little about what I speak."
But no, Brooks just assumes that whatever comes next is group-based dogma or platitudes, the person just regurgitating cliches adopted from his/her "kind."
When I started, it was very important for opinion writers to never think of themselves as a Republican or a Democrat. We were individual inquirers, not polemicists for some political team. Over the years, many people stopped making that distinction.Classic Brooks. He writes about something almost not realizing that it tends to go against the point(s) he's trying to make. Brooks is Republican (he may deny it -- ignore). What political party is known for lemming-like behavior, in which the members all predictably circle the wagons, fall into line and back the chosen candidate 100%? It's certainly not the D party!! Herding cats is easier than getting Democrats to universally agree on most things. But Republicans started with 17 (?) presidential candidates, narrowed it down to Trump, and despite many in the party complaining, we've seen GOP voters staunchly back Trump. No groupthink there!
But I'm sure Brooks will claim he's spreading the blame and his criticism. It's meant for all sides, not just one. Right. Read the column, you tell me.
[I]n the 1990s, African-Americans strongly supported tougher criminal justice laws. Now opinion has shifted and a majority of African-Americans strongly oppose them.Is that true about African-Americans in the 1990s? Am I to just assume Brooks is correct?
Why are people’s views of global warming, genetically modified foods and other scientific issues strongly determined by political label? That seems ridiculous.
As for science-based, factual issues such as global warming and GMOs, yes, it is ridiculous that the Republican Party has increasingly become about non-science and non-facts and nonsense.
Our political system is based on the idea that persuasion and deliberation lead to compromise and toward truth.Just hilarious. Which political party is more to blame for lack of compromise? Which party steadfastly refused to work with Obama as president? In 2012, which political party was Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein referring to when they wrote, "ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition"? And which party is willfully ignorant of facts and the truth, and repeatedly looks to mislead and distort and con? You guessed it, the Republican Party.
But it's more dignified and "fair" for Brooks to employ the oft-used false equivalency canard, that both sides are guilty. And he gets to then shake his head and hands in frustration, stating that "he's confused."