It has been a long time since David Brooks has written anything worth paying attention to, and his current New York Times column, titled “The Racial Reckoning Comes” and subtitled “Trump has changed our national narrative,” is no exception. But, while I don’t want to critique it in detail, it does prompt a question.
Brooks says that when he was young, the predominant narrative about America featured men like Benjamin Franklin. The idea was that America welcomed immigrants and rewarded hustle, ingenuity and dogged self-improvement. That narrative, Brooks says, has given way to one in which America “began with a crime — stealing the land from Native Americans. It continued with an atrocity, slavery.”
Brooks says that President Trump is the source of a new narrative about America:
Then come Charlottesville, the outrages at the southern border. As the months go by, Eric [Liu]’s attention turns more to race. Trump is no longer seen as a historic aberration, but the embodiment of white supremacy that has always been near the core of the American experience. He is the modern-day John Calhoun, just as mass incarceration is the modern-day Jim Crow.
The “outrages at the southern border” apparently don’t include the illegal entry of hundreds of thousands of law-breakers. But how is President Trump “the embodiment of white supremacy”? How is he any more an embodiment of white supremacy than Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden or Robert Mueller? And in what respect is he “the modern-day John Calhoun”? Calhoun argued that slavery was a positive good. Has Trump done any such thing? Of course not. Calhoun advocated secession from the United States. Has Trump done any such thing? Of course not. So what, exactly, is the point?
Both Trumpists and their opponents have also de-emphasized the Ben Franklin narrative and embraced narratives that put race at the center. Trump’s narrative is: We real Americans (white) have to protect our culture from the alien (brown) who would weaken it.
How can this be “Trump’s narrative,” when it is something he has never said? How has Trump put race at the center of anything? He almost never talks about race, except to point out–correctly–that his administration has produced great results for African-Americans and Hispanics. And when has Trump ever said that “real Americans” are white? The claim is ridiculous. Likewise with the reference to “alien (brown)” culture. Can we have a reference, please? Sometimes it seems that almost everyone in public life talks constantly about race, with the exception of President Trump. What, then, is the justification for saying that he has “put race at the center,” and stands for the proposition that “real Americans” are white?
Perhaps Brooks (and other liberals who make similar claims) is talking about illegal immigration. But Trump advocates a merit-based immigration system like Canada’s, under which we would import more doctors and engineers from India and the Far East. And Trump points out, correctly, that mass unskilled immigration hurts lower-income blacks. (The academic research on this is irrefutable.) Perhaps that is why, as Brooks acknowledges, “African-Americans are actually less progressive on [immigration] issues than white liberals.” Immigration is just one of a number of areas in which Trump’s policies are pro-black.
Liberals like Brooks and many others seem to believe that they can tar President Trump as a racist or, as in this column, a white supremacist, without citing any evidence. (And please, don’t try to bring up the Charlottesville fraud.) These are sheer fantasies, but fantasies that are often indulged on the Left. What I don’t understand is, why do liberals think any of the rest of us will be persuaded by such juvenile smears?
UPDATE: I had dinner with David Brooks years ago, and found him an entertaining if retiring companion. Now he is just an idiot. Check out this tweet:
A black friend asked how many black people there are in the Bible. He ran down a list. I wondered how many white people there are in the Bible. I think the answer is zero. Am I wrong?
— David Brooks (@nytdavidbrooks) June 6, 2019
The people in the Bible are Jews, Greeks and Romans, with a smattering of Philistines, Egyptians, Hittites, Jebusites and the like. Overwhelmingly Jews in lead roles, though. Are Jews no longer white? Someone tell the affirmative action officers!
Hypothesis: endlessly yammering about race makes people stupid.