Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Privilege Has Its Memberships

Naomi Wadler, 11, via Mother Jones. David Brooks is pretty sure she's too nice to check his privilege, but I wouldn't be so sure if I was him.

Isn't this nice! David F. Brooks ("In Praise of Privilege") loves the kids! He thought the Saturday marches were terrific!
The crowd was good-hearted, gracious, diverse and welcoming. At a time when trust in democracy is waning, everybody kept underlining their faith in our democratic system, that voting is the way to make change. There was no culture war nastiness, no hint of resentment. Hunters and farmers and vets were celebrated. There was no ill will toward anybody but the N.R.A.
A little ill will isn't such a terrible thing!

So it's totally unlike the vicious demonstrations inside his head where people who hate democracy scream for David Brooks's head on a pike and everybody's punching and kicking everybody else over who's the most disprivileged. Who wants to tell him that they've all been like this, sweet and faithful, forward-looking and considerate of one another, for the past 15 years?

With modest variations in where the ill will goes out to. Even when it's going out to him and his poor-hating, warmonger friends.

It's astonishing that he managed to not even hear the privilege discourse, of which there was of course a lot, of the usual kind he hasn't imagined, where earnest well-off white people acknowledge their complicity with systemic racism and earnest nonwhite people enjoy the holiday character of a moment in which some white people are listening to them a bit.
"We recognize that Parkland received more attention because of its affluence," Jaclyn Corin, a survivor of the Parkland shooting, said during her speech. "But we share this stage today and forever with those communities who have always stared down the barrel of a gun."...
Naomi Wadler, an elementary student from Virginia, said she was speaking on behalf of all of the "African-American girls whose stories don't make the front page of every national newspaper. I represent the African-American women who are victims of gun violence, who are simply statistics instead of vibrant beautiful girls full of potential." (CNN)
Brooks sees the marchers as people who have been following his Brooksian instructions. They're filled with humility and gratitude! Unlike those nasty identity politicians and tribalists and intersectionalists and relativists and Foucauldians a-and malcontents he's been telling us about. They're a totally new set of people!

And he's got this idea to explain it, which is that deep inside everybody is privileged in America, unlike those misbegotten French and Italians, because we have a Creed:
The march passed what I have come to think of as The Privilege Test. One of the great privileges of life is to be born an American citizen. We are the lucky inheritors of the American Creed, built around freedom, equality, opportunity and democracy. There’s no such thing as the French Creed or the Italian Creed but there is an American creed. As Richard Hofstadter famously put it, “It has been our fate as a nation not to have ideologies, but to be one.”
And this must be why the March for Our Lives was so lovely, so different from all those grim and graceless marches of the past where people thought David Brooks was just this side of a war criminal or an apologist for bigotry and fascism, because these kids are all so agreeable!

They get it! We're all an ideology! We all agree with each other, as our creed privileges us to do, except for the NRA anyhow. We're all on the same side! There's no need for politics!
the deep inheritance isn’t so easily blotted out. Saturday I saw people motivated by idealism and humbled by gratitude. Do some people have benefits they haven’t earned? Yes, and some a lot more than others. But none of us has earned the great privilege we share together and which is the furnace of most reform.
Don't you love that Lutheran stress on the "unearned" grace of it? For James Madison loved us so much, for no reason, that he gave us his only-begotten Constitution (unlike the scurvy Frenchman and scrofulous Italian, who also didn't deserve it)! Wherefore let us march, children, for surely we are so perfect that we can't help making everything better, as long as we don't think about it too hard!

No, Brooks. you're not invited. Go home.

No comments:

Post a Comment