David Brooks Demands You Respect His Authority

by Rob Schneider
File under: Baby Boomers11 Jun 2013 8:42 EDT

Seriously, you punk. 

David Brooks, apparently not content in his established role of milquetoast opinion maker on the pages of The New York Times, recently decided to turn his column into the 21st century equivalent of an Archie Bunker rant.

The target of this very ugly public psychological exposition was none other than Edward Snowden, the 29 year old NSA leaker that exposed the utter disregard for the 4th Amendment by that secretive alphabet agency. But to Brooks, he's just another meathead millennial that doesn't show him the proper respect, and, egad, probably doesn't even read The New York Times,

From what we know so far, Edward Snowden appears to be the ultimate unmediated man. Though obviously terrifically bright, he could not successfully work his way through the institution of high school. Then he failed to navigate his way through community college.

"The institution of high school"? Do people actually talk like that? Here we thought that high school was just another waste of time, as Mr. Snowden's success clearly demonstrates, but apparently it's an institution that can determine who you are as a person. In fact, if you drop out of high school you are probably anti-social and don't visit your mother often enough,

According to The Washington Post, he has not been a regular presence around his mother’s house for years. When a neighbor in Hawaii tried to introduce himself, Snowden cut him off and made it clear he wanted no neighborly relationships. He went to work for Booz Allen Hamilton and the C.I.A., but he has separated himself from them, too.

And he didn't even bring anything to the company potluck picnic! We're going to grant the moral opinion of such a creature any worth?

If you live a life unshaped by the mediating institutions of civil society, perhaps it makes sense to see the world a certain way: Life is not embedded in a series of gently gradated authoritative structures: family, neighborhood, religious group, state, nation and world. Instead, it’s just the solitary naked individual and the gigantic and menacing state.

For instance, if you think you can just ignore The New York Times when it comes to getting your authoritative opinions on world events, you're probably some kind of paranoid anarchist that hates the rest of humanity. 

But Big Brother is not the only danger facing the country. Another is the rising tide of distrust, the corrosive spread of cynicism, the fraying of the social fabric and the rise of people who are so individualistic in their outlook that they have no real understanding of how to knit others together and look after the common good.

Since Mr. Brooks has taken it upon himself to give an entire generation a stern paternal talking to, we think that this is, more or less, where the familiar tactic of , "You have to respect me, I'm your father!" comes into play. Of course, the tactic itself shuts down any possibility of respect.

Just like how building massive, all-inclusive spy databases also tends to reduce all those warm feelings of fraternity Brooks misses. If an entire generation of young men have shunned civil society and retreated into solipsism, maybe a society, particularly an older society, that brands them as criminal a priori has to share a lot of the blame.

But like all superficial moralists, Brooks sees the speck in the other's eye before the log in his own, and presumes to speak for others, 

He betrayed honesty and integrity, the foundation of all cooperative activity. He made explicit and implicit oaths to respect the secrecy of the information with which he was entrusted. He betrayed his oaths.

He betrayed his friends. Anybody who worked with him will be suspect. Young people in positions like that will no longer be trusted with responsibility for fear that they will turn into another Snowden.

Yes, honesty and integrity, the foundation of all cooperative activity. So why don't you regularly castigate Clinton, Bush, and Obama, all proven liars on matters ranging from war to sex, for betraying the country? Or the heads of the NSA who have regularly lied to Congress about these programs? Keeping your word to such a system is not honesty or integrity, but shared corruption. 

As far as friends, Snowden made millions more than Mr. Brooks will ever have the day he went public with this.

And, by the way, Mr. Brooks, Snowden got into his position of responsibility because people like him, people our age, built the internet, not you and the staff at The New York Times. You seem to think that time just stands still, that we will always be the young ones begging you for a job. Edward Snowden is a grown man, almost 30 years old, and he got the job because your beloved institutions couldn't find anybody else to run their spy database. Stop acting like this is a favor. 

He betrayed the Constitution. The founders did not create the United States so that some solitary 29-year-old could make unilateral decisions about what should be exposed. Snowden self-indulgently short-circuited the democratic structures of accountability, putting his own preferences above everything else.

If Mr. Brooks was interested in writing about the truth, he would be investigating the real short-circuiting of democracy that's taken place in the shadow government of these alphabet agencies. Apparently it is his preference to give lectures to the grown up, 30-something 'kids' like a doddering old fool instead of actually doing reporting. 

As for us, we want freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, not as an arbitrary preference, but as a righteous demand.

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Luke says:11 Jun 2013 19:12 EDT
The style of his prose alone illustrates vividly that Brooks is preaching to a rapidly shrinking and aging choir. It's disheartening, though, to see these early warning signs that the younger generation will be thrown under the bus without a second thought as our permanent state of crisis continues to unfold..
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