Posted by: Debby Durkee | March 14, 2010

David Brooks: Useful idiot.

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David Brooks: Useful idiot.

Michael Ledeen of http://pajamasmedia.com/ takes on the New York Times’ “conservative” writer, David Brooks. Brooks is the writer who has been enthralled with then-Senator Obama ever since he noticed the crease in his pants (bizarre? – yes.) Brooks is of the elite, effete, ivy-league educated intelligentsia who tend to look down their noses at the backbone of the country: everyday Americans, AKA Tea Partiers.

Brooks seems to think he understands the Tea Party movement and compares it to the New Left of the 1960s. Ledeen, who was a front-row observer of the genesis of the New Left, begs to differ. Read and learn that you really aren’t all that, David.

David Brooks would have us believe that the Tea Partiers are much like the New Leftists of the sixties. Snip –

I think he misunderstands the Tea Party movement, and he’s surprisingly uninformed about the New Left, which was anything but a bunch of Rousseauan romantics.  In 1962, when I was at the University of Wisconsin…, the Port Huron Statement, the formal origin of SDS, Students for a Democratic Society, was drafted. I knew several of the drafters (the main author was Tom Hayden, at the University of Michigan)…

The Port Huron guys fancied themselves serious intellectuals… they didn’t think that “the people are pure and virtuous;” they thought most people were alienated, apathetic, and manipulated. They were Marxists and Marcusians, students of the Frankfurt School, and the like. And they saw the university as the logical headquarters for a movement that could transform society.  Just read the first paragraph of their definition of a new left:

 Any new left in America must be, in large measure, a left with real intellectual skills, committed to deliberativeness, honesty, reflection as working tools. The university permits the political life to be an adjunct to the academic one, and action to be informed by reason.

Brooks seems to believe that the New Left wanted greater individual freedom — as the Tea Partiers surely do — but in fact the Port Huron Statement calls for more centralized control.  Lots more: “not only solutions to our present social needs but our future expansion rests upon our willingness to enlarge the ‘public sector’ greatly.” Some of the language has become very familiar to us (and rejected by the Tea Partiers).  Snip –

Ledeen goes on to highlight language from the New Left that echoes today’s cry for “guaranteed health insurance” and rights to food and shelter be assured by the Federal government. How is that similar to the Tea Partiers? It’s not. It’s exactly the opposite from what they’re advocating. Ledeen goes on.

…The main linkage between colorful characters like (Abbie) Hoffman and the SDS founders is their emphasis on youth.  That first “S” is for “students,” after all, and the Port Huron Statement could not be more explicit:

A new left must consist of younger people who matured in the postwar world, and partially be directed to the recruitment of younger people. The university is an obvious beginning point.

I don’t believe the Tea Partiers think of themselves as a youth movement.      

Insisting on a common DNA between the Tea Partiers and the New Lefties, Brooks announces that both are anti-conservative.  Well, duh, so far as the New Left was concerned. It was, you know, leftist:

A new left must include liberals and socialists, the former for their relevance, the latter for their sense of thoroughgoing reforms in the system. The university is a more sensible place than a political party for these two traditions to begin to discuss their differences and look for political synthesis.

The Tea Partiers, on the other hand, are conservatives; they are fighting against Obama’s efforts to bring more and more human activity under centralized state control.  They’re defending Constitutional rights, which seems pretty conservative to me.  Snip –

It was the Left, with much of the energy coming from the New Left, that created the real counter-establishment, in the universities, just as SDS said it intended to do.  That alliance of liberals and socialists, for which the Port Huron Statement called in 1962, now dominates American education, and one of its textbook products is now president of the United States.

So Brooks is quite wrong when he says that “the Tea Partiers are closer to the New Left. They don’t seek to form a counter-establishment because they don’t believe in establishments or in authority structures.” The New Left built a vast establishment, and the Tea Partiers are trying to hold on to some traditional American liberties, and roll back some of the state power that has been accumulated by the heirs of Port Huron.

Brooks seems quite confused in his thinking that the Tea Partiers want to tear down the “establishment” – unless you think of the establishment as a government attempting to run roughshod over the people. His intellectualism has gotten the better of him. When you see everyday Americans out in the streets it’s because the country has lost its way. Tea Partiers are trying to get it back on its Constitutional footing. Something similar hasn’t happened in this country since perhaps its founding. So maybe that’s now considered “anti-establishment,” instead of what it really is: an attempt to uphold conservative, traditional, American values. Apparently that’s pretty foreign and pretty radical to those who think in the “progressive” (or should I say regressive) mindset. That seems very Orwellian. Up means down. Right means wrong. Radical means conservative. Conservative means radical. They’d just prefer the Silent Majority stay silent. They’re smarter than the rest of us, so just sit down and shut up. It ain’t gonna happen. So, get used to it. We’re done with taking abuse silently.

You can read all of Michael Ledeen here: http://pajamasmedia.com/michaelledeen/2010/03/12/david-brooks-just-doesnt-know-it/

Hat Tip: http://pajamasmedia.com/instapundit

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