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David Brooks’ God Is Not Your God

I set out to write about Fascism and was sidetracked by a piece of vacuous garbage by David Brooks in the New York Times. It goes without saying that pretty much everything Brooks writes is confused garbage; yet he keeps writing. Generally I avoid reading him and he doesn’t so much speak for a distinct ideology as for a confusion of things in his apparently thick head— but I do respond now.

The latent, misplaced Islamophobia in his latest column is indicative of the pervading and growing sense of Islamophobia in the culture and especially elite circles.

Interspersed throughout the general pseudo-babble comprising the piece, some quotes:

Obama is using language to engineer a reaction rather than to tell the truth, which is the definition of propaganda.

It seems blindingly obvious to say, but the spirit of religion begins with a sense that God exists. God is the primary reality, and out of that flows a set of values and experiences: prayer, praise, charity, contrition, grace and the desire to grow closer toward holiness. Sincere faith begins with humility in relation to the Almighty and a sense of being strengthened by his infinite love.

[Note the masculine his infinite love— perhaps the most revealing line in here].

The spirit of dominion, on the other hand, does not start with an awareness of God. It starts with a sense of injury and a desire to heal injury through revenge and domination.

For the terrorist, a sense of humiliation is the primary reality. Terrorism emerges from a psychic state, not a spiritual one. This turns into a grievance, the belief that some external enemy is the cause of this injury, rather than some internal weakness.

For the religious person it’s about God. For the terrorist, it’s about himself. When Omar Mateen was in the midst of his rampage, he was posting on Facebook and calling a TV station. His audience was us, not the Divine.

I originally picked every quote apart; a lot can be said about each, but that’s not really necessary: the dim-witted, confused, strung-together abstractions are not so important as the underlying sentiment, namely, Brooks’ relative morality, the vapid projected sense of a categorical difference between us and these people, a vain and false suggestion that increasingly defines this sort of Islamophobia.

He says: “these people are Godless; they come from a religion that obviously carries some unique trait for godlessness.” This moronic tribalism, masquerading as reasoned response to horror, is appalling and shameful. Moreover it— as everyone in Brooks’ world does— completely misunderstands the nature of the conflict, and terrorism itself. Where is any mention of the bombing and/or occupation of Seven Muslim Countries over the last decade and a half, which is what if not State Terror? (Not to mention— the general impoverishment of these regions at the expense of the West, and a dire and worsening ecological crisis). No, to Brooks and co it’s something distinct: we are enlightened, and these people are backwards and they carry within them both the possibility for reformation, and the capability of thoughtless primal violence.

Such sheer uninformed stupidity & arrogance— and while not outright stated, here— Racism, it makes my blood boil.

Will Solomon lives and works in Vermont and is on Twitter, @wsolol.