David Brooks’s dilemma (and ours)

on 47 Comments

Consider one of David Brooks’ dilemmas. In last Friday’s Times he wrote a pretty good column about the contemporary American power elite. As he described it, sixty and more years ago, blue blood WASPs ran America’s financial institutions and foreign policy (something of a simplification, but let it pass), ethnic bosses ran the cities, and engaging working class drunks filed the newspaper stories. Now those critical sectors are run and staffed by the meritocracy, people who did well on the bubble tests and went on to succeed at elite universities. We have, Brooks explains, “opened up opportunities for women, African-Americans, Jews, Italians, Poles, Hispanics and members of every other group. “

Then he acknowledges the new regime isn’t working out as well as expected. None of these major institutions is now doing its job adequately, and the country knows it. We need, Brooks concludes, to reevaluate our definitions of merit, and leadership because “very smart people make mistakes because they didn’t understand the context in which they were operating.” This is true, and for a newspaper column, a profound observation.

But there is a salient body of fact that Brooks elides, and therein lies a tale. While opportunities have opened up for women and all the non-Wasp groups Brooks mentioned, all groups have not rushed with equal force into the breach. If one takes, for example, the issue of Mideast diplomacy, it has been noted recently that most of the country’s important Mideast diplomats are Jews, most of writers covering the Israel-Palestine conflict for the New York Times are Jewish, as are two of three of the president’s top political advisers. Dig in a different direction, and one finds a similar kind of thing, as observed on this site, of the financial players engaged in selecting the next senator from New York

There is no need to exaggerate the phenomenon, and indeed a need not to—outside of New York, there are plenty of rich Protestant power brokers, the South is important politically and Jews are seldom influential there, etc. But to say the least, the collapse of the WASP ascendancy has not been equally rewarding to all of the groups Brooks cites at the top of his column. Indeed for some of them, like Catholics, that collapse has probably coincided with a net reduction in cultural and political influence.

Brooks avoids mentioning this, as do virtually all writers. The reason is obvious: nearly any analysis, indeed any mention, of Jewish power is overburdened with sensitive historical associations. Unspecified but ominous reference to this history is the main polemical weapon Leon Wieseltier uses in his effort to take down Andrew Sullivan for his writing on Israel and Palestine. Some of Sullivan’s arguments, Wieseltier asserts “have a sordid history”; Sullivan is one of those who proclaim “without in any way being haunted by the history of such an idea that Jews control Washington”; Sullivan adopts an explanation which “has a provenance that should disgust all thinking people.” No need then to examine the truth or the untruth of Sullivan’s argument, a vague allusion to history suffices. Criticism of Israel is tied to the modern history of European anti-semitism, and to an extensive bibliography of generally tendentious books about Jewish power, from Alphonse de Toussenel’s Les Juifs, Rois de L’Epoch (published in 1845) forward. Of course this discourse was an auxiliary to the holocaust. About this Wieseltier (and the countless others who polemicize in this manner) are correct: discussions of Jewish power have sometimes had terrible consequences.

But where does that leave 21st century Americans? One example is the case of David Brooks, who clearly knows what he leaving out of his column about the American power elite. Brooks is Jewish, and a Zionist, and in no danger of being labeled an anti-Semite by Leon Wieseltier or anyone else. But still he is hesitant; presumably because he doesn’t want to write something that either might encourage anti-Semitism, or (more likely considering his readership) enhance public understanding of the Israel lobby. At least the first of these motives is commendable. But the reticence has a consequence: when Brooks writes a column about the American power elite and its weaknesses, he needs to avoid one of the essential aspects of his subject. That can’t really be satisfactory to him, or to his readers. It’s a dilemma with no obvious solution to it.

About Scott McConnell

Scott McConnell is a founding editor of the American Conservative. The former editorial page editor of The New York Post, he has written for Fortune, The New Criterion, National Review, Commentary and many other publications.

Other posts by .


Posted In:

47 Responses

  1. bob
    February 21, 2010, 12:53 pm

    Is fear of reprisals used to stifle debate or hide ethnic power of another group? I’m picking my brain, and I’m not coming up with any.

    McConnell (and Weiss) isn’t as conflationary as the “whiteness studies” programs that put many various ethnicities all in one lump. Heck, some of these groups would refuse to marry one another. This is an improvement that needs to be made. Its important to study power vis a vis ethnicity, and its important to understand how a slippery slope argument shouldn’t stop people from doing so.

  2. potsherd
    February 21, 2010, 12:56 pm

    Pat Buchanan can be seen as an example of the loss of Catholic power, about which he continually rages.

    Buchanan is one of the few who speak openly about Jewish power in the US, and yes, he is called antisemitic for it. But what I think motivates him is not hate for Jews as such but bitter resentment that they have taken the place that he feels Catholics deserve.

  3. Richard Witty
    February 21, 2010, 1:39 pm

    It is a racialist analysis, prejudiced. Of the cabinet, at most 3 of 18 members are Jewish. His chief of staff and political advisors are his personal staff, and he determines which individuals provide him the most skilled and useful council.

    And, it is a rational choice of the New York Times to have Jews (with access to Israeli officials) on its staff and bureau.

    • Richard Witty
      February 21, 2010, 1:41 pm

      How many Jews are there on the staff of Al-Jazeera? Is their Israeli bureau comprised of Jews or others? Can they get accurate information if they don’t have communication paths to leaders?

      Maybe, maybe not.

      • Citizen
        February 21, 2010, 2:19 pm

        All news in Israel is censored; the same in the USA, less directly. US news about the Middle East involving Israel all comes from Jewish reporters located in Israel. How many Arabs are on the staff of the US MSM, including TV? How many employ Arabs in the W Bank or Gaza, when reporting on the I-P conflict? Where is the communication path to accurate information from the Palestninian leaders? Al Jazeera directly competes with BBC World and CNN International–how many Americans have access to any of those three relatively objective news sources about the Middle East? A couple of people in Washington DC? Or Toledo Ohio, with satellite TV? Witty, as usual pretends he’s taking a balanced view. But his thumb is always heavy on the scale. Don’t buy food from him. He’d have you believe Mondoweiss has as much power as the NYT. And he’s the little Dutch boy holding his finger in the dyke.

      • Dan Kelly
        February 21, 2010, 3:34 pm

        What does Al Jazeera, a Middle Eastern news outlet, have to do with the NY Times, an (allegedly) American news outlet?

        And, it is a rational choice of the New York Times to have Jews (with access to Israeli officials) on its staff and bureau.

        And it is a rational choice of the New York Times to have Palestinians (with access to Palestinian officials) on its staff and bureau.

        Ideally, it should have one or two reporters deal with Israel, and one or two deal with Palestine, and report things equally from their respective perspectives, within a framework of overall American interests, just as it does every other country on earth.

        But you’re so steeped in Jewish supremacism that you can’t comprehend this elementary exercise of rationality and honesty.

        Nor, apparently, can most of the owners and editors of “U.S.” mainstream news outlets.

    • Citizen
      February 21, 2010, 2:37 pm

      Great. Behind the oval doors Obama has surrouned himself with jews, leaving gentiles to be the front servers. Certainly makes me feel better. And here’s status
      of congress as of December of 2008:
      Demographic affiliations in Congress with a focus on the Senate (since it has more concentrated power than the House and is, conveniently, 100 senators!)

      1. Gender
      1. Women: 51% of the pop, 17% of the House, 16% of the Senate (about 70% underrepresentation in the Senate; should have 35 more senators)
      2. Men: 49% of the pop, 83% of the House, 84% of the Senate (~70% overrepresentation in the Senate; should have 35 fewer senators)
      2. Racial
      1. Whites: 74% of the pop, 84% of the House, 94% of the Senate (30% overrepresentation; should have 20 fewer senators; most overrepresented racial group)
      2. Blacks: 12% of the pop, 9% of the House, 1% of the Senate (92% under; should have 11 more senators)
      3. Hispanics: 15% of the pop, 5% of the House, 3% of the Senate (80% under; should have 12 more senators) (there is white-hispanic overlap)
      4. Asians: 14% of the pop, 1% of the House, 2% of the Senate (86% under; should have 12 more senators)
      3. Religious
      1. All Christians: 80% of the pop, 91% of the House (396 reps), 87% of the Senate (9% over; should have 7 fewer senators)
      1. Catholics: 26% of the pop, 30% of the House (130 reps), 25% of the Senate (4% under, should have 1 more senator; most balanced group)
      2. Mormons: 1.4% of the pop, 2.3% of the House (10 reps), 5% of the Senate (260% over; should have 3-4 fewer senators)
      2. Jews: 1.4% of the pop, 7% of the House (30 reps), 13% of the Senate (830% over; should have 11-12 fewer senators; most overrepresented religious affiliation)
      3. Muslims: 0.6% of the pop, 0.2% of the House (1 rep), 0 in Senate (should have 0-1 senators)
      4. Buddhists: 0.5% of the pop, 0.5% of the House (2 reps), 0 in Senate (should have 0-1 senators) v. Hindus: 0.4% of the pop, 0 in House, 0 in Senate (should have 0-1 senators)
      5. Unaffiliated/atheists/agnostics: 15% of the pop, 1.4% in House (6 reps), 0 in Senate (should have 15 more senators; most underrepresented religious affiliation)

      • Richard Witty
        February 21, 2010, 3:09 pm

        And you or anyone posting or writing here would suggest that individuals vote for Jews (or not) because they are Jewish.

        Not me. I vote on merit and that the candidate represents my concerns.

        • potsherd
          February 21, 2010, 3:26 pm

          … which happen to be Jewish.

        • Dan Kelly
          February 21, 2010, 3:46 pm

          and that the candidate represents my concerns.

          And your “concerns” are exceedingly insular in regards to your Jewish community and to Israel. And when people with extraordinary wealth, power, and access have the same narrow “concerns” as you, the rest of us wind up paying for it. Such is the state of America today.

        • Richard Witty
          February 21, 2010, 4:08 pm

          What a stupid comment on your part Kelly.

          My “narrow” concerns are primarily associated with sustainable economy, social and economic equality, transforming racism, support of public institutions (like libraries).

          Brain dead.

        • slowereastside
          February 21, 2010, 4:52 pm

          “Not me. I vote on merit and that the candidate represents my concerns.”

          Merit?

          Is that like when you’re a dance major who joins the IDF you get to return to the US as a key Democratic fundraiser?

        • Dan Kelly
          February 21, 2010, 4:54 pm

          So if a candidate comes along who overwhelmingly supports all the things you listed above, Richard, and also seeks an end to the “special relationship” with Israel, then you undoubtedly are supporting that candidate over another candidate who doesn’t give a damn about any of those things, but who wishes to maintain the status quo vis a vis Israel.

          Right?

          Because certainly those things (many of which I happen to agree with) are far closer to your heart, and to your local community, than some foreign country thousands of miles away.

        • Richard Witty
          February 21, 2010, 9:14 pm

          If a candidate uses the buzzwords “end the special relationship”, that indicates to me not that they seek a change, but that they have ingested and digested the fascist theme of blame and scapegoat rather than reform or self-reflection.

        • Citizen
          February 22, 2010, 7:25 am

          How about usage of the buzzwords: “our special relationship”?

        • Richard Witty
          February 22, 2010, 7:31 am

          You use those as an indicator, don’t you?

          I’m sure that whenever Joe Lieberman or Charles Schumer states that in any way, your hair stands on end.

          Thats a cue to you.

          “end the special relationship” is a cue to me.

          Of an ideolog.

        • Psychopathic god
          February 22, 2010, 8:23 am

          American goy[im]? did not invent the ‘special relationship’ ideology or terminology, Israeli Jews did, so don’t throw it back in the face of Americans and tell us we’re antisemitic to raise the “ideological” issue.

          damn it witty, enough is enough

          link to forward.com

    • Citizen
      February 21, 2010, 2:41 pm

      Remark in December of 2008:
      It seems Barack Obama is giving us a cabinet with no Jewish members. Plenty of Jews in non-cabinet top spots (Axelrod, Summers, Orszag) so I guess we’ll have to just run things from behind the scenes. I think that was also the case at the beginning of the Dubya administration, though now we have Chertoff. One related issue is whether the country will ever again see a non-Jewish Fed Chair.
      UPDATE: And of course you can add Rahm to the list of influential, but not in the cabinet, Jews. Basically, it’s a chock full ‘o Jews White House staff and a non-Jewish cabinet.
      link to yglesias.thinkprogress.org

    • Citizen
      February 21, 2010, 2:44 pm

      January 2009 list of Obama’s Jews, or is it Obama’s jailers?
      link to radioislam.org

      • Citizen
        February 21, 2010, 2:50 pm

        “But what about the non-Jewish European White Americans, the Euro-American Whites who are genetically and culturally very much different than and separate from Jews (who are mistakenly perceived as part of the overall White majority in America when they definitely are not)…how did the Euro-American White majority fare in the overall Cabinet selection process? Hmmm, not too well…as you can quite easily find out from this table, they are relegated to the lowest Cabinet posts, many of them of tertiary importance – yes, the non-Jewish, non-Hispanic White ethnic majority which still comprises over 60% of the American populace barely holds a total of 25% of the Cabinet slots, and the ones they do hold have historically been rather unimportant and even downright secretarial.”
        link to sojournerofthecesspit.blogspot.com

        • Mooser
          February 21, 2010, 3:45 pm

          But what about the non-Jewish European White Americans, the Euro-American Whites who are genetically and culturally very much different than and separate from Jews (who are mistakenly perceived as part of the overall White majority in America when they definitely are not)…

          Now there’s a curious statement! While I know in my heart you, Citizen, are a merit-based egalitarian kinda guy, but would you sasy most Americans believe that? DNA is politics? Very curious.

        • Citizen
          February 21, 2010, 4:09 pm

          Mooser, I was repeating some knowledge from others who have looked at ethnic politics and attempted to dig out out some results. Yes, I am a merit-based egalitarian kinda guy–and I am constantly faced with ethnic politics
          every day I wake up in the USA. I don’t know what you refer to when you say “DNA is politics.” Surely you know that ethnicity is a regular component in USA politics?

        • Mooser
          February 22, 2010, 10:31 am

          I know you should really make an effort to use blockquote, quote marks, and italics to clearly differentiate quoted material from your own words.

          Of course, I must admit that would be an easier task with a “preview” button, but please make every effort.

    • Citizen
      February 21, 2010, 2:53 pm

      OBAMA’S LEADING JEWISH ‘CZARS’
      Economic Czar – Larry Summers
      Regulatory Czar – Cass Sunstein
      Pay Czar – Kenneth Feinberg
      Guantanamo/Military Jails Czar – Daniel Fried
      Car Czar – Steven Rattner
      Border Czar – Alan Bersin
      Climate Czar – Todd Stern
      Global Warming Czar – Carol Browner

      BOARD OF GOVERNORS OF AMERICAN FEDERAL RESERVE (minus the gentiles)
      S. Bernanke – Chairman
      Donald L. Kohn – Vice Chairman
      Kevin M. Warsh
      (Note:Frederic Mishkin recently left the Board of Governors)

      Jewish Federal Reserve District Bank Presidents:
      Eric S. Rosengren – President, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston
      Charles I. Plosser – President, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia
      Jeffrey M. Lacker – President, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond
      James B. Bullard – President, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
      Gary H. Stern– President, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis
      Thomas M. Hoenig – President, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City
      Richard W. Fisher– President, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas
      Janet L. Yellen – President, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco

      JEWS ON OBAMA’S ECONOMIC TEAM:
      Benjamin Bernanke: Chairman, Federal Reserve System
      Neal Wolin: Deputy Secretary, U.S. Treasury Department
      Lael Brainard: Under Secretary, U.S. Treasury Department

      JEWS IN INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS
      Richard Holbrooke:Special Envoy to Pakistan/Afghanistan
      Stuart Levey: Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence
      Lawrence Summers: Chairman, National Economic Council
      Paul Volcker: Chairman, Economic Recovery Advisory Board
      Jared Bernstein: Chief Economist and Economic Adviser,
      Peter Orszag: Director, Office of Management and Budget
      Jason Furman: Deputy Director, Office of Management and Budget
      Jeffrey Zeints: Chief Performance Officer to streamline government and cut costs as well as Deputy Director for Management at the Office of Management and Budget
      Gary Gensler: Chairman, Commodity Futures Trading Commission
      Mary Schapiro: Chairwoman, Securities and Exchange Commission
      Sheila Bair: Chairman, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
      Karen Mills: Administrator, Small Business Administration
      Jon Leibowitz: Chairman, Federal Trade Commission
      Douglas Shulman: Commissioner, Internal Revenue Service
      Neil M. Barofsky: Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (“SIGTARP”)

      JEWS ON FOREIGN POLICY TEAM:
      James B. Steinberg: Deputy Secretary of State
      Jacob Lew: Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources
      Jeffrey D. Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs (Includes Mideast)
      Lee Feinstein: Foreign Policy Advisor
      Eric Lynn: Middle East Policy Advisor
      Dennis Ross: Special Advisor for the Gulf (Iran) and Southwest Asia to the Secretary of State
      Mara Rudman: Foreign Policy Advisor
      Dan Shapiro: Head of Middle East desk at the National Security Council

      JEWISH AMBASSADORIAL NOMINEES:
      England: Louis Susman
      Germany: Phil Murphy

      OTHER JEWISH NOMINEES/APPOINTEES
      Rahm Emmanuel: Whitehouse Chief of Staff
      Julius Genachowski: Chair, Federal Communications Commission
      Elena Kagan: Solicitor General of the U.S., Department of Justice
      Dr. Margaret Hamburg:Commissioner, of the Food and Drug Administration
      Dr. Joshua Sharfstein:Deputy Commissioner, Food and Drug Administration
      Susan Sher:Chief of Staff for First Lady Michelle Obama
      Dr. Thomas R. Frieden:Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

      [NOTE: this list needs more fine-tuning and updating]

      • Richard Witty
        February 21, 2010, 3:12 pm

        Good blacklisting.

        The point was about dominance, and for Israel.

        Its a fraudulent point. Obama makes policy. He gets input from a WIDE variety of perspectives, much moreso than GW.

        You are looking to tarnish, for some reason. It would be wonderful if you shifted to constructive oriented criticism, rather than destructive.

        • Citizen
          February 21, 2010, 3:39 pm

          What is a blacklist? Does it differ from pointing out the facts?
          Obama does not make policy alone. You say he does, but that is to take every reader here as an infant.
          What is fraudulent about my comment? Please inform us infants.

          You are looking to hide, for some reason. It would be wonderful if you shifted to
          someting other than calling me names by implication. McCarthy comes to mind.
          Meanwhile, for the readers here, here is an article and lengthy comments wherein WASPS argue amongst themselves about the Jewish influence on our government and the decline of their own influence:
          link to occidentaldissent.com

          Maybe Phil’s wife might like to read it?

        • Keith
          February 21, 2010, 4:15 pm

          Richard, Richard, Richard. Your apologetics are transparent and besides the point. Zionism is a power seeking collective that has been spectacularly successful. Israel is the “God” of the Zionist religion, replacing the God of Judaism. Fear of anti-Semitism and support for Israel is the core essence of Zionist solidarity. Zionist support for Israel is a key component of Jewish/Zionist success in achieving power in the U.S.

          As for Obama making policy, he (like Bush, Clinton and Reagan) is a front man. Policy is made by the elites (need we go into his groveling before AIPAC?).

        • Richard Witty
          February 21, 2010, 9:16 pm

          “Zionazis”? Keith. You seem like such a sober, thoughtful man?

        • Mooser
          February 22, 2010, 10:36 am

          So Richard, you figure it’ll be the sober, thoughtful people who knock over Israel? I doubt it. Sober thoughtful people won’t risk their lives, fortunes and sacred honor. Or will they?
          Of course the Zionist heroes were all sober, thoughtful guys. Somehow that makes the nakba better?

          You have no idea what this is all about, do you Mr. Witty? You keep on mixing up Zionism and the Jewish religion.
          You can bet the anti-Zionists won’t make that mistake! They will give Israel and Zionism all, every bit, of the respect it is entitled to.

  4. Dan Kelly
    February 21, 2010, 4:03 pm

    There were close to 300 comments responding to Brooks’ article and not one of them mentioned Jewish power. The word “Jews” was only mentioned in a handful of comments, mostly just regurgitating what Brooks wrote. One comment (written by a person with the last name of Wang) essentially said that it’s a better power elite now than in the past, because it’s made up of “Jews and other smart people,” as opposed to the WASPs of the past. Another comment was from a Jewish woman who disagreed with Brooks, saying that she worked professionally until 2001 and still found it to be a largely WASPish culture.

  5. DICKERSON3870
    February 21, 2010, 4:23 pm

    RE: Some of Sullivan’s arguments, Wieseltier asserts “have a sordid history”; Sullivan is one of those who proclaim “without in any way being haunted by the history of such an idea that Jews control Washington”; Sullivan adopts an explanation which “has a provenance that should disgust all thinking people.” – Weiss

    SEE: George Lakoff: Why “Rational Reason” Doesn’t Work in Contemporary Politics, 02/21/10
    (EXCERPT)…Here are the basic differences between real and false reason, and the ways in which all too many liberals, including Obama during the past year, are wed to false reason.
    Real reason is embodied in two ways. It is physical, in our brain circuitry. And it is based on our bodies as the function in the everyday world, using thought that arises from embodied metaphors. And it is mostly unconscious. False reason sees reason as fully conscious, as literal, disembodied, yet somehow fitting the world directly, and working not via frame-based, metaphorical, narrative and emotional logic, but via the logic of logicians alone.
    Empathy is physical, arising from mirror neurons systems tied to emotional circuitry. Self-interest is real as well, and both play their roles in real reason. False reason is supposed to serve material self-interest alone…
    …Finally, there is the lesson of how language works in the brain. Every word is neurally connected to a neural circuit characterizing a frame, which in turn is part of a system of frames linked to a moral system. In political discourse, words activate frames, which in turn activate moral systems. This mechanism is not conscious. It is automatic, and it is acquired through repetition….
    ENTIRE ARTICLE – link to blog.buzzflash.com

  6. Rehmat
    February 21, 2010, 4:31 pm

    David Brooks’ knowledge is limited to what he learns from Hasbara Gurus like Daniel Pipes and Alan. He should read a recent study done by professors Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers (University of Pennsylvania) – in which they have proved that “American Women Are Not Happy”.

    link to rehmat1.wordpress.com

  7. MRW
    February 21, 2010, 6:04 pm

    Scott,

    You wrote some important stuff in this post. While fully honoring the paragraph that began “There is no need to exaggerate the phenomenon, and indeed a need not to,” it was the following paragraph where you wrote, in my opinion, the crux of the issue…certainly why I am on this board so much.

    Brooks avoids mentioning this, as do virtually all writers. The reason is obvious: nearly any analysis, indeed any mention, of Jewish power is overburdened with sensitive historical associations. Unspecified but ominous reference to this history is the main polemical weapon Leon Wieseltier uses in his effort to take down Andrew Sullivan for his writing on Israel and Palestine. […] No need then to examine the truth or the untruth of Sullivan’s argument, a vague allusion to history suffices. [Emphasis mine] Criticism of Israel is tied to the modern history of European anti-semitism, and to an extensive bibliography of generally tendentious books about Jewish power […] Of course this discourse was an auxiliary to the holocaust. About this Wieseltier (and the countless others who polemicize in this manner) are correct: discussions of Jewish power have sometimes had terrible consequences.
    But where does that leave 21st century Americans?

    Last week the Guardian wrote about Andrei Platonov, whom it called “Russia’s greatest 20th-century prose stylist,” recognized as such by his countrymen and leading literary stars in the time since Platonov died ‘in poverty and obscurity and misery’ in 1951.

    One of Platonov’s works was The Foundation Pit, written in 1930.

    An observation from that piece is my answer to the blockquoted section above, and it is why I shout here, and it is why I can no longer accept that that which produces cries of anti-semitism against me or anyone else is permissible, no matter how accurate, unnecessary, or wrong. Not now. Not in the 21st C. The ‘Anti-semitic’ label, or any fear of it, has become an automatic noose around all political, financial, and literary or media discussion or debate in this country, and it is suffocating it, killing it.

    Platonov’s phrase was this

    My body gets weak without truth.*

    And that includes the body politic.

    ___________________
    * In one translation (there are now two) “He feels his body going weak without the truth.”

    • Dan Kelly
      February 21, 2010, 8:12 pm

      Great quote MRW.

      In the current environment in America, I keep feeling weaker and weaker and weaker…

      • Gene
        February 21, 2010, 9:01 pm

        Here’s a little something that hopefully will help ;-)

        Revolutionary change does not come as one cataclysmic moment (beware of such moments!) but as an endless succession of surprises, moving zigzag toward a more decent society. We don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world. Even when we don’t “win,” there is fun and fulfillment in the fact that we have been involved, with other good people, in something worthwhile. – Howard Zinn

        This is helpful, too, I find.

        Last time I checked my blogsite’s stats, I saw that somebody has opened one of my old blogpost. I forgot what I wrote there & wanted to refresh my memory. I found this quote there: “[N]othing is more intolerant than a power which in order to defeat its rival is obliged to manipulate the credulity, the fears and the hopes of men.” – Etienne Balibar in Spinoza and Politics. I think that applies here.

  8. Citizen
    February 21, 2010, 6:33 pm

    “It’s what today we would call networking; if you’re outside the loop, you can’t break in. One knows this when one is mature, but when you are a young student fresh out of university, full of great idealism and belief in your own superior talents, the first realization that you can’t break into the loop — that the network is there to keep people like you out — makes a great impression, as it probably did on the young Dr. Goebbels. And this undoubtedly had an effect on his anti-Semitism, even though he still wasn’t hostile toward individual Jews.”
    link to ihr.org

    This applies to Phil. Don’t bother to impeach the speaker or source unless you also do so as to what you say is the fountain of objective truth.

    • MRW
      February 21, 2010, 8:07 pm

      that the network is there to keep people like you out — makes a great impression

      Works both ways. I listened to a great deal of bitterness from a few of my young (at the time) Jewish friends who knew they could never be made partner in the top NYC WASP firms because they were Jewish. The unfairness is ugly on all sides, and has long consequences; I despise it, frankly. Ditto when it involves color of skin.

      [In one of those cases, however, it was because the guy was so objectionable; I checked the law firm in Martindale-Hubbell, and there were Jewish partners, so the argument was probably used to keep the guy out. He was a real prick; had the savoire-faire of a dead snake in social situations, and screamed with rage to make his points. He never made partner when he was at a Jewish firm much later.]

  9. Gene
    February 21, 2010, 8:09 pm

    [W]hen Brooks writes a column about the American power elite and its weaknesses, he needs to avoid one of the essential aspects of his subject. That can’t really be satisfactory to him, or to his readers. It’s a dilemma with no obvious solution to it.

    Actually, there’s the book by French economist Jacques Attali entitled Les Juifs, le monde et l’argent. As far as I know, this important work has not been translated in English. Perhaps it’s time that it is. Attali said this on the need for the Jewish community to address this particular issue: «il est essentiel pour lui-même d’affronter cette partie de son histoire qu’il n’aime pas et dont il aurait tout lieu d’être fier».

    • MRW
      February 21, 2010, 10:17 pm

      Which translated means: “It is essential for it [the Jewish community] to confront this part of its history it doesn’t like but for which it has every reason to be proud.”

  10. RoHa
    February 21, 2010, 9:21 pm

    “all groups have not rushed with equal force…”

    Wrong!

    The rule in English is that the negative goes before that which is to be negated. It is better logic, too.

    “not all groups have rushed…”

    Why is this so hard to learn?

  11. radii
    February 21, 2010, 11:55 pm

    what ever happened to “just the facts, ma’am” ???

    if it were blonde-haired, blue-eyed Swedes or dark black-skinned African Camaroonians who held the high-percentage of powerful positions within U.S. business, politics, finance, media, etc. it would be talked about openly – unless they had ubiquitous and powerful lobby groups that demonized such discussion and chilled it to almost nil

  12. VR
    February 22, 2010, 2:00 am

    Unless you are willing to go beneath the surface of the fact of elite groups, to how and why they are produced you will always be turned away by ethnic, religious, or racial references. Going to the heart of a system which started on the wrong foot, that deferred to the “responsible” classes, or those with means, as the controlling factor in a government system which proclaims it represents the “people” in all its deceptive glory.

    You stop short in addressing the issues because you have allowed them to be clogged with prejudicial innuendo. It has been reduced to “Wasps,” or “Jews,” or whatever as a defense mechanism. It is the very structure of the system which is in question, that we would allow a small moneyed elite to control us – whoever they are. So, when you realize this, and can address it in such a fashion it does not matter who the target is, because you oppose a corrupt system which is not what it has presented itself as being (of, for, and by the people).

    However, if you embrace this system, and see nothing wrong with it, except you do not like the “Jewish elites,” than you have a problem. To be frank, unless this site is willing to dig beneath the ethnic of religious surface of a group of elites, and address the system – you will and should be addressed as bigots. Now, I do not know how much plainer I can be – but if you are going to fall for the garbage of “the American way” – the god-like status of the founding fathers – the supposed inerrant nature of the founding documents – or that all we need are some “reform” adjustments, you will be doomed to the current system. Until you can dig deeper and address the real issues that face us, how we always end with these damnable elites and how this is endemic to the corrupt system, and are willing to address it and call for substantive change which essentially is revolutionary – you are stuck. Time to wake up and recognize what you are up against, because eventually this issue effects the immediate people of the host country, and they will be eaten alive without any remedy if what I am posting is not addressed –

    RECOGNIZE THE BEAST

    • MRW
      February 22, 2010, 2:34 am

      VR: “, that we would allow a small moneyed elite to control us – whoever they are”

      That’s it. Pure and simple.

      • Mooser
        February 22, 2010, 10:45 am

        Hey, in America everybody will be the small moneyed elite for 15 minutes, or so.
        With the time out for commercials and disclaimers it usually ends up being just over ten minutes.

        If you don’t like this hour’s small moneyed elite, just wait a few minutes and it’ll change.

    • Psychopathic god
      February 22, 2010, 2:07 pm

      but if you are going to fall for the garbage of “the American way” – the god-like status of the founding fathers – the supposed inerrant nature of the founding documents – or that all we need are some “reform” adjustments, you will be doomed to the current system.

      whoa there, Nellie.
      It may well be that “the very structure of the system” is corrupt, but your description of the foundation of that system — “garbage” … conceived by deified persons who wrote “inerrant” words, wildly misses the mark. You can’t get to a resolution if you do not properly and accurately analyze the problem [Accurate scholarship will unearth the whole offense…
      What is unique about America’s founding fathers is precisely that they are not god-like, they were ordinary men who took extraordinary risks with their OWN “lives, fortunes, and sacred honor.” They did not have the promise of protection of a psychopathic god who would embue their murderous acts with righteousness, as the fulfillment of a covenant.`
      Torah and the New Testament are claimed by some to be “inerrant;” the very character of America’s founding documents proclaims that it is malleable — the third great portion of the founding documents is comprised of amendments to the second portion. Jefferson advocated revolution to keep the system vital.

      There may indeed be systemic problems in the American system, but those problems are not resident in the founding fathers or in the founding documents.

      Hyperbole and inaccurate assay of the foundation vitiates your argument that the whole system as built on them, is corrupt.

      • VR
        February 22, 2010, 9:49 pm

        Than it is your duty to study the contents of the documents that you contest with me Psychopathic god, and the history of their formulation which is amply displayed and written down by the authors.

        “They did not have the promise of protection of a psychopathic god who would embue their murderous acts with righteousness, as the fulfillment of a covenant.” Than you need to study the origins and history of Manifest Destiny. `

        “…the very character of America’s founding documents proclaims that it is malleable — the third great portion of the founding documents is comprised of amendments to the second portion.”

        The acceptation of the amendments should be studied in the light of their original reception by the “America’s founding fathers is precisely that they are not god-like,” who rejected the amendments to the man. I think they were called the Bill of Rights, eh?

        “There may indeed be systemic problems in the American system, but those problems are not resident in the founding fathers or in the founding documents.” No, there are deep and abiding “problems” in the American System, and they were introduced by the “founding fathers.”

        “Hyperbole and inaccurate assay of the foundation vitiates your argument that the whole system as built on them, is corrupt.”

        I want to thank you for being a volunteer object lesson for what I posted, even though you did so unwillingly. Perhaps I should let someone else finish the discussion with you –

        AMERICA IS NOT A DEMOCRACY

  13. VR
    February 22, 2010, 2:27 am

    Some people don’t like the character of William S. Burroughs, but I have to tell you, he pinned the tale on the donkey, so to speak. It can be heard in the last phrase which encapsulates everything said in what is known as his Thanksgiving Prayer, of which the rest are mere enumerations –

    “THANKS FOR LAST AND GREATEST BETRAYAL, OF THE LAST AND GREATEST OF HUMAN DREAMS”

    If you refuse to come to similar conclusions, what ever the reason, because you think you “have something” or whatever, you will never approach a remedy to what you are posting.

Leave a Reply