Tuesday, March 09, 2004

A Walk in the Ocean of Most Souls...

...will scarcely wet the bottoms of your feet." ...from National Lampoon's The Deteriorata

To whatever extent that sentiment applies to people in general, it certainly applies to New York Times editorial contributor, gasbag, and intellectual lightweight, David Brooks. In today's NYT we are treated to several paragraphs of Mr. Brooks opinions about religion and cultural narcissism. For example:

"Our general problem is not that we're too dogmatic. Our more common problems come from the other end of the continuum. Americans in the 21st century are more likely to be divorced from any sense of a creedal order, ignorant of the moral traditions that have come down to us through the ages and detached from the sense that we all owe obligations to a higher authority."

I am not sure what the New York Times considers as minimum qualifications to be an editorial contributor, but I have to believe that a good general education, including history, philosophy, and comparative religion is not included. The paragraph above demonstrates a stunning lack of understanding of the past 1000 years of human history. Worse, it reveals just how dangerous a poorly educated (apparently), right-wing ideologue can be. I am not sure how Mr. Brooks wants to define his 'higher authority' and I am terrified at the thought of who gets to translate for this 'higher authority'. I wonder which "creedal order" Mr. Brooks is thinking of. Is it the Creed that led to the Holy Inquisition (which by the way still exists in the Vatican under a different name)? Does he hope for the "moral traditions" that led to centuries of burning old women at the stake?

David Brooks suffers from the same blindness that every blowhard moralist does--the unshakeable conviction that his faith informs him "truthfully". I, for one, insist that there be no higher authority than common human decency informed by simple human compassion and reason. And in case David Brooks does not know, the Mullahs of Islam have long standing "moral tradition" and have a passionate sense of "obligation to a higher authority". And not a few of them come to the unshakeable conclusion that that obligation includes the murder of infidels. So if Mr. Brooks and the Islamic jihadists wish to find a neutral corner and fight it out--"my higher authority is right and yours is wrong"--so be it. But no such notion should be part of the law of my land.

Mr. Brooks--you are wrong, dead wrong. Our general problem is that we are indeed, too dogmatic. MUCH too dogmatic. Whether that dogma informs us to hate gays or buy SUVs or support blowhard, intellectual lightweight conservatives--we are too dogmatic. After all, doing what you're told is so much easier than thinking!

The New York Times' famous slogan "All the News that Fit to Print" should not include the blather of ill-informed, non-thinking, sheep.

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