Yale Instructor David Brooks Says “Campus Crusaders” Are Moral Zealots, Anti-Free Speech (June 6, 2015)


In a post-9/11 world, self-styled “moderate” conservative andNew York Times Op-Ed columnist David Brooks has carved out a cottage industry conflating morality with anti-liberal politics. To be fair to Brooks, this has been a good business opportunity afforded by the “Do as I say, not as I do” public hypocrisy of the modern conservative movement and its 24/7 mouthpiece, Fox News.

An obvious example includes screaming ad nauseam about runaway deficits as the biggest threat to our nation in a craven effort to destroy the social safety net. Yet those deficit concerns suddenly vanish when old white men with itchy trigger fingers salivate over defense spending. Or how about the sanctity of life?

Nothing is more important than controlling a woman’s right to choose, because morality. Yet once the babies are born, those takers are on their own, especially if they’re brown. And the nearly 5,000 American soldiers who have died in Iraq, a conflict of choice predicated upon manufactured GOP intelligence? That’s not a waste of human life at all. No moral peccadillo whatsoever.

We’ve all become inured to the right’s insincere pearl clutching over “controversies” such as Benghazi, Obamacare and more while the middle and lower classes continue to lose socioeconomic stability. It’s hard to muster more than listlessness at the endless, disingenuous analysis of the moral failings of the suffering. Because if you’re rich, successful and healthy, it’s not because you’ve benefitted from a scale tipped in your favor according to the GOP. Nope. If you rise to the top of economic pile, it can only be because you’re more deserving. That’s how they pretend the system works, and if something is repeated often enough, it becomes conventional platform wisdom.

David Brooks never tires of trying to inculcate us unrestrained liberals with his party’s morality dogma. But this week, in a column entitled The Campus Crusaders, he takes the blame game a step further, arguing that today’s weak and infantilized college students result in idea-free academic zones. In a logical fallacy of impressive dimensions, the younger generation’s growing fatigue with the same old conservative conversations translates into:

“They are going after people for simply failing to show sufficient deference to and respect for the etiquette they hold dear. They sometimes conflate ideas with actions and regard controversial ideas as forms of violence.”

So conservative is the new liberal among today’s kids, is that right Brooks? Pupils intolerant of ignorance and backward-looking policies that make true opportunistic equality impossible are ethically bankrupt. And Brooks is qualified to make this judgment because he’s a Professor at Yale, thus often in proximity to students.

Let’s call this what it really is – pretensions to osmotic cultural anthropology couched in culture war sour grapes. And while we’re justifiably impugning Brooks’ snarky brand of faux academia, let’s also review some of the “sources” the longtime columnist leverages in constructing his argument.

On the Regnery Publishing website, the book is summarized as evaluating “a growing intolerance from the left side of the political spectrum [] threatening Americans’ ability to freely express beliefs without fear of retaliation.” You may be shocked (shocked!) to learn that Powers is a Fox New contributor.

Brooks misappropriates the March 21, 2015 work of his Timescolleague Judith Shulevitz to tie issue-based sensitivity around sexual assault and rape culture on college campuses to a liberal “form of zealotry.”

By linking to this website in a general way, rather than to a specific topic, Brooks appears to hope that readers will connect the site’s mission to “defend and sustain individual rights at America’s colleges and universities” with a conservative agenda. Brooks takes the lazy route to serving up specific examples of imperiled free speech in academia, and fails completely to correlate the content with liberal moral infirmity.

In the meat and potatoes of his column, David Brooks writes of today’s morally challenged student movement as one “led by students forced to live with the legacy of sexism, with the threat, and sometimes the experience, of sexual assault. It is led by students whose lives have been marred by racism and bigotry. It is led by people who want to secure equal rights for gays, lesbians and other historically marginalized groups.”

Here’s a thought I’d like to contribute to Brooks’ “idea-free” liberal debate. If the majority of today’s students refuse to create “safe space” for the continued subjugation of anyone not wealthy, white and male, perhaps the moral failing belongs to you and your fellow conservatives for expecting to be accommodated.  Many a belief and notion throughout history has been popularly shunted aside, not from moral corruption, but rather a modern inability to serve rational, progressive society.


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