David Brooks, a NY Times columnist, Right-Wing ideologue, and irrepressible apologist for big corporations and America’s plutocratic 1%, in an opinion reflecting on the shooting tragedy in Tucson, Az., called Obama’s speech “wonderful”, in part because “He didn’t try to explain the rampage that occurred there.” (As an inflamer of intolerance, prejudice, and hatred, Brooks must have taken great solace in that.) Brooks then goes on to reflect (among other things) on “civility.” “Speeches about civility,” he writes, “will be taken to heart most by those people whose good character renders them unnecessary. Meanwhile, those who are inclined to intellectual thuggery and partisan one-sidedness will temporarily resolve to do better but then slip back to old habits the next time their pride feels threatened…Civility,” he goes on to say, “is a tree with deep roots,” which are “failure, sin, weakness, and ignorance.” (His thesis, by the way, which he then goes on to propound, is totally unconvincing, if not absurd.) He ends his opinion piece with a quote from the famous Protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, in which Niebuhr reflects, “Therefore we are saved by the final form of love, which is forgiveness.”
What is amazing about Brooks’ fantastic piece of sophistry, equaling some of the sophistry that Socrates and Plato also had to deal with, is that Brooks is really criticizing those politicians and citizens who disagree with his extremist Right-Wing rhetoric (when he refers to “intellectual thuggery and partisan one-sidedness”) which has so polarized our nation, and which has led, if only indirectly, to fanning the nihilism of a deluded and mentally unstable young man. (Let us also remember: mentally unstable people, of which our nation has its fair share, are never moved to social acts of self-giving love and forgiveness but to acts of violence either against themselves or against others—acts encouraged by ignorance, intolerance, and hate speech, not to mention our sinfully easy access to dangerous weapons.)
Brooks himself, however, takes no personal responsibility for our present climate of intolerance, hatred, and violence. Instead, he tries to cover his sins, and by implication Palin’s, with high-sounding phrases and biblical language while pointing his finger at others, and incredibly, even concluding his remarks by talking about love and forgiveness! It is a virtuoso performance of supreme narcissism, self-righteousness, indifference to human suffering, culpable blindness, and unrepentant sinfulness. His only recommendation for healing the political divide—or starting the process—(and this unmasks his real motives!) is to have a bipartisan “comprehensive tax reform” as a way “to get people [of different political parties] conversing again.” His real agenda is thus unmasked at last: more tax cuts for the wealthy 1% who already own 42.7% of America! Evidently even this incredibly high percentage is not yet sufficient for Brooks and the plutocrats ruling America. They don’t want the majority of the wealth of America—they want all of it!
Krugman, of the NY Times, rightly says that, Obama’s beautiful speech notwithstanding, our politics are and will remain polarized. He is right. And he is right for a reason Brooks (ironically) mentions: sin. It is the pervasive sin of the Right Wingers that has permeated our nation and is now destroying it. The Right-Wing, quite simply, in the most profound biblical sense, is unrepentantly sinful—it worships mammon and not God; it treats the powerless and the poor with outright contempt, forgetting (or ignoring) what Christ says, “What you do unto the least of these you do unto me.”; and ignores blithely Christ’s call to “love and to serve one another,” instead caring only about themselves and their rich friends. So when Brooks mentions “sin,” he isn’t really talking about sin in its biblical sense. For Brooks, “sinners” are all those who disagree with his anti-democratic, plutocratic, and pro-Big Corporation politics.
This is what is so dangerous about the Right Wing: they are morally and spiritually blind and corrupt, blithely and self-righteously subverting every great principle of the Bible, and are implacably anti-Christian. Of course, they pretend to be moral and biblical, as when Brooks facilely quotes a great Protestant theologian, without however ever having understood a single word that he is quoting.
For those who love America’s founding ideals, have deep faith, and selflessly desire to transform our divided and diseased nation into a healthy nation of caring and tolerant individuals, with opportunity for all, knowing all this is brings no consolation, for our nation before our very eyes is self-destructing, with more craziness and violence sure to follow. Being powerless in the face of such pervasive evil now gripping our nation (the theme in the rise and fall of nations), one can only address these issues spiritually. What remains for those who do care about biblical morality, about love of neighbor and about caring for every citizen, are the words—and the warning— of Christ: the axe is now laid to the roots of the tree; and those trees which do not bear good fruit (that is, those who oppose God’s law of selfless love and the caring and helping of others) will be cut down and thrown into unquenchable fire. This, after all is said and done, is the final lesson, and judgment, of history. God will judge us by our acts of love—and condemn those who work merely selfishly. And that is as it should be.
Len Sive Jr.