May 13, 2009

"This is how we know he is not a a New Yorker or a Jew."

David Brooks said that about Senator Jeff Sessions, "who puts on a plain old boy front but is deep down extremely sophisticated and intelligent." (Sessions is important because he's now the ranking Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and there are hearings on a new Supreme Court nominee coming up.)

So what is Brooks saying about New Yorkers and Jews?
In the long history of my people, there has never been one who was willing to appear less smart than he or she really is. We tend to go the other way.
(Why "tend to" if there has "never been one"?) That's some serious stereotyping, but presumably Brooks thinks it's perfectly fine, because he's got "my people" immunity.

ADDED: The double "a" — "a a New Yorker" — is in the original NYT text.

AND: Hey, Brooks, did you know The 3 Stooges were Jewish?

68 comments:

mcg said...

Why "tend to" if there has "never been one"?Because there is a third option: to appear just as smart as he or she really is.

Richard Fagin said...

Mr. Brooks really needs to get out a bit more. He presumes that Jews everywhere have the same behavioral traits as those in New York. Many Houston and Dallas Jews would be quite familiar and comfortable with Sen. Sessions' personality.

One doesn't last too long selling oilfield equipment when acting what I presume Mr. Brooks means is as a New York Jew.

sean said...

What Brooks says is, incidentally, not true: I've met plenty of Jewish businessmen here in New York who affect the "just a working class boy without much education" shtick. Probably it is true, though, that no Jewish reporters dumb themselves down.

AllenS said...

I won't comment until Cedarford posts, explaining the whole thing. The Senate Jewdiciary Committee?

New York said...

Brooks' comment was totally gratuitous.

Perhaps he thought that making the "New Yorker" remark by itself wouldn't allow him to say "we" - since he isn't a New York liberal.

So he tossed in a Jew remark - and ended up sounding really nasty for no good reason.

Aaron said...

Well, its triple stereotyping, both of the Senator, New Yorkers, and Jews.

Self-hate is not as bad as just plain hate, but it is still bad. Stereotypes are wrong even if you are self-stereotyping.

Of course there is such a thing as culture, but "always" and "never," when talking about human beings, is almost always wrong, and most of the exceptions are tautologies (i.e. all Jews believe in God is true because their religion defines the as a group--it is tautologically true).

And it was such a gratuitous point. He could have just said, "he comes off as simple, but is in fact sophisticated," but instead had to gratuitously drag in the jewish/new yorker thing. Bluntly even being overly aware of your ethnicity is a bad thing.

And i will second Sean's point about how many new york jews do exactly that shtick. So his stereotype isn't even a reflection of a unitary culture.

The truth is that brooks probably only goes in circles that i refer to as the "insecurely intelligent." These are people who are pretty smart, but are obsessed with proving they are smarter than they actually are. And bluntly, they are found in every culture across america.

traditionalguy said...

I read Brooks as contrasting Sessions' social skill at talking like an Alabama Senator to keep Alabama voters happy, with a New York raised Jew's social skill at talking like Education is the highest value on earth. They are both highly educated, but in Alabama showing your great education can be seen as talking down to folks. Brooks is just commenting on the style of southerners to his New York friend. That difference applies across the board whether the southerner is a Republican or a Democrat.

Pogo said...

"...insecurely intelligent."

That's good.

The main problem with the 'not a New Yorker or a Jew' comment is it diverts attention from his conclusion about Sessions onto a tired cliché, i.e. himself.

John Althouse Cohen said...

Why "tend to" if there has "never been one"?

They usually exaggerate their smartness, and the rest of the time they're exactly accurate about their smartness. (Not saying I believe this, but it's the only way to make sense of what Brooks is saying.)

Jason (the commenter) said...

In the long history of my people, there has never been one who was willing to appear less smart than he or she really is.

Even if there was money in it?

rhhardin said...

It's Brooks making a self-deprecating remark about himself.

The taking-offense reaction would surprise him. I'd suggest the etymological defense, that cliche and stereotype are the same printing machine part, and his accusers are using cliches, so where to they come off.

Bob Sacamano said...

Translation: This is how we upper-west siders talk about perople we perceive to be rednecks.

ricpic said...

More interesting than Brooks' Jew comment is the last two sentences he writes: "Finally, I bet he (Obama) picks someone you like and I can live with -- someone on the more liberal end of things but also very reasonable and smart. I also suspect that nearly every Republican will then vote against her."

Yup, those neanderthal Republicans can always be counted on to vote against "reasonable and smart." And get the automatic assumption that Zero will nominate a "her."

EnigmatiCore said...

"In the long history of my people, there has never been one who was willing to appear less smart than he or she really is. "

Adam Sandler?

Jason (the commenter) said...

We tend to go the other way.

Isn't he trying to be self-deprecating here? I think we are being too hard on him. He's met Sessions, he's trying to convey his feelings about him and he's using stereotypes to do it succinctly. (He also uses the phrase "sly Southerner".) Maybe he doesn't do it well, but he's already admitted to trying to sound smarter than he really is; maybe that's what it takes to get in the New York Times.

Dale said...

is this a good time to quote Vladimir Horowitz, arguably the greatest pianist of the 29th Century?

"There are 3 kinds of pianists: Jewish pianists, homosexual pianists, and bad pianists."

Dale said...

Also, the greatest pianist of the 20th century.

He's planning a comeback.

Arturius said...

I was more taken aback by his insistence that the nominee be a she rather than a he because of the preponderance of females graduating law schools. I'm not a lawyer myself and don't really follow Supreme Court nominations but I wasn't aware the makeup of the court had to be representative of any specific gender. I would have thought legal scholarship and experience carried more weight.

rhhardin said...

I would have thought legal scholarship and experience carried more weight.

Soap opera carries more weight.

Can a woman be happy on the Supreme Court? Soap opera's eternal question.

The news demographic audience keeps the idea alive.

ricpic said...

How much you wanna bet Zero nominates Sotomayor? She's the perfect lefty foot soldier to ram through his God damn those American white males agenda.

TMink said...

"who puts on a plain old boy front but is deep down extremely sophisticated and intelligent."

No, Sessions talks just like the smart people born and bred in Alabama talk. It is only regional prejudice that assumes all intelligent people speak with a certain accent.

Southern Jews often talk like Sessions. They are Southerners.

A wise man once said "I talk funny, I don't think funny."
Trey

John said...

"who puts on a plain old boy front but is deep down extremely sophisticated and intelligent."

As if plain old boys can never be sophisticated or intelligent. Fuck you David Brooks. It is assclowns like Brooks that are killing the conservative movement.

Der Hahn said...

Bob Sacamano and TMink are dead-on.

Brooks put in the New Yorker/Jewish slam to distract from his blatant caricature of Southerners.

Bissage said...

This is how we know he is not a a New Yorker or a Jew.

People shouldn't be too hard on David Brooks.

His remark is how we know he's still embarrassed he let a folksy Southerner sweet-talk him into buying a chest freezer and a year’s supply of pork products.

AJ Lynch said...

Didn't Brooks recently admit he was fooled into thinking Obama and his team were all brilliant?

Maybe Brooks should borrow the Althouse BS detector once in a while.

Kirk Parker said...

Dale,

"He's planning a comeback."

Wow, new horizons in decrepitude. I think I'll skip the concert!

Arturius said...

As if plain old boys can never be sophisticated or intelligent. .

As my grandfather used to say, 'country don't mean dumb.'

William said...

As a reporter Brooks had to spend unhealthy stretches of time in Schumer's company. It was very traumatic, but he should try to get past it.

rhhardin said...

Country dumb is a dumb that doesn't see insults.

City dumb is a dumb that sees insults everywhere.

AES said...

He certainly demonstrated he is one Jew who has no fear of appearing a putz.

The Horowitz is different-- he was raised in world and time where Jewish boys with musical talent in Eastern Europe and the United States were steered into classical music like East German girls into gymanstics. His comment has the tang of the insider-- a little rue and self-recognition, true and untrue at the same time.

To borrow the phrase from Ice Cube, Brooks' doesn't get a ghetto pass for this one. It's not inside enough to sharp and not funny-- it's a non-Jews stereotype of a Jew.

AJ Lynch said...

I am always a bit surprised when a liberal openly voices his prejudice toward Southerners and whites in rural America. But it happens so often, I don't know why it surprises me anymore.

Jen said...

Since I'm the newbie, I've been instructed to wait for Cedarford to comment on this one.

AJ Lynch said...

Jen is a quick study.

Aaron said...

AJ Lynch

On a similar note, when i first started a law job in northern virgina about a year and a half ago, i remember how one of the assistants noted my "nice southern accent."

I said, "only in the legal profession is a southern accent in a southern state even noticable."

She was amused.

But while one might suspect that brooks was equating sounding southern with sounding dumb, I am not 100% sure he thought that way, so Brooks gets the benefit of the doubt on that.

But in response to several commenters, no, i don't give him a pass for being self-depreciating.

It makes me think of a movie called "Down to Earth" starring Chris Rock as a dead comedian who ends up possessing the body of a rich old white guy. At one point he goes to a comedy club and tries to do his character's usual shtick. So he is telling jokes like "when white people die, they leave a will; when black people die, they leave a bill." Well, needless to say, coming from a fat, old rich white guy, that went over like a lead balloon. And I think the point of that scene was to say that these "white people do this, black people do this" type of jokes are really racist, and shouldn't be told, not even by black people.

Stereotypes are stereotypes, and in some ways it is worse when the stereotyped group peddles them, because that gives the people who hate them licence to say the same thing. So an anti-semite wanting to make a negative point on jews can cite "one of them" to do so.

Bissage said...

FIRST YOKEL: Ah done just cum home from ah-visiting the big city.

SECOND YOKEL: Did yah seen any ah them there Jooos?

FIRST YOKEL: Ah shore did. But ah didn’t buy me none cuz I been wearing bare feet for years and they suits me just fine.

BUCK OWENS: Heh, heh, heh, heh. And now . . . here’s Roy Clark. [looks to the right.]

Hoosier Daddy said...

I am always a bit surprised when a liberal openly voices his prejudice toward Southerners and whites in rural America. .

I'm not. It's been an accepted form of bigotry for the better part of two decades at least. It's right up there with mocking and insulting Christianity in the name of art and free speech and denouncing criticism of Islam as cultural insensitivity.

Joe said...

Go with the obvious; Brooks is talking about himself. He's an arrogant blowhard who really thinks he's more brilliant than other people. He's an elitist in the same was as George Will (though not as smart, and George Will isn't that smart.) I've yet to determine if Brooks actually believes in anything but his own ego.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Since I'm the newbie, I've been instructed to wait for Cedarford to comment on this one..

Boy are you in for a treat ;-)

Actually Cedar contributes from pretty interesting stuff from time to time but when it inevitably drifts on the Jews, you can just almost hear the Horst Wessel in the background.

Just slightly, like hearing the ocean in a seashell.

madawaskan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Methadras said...

"Jen said...

Since I'm the newbie, I've been instructed to wait for Cedarford to comment on this one."

It's always about the jews.

Jen said...

Hoosier Daddy:

"you can just almost hear the Horst Wessel in the background.

Just slightly, like hearing the ocean in a seashell."

ROFL
Thanks! I sooo needed that today.

Hoosier Daddy said...

ROFL
Thanks! I sooo needed that today.
.

I live to serve ;-)

Cedarford said...

I'd let Brooks comment stand as a fairly true cultural observation. This is the guy that arose out of the pack on his ability to make some sense of America's disparate cultures of Bobos. And he has written before about the rest of America's negative to irked reaction to NYC and how Jews are linked to it. How critique of NYC people in Virginia, Wisconsin, nearby PA, hispanics in LA..."arrogant, pushy, money-loving Wall Streeters with no ethics, NYC media, the Sulzburgers and the NYTimes, think they are smarter than they are, litigious, power-thirsty, how few NYC people joined the military after 9/11, HQ for the ACLU" - is de facto widespread critique of Jews by people in America using NYC as the fig leaf.

Overseas, Israel, despised in 189 of 191 countries, serves as the stalking horse.

The latest flap there is people from the UK to Russia to the Philippines rounding on "the Israelis" for having the gall to demand the visiting Pope grovel and beg forgiveness from the Israelis for the Holocaust. People overseas pointing out that Israel and it's Jews have never apologized for Jew's role in the great Communist democides, the slaughter of 90% of the Orthodox church, provoking the rise of fascism by 15 years of Red Terror and bloody revolution following WWI. Or intransigience after stealing the homes and property of 70,000 Palestinian Christians as well as 620,000 Muslims.

In the UK, the view from the Left and the Conservatives on the critique of the Pope - to accept Jewish blame on Catholics - is that it is Jews simply angling for new "reparations" money from a new source.

And back to America, if you are a small influential group that seeks fundamental change in American society and structures - mostly by using litigation and inside influence to bypass the Democratic process - your greatest asset is claiming an immunity amulet from all criticism. On who is pulling the strings at various Front Groups seeking to transform America to a post-Christian, and post communist society.

Palladian said...

Yay! Right on cue!

Jason (the commenter) said...

So Cedarford is just like Palladian, except he talks about Jews instead of liberals?

OldGrouchy said...

Why few apologies to T York, and some of my former co-workers, Brooks must be the exception that proved the rule! Used to put down Na Yorkers till WTC I; changed my attitude pretty darn quick then; exceptions for Brooks and Schumer!

Palladian said...

"So Cedarford is just like Palladian, except he talks about Jews instead of liberals?"

Oh I see! You're now equating a political ideology with a racial identity? Tell me, what else is on the list of forbidden-to-criticize topics, honey?

And I'm a better writer than Cedarford, slick.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Palladian : Oh I see! You're now equating a political ideology with a racial identity?

I'm sorry if you misunderstood and I'm probably being too hard on Cedarford (sorry!). It's just that yesterday you were insinuating Cedarford was like Hitler and I was expecting some really vial stuff to come out of his mouth. Maybe calling Jews parasites or saying they were secretly trying to destroy the country; like the Nazis did in their propaganda films. And I didn't see that. Of course I did see you say "Here's one of those stupid, needy parasites now!" on another thread today. You also talk a lot about how liberals are trying to destroy the country from within.

Tell me, what else is on the list of forbidden-to-criticize topics, honey?

I think people should be able to say and do pretty much whatever they want. I also believe I have a right to criticize them for it. Are you so sure you're right that you wont allow criticism?

I know there are lots of intelligent people here, including you Palladian, and I don't mind at all if any of them want to question something I've said. Sometimes I learn something and even though I may feel stupid in the short term, I'm better off in the long term (thanks guys!).

And I'm a better writer than Cedarford

Maybe, but I don't think I'd buy either of your books.

I did notice that you are more emotional than Cedarford, which is odd because you've criticized me for being emotional in the past. But with the kind of emotions you have I can understand why you may not trust them.

Palladian said...

"But with the kind of emotions you have I can understand why you may not trust them."

You assume that my writing is reflective of my actual emotions. It's writing, dear. It's not me.

Palladian said...

Jew lawyering. Sometimes, unlike you, Cedarford removes the dark sunglasses.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Palladian : You assume that my writing is reflective of my actual emotions.

You assume the same thing about Cedarford; about many people I've seen you have impassioned arguments with. If you wont drink the wisdom you spout, why should anyone else?

It's writing, dear. It's not me.

So everything you've written as the "character Palladian" is a lie? How can anyone respect what you say if that's the case? You're basically recanting every word you've ever said here.

I hope no one else reads this because I know a lot of the people on this blog respect you and might feel betrayed.

Sometimes, unlike you, Cedarford removes the dark sunglasses.

Other people's bad behavior does not excuse your own. How can you say you are a Conservative and not believe that? And that barb would land better if your icon was a face instead of a building. I mean, seriously, like I don't say what I mean. You're the one who's hiding.

--Knock Knock--

"Can Palladian come out and play?"

"No, I do not want to play with this cardboard cut-out of a building again!"

"Someone call Child protective Services!"

Palladian said...

I tire of you, Jason. You leave me alone and I'll leave you alone, eh?

Jason (the commenter) said...

Palladian : I tire of you, Jason. You leave me alone and I'll leave you alone, eh?

So you're leaving Althouse's blog because one person is criticizing you? That's too bad. But feel free to come back as "Palladian" or any of your other characters. I'll be here to respond when you say something I find interesting.

Palladian said...

"So you're leaving Althouse's blog because one person is criticizing you?"

What? No, I just asked if we could agree to mutually leave each other alone. This is why I find it tiresome to engage with you: you misinterpret things erratically and strangely and it's unrewarding to respond.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Really, because sometimes I'll criticize you for something and you'll go away for awhile and then come back having changed what I was critical of.

Jason (the commenter) said...

I don't care if you don't like me, or think I'm not smart enough to even converse with. I noticed all the "dears" and "honeys" you use when talking to me. You're trying to make me mad. You think that emotions make you weak; well sometimes emotions make you strong. And I think what I say does reach you even though you wont admit it. Even though you pretend to be "not real".

You have puppies on you're flickr page! You're all mushy inside!

:P

Palladian said...

"Really, because sometimes I'll criticize you for something and you'll go away for awhile and then come back having changed what I was critical of."

You're a cuckoo!

Jason (the commenter) said...

Puppies!

Jason (the commenter) said...

LOL, this was fun.

srfwotb said...

Schmoozing often takes the form of dumbing yourself down.

Jason (the commenter) said...

srfwotb, That's a gem, I'm so glad I follow you!

srfwotb said...

:-)

traditionalguy said...

Just for the record there are no Jewish problems in New York City or anywhere else. The Jewish people are always the best and the most helpful people you can know or do business with. They suffer some from being on the defensive for over 1900 years of persecution from societies under the Catholic Church's influence. Now with the help of friends in American society since 1945, the Israel State has given Jews a safe place the size of Delaware. The remaining Nazi spirit is again awakening and pushing for their de-humanization and murder in Israel itself, but first it has to destroy their support from American friends. So we see a renewed propaganda campaign to make Americans fear and hate the Jews spreading like a metastasizing cancer today. Their Blame the Jews mantra is only banal and evil ignorance, but it is dangerous when not spoken up against.

hdhouse said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
hdhouse said...

ahhh yet another conservative stalwart dons the blindfold and ear plugs and puts his foot where no one dare treads...

the ability of the conservative voice to self distruct without need should never be underestimated.

hdhouse said...

Dale said...
Also, the greatest pianist of the 20th century.

He's planning a comeback."

He died last century Dale. His comeback will be this century...however you were probably correct with your first comment...as conservatives are mired pretty deep in the 19th century

Ralph said...

My mother said her grandfather played the dumb hick southern lawyer when he worked in NYC about 100 years ago. He made a lot of money but lost it in the Depression, and everything he owned was auctioned off after he died.

Ralph said...

Uh, hd, last century was the 20th century. Dale mistyped it as 29th century, or his joke doesn't make sense.