These folks took David Brooks aboard
their space ship and convinced him he
was really visiting New York. New
Yorkers woke up feeling strangely
David Brooks, who I think spends too much time propping his head up in front of television cameras and wagging his jaw, has just reported on the state of things in New York. His verdict, “The city has never been better.”
Uh David, are you sure you are writing about New York City, USA, Planet Earth? Sounds to me like the science fiction City of NuuuNuuuNuu Yorxxx, on the Planet Mars. I’m tempted to go line by line, but that would lead to the longest blog post I’ve ever written. So let’s just take, a few highlights of your piece.
“There has never been a time when there were so many interesting places to visit, shop and eat….”
Really, David? Y’mean, all those little neighborhood mom-and-pop stores, the hardware stores, and knitting stores, the kosher delis, the appetizing places, the Polish ,and Hungarian, and Chinese hole-in-the-wall restaurants that served affordable eats to people who inevitably lived around the corner, the toy stores and the paint stores and the …well, you get the idea. Do you mean to tell me David, that those were less interesting than the ubiquitous storefronts of three banking chains, three supermarket chains, and sixty zillion manicure parlors – more and more the only enterprises that can afford the increasingly oppressive commercial rents?
“Our global enemies are not exactly impressive. We have the Islamic State, a bunch of barbarians riding around in pickup trucks, and President Vladimir Putin of Russia, a lone thug sitting atop a failing regime. These folks thrive only because of the failed states and vacuums around them.”
Well, David, I don’t care whether the cause of terrorism is a vacuum or a vacuum cleaner. I don’t find the ability to destroy the World Trade Center and take 3,000 lives with the winged equivalent of a bomb “not exactly impressive.” Unfortunately, 9-11 has left an indelible impression on almost everyone I know.
I imagine the loss was even more indelible for those who lost loved ones. Moreover, the fact that its perpetrators are bunch of barbarians is exactly what makes life unpleasant for other New Yorkers and me, whether I’m noticing what appears to be an abandoned package on the subway, or trying to board an airplane.
As for Valdimir Putin, tell me please how we can force him out of the Ukraine without risking a nuclear World War III.
"Of course there are the problems of inequality and poverty that we all know about…
Right. More homeless people sleeping on the streets than ever before in New York and probably in America. Inadequate housing for middle and low-income people. The few pathetic attempts at “affordable housing” literally shame their occupants with “poor doors.” But let’s brush off all that David, because it doesn’t conform to your thesis. Where’s Charles Dickens now that we need him?
“We’re seeing a decline in civil wars and warfare generally.”
David, David, David! Are you writing for the same New York Times I’m reading? The one with stories about what’s going on and has gone in recently in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Crimea, Ukraine. Not to mention wars that don’t make the Times front page very often, in as many as 15 other African nations? Did I mention the hawks in the Senate, including Lindsey Graham and John (“Bomb, bomb, bomb bomb Iran”) McCain who keep pumping for war, war and more war, with just about any one, at any price? While we're at it, have I mentioned Ebola?
“We don’t suffer from an abuse of power so much as a nonuse of power. It’s been years since a major piece of legislation was passed, and there’s little prospect that one will be passed in the next year or two.”
How right you are, David. One little matter, though. The “nonuse” of power is an abusive act of power itself. It is being committed by those in power in the House and Senate, a claque of obstructionists on the right.They would bring America to its economic knees and inflict immeasurable human misery on their fellow citizens rather than allow legislation out of committee and abandon their insane Ayn Randian notions of how things ought to be. Inaction doesn’t just happen. And it can be a political act of violence.
Okay, David, I’ve said enough. I do think that you and your cousin Pollyanna ought to call up Dr. Pangloss and ask that he reduce the dosage of those pills he’s prescribing for you. Meanwhile, rejoice that you and I are not among the Americans sleeping in cardboard boxes or in a car, or searching fruitlessly for a job, or wondering where the next meal – or the next lone wolf bomber– is coming from.