Why Is Everyone Mocking David Brooks Today?

Solent News/Rex Shutterstock via ZUMA

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.

David Brooks writes today about ways the upper middle class dotes on its own children but denies working class children the same opportunities. He provides two examples: residential zoning restrictions and the “college admissions game.” Fine. But then he says that informal barriers might be even more important:

Recently I took a friend with only a high school degree to lunch. Insensitively, I led her into a gourmet sandwich shop. Suddenly I saw her face freeze up as she was confronted with sandwiches named “Padrino” and “Pomodoro” and ingredients like soppressata, capicollo and a striata baguette. I quickly asked her if she wanted to go somewhere else and she anxiously nodded yes and we ate Mexican.

….To feel at home in opportunity-rich areas, you’ve got to understand the right barre techniques, sport the right baby carrier, have the right podcast, food truck, tea, wine and Pilates tastes, not to mention possess the right attitudes about David Foster Wallace, child-rearing, gender norms and intersectionality.

This has come under enormous mockery from liberal Twitter. Can someone please tell me why? I can’t think of a single word in this excerpt that deserves it.

If I were to criticize Brooks’s column, it would be only on grounds of chestnutitude. This is city-mouse-country-mouse stuff, and it’s not only been a feature of every society ever in human history, it’s been the theme of widely-read tales for at least several millennia. Like, um, “The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse,” allegedly composed by Aesop around 600 BCE.¹ The problem it describes is neither especially American nor especially 21st century.

Still, there’s nothing wrong with pointing it out again. I’m not sure there’s much we can do about these kinds of informal barriers, but it’s surely worthwhile to at least acknowledge them every once in a while.

¹See also: The Prince and the Pauper, Trading Places, Pygmalion, The Quincunx, Poor Folk, Upstairs Downstairs, and thousands of others.

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate