Saturday, December 31, 2005

David Brooks: Prince of Airheads

Talking with Roger last night about the WDC furor over the movie Munich, which neither of us have seen. One issue is that it is not a documentary; Spielberg has changed much about the political progression of events, even adding some fabricated material, apparently to make the story more dramatic and easier to follow, I guess. So you get the whole art/life/mimesis crowd howling and screeching about that. Which is largely a tedious discussion.

But then! Apparently there is a conservative position and a liberal position on the film. David Brooks wrote a column in the New York Times not long ago accusing Spielberg of failing to understand what true evil really is, accusing him of Moral Ambiguity when it comes to evil. The Israelis, in Brooks' eyes, are combating absolute evil and have the right to kill at will. Not to do so would be Morally Ambiguous. There can be no crisis of conscience when you are battling Grendel, er, absolute evil. I guess then that John Gardener is surely rotting in hell.

Is it too boring to point out the apparent (word of the day) depthlessness of Republican hypocrisy? There is evil, and then there is absolute evil. If you're battling absolute evil (gee, I hope there's a guidebook so I can look that genus and various species up), then you put on your Beowulf helmet and go to work severing limbs and cutting throats, and at the end of the day, blood-spattered, you drink a flask of mead with your buds and go over the highlights.

However, if you're battling over varieties of evil--the banal sort, say, where the health insurance industry feels that it's OK for disabled kids to go without communication devices, or wheelchairs, or medications, or various prosthetic devices, that's it's OK to write a policy that denies such things, that 'medical necessity' is simply a matter of how your policy is written, not a matter of ethics or anything--well, then, I suppose it's OK to be Morally Ambiguous about that. Gosh, those health insurance industry folks have to put bread on the table--how are they going to feed their kids without demolishing the life of somebody else's kid? Gee, you have to look at all sides of this issue.

And, gosh, we can only help so many poor people. You've got to select the DESERVING poor.

I could say a number of insulting things about David Brooks, and use a lot of bad language. That would be boring. In the coming year, though, I'd just like to see David Brooks have to endure some significant deprivation or have to endure some minor species of evil. Then I might be able to empathize with Beowulf's morally vacuous cousin.

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