Thursday, September 8

Brain-Fart of the Year

David Brooks, the resident half-assed sophist at the New York Times editorial pages, sees a "silver lining" in the spectacle of bloated corpses rotting in the streets of New Orleans:

As a colleague of mine says, every crisis is an opportunity. And sure enough, Hurricane Katrina has given us an amazing chance to do something serious about urban poverty. That's because Katrina was a natural disaster that interrupted a social disaster. It separated tens of thousands of poor people from the run-down, isolated neighborhoods in which they were trapped. It disrupted the patterns that have led one generation to follow another into poverty. It has created as close to a blank slate as we get in human affairs, and given us a chance to rebuild a city that wasn't working. We need to be realistic about how much we can actually change human behavior, but it would be a double tragedy if we didn't take advantage of these unique circumstances to do something that could serve as a spur to antipoverty programs nationwide. That's because Katrina was a natural disaster that interrupted a social disaster. It separated tens of thousands of poor people from the run-down, isolated neighborhoods in which they were trapped. It disrupted the patterns that have led one generation to follow another into poverty. It has created as close to a blank slate as we get in human affairs, and given us a chance to rebuild a city that wasn't working. We need to be realistic about how much we can actually change human behavior, but it would be a double tragedy if we didn't take advantage of these unique circumstances to do something that could serve as a spur to antipoverty programs nationwide.

"Every crisis is an opportunity." God, what a horrible, horrible clich´┐Ż (and a garbled version of the popular notion that the Chinese language uses the same word for "crisis" and "opportunity")!

There was another fellow who thought that uprooting people from their social milieu was a fine opportunity to achieve some serious social reform. His name? Pol Freaking Pot.

Please go see the Brazilian film City of God, which dramatizes the social history of a master plan by Brazil's military dictatorship to forcibly resettle the poor in happy, salubrious surroundings, more closely integrated with the mainstream of society--i.e., readily available as domestic servants to the bourgeosie--just as Brooks dreams of doing.

Seriously, this is one of the weirdest instances of false consciousness chewing on its own ass that I've ever read in the Grey Lady: an avowed conservative aiming to transform the blasted landscape of the Big Easy into a classless utopia by massive government intervention into the operations of the free market in real estate:

For New Orleans, the key will be luring middle-class families into the rebuilt city, making it so attractive to them that they will move in, even knowing that their blocks will include a certain number of poor people.

Right. In other words, welcome to Brooklyn, Mr. I Work at 229 W 43rd St--or should we call you Dr. Pangloss?

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