NY Times David Brooks is remarkable: he takes one datum, combines it with a lot of supposition unsupported by any data, and winds up with crappy ersatz sociology. Take yesterday’s column “The New Red-Diaper Babies” where he extols the virtues of natalism (it’s not like we have a population growth crisis or anything). The natalists have “sacrificed pleasures like sophisticated movies, restaurant dining and foreign travel, let alone competitive careers and disposable income, for the sake of their parental calling.” In other words, they’re lower income families burdening the social infrastructure–oops, we’re only supposed to say that about black blue-staters.
The “natalists” try “find places that are congenial to natalist values.” This explains why people “on the Great Plains and in the Sothwest are much more fertile than people in New England or on the Pacific Coast.” Yep, they love having babies so much that they are much more likely to have them out of wedlock, and get divorced more often than the child-hating blue-staters.
Brooks then points out that the breeding states voted for Bush and the child-hating states voted for Kerry. True enough, but I’m waiting for the column that points out the homicide rate is much higher in states that voted for Bush too. Somehow I don’t think we’ll see that column anytime soon.
He then backtracks, after implicitly slandering the tax-paying, socially-responsible blue states, by writing, “Like most Americans, and maybe more so because they [the natalists] tend to marry earlier, they find themselves confronting the consequences of divorce.” Two points here: 1) maybe “natalism” isn’t such a great idea after all; 2) maybe he’s confusing an effect (large families to young parents) with a cause (early marriage leading to lower income families with limited education).
He adds, “Like most Americans, they wonder how we can be tolerant of diverse lifestyles while still preserving the family institutions that are under threat.” First, I think many Americans are far less concerned with threatened family institutions than with paying the mortage and making sure they have healthcare. Second, has it ever occurred to Brooks that one of the great threats to “family institutions” is the increasing influence corporations have over governance? Third, “family institutions” sounds an awful lot like code for “we hate queers too.”
Brooks concludes, “People who have enough kids for a basketball team are too busy to fight a culture war.” Unless of course, there are a lot of gays around, then we have to protect the children. Who exactly does Brooks think are the conservative shock troops in the culture war? Childless homosexual liberals? All those conservatives are just victims of packs of wild liberals, I guess. Brooks is suffering from massive denial: at some point, he is going to have to come to grips with the idea that Bush isn’t the reincarnation of Teddy Roosevelt, but is a culturally conservative fear-mongerer.
What a dope.
Update: Over at Tapped, there is a good piece about the “intellectual” who came up with the “natalist” idea. Turns out that he’s associated with racists and eugenics. Repeat after me: the real Republican base is racist, the real…