Two Facts

1. David Brooks has written yet another garbage column for the New York Times [trigger warning for a graphic description of a surgical procedure], because they inexplicably continue to employ him for his peerless garbage column-writing services.

2. This column is THE WORST, even by Brooks' own deplorable standards.

Where do I begin recounting everything that is wrong with this column? It starts right at the headline (which Brooks may not have written himself): "A Case of Mental Courage." As opposed to what? Testicular courage? Liquid courage? Where else does courageousness reside, if not in the mind? What other kind of courage is there? But never mind that. Brooks isn't even talking about courage, anyway; his thesis is about character.

But we must read five paragraphs, spent recounting the gruesome details of an early nineteenth-century mastectomy performed without anesthesia, before Brooks gets to his point (such as it is):
Burney's struggle reminds one that character is not only moral, it is also mental. Heroism exists not only on the battlefield or in public but also inside the head, in the ability to face unpleasant thoughts.

Leaving aside discussion about the propriety of appropriating Fanny Burney's intimate recollections of her agonizing breast cancer surgery to launch into another one of his twaddling, pedestrian, insubstantial missives about how terrible it is that conservatives and liberals aren't as wise as middling milquetoast sages like himself, I can hardly conceive of any reference that could more conspicuously underscore the transparent banality of his jejune ruminations.

Fanny Burney: "I began a scream that lasted intermittingly during the whole time of the incision—& I almost marvel that it rings not in my ears still."

David Brooks: "She lived at a time when people were more conscious of the fallen nature of men and women. People were held to be inherently sinful, and to be a decent person one had to struggle against one's weakness. In the mental sphere, this meant conquering mental laziness with arduous and sometimes numbingly boring lessons."

Only a privileged wanker of the highest wankery would romanticize a woman's profound suffering in order that he might scold the hoi polloi about their "mental laziness."

While Brooks lounges around his ivory tower waxing nostalgic for the strong characters built by incomprehensible suffering, he is insulated from a painful reality: The very people he thinks would benefit from a little old-fashioned suffering are, in fact, suffering the very indignities he considers a long-lost educational tool. I know someone who is scheduled to get surgery on an injured wrist using only local anesthetic, because he is uninsured, and cannot afford the high cost of a general. It will be painful.

This, almost exactly 200 years after Burney's surgery, in a nation where we could provide everyone with healthcare, but choose not to.

Somehow, I don't take a lesson of "moral courage," or character, from that anecdote.

And lest anyone forget, for a brief moment, that Brooks is a man of undiluted privilege, he compares the lack of character he finds among the US population to being weak/disabled, and then to being fat:
[I]n general, the culture places less emphasis on the need to struggle against one's own mental feebleness. Today's culture is better in most ways, but in this way it is worse.

The ensuing mental flabbiness is most evident in politics.
He is a parody of wankers.

Brooks ends his garbage column thus:
To use a fancy word, there’s a metacognition deficit. Very few in public life habitually step back and think about the weakness in their own thinking and what they should do to compensate. ... Of the problems that afflict the country, this is the underlying one.
Insert your own joke here.

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