Two Facts

[Content Note: Discussion of harassment and threats.]

1. David Brooks is still being employed by the New York Times to write a garbage column.

2. David Brooks's latest garbage column is as insulting to his readers as it is embarrassing for him, confirming as it does how wildly out of touch he is with human beings who are not undilutedly privileged straight white cis men.

Entitled "How to Engage with a Fanatic," Brooks gives us this hot advice:
[T]he more I think about it, the more I agree with the argument Yale Law professor Stephen L. Carter made in his 1998 book "Civility." The only way to confront fanaticism is with love, he said. Ask the fanatics genuine questions. Paraphrase what they say so they know they've been heard. Show some ultimate care for their destiny and soul even if you detest the words that come out of their mouths.

You engage fanaticism with love, first, for your own sake. If you succumb to the natural temptation to greet this anger with your own anger, you'll just spend your days consumed by bitterness and revenge. You'll be a worse person in all ways.

If, on the other hand, you fight your natural fight instinct, your natural tendency to use the rhetoric of silencing, and instead regard this person as one who is, in his twisted way, bringing you gifts, then you'll defeat a dark passion and replace it with a better passion. You'll teach the world something about you by the way you listen. You may even learn something; a person doesn't have to be right to teach you some of the ways you are wrong.

Second, you greet a fanatic with compassionate listening as a way to offer an unearned gift to the fanatic himself. These days, most fanatics are not Nietzschean supermen. They are lonely and sad, their fanaticism emerging from wounded pride, a feeling of not being seen.

If you make these people feel heard, maybe in some small way you'll address the emotional bile that is at the root of their political posture.
Spoken like a man who doesn't routinely receive missives in his inbox from "fanatics" telling him that he should raped and murdered, and who hasn't even begun to reckon with the fact that our biggest problems isn't "fanatics," but resurgent Nazis.

The "fanatics" I deal with email me photos of bullets onto which they've photoshopped my name and publicly post offers of a reward for proof of my rape and/or murder and say things like "Too bad that terrible rapist didnt kill your fat ass. Cunt."

David Brooks thinks it would make me a better person if I responded to those people with "love." That I should respond with compassion and a willingness to learn how I'm wrong, presumably about how I have the right to exist in this life without being repeatedly subjected to threats of harm and actual physical violence.

Hard pass.

To extend "love" to fanatics is a luxury only of those who aren't in imminent danger at the hands of those fanatics. And conceding they have a point just to make them "feel heard," for the benefit of your own self-image, puts the rest of us at risk.

Surely David Brooks can find a better way to fluff his own ego than at the cost of our safety.

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