Monday, January 12, 2004

A "moderate", "reasoned" and "thoughtful" email letter sent to Gail Collins, editorial page editor at the NY Times 

Dawkins writes:
Dear Ms. Collins,

Please, no more David Brooks!

Enough disingenuous rubbish.

Rather than supply "balance" to the Times' Op-Ed page, he's merely imported the Weekly Standard's editorial agenda wholesale, polluting what was once the print media's best forum for intellectual exchange.

Put it this way: I'm no fan of William Safire, but at least he honestly foregrounds his point of view. He may be a bit off-kilter, but his zealous sincerity lends his work a certain degree of integrity.

Not only are Brooks' rhetorical tactics execrable (did you happen to read today's "The Era of Distortion"?; I learned from reading it that I'm an Anti-Semite for believing that Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle hold some influence over U.S. foreign policy), but he seeks so cynically to conceal his soulless agenda behind a specious mask of "moderation", "reason" and "thoughtfulness."

Brooks possesses none of these qualities.

I admit that I depend on the Times for its exemplary news reporting and comment. But as long as Brooks remains a fixture on the Op-Ed page, I owe it to my conscience to stop purchasing and reading the paper altogether.

Thanks for your concern and indulgence.


M. G. Dawkins
Brooklyn, New York

Dawkins follows this up with a letter to 'Babbling' Brooks himself:
Subj: right on today! (and a quick query)
Date: 1/6/04

Dear Mr. Brooks,

I love your work! You -- for me, and so many others -- are a voice of reason in a world of hype, cynicism and disingenuousness.

Your column today, "The Era of Distortion," was right on, but a few passages left me a little confused.

In discussing the word "neocon," you say that "con is short for 'conservative' and neo is short for 'Jewish.'" It seems to me that the point of your column is to decry Anti-Semitism, but in this passage, you appear to be appealing to that same ugly impulse when you label the neoconservatives Jews. Sadly, even in this day and age, using that label to describe someone is effectively a slander.

Why call the neoconservatives Jews? Are the neoconservatives themselves actually Jews? If so, how do you know this? Even if they are, I suppose that would clarify matters, but it still seems untoward to so publicly and bluntly tar them as such.

I'm sure you meant well, and I look forward to your continued trenchant commentary. In the meantime, as a loyal reader, I would greatly appreciate your care and attention in helping me to understand your point.

Sincerely, and best regards,

[A reader]
Staten Island, New York
[Editorial note: Dawkins doesn't really live in Staten Island. I think that is an example of his sarcasm.]

Brooks thoughtfully responds:
Subj: Note
Date: 1/6/04 10:45:05 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: dabrooks@nytimes.com

Dear friend,

Thanks very much for sending a response to my column, positive or negative. I'm afraid I can't respond to each message. My editors would wonder why I have no time to write for the paper.

But I do read every e-mail, and I frequently learn from them.

So, again, thanks,

David Brooks
Hopefully Brooks continues to 'learn' from his readers!


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