A David Brooks op-ed published in the New York Times on Tuesday morning has Twitter users hamming it up.
The piece, titled “How We Are Ruining America,” is Brooks’ account of how upper-middle-class Americans have a step up in society. His initial discussion of residential zoning restrictions and the college admissions process being limiting to those who are not wealthy or privileged is somewhat sound. The absurdity emerges when Brooks shifts his focus to the “informal social barriers” that are “segregat[ing] the lower 80 percent.”
Brooks blames barre classes, podcasts, David Foster Wallace, and ― most bizarrely ― intersectionality as what’s dividing America. He also uses a truly alarming anecdote about taking his high school-educated friend to a sandwich shop:
Recently I took a friend with only a high school degree to lunch. Insensitively, I led her into a gourmet sandwich shop. Suddenly I saw her face freeze up as she was confronted with sandwiches named “Padrino” and “Pomodoro” and ingredients like soppressata, capicollo and a striata baguette. I quickly asked her if she wanted to go somewhere else and she anxiously nodded yes and we ate Mexican.
Obviously, this is an absurd reference point. Yes, not everyone knows what capicollo (pork) or soppressata (salami) is ― which is completely fine ― but that has absolutely nothing to do with education level or “upper-middle-class culture.” (For example: I’m an Italian-American woman from Long Island and I would know what those meats are without even a high school degree.)
The piece, especially that paragraph, is dripping in condescension. And his thesis that barre classes and meat sandwiches are what’s “ruining” the country doesn’t hold water in Donald Trump’s America.
On that note, we’re starving and need to go get some capicollo.