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Heroic Columnist Saves Uneducated Friend From Embarrassing Meal at Sandwich Restaurant

David Brooks thinks gourmands are to blame for society’s ills

SiriusXM's Coverage of the Democratic National Convention Goes Gavel-to-Gavel On Thursday, July 28
David Brooks.
Photo by Donald Kravitz/Getty Images for SiriusXM

What is the cause of poverty and increasing class disparity in America? Is it stagnated wage growth? A financial system that caters to the wealthy? A dearth of quality, affordable education? No, according to David Brooks resident conservative columnist at the New York Times, gourmet foods are to blame. Brooks’s July 11 column, which comes with the eye roll-inducing headline “How We Are Ruining America,” contains this golden nugget:

The above paragraph is Brooks’s attempt to make the argument that highfalutin culture, particularly the exotic cuisines enjoyed by snobs across America, acts as a barrier between this country’s underprivileged citizens and opportunities to improve their lives. Brooks views the class struggle as a My Fair Lady situation: If only these poor rubes knew how to interact with high-society types and read the menus at fancy restaurants, good jobs, high salaries, and affordable housing would be theirs for the taking. Alas, they are unfamiliar with Italian cured meats and would rather dine at Taco Bell, so the king-makers and job-creators will continue to spit at them.

Obviously, Brooks has it backwards here. There are many factors that contribute to a perpetual cycle of struggle, and simply blaming overeducated, over-cultured elitists distracts from actual issues. Brooks, an influencer with his byline in the Times, radio appearances on NPR, and television spots on the Sunday morning shows, is only enforcing that distraction.

At least Brooks’s wrong-headed opinions mean good times for jokesters on the internet.

Mr. Brooks, enjoying good food is not to blame for this nation’s ills. Individuals from across the socioeconomic spectrum take pleasure in dining on trendy dishes from in-vogue chefs and restaurants, and wealth and education do not guarantee a refined palate. Maintaining a society that offers opportunity to all is a bit more difficult than eliminating the divide between fast food and a nice sandwich.

How We Are Ruining America [NYT]