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In response to a fact-checking call, Brooks berated Issenberg for dishonesty.
“I can’t remember what, exactly, was on the menu that was so intimidating to my guest, but it never occurred to me that anything on that menu was weird,” he wrote.
column on the upper-middle class has been the butt of many jokes this week.
It’s a piece on social mobility that starts by acknowledging that upper-middle-class Americans support a number of policies, like zoning restrictions, that deepen inequality and that they spend their time and money in ways that do the same.
“The idea of intersectionality implies that we cannot understand the lives of poor White single mothers or gay Black men by examining only one dimension of their lives—class, gender, race, or sexuality,” sociologists Matthew Desmond and Mustafa Emirbayer wrote in a 2009 paper.
“Indeed, we must explore their lives in their full complexity, examining how these various dimensions come together and structure their existence.” Social justice warriors thus have no difficulty incorporating the discomfort working-class people feel in unfamiliar situations into their broader analyses of how society leaves them behind.
But Brooks has long demonstrated poor command of those signifiers and the overall cultural landscape.
In a 2004 piece for magazine, for instance, Sasha Issenberg masterfully debunked Brooks’ 2001 essay “One Nation, Slightly Divisible,” in which Brooks described stark cultural differences he had supposedly discovered exploring his own predominantly Democratic and upper-middle-class Montgomery County, Maryland, and the red, less affluent Franklin County, Pennsylvania.“Mind you, I was raised in a working-class cultural environment, but I’ve been out of it culturally for so long that I’ve lost the ability to perceive how trivial words and things like Dreher’s post also articulated a fascinating solution to the overall problem.“[P]eople like me, and most likely people like you,” he wrote, “need to become a lot more aware of the privileges that our cultural formation grants us.” What he and Brooks seem to implicitly call for is a kind of class-based political correctness: a sensitivity toward the ways subtle interactions or even mere words can alienate the underprivileged and a willingness to self-censor to avoid perpetrating small slights—slights we might as well call microaggressions—against working-class acquaintances.’s Jordan Weissmann, who argues that centering discussions about inequality around Americans in the top 20 percent of the income distribution misguidedly ignores the runaway gains in wealth that have accrued specifically to the top 1 percent of Americans.But the bulk of the criticism aimed at the column has been directed at Brooks’ analysis of the “informal social barriers” that he argues are actually more important than the structural and policy hurdles he and Recently I took a friend with only a high school degree to lunch.I quickly asked her if she wanted to go somewhere else and she anxiously nodded yes and we ate Mexican.