Daniel Larison is rapidly becoming my favourite conservative and today he takes on a former favourite, Davids Brooks.
Brooks’ column today is about The White Messiah
This is the oft-repeated story about a manly young adventurer who goes into the wilderness in search of thrills and profit. But, once there, he meets the native people and finds that they are noble and spiritual and pure. And so he emerges as their Messiah, leading them on a righteous crusade against his own rotten civilization.
Larison, as always, goes ever so gently for the throat:
Brooks is right when he says the story teaches that, “Natives can either have their history shaped by cruel imperialists or benevolent ones, but either way, they are going to be supporting actors in our journey to self-admiration.” What he fails to do is connect this to the urges of our own liberal imperialists and humanitarian interventionists, who are constantly warning against leaving other nations to their own devices and who are frequently complaining about our boundless benevolence that is repaid with contempt or indifference. He might consult his colleague Thomas Friedman on this point, since Friedman seems to think that most Muslims worldwide are “holding our coats” while we do all the heavy lifting on their behalf and that Afghanistan can be likened to a “special needs baby” that we as a country have just adopted. Muslims do tend to be reduced to supporting actors in Friedman’s own journey of self-importance.
One of the commenters at Eunomia used the delightful phrase
the neocons’ inexplicable War Against Avatar