Second Nature

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David Brooks can't seem to decide whether terrorists are overcoming human nature or giving in to it. In his September 7 New York Times column, he says terrorism is "about experiencing the total freedom of barbarism–freedom even from human nature, which says, Love children, and Love life." In the next paragraph, he says we don't want to face the truth about terrorism because "we don't want to acknowledge those parts of human nature that were on display" in the Beslan massacre.

To recap: It's human nature to love children, and it's human nature to murder them. Unlike "too many people have become experts at averting their eyes," Brooks has the courage to express a strong preference for the first option.

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  1. All those people from up East:
    flip flop flip flop

  2. How does David Brooks still have a job? Anyone remember the last time he wrote something that was worth the ink it was printed with?

  3. Sure, they get mad when NAMBLA loves children and they get mad when terrorists kill them. Go figure.

  4. Respect my authori-tie!!!!!

  5. Actually, it’s human “nature” to love ones own children and to kill the children of others.

    Getting people to view all children as deserving of protection has been the work of centuries and is still not accomplished.

  6. Shannon Love,

    Its not even human nature to love one’s own children.

  7. gary that’s just plain wrong. Biology teaches us we are all products of our environment, too. Let’s just not forget that the other half of nature is nuture.

  8. Brooks is too smart for this partisan commentary business anyway.

    He seems attracted to this whole business of good vs. evil, where the USA is on the side of baseball, apple pie, and motherhood. He knows in the real world it’s alot more messy. I mean, on the one hand hundreds of thousands of dead Chechens over the past 50 years by the hands of Russians, and on the other, Chechens who will shoot Russian kids in the back. Who’s to root for? The enemy of my enemy?

    It’s time to return to realism, but Brooks still wants to see ideology win out.

  9. Human nature is to form herds and attack other herds. We tend to look favorably on our own herd members. We tend to hate other herd members. There’s no dichotomy there-just poor exposition by Brooks.

  10. I just read Brooks’ piece and quite frankly, I have no idea what he was trying to say. I think my rambling skills are pretty good, but I don’t get a by-line and a paycheck — is the NYT hiring?

  11. John-Paul-Jones: Only if you can write fiction.

  12. “Human nature is to form herds and attack other herds. We tend to look favorably on our own herd members. We tend to hate other herd members.”

    Go Broncos! Fuck the Chiefs!

  13. He has to write two columns a week. Give him a break.

    He could be cute, like Dowd, after all. There’s something to account for there, incidentally, speaking of human nature. I’m surprised Brooks overlooked it, namely Dowd’s displacement of nagging into a column. She’s actually courting the Bush’s. W is all men.

    I write dozens of comments a week, myself, and so most of them are worse than Brooks’s essay.

    And then too, Brooks only has to be better than Krugman. Look at the competition.

  14. can i say that human nature is far more complex than any one sentence summary — with the sole exception of this sentence?

  15. who cares which human natures terrorists follow? any one that tries to attack the us should be wiped out. period. dead. and then, if people so desire, they can hump the wheels of the carts used to haul off the corpses.

    THERE’S some human nature.

    (as long as you don’t molest the dead horses)

    go cubbies.

    drf

  16. fyodor,
    Yes, fuck the Chiefs.

    But also, fuck the Broncos.

    Go Raiders!

  17. “He could be cute, like Dowd…”

    Ugh, you haven’t seen her picture lately, have you?

  18. Doug Fletcher,
    I saw her recently on “Press the Meat” along with her colleague, Safire, and she looked shagadellic to me.
    Michael Douglas is so shallow choosing Catherine Zeta Jones.
    Maureen can come under my Sealtest Big Top and shell peanuts all she wants.

  19. Actually, it’s human “nature” to love ones own children and to kill the children of others

    Exactly. Brooks didn’t phrase it clearly, though.

  20. Margaret MEad, I think, once said that every civilization in history had the law “Thou shalt not kill another human being,” but for most of history “human being” was defined as “me, my family and the rest of the guys in my tribe.” Everyone else was fair game. Apparently, it takes both education and effort to expand the definition of “human” beyond these boundaries. That’s why you could have KKK lynch mobs or concentration-camp guards who would commit atrocities all day and then go hoe and be wonderful, loving fathers and husbands. That’s also how you get modern terrorist groups who will set up charities to distribute food and health care and other needed forms of charity at home, and then go out and plot to kill people of a different religion. (Or Americans who weep over the innocent WTC deaths and then turn around and say, “Let’s turn the whole Middle East into a glass parking lot.”)

  21. But, the impulse toward the adoration of children in general is natural too. Perhaps it serves a perpetuation of our species function. Perhaps it’s an extension of the impulse to love ones own children.

    Have you ever stood in line at a grocery store behind the kid that howls bloody murder for ten minutes because mommy wouldn’t buy him/her a candy?

  22. “who cares which human natures terrorists follow? any one that tries to attack the us should be wiped out. period. dead. and then, if people so desire, they can hump the wheels of the carts used to haul off the corpses.

    THERE’S some human nature.”

    Well, exactly! Unfortunately the terrorists are saying exactly the same thing about dealing with us…

  23. Thanks to DRF for proving my point.

    And since no Chiefs fans have spoken up: Fuck the Broncos and Fuck the Raiders.(Yeah, I’m human too. And I’ll be rooting for my herd all season.)

  24. Ron Hardin, are you not aware Brooks seems to be Safire’s successor? Maybe that pressure has him all atwitter.

  25. But, the impulse toward the adoration of children in general is natural too. Perhaps it serves a perpetuation of our species function. Perhaps it’s an extension of the impulse to love ones own children.

    Terrorists throughout history have been seeking to accomplish a political agenda. Terrorism is a way that the weak fight.

    Go Broncos! Crush the Chiefs Sunday night!!

    Wouldn’t be cool if we didn’t always have to be vigilant against the government screwing everything up and the most contentious thing we had to worry about was football?

  26. The meds, Ruthless, the meds. Am I going to have to tell you this every week?

  27. My psych teacher once said, “God made babies cute so that their parents wouldn’t kill them.”

    And I have to stick with the herd on this one and say Go Chiefs!

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