bobos in paradise lost

David Brooks To Teach Next Generation Of Elites To Be ‘Humble,’ At Yale

David Brooks, serious typist for the TimesYes, by virtue of his New York Times column and his occasional PBS appearances, David Brooks has been qualified to teach something. And — get this — it is a class in HUMILITY. Which will be taught to the children of the 1% at Yale.  Everything about this begs to be made fun of.

According to the Yale course catalog, the class will examine the “premise that human beings are blessed with many talents but are also burdened by sinfulness, ignorance, and weakness.”

Sounds real specific, doesn’t it? We can’t tell if this is supposed to be anthropology or religious studies or philosophy or all three, not that David Brooks is qualified to teach anybody anything about any of those things. It is particularly funny given the “humility” that David Brooks exudes when discussing himself and others like him. From his book, Bobos in Paradise, as quoted (and explicated by) the Exiled:

“Bourgeois bohemians [BOBOs] are the new establishment….[and] I’m a member of this class, as, I suspect, are most readers of this book. We’re not so bad. All societies have elites, and our educated elite is a lot more enlightened than some of the older elites, which were based on blood or wealth or military valor. Wherever we educated elites settle, we make life more interesting, diverse, and edifying.”

[But] when he says that the Bobos make life more “diverse,” he isn’t talking about ethnic diversity, let alone intellectual diversity; he’s talking about diversity in styles of furniture or ethnic restaurants:

“The educated class has conquered all and hegemonized its Bobo culture…. Now the Babbitt lion can mingle with the beatnik lamb at a Pottery Barn, a Smith & Hawken, a Museum Shop, a Restoration Hardware, a Nature Company, a Starbucks, or any of the other zeitgeist-heavy institutions that cater to educated affluents. Today the culture war is over, at least in the realm of the affluent. The centuries-old conflict has been reconciled. “

NAILED IT! Rich people can buy things from all kinds of different chain restaurants and furniture and cookery outlets now. They share a sacred bond by virtue of doing so, and resolve some sort of centuries old conflict. This makes life more “edifying” for everyone involved, from the lowly sales associate to the mighty CEO.

So basically, it’s cool that David Brooks and these other elites are so very superior to the rest of us, because they trickle down on us and make us all better. Anyway, does David Brooks KNOW he’s a joke? Answer: not exactly.

“The title of the Humility course is, obviously, intentionally designed to provoke smart ass jibes, but there’s actually a serious point behind it,” Brooks told New York Magazine. “People from Burke to Niebuhr, Augustine to Dorothy Day, Montaigne to MLK and Samuel Johnson to Daniel Kahneman have built philosophies around our cognitive, moral and personal limitations. The course is designed to look at these strategies as a guide for life and politics and everything else.”

Yes, David Brooks, but is the “PROFESSOR” designed to provoke smart ass jibes? And can all of us share in humility, or just the BOBOs, who are uniquely burdened with the pains of having great taste in interior decoration? And may we recommend that you follow up with a course called “Arrogance”?

Also the course  has “no regular final exam,” so if you are reading this and you are at Yale, it will probably be an easy A.

Apparently it IS easy to teach at a fancy school like Yale or Princeton, which is what we were saying yesterday, and we are now that much more vindicated.


About the author

Kris E. Benson writes about politics for Wonkette and is pursuing a doctorate in philosophy. This will come in handy for when they finally open that philosophy factory in the next town over. @Kris_E_Benson

View all articles by Kris E. Benson
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  1. snowpointsecret

    Sounds like one of those courses football players take when they redshirted and want to play an extra year. Odd that it's at Yale, though.

    1. BerkeleyBear

      Don't let anyone kid you, Elis take their D1AA football very seriously. Shocking how many not quite elite enough for D1A athletes get major "need based" financial aid packages in the Ivy Leagues.

      And generally speaking, the upper division at elite schools is rife with fairly easy courses if you know where to look – wouldn't do to flunk out someone who merited admission to such an amazing institution, don't you know.

  2. Lizzietish81

    I know how to teach the 1%ers humility.

    Make them spend a year living on food stamps, working minimum wage. Assuming they live, they will have learned the value of humility and how fucking good they have it.

    1. Barrelhse

      They might even allow others the dignity they deserve for just being here, trying to make it to the end.

    1. stefanbc

      My buddies at Brandeis who took Tommy Friedman's course came out hating him and everything that he stood for. So here's to hoping that Brooks pisses off an entire generation of Yalies into team hippy.

    1. malsperanza

      You're confusing Yale with that midwestern intellectual place, whatsitcalled, the Milton Friedman Institute of Unbridled Greed.

        1. malsperanza

          Also the Law School, home of various people named Posner and their charming law-and-econ chums. Someday maybe someone will give the College a $100 million endowment so it can lob snowballs with rocks in them at the Milton Friedman and Gary Becker Center for Insatiable Carnivorous Rapacity. Either way, Yale loses.

  3. snowpointsecret

    A man from North Carolina was on vacation in Boston and went to a bar. He met a local girl and asked "Do you go to Harvard?"

    She replied, "No, Yale."


    1. OneYieldRegular

      A young student from North Carolina stops a Harvard professor on campus and asks, "Hey, where's the library at?"

      The professor, dismayed, looks down his nose and replies, "Young man, this is Harvard University. At Harvard University we do not end sentences with a preposition."

      The young student responds, "Ok, then where's the library at, asshole?"

      (We could do this all day)

      1. noodlesalad

        At a basketball game between Yale and North Carolina, two fans went to the bathroom at the same time. After using the urinals, the Yalie headed for the sink, the Tar Heel for the door.

        "At Yale, they teach us to wash ourselves after using the restroom" said the first.

        "At UNC, they teach us not to piss on ourselves."

        (Or to hire David Brooks to teach humility)

    2. SigDeFlyinMonky

      Two men were sitting at a bar. The first says "So you're a Yale man." The second responds "Why yes, I am. Does it show?" "No. I read your class ring while you were picking your nose."

  4. Schmannnity

    Humility and David Brooks that does not involve a whip and branding iron applied to Brooks is not that interesting.

  5. FNMA

    Now, class, after you kick the hobo in the ribs, it's prideful to then piss on his face. Piss on his shoes as a demonstration of your humility.

    And when your employees ask for something outrageous, such as the day off for Christmas, always say, Thank you for asking, after you tell them to go fuck themselves.

    Shit. I could teach the fuck out of this motherfucker.

  6. coolhandnuke

    "Professor" Brooks giving the future Masters of the Universe lessons in Humility.
    More like Thurston Howell lecturing Gilligan on yacht maintenance.

  7. ManchuCandidate

    David Brooks is best qualified to be teaching "Baby Tawk" At Greendale Community College in large part because the school flag is a perfect symbol of what he is (Hint: it's anus.)

  8. BaldarTFlagass

    Little typo. The purpose of the class will not be to teach the students to know humility, but to teach them how to humiliate those lower on the ladder than they.

          1. Negropolis

            Yep, I think they are supposedly the only ther creatures on the globe beside ourselves that have sex for pleasure. In fact, sex is so rampant that it's often a greeting with them.

          2. BornInATrailer

            And they do everything. The chick bonobos lez it up. For crying out loud, the dudes sword fight. Sadly and hilariously, I think this is why there are relatively few nature shows on them (because it goes porno with such frequency and innovation). And I believe the bonobo got sequenced recently and they are our 2nd most closely related relative, right behind the common chimp. IIRC, they supposedly split off from the chimp after we did.

  9. Goonemeritus

    Shorter syllabus description –“you better start acting like less entitled assholes or poor folks are going to rise up and take your shit”

  10. SayItWithWookies

    “People from Burke to Niebuhr, Augustine to Dorothy Day, Montaigne to MLK and Samuel Johnson to Daniel Kahneman have built philosophies around our cognitive, moral and personal limitations. The course is designed to look at these strategies as a guide for life and politics and everything else.”

    Yeah Brooks — but the good philosophers try to build a philosophy that applies to everyone equally, including themselves. For some reason I get the impression the Yalies are gonna come away with the idea that humility is for everyone else.

  11. SorosBot

    Who will they hire next, W. Bush to teach military strategy and disaster response? Sarah Palin to teach English?

  12. SexySmurf

    Yale also announced they've hired Adam Lanza to teach a class in conflict resolution.

    What, too soon?

  13. Mumbletypeg

    Sorry David — I missed the part that instructs the privileged, culture-loving, transition-smoothing Generation Next how to create jerbs. Otherwise there will be *no* freakin adjoining population for y'all to 'diversify,' 'edify', nor for to pedantically "take an interest in"~

  14. SayItWithWookies

    And David Brooks thinks of himself as a bohemian?! Why — because he lives in a city and has at least one wall that's exposed brick? That would be like me calling myself a rancher because I have two cats.

    1. mrblifil

      No silly he calls himself a bohemian because as soon as the lights are off and the cameras put away he trolls the leather bars and receives deep prostrate massage until the wee wee hours of the morning (and I mean wee wee). Oh and also because he likes Puccini.

      Makes sense now right?

  15. noodlesalad

    Forsooth, genteel folk, Mnsr Brooks will merely be espousing the best way to communicate with the help without reverting to base Castillian Spanish or other such doggerel.

  16. Pat_Pending

    *snerk* *chortle* heh-heh…heh.

  17. FakaktaSouth

    What is wrong with people who get all the way to college before they realize they need to not act like they are better than everyone, so now they need a class on how to fake-like they aren't gigantic assholes? This is the most humble brag bunch of bullshit I have ever seen. Fuck all these people.

  18. edgydrifter

    For instance, when you're showing off the tan line under your wristwatch from your three-week stay at your vacation home in Saint Kitts to the cube drones back at HQ, don't mention that the watch cost more than their annual salaries. Humility, people!

  19. OneYieldRegular

    Can a David Brooks anthology of pithy literary and philosophical passages entitled "Humility" and modeled after William Bennett's "The Book of Virtues" be far behind?

  20. An_Outhouse

    Rule #1: When they raise your yacht parking fee, don't turn off your Christmas lights. Just set up a deal where the rubes can get a quick tour of the boat for twenty bucks a pop. Use the proceeds for the rent.

  21. NorthStarSpanx

    Adrian Cronauer: I can't even make fun of Richard Nixon, and there's a man who's screaming out to be made fun of.

  22. Hammiepants

    Wow, and here I thought college was for like, learning shit, rather than being told how not to act like an asshole. My bad.

  23. actor212

    “People from Burke to Niebuhr, Augustine to Dorothy Day, Montaigne to MLK and Samuel Johnson to Daniel Kahneman have built philosophies around our cognitive, moral and personal limitations. The course is designed to look at these strategies as a guide for life and politics and everything else.”

    What? No Jesus?

    Damned liberal…

  24. Tommmcatt_Again

    He's uniquely qualified to teach such a course. I've read some of the crap he's written and it's got to be humiliating to have your name attached to that shit.

  25. slithytoves

    Oh Christ, this is like every fucking "Special Topics" course that gets passed through curriculum committees. No quality control whatsoever. Good to know it's the same at Yale.

  26. Doktor Zoom

    The course evaluations will be great: "Class would have been far more effective if instructor had reached out to moderates by adopting positions identical to my own"

  27. seppdecker

    First lesson in humility – recognize that the education industry is no more of a meritocracy than the publishing or recording industries, or even government. If Yale had a Home Ec. class, Palin would be teaching it.

  28. randcoolcatdaddy

    Yale is blessed with many things but is also burdened by political hacks posing as faculty members.

  29. Estproph

    Man, if this doesn't prove the old adage "Those who can, do; those who can't, teach" I don't know what does.

  30. mrblifil

    Wears owlish glasses. Ties never optional. Blazer hemmed just so. Subjugates all primal urges except the desire for foods high in starch. Always prompt for cocktail hour.

    ——— A+++

    Professor Bobo

  31. joeyblau

    I can't fucking believe it.

    why God? why!!??? I was okay when you killed my mother.. ditto with the girlfriend.. I was ok you forced me to use Windows 8, and that I only have a 36" TV… and killing all those kids was a dick move.. but but..

    this!!!???? why?

  32. sullivanst

    To be fair to David the Serious Clown, if there's one group of people on this planet that might actually be able to learn anything about humility from him, it may just be found among the student body at Yale.

  33. jello_mold

    The kids are learning how to fake act like they care, ok. Why do they care about acting like they care? What do they get out of it? They only hang with other douchebags like themselves. What's the point since in truth, their pretty little necks will never be in danger.

  34. valthemus

    Is this one of those classes where the big celebrity professor never shows up and a hapless TA grades all the papers? I have to think that would be preferable to spending even two hours a week stuck in a room with David Brooks.

  35. Wile E. Quixote

    And to think that this tragedy of these innocent students being exposed to David Brooks could have been avoided if only George Zimmerman had been standing at the gates of Yale, and if Brooks were wearing a hoodie, carrying a bottle of iced tea and a bag of Skittles and was looking all blah and shifty.

  36. docterry6973

    When I was at Penn State many moons ago I took a number of classes that have enriched my life for the past 40 years. I don't think this would have been one of them.

  37. Troglodeity

    David Brooks is the perfect professor for a class on Humility. "He is a humble man, but then he has much to be humble about." – Winston Churchill

  38. chascates

    He'll have to write a book on his experiences, like William F. Buckley's God and Upper White Class People at Yale.

  39. ttommyunger

    BOBO? I would say the Hon. Mister Brooks is more of a PENJO (Privileged Elitist Nebbish Jerk-Off).

    1. GeneralLerong

      Thanks! Better than a shot o' bourbon.

      Or…hmmm…better with a shot o' bourbon. And a splash of bitters. And some ginger ale. Forget the ice, it just takes up valuable space.

      Hey! He's offering a fabulous prize! [stands aside as the smarter and wittier stampede past on their way to Matt's blog]

      Meanwhile, back at the bourbon…

  40. TribecaMike

    I hope this doesn't mean he'll be cancelling his annual performance as Nestor The Long-Eared Christmas Donkey at Radio City Music Hall. It's a beloved Christmastime family tradition!

  41. Negropolis

    According to the Yale course catalog, the class will examine the “premise that human beings are blessed with many talents but are also burdened by sinfulness, ignorance, and weakness.”

    Oh, so this is a course at Yale Divinity School.

  42. Trinket

    Okay, I thought for a minute there this class was going to bring back the idea of noblesse oblige. Silly me.

  43. jethrotoll

    Apparently being a good writer will not a pre-requisite for the course:

    "So I am planning to vote for George W. Bush because he is a nice guy. As a nice guy he will attract and retain the loyalty of outstanding administration officials, and together they will promote policies that are smarter and bolder than we ever would expect, just from looking at Bush himself. As a nice man, he will prove remarkably adept at working with Congress, with Democrats, with the media and with all the other different people you need to handle as president."

    David Brooks, c. 2000

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