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David Brooks Flies to Europe to Bash Cosmopolitanism

David Brooks, self-hating cosmopolitan, could visit Disneyland and report back that it goes to show that small town virtues are alive.

In the latest installment of his ongoing series on the worthlessness of left-wing cosmopolitanism, the NYT columnist reports today that ”In Europe, the fans are much younger” than in the U.S. In Madrid, they went nuts for Bruce Springsteen. But how could it be that a bunch of Spaniards are screaming themselves hoarse for “Born in the USA”?  Madré de Dios! Perhaps it might have something to do with the fact that youth unemployment in Spain is more than 50 percent, and that Springsteen consistently sides with people who live on the wrong side of the tracks, and that he delivers almost four hours a night of nonstop intensity and a power of empathy, solidarity, and universality? But read on. Brooks’s punchline is that the fans of old Europe are cheering madly for Springsteen’s rootedness, for “the tremendous power of particularity.”

Why didn’t I think of that? That’s why fans everywhere cheer to Springsteen’s famous anthem “Born on the Upper East Side,” and his famous protest against high taxes, “41 Percent,” his especially particularistic “Stolen Benz,” and his traditional show-stopper, “Bankers like us, baby, we were born to invest.”

“Don’t try to be citizens of some artificial globalized community,” Brooks cautions aspiring rockers. “Go deeper into your own tradition.” Be careful what you wish for, Mr. Brooks. One of these days, an Italian stadium might resound with the strains of “Avanti populo.”

I leave the penultimate word to commenter Daniel 12 of Washington, DC, who on the Times site has Brooks’s number:

This piece by Brooks is absurdity incarnate. What it amounts to saying is that an artist such as Springsteen–who was a synthesis between styles such as country, R&B, blues, jazz and Spanish,–sum total of course being “rock n roll”–must be interpreted politically as a defense of conservative principles because Springsteen did not add to his already eclectic mix Eastern European music or Mongolian or some other type of music. In other words, interpret an artist as being conservative because he did not do everything.

Brooks has delivered a brilliant parody of the sort of cultural-studies riff that a certain conservative columnist used to savage as a marker of the decadence of the overeducated classes.

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