There will always be moral fervor on campus. Right now that moral fervor is structured by those who seek the innocent purity of the vulnerable victim. Another and more mature moral fervor would be structured by the classic ideal of the worldly philosopher, by the desire to confront not hide from what you fear, but to engage the complexity of the world, and to know that sometimes the way to wisdom involves hurt feelings, tolerating difference and facing hard truths.
–David Brooks, NYTimes, 6/1/2015
Clearly, Brooks has inherited the mantle of national thought leader. Few deal with conflicting ideas as easily, nor make sense out of policy and ethics as Brooks. What’s most predictable about Brooks is that he’ll be writing about nagging personal, social and political issues–and he has his finger on the most important issues. What’s least predictable is the position he’ll take on them. Both my conservative and liberal friends read him, agreeing and disagreeing about his columns. But that’s the sign of a great writer.
I don’t assume most of my readers are significantly familiar with Brooks, so here are some of the relevant trivia about him. Brooks grew up liberal and became conservative as a result of writing for William F. Buckley. Asked about his role at the New York Times, he recently commented that it was like being “chief rabbi of Mecca.” That says it all. His columns are in the op-ed of the Times on Tuesday and Friday and you can download his stuff without a subscription to the Times.