The “high school dropout” smear on Edward Snowden has been disgusting, but no one is more gruesomely self-worshiping and arrogant with the meme than David Brooks. According to Brooks, government schools run by the Department of Education are not extensions of the Federal Bureausaur in Washington DC (which, coincidentally, is the object of Brooks’ own lifetime mancrush). On the contrary, such tax-fed brainwashing centers are “mediating institutions.” The fact that Snowden dropped out is thus treated as proof of an anti-social individualism.
Brooks is not stupid enough to believe what he is saying. He is lying. He knows that federalized public schools are not “mediating institutions” in society but rather usurpations of those institutions. Without going to high school or college Edward Snowden was able to pull down somewhere between $120,000 and $200,000 per year as a twenty-something. There are debates about the amount of his yearly income, but even the lower end is well above twice as much as I have ever made with my graduate degree. He is not only a patriot hero but living proof that our government is over-selling the need for higher education to become a self-supporting adult.
“Booz Allen and the C.I.A. took a high-school dropout and offered him positions with lavish salaries. He is violating the honor codes of all those who enabled him to rise.” A government contractor took a politically unconnected young man and offered him that salary out of charity? That is insane. They paid him because he was, without going through any of what Brooks considers mandatory education, a real asset that they wanted to utilize. That’s why people pay other people money for work in the real world.
Brooks, of course, doesn’t care about real mediating institutions. Those are supposed to be community organizations that stand between the individual and the state. But anyone can read about the history of such institutions in America and elsewhere and see that they were not always mandatory. They left room for eccentrics and geniuses. They were forces in society but not everyone was required to be part of them. If Brooks cared about real mediating institutions he would be loudly attacking Republicans and Democrats who are supporting the homicidal Jihadist murderers called the Free Syrian Army. Instead, Brooks supports them himself. Tell the piled corpses of Christians, as terrorists burn down their churches, that David Brooks cares about their mediating institutions.
Brooks just wants conformity. He is Delores Umbridge attacking the character of the Weasley twins because they’ve decided they don’t need to graduate in order to make a living for themselves. His moralizing is perverse. He speaks of “damage” that Snowden “has done to social arrangements and the invisible bonds that hold them together.” Snowden hasn’t damaged the “invisible bonds” of society. Those were violated by Bush and Obama and replaced by totalitarian diktats. Do you really think the NSA operating in secret according to a secret interpretation of the Patriot Act counts as a “social arrangement”? It is a strange social arrangement when you are guilty of treason for acknowledging it.
I have no doubt that Brooks knows better. But he just wants to serve his statist idol. The truth or falsity of his rhetoric is of no concern to him as long as he helps destroy anyone who blasphemes his god.