Saturday, April 4, 2015

Gail Collins David Brooks

In his NY Times column on Friday, about the start of Passover, David Brooks, commenting on a key episode of the story, observes that: "The normal version of this episode is that God parts the Dead Sea, the Israelites cross, the Egyptians are engulfed and then the Israelites sing in celebration."

Actually, that's a highly abnormal version. In the normal version, it's the Red Sea that God parts. How, I wonder, did that error get by the fact checkers and copy editors? True, the Times after a bulk of readers from the five boroughs called in, commenting and complaining, dutifully printed a correction. But how did David Brooks, what with all his deep thoughts about Passover, get that elementary element wrong?

Gail Collins often dialogues in The Times with Brooks. How can she bear it? He's really not up to her level. Maybe she'll pull out a map of the Middle East during their next go-around and point out relevant bodies of water. "Here's the Dead Sea, David, this the Sea of Galilee. That, that, David — are you with me? — is the Red Sea. And for extra credit, here's the Mediterranean."

Gail Collins is funny, smart and informative. (In my view, the best that can be said of David Brooks is that he isn't always awful. Yeah, he loved the war in Iraq, the endless wars in Afghanistan. He never says he's sorry about wars. He's that kind of Republican. But he's not like a lot of other kinds of Republicans. And he does read a lot. I like that. But when he regurgitates his reading, can I trust results, any more than I can his reading of Exodus?)

Back to Gail Collins: I thought the column she published today — "And Now, Political Virgins" — was sharp and scary. Her wit neither disguises nor muffles the frightfulness of this, for example:

On Tuesday in Texas, the House of Representatives voted to take $3 million earmarked for prevention of H.I.V. and other sexually transmitted diseases, and spend it instead on abstinence-only sex education. It was a fascinating moment — particularly when the sponsor of the motion, a Republican named Stuart Spitzer, told the House that he had been a virgin until he got married at age 29.

“What’s good for me is good for a lot of people,” he said.

She writes apropos bans on abortions sweeping through the states, that while gay marriage is increasingly recognized, even by Republicans, at least younger ones:

The nation is becoming more rational about gay sex and more irrational about heterosexual sex. Who would have thought?

That's paradoxical and worth contemplating.

Sometimes I don't read Gail Collins fully. Oh, she's about being funny, and I want something serious. But she's funny and serious.

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