“The White Man’s Burden” was a poem by Kipling defending England’s imperial policies toward its colonies, particularly those consisting of people of color. That the poem is racist is unquestionable, so when David Brooks of the New York Times expressed the same attitude toward Egypt, one can draw one’s own conclusions:
“Right now, as Walter Russell Mead of Bard College put it, there are large populations across the Middle East who feel intense rage and comprehensive dissatisfaction with the status quo but who have no practical idea how to make things better…
It’s not that Egypt doesn’t have a recipe for a democratic transition. It seems to lack even the basic mental ingredients.” -David Brooks
Missing as always from such American imperial logic is the fact that we ourselves have destabilized Egypt for decades. Egyptian chaos is due in no small degree to our own ham handed interventions, but Brooks does not make that embarrassing fact a part of his narrative. Like Thomas Freidman, and the other apologists for the American empire, Brooks looks at the turmoil we have ourselves helped cause as further proof of the immaturity of the Egyptian people and as further justification for the necessity of more intervention.
“To know this is some hardcore bigotry, just imagine saying the same thing about another demographic subgroup. Imagine, for instance, if Brooks said cities with large minority populations in the United States were facing corruption problems and blight because those minorities “lack even the basic mental ingredients” for better governance. It would be universally — and rightly — denounced as wildly racist by everyone other than white supremacists.” –David Sirota, Salon
Our nation has a long sorry history of “rescuing” other nations, but we seldom seem to bomb or intercede militarily in times of European crisis. In the former exploited colonies that we call “the third world” our policy is not so timid. We stand ready to intercede, always with the premise that that such peoples are incapable of managing their own affairs. That such rhetoric seems racist may or may not say something about David Brooks, but that such imperialistic propaganda passes for mainstream journalism definitely says something about the rest of us.