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David Brooks : Fanatics And Fanaticism

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Fanatics and fanaticism have been written about and covered in many different ways by many different sources, but the one question they fail to adequately answer is “How do you deal with a fanatic?” In David Brook’s article “How to Engage a Fanatic” he covers this exact topic. This article was written during a turbulent time period, and Brooks takes advantage of that. He mentions Brexit, the Catalan independence movement, and dealing with extremism on college campuses. Brooks cites his personal experience as well as Stephen L. Carter’s book Civility as evidence towards his argument. He surmises that we cannot avoid fanaticism, as it is too prevalent given our current time, and that we must find a way to approach it. The core of Brook’s…show more content…
Brooks then continues by playing “devil’s advocate”, bringing up the opposing side’s views to showcase why his views are correct. Brooks cites Benjamin DeMott’s 1996 essay for the Nation, saying “when you are arguing with a thug, there are things much more important than civility.” This strategy cleverly combines pathos and ethos by presenting an emotional connection, then immediately undercutting it with evidence from a more relevant or trustworthy source. This can be seen when Brooks then brings up Yale Law professor Stephen L. Carter and his book Civility. Brooks uses Carter’s book as the ethos to argue that it is not through violence or force that fanatics will be stopped, but rather through love and understanding. It may sound cliché, but he explains it well, stating “If you succumb to the natural temptation to greet this anger with your own anger, you’ll just spend your days consumed by bitterness and revenge.” (Brooks, 2017) He includes this to establish a new precedent for combatting fanaticism. His logos builds on itself as he makes claims like “You’ll teach the world something about you…their fanaticism [emerges] from wounded pride, a feeling of not being seen” (Brooks, 2017) Carter’s book works well with Brook’s previous pattern of pathos as well, bringing in further reinforcement to Brook’s argument. The interconnectedness of Brook’s argument not only gives it strength, it allows the reader to make more sense of it. As each piece has another to reference
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