A number of people I know despise David Brooks's writing; I don't, and for every column of his I think is absurd, there's usually another I agree with on some level or even admire. Still, this paragraph in a column today struck me as a pretty bad misuse of history and literature:
Athens — think of Achilles — stands for the competitive virtues: strength, toughness, prowess, righteous indignation, the capacity to smite your foes and win eternal fame. Jerusalem — think of Moses or Jesus — stands for the cooperative virtues: humility, love, faithfulness, grace, mercy, forgiveness, answering a harsh word with a gentle response.Achilles, prince of the Myrmidons of Thessaly, had no connection with Athens whatsoever. Moses, famously, never saw Jerusalem. You can argue that Brooks is engaging in cultural metonymy here. But it would be a bit like calling Rob Roy a famous Englishman, or "Detroit—think of Saul Bellow," or "New York—think of Lincoln, of Louis Armstrong, of Toni Morrison—stands for" X virtue.