Monday, December 21, 2009

Tom Friedman, museum exhibit

Glenn Greenwald

This might be one of the most self-contradictory episodes in the annals of American punditry:

Tom Friedman, The New York Times, yesterday:

A corrosive mind-set has taken hold since 9/11. It says that Arabs and Muslims are only objects, never responsible for anything in their world, and we are the only subjects, responsible for everything that happens in their world. We infantilize them.

Tom Friedman, over and over and over, for the last two weeks, on Afghanistan:

I feel like we're like an unemployed couple who just went out and decided to adopt a special needs baby.

The person who has spent weeks depicting Afghanistan as a "special needs baby" is now lecturing us about the "corrosive mind-set" of "infantilizing" Muslims.  And the person who is now inveighing against seeing ourselves as "subjects" and Muslims as "objects" was one of the most vocal cheerleaders for the attack on Iraq on the ground that our invasion would "put Iraq on a more progressive path and stimulate some real change in an Arab world."

The "point" of Friedman's column yesterday is to call for a "civil war" in the Muslim world.  Calling for wars is what Tom Friedman does most frequently.  Today's not one of those days when I'm willing to wallow in the muck of his "argument," but Daniel Larison's superb response makes that unnecessary.  Suffice to say:  if I had to identify one fact that would illustrate for historians the rot and destructiveness of American political and media culture in this era, I would point to the fact that the trite, sociopathic, and grotesquely muddled mind of Tom Friedman is widely considered by political and media elites to be deeply Serious, profound and oozing great wisdom.

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