Somewhat noted around Netrootsia is Tom Friendman's mea sorta culpa, "9/11 Is Over." Me, I'd have called it, "9/11 Is So Over," but the Who Is IOZ? style guide is looser of tongue and wrist than the Times. Of interest to our soi-disant antiwar liberals is this passage:
9/11 has made us stupid.To this observation, the ever-forgiving Jim Henley avers that it "has also made us cowardly and mean," before writing far kinder things about Friendman than the modern Hecataeus deserves. To Friedman cruelly and Henley kindly, I challenge: Whaddaya mean made us, boys?
Tom Friedman, you may recall, was stupid long before AD 2001. Prior to his incarnation as a sage of orientalist conventional wrongness, he was a roving rube for corporate marketing executives, armed with a subscription to BusinessWeek, an Economist from the airport newsstand, and a mobular cellulile telleephone. Yee-haw. He surrounded shopworn PR slogans with I'm-Okay-You're-Okay middle-management motivational-poster mush, and proposed that the world after the Cold War was going to be about the triumph of gadgets over something called Tradition, a category about whose borders Friedman is obligingly hazy. That was a clue for anyone willing to read closely. The world isn't about anything. Friedman culminated this phase by penning a book called The Lexus and the Olive Tree, which awfulness all of my minor powers of language are inadequate to describe. Wikipedia introduces it thusly:
The Lexus and the Olive Tree is a 1999 book by Thomas L. Friedman that posits that the world is currently undergoing two struggles: the drive for prosperity and development, symbolized by the Lexus, and the desire to retain identity and traditions, symbolized by the olive tree. He claims he came to this realization while eating a sushi box lunch on a Japanese bullet train after visiting a Toyota factory, and reading an article about conflict in the Middle East.Here's a sentence that makes the verb posit seem too strong. Like most of Friedman's man-on-the-street moments, this event is clearly a fabrication, or to be fair, a clumsy conflation of many moments into a single moment so epiphanic that I'd call it Joycean, were it not so fucking retarded. The bento box is meant to represent Tradition, but bento boxes today are made of plastic, and the sushi of raw fish and rice that he would have been eating is a product of modern refrigeration bearing little resemblance to the traditional "sushi" of fermented rice. The bullet train represent "prosperity and development," but the Shinkansen opened in the booming sixties and had been proposed, in different forms, well before the Second World War. By the time Friedman hopped on, Japan was somnambulating through a decade of economic stagnation and its youth were dying their hair, making amateur internet porn with their girlfriends, and getting together for good old-fashioned suicide pacts--would that be Tradition? Olive trees are also meant to be Tradition, but who in the Middle East but olive growers gives a damn about olives? Olives aren't paying stipends to Saudi men; Iran isn't threatening to blow up olive tankers in the Straits of Hormuz if the US invades; and the US isn't threatening to invade over the groves.
Think. If Friedman had actually written a book about "the drive for prosperity and development . . . and the desire to retain identity and traditions," would 9/11 really have surprised and shocked him to such a towering degree as we witnessed? Would it have really unkeeled his world and sent it rolling through currents unknown? Would he have subsumed his jazz-finger happy-age globotopia talk for a little late-racialist jingoism about killin' some motherfuckers Over There? One does not go to bed Joan Baez and wake up Joe Strummer no matter how bad the acid or hard the heroin. Those sorts of transformations take time when one has actual convictions, no matter how looney-tunes those convictions might be. Friedman snapped immediately to attention and began crying for the dogs of war, along with a lot of other liberals who now join the mea kinda culpa with somber elegies to the now-departed jingo within. The claim, of course, is that they've all learned from the catastrophe in Iraq, but very few demonstrate a commitment to any sort of intellectual framework that will prevent the tragedy from finding outlet in farce. The pride that swells in such liberals when they look to Iran and say, "Aha, won't get fooled again!" sickens because it is so clear that they've absorbed no lessons other than "Troops dead: bad." While they continue to quibble about "planning for the postwar environment" and fret that a more strident commintment to anti-imperialism would render it difficult to bombard someone--Jesus, anyone! Fuck!--in Darfur, thus opening the sub-Sahara to the flower of peace and brotherhood, the current conflicts escalate. In their spare time, they judiciously parse the platitudes of Democratic candidates who will continue the same imperial policies as their Republican predecessor, albeit with a greater investment in circumspection.
Here is Friedman closing his recent Times piece:
We can’t afford to keep being this stupid! We have got to get our groove back. We need a president who will unite us around a common purpose, not a common enemy. Al Qaeda is about 9/11. We are about 9/12, we are about the Fourth of July--ich is why I hope that anyone who runs on the 9/11 platform gets trounced.We are about the fourth of July. Oh, God, dude. Awesome. I'm about puppies, killer robots, spaceships, and bubblegum, and it has yet to get me that big promotion and raise. I too enjoy inhabiting the realm of pure ideas, but only on opioids with a healthy foundation of cannabis sativa. The longing for a "common purpose," much-expressed these days, is supposed to sound like JFK, but it calls to mind old Uncle Adolph rallying the people to a mythic Teutonic past full of Parsifalian derrying-do and spiritual purity. Those who paid attention at Bayreuth realized of course that although the music is sometimes lovely, the story is mad: dude spends seventeen straight hours wandering atonally in order to find the magic shit he needs to help some guy who got his balls cut off.
What I am saying, friends, is brief: When beneath the bullshit and under the orchestration you find men worried about potency, find shelter, for the bombs aren't far behind.