Taking down the dribbling idiocies of Thomas Friedman is, of course, like shooting dead, bloated fish mired in utter, immovable stillness on the surface of a barrel full of thick, congealed liquid. Even so, as this gormless goober continues to serve as one of the most respected and representative voices of our gooberish overlords, it remains a salutatory exercise to pull out the shotgun now and again and point it, once more, into the festering barrel.
Belen Fernandez at the LRB blog performed this yeoman service for us this week, in a short piece reprising some of Friedman's latest and greatest hits. Well worth a quick read.
You would think that by now we would have "supp'd full with horrors" on the New York Times op-ed pages. What could be worse than the atrocities that have filled those gray columns in the past few years, the loud brays for war, the convoluted excuses for presidential tyranny, the steady murmur of chin-stroking bullshit meant to comfort the comfortable elite and confirm them -- at all times, at any cost -- in their well-wadded self-righteousness? Surely, you would think, we have seen the worst.
If this was your thought, then alas, alas, alack the day, you were bitterly mistaken, my friend. Comes now before us the portly, fur-lipped figure of Thomas Friedman, Esq., who today has penned what must be the most morally hideous and deeply racist column ever to appear in those rarefied journalistic precincts: "Ten Months or Ten Years."
It seems that this very enthusiastic promoter of the unprovoked war of aggression against Iraq .. has now discovered that Iraqi Arabs are hopeless, worthless barbarians, broken by "1,000 years of Arab-Muslim authoritarianism" and can only be held together by an "iron fist." (He got all this from reading a new book, apparently. Well, a little literacy, like a little learning, is a dangerous thing, I reckon -- and as anyone who has ever exposed themselves to the dull, flat buzz of Friedman's prose can attest, his literacy is little indeed.)
In fact, the only thing America did wrong in its "effort to bring progressive politics or democracy to this region" was not coming down hard enough on this darky riff-raff: "Had we properly occupied the country, and begun political therapy, it is possible an American iron fist could have held Iraq together long enough to put it on a new course. But instead we created a vacuum by not deploying enough troops." Instead, we took it easy on them -- I mean, Jesus H. Jiminy Cricket Walker Christ, we only killed 600,000 of them; what kind of pussyfooting around is that? -- and look what happened. ....
Here we come to the corroded heart of the matter. Friedman, like all the pro-war "liberal hawks" who see aggressive war as the very best method of implanting "progressive politics or democracy" in benighted lands, is personally affronted by the Iraqis' ingratitude. They will not and cannot accept even the slightest implication that there was ever any flaw in their philosophy of benign bloodlust. (Bloodlust by proxy, of course, always by proxy! Goodness gracious granny me, you'd never see one of these paladins so much as muss their cuticles in the service of their noble ideals. That's what God made Mexicans and Salvadorans and white trash crackers for.) ...
They didn't want the "progressive politics or democracy" that I wanted to give them at gunpoint -- or with an "iron fist" -- and now the whole thing's just a hopeless mess. Hell, the Arabs are so goddamned stupid, says Tom, that they "can't even have a proper civil war. There are so many people killing so many other people for so many different reasons — religion, crime, politics — that all the proposals for how to settle this problem seem laughable."
...Ah, but wise old Tom has a proposal to settle this problem -- a most condign punishment for the Arab trash who have so bitterly disappointed him. Friedman proposes -- seriously, one assumes, for surely nothing is more serious than Tom Friedman in full cry -- that we "re-invade" Iraq with 150,000 more troops...and this time really do a number on those recalcitrant tribes, do whatever "is necessary to crush the dark forces in Iraq" and pound some sense into them, or at least some obedience, with our big "iron fist."
.... Whatever is necessary. Whatever it takes. This is, I believe, what is technically known as the "Close Your Hearts to Pity" strategy, in honor of that great war-of-choicer who thus exhorted his officers as they stood poised on the Polish frontier back in the glorious days when men were men and an iron fist was an iron fist.
... [And] who can forget Tom's giddy cheerleading for the Clinton-Blair air war against the civilian population of Serbia? Who can forget his bone-chilling warning to the unruly Slavs in his classic 1999 column, "Give War a Chance," when he wrote: "Let's at least have a real war. It should be lights out in Belgrade: every power grid, water pipe, bridge, road and war-related factory has to be targeted...Every week you ravage Kosovo is another decade we will set your country back by pulverizing you. You want 1950? We can do 1950. You want 1389? We can do 1389 too."
...This, ladies and gentleman, is what passes for Establishment thought on the most respected newspaper in the land. This complete and utter moral perversion -- like unto an act of sexual congress with the beasts of the field -- is now the conventional wisdom of the chattering classes, the "public intellectuals," and the powerful elites whom they so cravenly serve. This blood-flecked drivel -- a precise echo of the genocidal fury being voiced on what once was once considered the lunatic fringes of the far right -- is now at the heart of American political life.
How many more people will have to die to keep the warmongers from colliding with the enormity of their crimes? What child will be ripped to shreds tonight -- and tomorrow night -- and every night afterward, for "ten months or ten years," to keep Thomas Friedman snug and cozy in the gilded palace of his endless self-regard?
Well, the answer to this, my friend, is not blowing in the wind: it's on the front page of the newspapers -- in fact, the New York Times -- every single day in this our most blessed progressive Peace Laureated era. In stories like this and this, and so many, many others.
Every day, every night, more human beings ripped to shreds to keep little Tommy and way-cool Barry and weird Uncle Newtie and all the rest snug and cozy in their pampered splendor.