Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Tom Friedman and Imperial Hypocrisy

I've considered Thomas Friedman scum since way back in the spring of 1999, when he was baying for Serbian blood as NATO bombers pounded Belgrade and KLA set Kosovo on fire. Nothing he has written since has made me change my mind.

But after the relentless repetition of the "NATO took control of Kosovo to stop evil Serbs from slaughtering innocent Albanians" lie by just about every print and broadcast medium in the US for the past six years, I thought no one remembered Friedman's bloodlust anymore. Turns out I was mistaken. Someone named Drew Hamre wrote an op-ed in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune this Saturday, attacking Friedman for demonizing the Sunnis of Iraq (see text here); to underline the sheer hypocrisy of Friedman calling the Sunnis terrorists and murderers, Hamre used the following examples:

"Friedman has urged terror bombing to force regime change in Serbia ("Let's see what 12 weeks of less than surgical bombing does," April 6, 1999)... Friedman has advocated bombing electrical grids, knowing full well the mortal damage that results when refrigerators and filtration pumps die ("It should be lights out in Belgrade," April 23, 1999)... Friedman has previously argued for war on a people, not just its government ("Like it or not, we are at war with the Serbian nation").

All of this is in the context of Friedman's comments on Iraq, which have run in the same vein. "He appears intent on caricaturing a people, and then demonizing them," Hamre says, describing 9perhaps unwittingly) the US media coverage of the Balkans - and Iraq - over the past 15 years.

Of course, the advocates of Empire - be they social-democratic "liberals" or national-socialist "conservatives" - will at this point argue that there is nothing hypocritical about Friedman's rants against either Serbs or Sunnis. They are, after all, evil, and Americans who bomb them are good; "everyone knows" that. But what makes one good or evil, if not their deeds? If something is considered a heinous crime when attributed to Serbs, should it not be considered a crime when perpetrated by Americans? Quod liced Iovi non licet bovi is such a Roman sentiment. If the Imperialists are saying they are to the rest of the world as gods unto cattle, then we are indeed cattle for not shoving that opinion down their arrogant gullets, so they may choke on it.

Someone has already done something like that for Friedman; earlier this year, Matt Taibbi penned a superb takedown of the pompous blowhard, worth referencing every time some ignorant idiot in your environs mentions that columnist as worthy of anything but contempt:

"Friedman is... a genius of literary incompetence... It's not that he occasionally screws up and fails to make his metaphors and images agree. It's that he always screws it up. He has an anti-ear, and it's absolutely infallible; he is a Joyce or a Flaubert in reverse, incapable of rendering even the smallest details without genius. The difference between Friedman and an ordinary bad writer is that an ordinary bad writer will, say, call some businessman a shark and have him say some tired, uninspired piece of dialogue: Friedman will have him spout it. And that's guaranteed, every single time. He never misses."

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the kind of writer the Imperialists consider a "sage." Says a lot about them, doesn't it?

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