I realize that Matt Taibbi has done enough good work on the topic of the New York Time’s resident banality generator Thomas Friedman to last a lifetime, but the jet setting, ‘hyper-connectivity’ reporter’s latest column truly is a treasure trove of utter absurdity. Picking on Friedman is easy work – perhaps to easy – but given his prominence as a columnist and his history of providing intellectual cover for America’s nastiest war mongers, ridiculing his work and ‘analysis’ is a matter of national importance.
Just check out this amazing opener contorting completely unrelated events into a 9th grade thesis on global politics titled: “Bonfire of the Assets, With Trump Lighting Matches”:
Normally, when your main geopolitical rivals are shooting themselves in both feet, the military manual says step back and enjoy the show. But I take little comfort in watching China burning money and Russia burning food, because in today’s interdependent world we’re all affected.
I also find no joy in it because we Americans, too, have started burning our most important source of competitive advantage — our pluralism. One of our two political parties has gone nuts and started following a pied piper of intolerance, named Donald Trump.
So now the Chinese stock market slump, Vladimir Putin’s burning of banned food imports from Western countries in retaliation for Western sanctions imposed on Russia over the Ukraine crisis, and the emergence of Donald Trump are all related because…..Tom Friedman says we are living in an interdependent world!
China of course, isn’t actually burning money, it’s spending a lot of money trying to prop up rapidly falling stocks, and Trump isn’t burning anything, but Friedman says he is because it sort of fits with his thesis. Trump you see, is burning a great American asset – Mexican migrants, who make America great. Writes Friedman:
Alas, though, America has joined this assets bonfire. We’re now in a world where all top-down authority structures are being challenged. It’s most obvious in the Arab world where you have pluralistic countries that lack pluralism and so could be held together from the top-down only by an iron fist — and when that iron fist got removed they spun apart. America’s greatest advantage is its pluralism: It can govern itself horizontally by its people of all colors and creeds forging social contracts to live together as equal citizens.
Okay, what the fuck? America’s plurism = good, Arab plurism = good but only with iron fist, but not really good because they are top down, and this all is being burned by a man who hasn’t and mathematically cannot be elected to office. Or something like that.
It gets better. Friedman is really not happy with Donald Trump, and all that stuff about Russia, China, Arab Iron Fists and interdependency leads up to this:
This is not funny anymore. This is not entertaining. Donald Trump is not cute. His ugly nativism shamefully plays on people’s fears and ignorance. It ignores bipartisan solutions already on the table, undermines the civic ideals that make our melting pot work in ways no European or Asian country can match (try to become a Japanese) and tampers with the very secret of our sauce — pluralism, that out of many we make one.
Every era spews up a Joe McCarthy type who tries to thrive by dividing and frightening us, and today his name is Donald Trump.
Of course Friedman is completely right about Trump – the cancerous ginger nut genuinely is a Joe McCarthy type who stopped being funny when he started talking about Obama’s birth certificate back in 2011 (and much farther back than that depending on who you ask) – but what the hell was the rest of the article about?
You have to give Friedman credit for the sentiment, but my God, he’s writing for the New York Times.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.