If you’ve followed Matt Taibbi’s career for the past decade, you have probably come to wait with bated breath for the latest installment of his epic Tom Friedman takedowns — and his latest does not disappoint.
While Taibbi is a first rate investigative journalist, his uncommon literary skills are most evident when used to rip into self important tools writing self important articles for places like the New York Times. Tom Friedman is not the only victim of Taibbi’s vicious satire (David Brooks has had his fair share), but his merciless pillorying at the hands of Taibbi is the most fun to read by far. It’s probably because Friedman doesn’t just write like a hapless buffoon, he looks like one too.
Here was Taibbi on Friedman’s latest godawful column on why cloning camels and an Arab alternative to Uber can fix the Middle East and prevent terrorist attacks in Europe:
The occasion, the horrific Paris attacks, seems to cry out for humble, shtick-free commentary. Instead he offers the same ham-fisted column about the wonders of globalism he’s been writing since the Clinton administration.
For two decades, whenever anyone has waged war or committed acts of mass murder anywhere on earth, Friedman appeared in the Times within a few weeks offering to cure the problem with modems and cheeseburgers. Now he’s going to take a figurative walk into Mosul and cheerfully suggest to ISIS fighters that they lay down their arms and invest in “the start-up of You.”
It’s really that bad. Friedman observes that a thousand miles south of the violently disruptive “Islamic State start-up,” innovators from the global economy are “disrupting” things in a good way, using very different sorts of “start-ups,” like an Arab version of Uber called Careem.com.
It’s in little “islands of decency” like Kurdistan, Jordan, Kuwait and Lebanon that have opened their doors to capitalist innovation, Friedman says, that “young Arabs and Muslims can realize their full potential and build their dignity by disrupting camels and cabs — not Paris and Beirut.”
Let your voice be a ladder, ISIS! Stop hatin’ – start participatin’!
Make sure to read the rest of it. It is glorious.
It is amazing to think that Friedman’s columns are not only taken seriously by American intellectual elites, but probably influence actual foreign policy. Friedman — a supposed liberal — hobnobs with government officials regularly, so his ideas probably spread to the very peaks of American power, which is a truly scary thought when he genuinely believes Islamic fundamentalism can be stopped by cloning camel start ups and fancy car services. “God knows what to do about them,” concludes Taibbi. “But can we at least stop trying to match stupid with stupid? No more can-do capitalist evangelism, no more harebrained ideas for bringing progress to the region. Let’s just get the Manson family surrounded and leave our big ideas at home, for once.”
Amen to that.
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.