Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Andrew Northrup on the Journamalism of Tom Friedman

Blognerds are probably well aware that, at long last, someone in a respectable publication has pointed out that Glenn Reynolds is completely insane. The article in question - by one Paul Campos - compares Reynolds to Ward Churchill, who, if you don’t know, is … um, I don’t know who he is, either. A community college professor or something. But, if you moved in Fox News circles a couple of years back, he was big, big news, which gave them something to talk about besides, you know, reality, and, as an added bonus, probably boosted his lecture fees above the $0.00 level. So I gather the comparison is apt, except that Reynolds gets published in mainstream periodicals, gets his opinions taken seriously on television, is still considered the go-to authority for all issues related to the internet, and is generally treated like a charter member of the Broderian Council of Acceptable Opinion in all matters.

The comment that got him in trouble - that the government should be murdering Iranian scientists and religious leaders, because we have been continuously at war with them for thirty years - was a bit blunt, but wasn’t really unrepresentative of his views. Why should this be getting attention all of a sudden? Fans of his oeuvre could probably think of a handful of crazier comments right off the top of their head - in fact, I immediately thought of that time in 2003 when Prof. Christmas opined that, seeing as we were already at war with France and all, we should probably start some nice proxy wars in Africa. (This was the winner of the first-ever proto-Kippie Award for wingnuttery. Memories.) Now, as this was some time ago, I naturally assumed that this was early-2003 Reynolds riffing on one of conservo-blog intellectual (and MSM-published opinionator) Steven den Beste’s interminable explanations of how France was an integral part of the Transnational Progressive Islamofascist Dhimmocracy, or whatever. (Full disclosure: I have never managed to read an entire SdB post. I’m not convinced that any of them actually end.) In the event, though, he wasn’t.

He was riffing on Thomas L. Fucking Friedman, September 2003, NY Times:

It’s time we Americans came to terms with something: France is not just our annoying ally. It is not just our jealous rival. France is becoming our enemy.

If you add up how France behaved in the run-up to the Iraq war (making it impossible for the Security Council to put a real ultimatum to Saddam Hussein that might have avoided a war), and if you look at how France behaved during the war (when its foreign minister, Dominique de Villepin, refused to answer the question of whether he wanted Saddam or America to win in Iraq), and if you watch how France is behaving today (demanding some kind of loopy symbolic transfer of Iraqi sovereignty to some kind of hastily thrown together Iraqi provisional government, with the rest of Iraq’s transition to democracy to be overseen more by a divided U.N. than by America), then there is only one conclusion one can draw: France wants America to fail in Iraq.

France wants America to sink in a quagmire there in the crazy hope that a weakened U.S. will pave the way for France to assume its “rightful” place as America’s equal, if not superior, in shaping world affairs.

Of course, this is the same Tom Friedman who was telling us at the time that we needed to invade Iraq because we just had to kill some Arabs. We just had to, OK? Something about a bubble or something, too - you had to be there, man, it all made perfect sense. I know it seems weird now, man, but it was this magical time, like the Golden Age of Athens or some shit - The Summer of War! - when we all just knew we were going to change the world. All that stuff our parents told us about Vietnam and all that shit? We were just going to blow that away, man, just tear down their world and build it all up new, like better than ever, like nothing you’d ever seen before! Reynolds was the man, and den Beste was the brains, and everybody was in it together, for freedom and shit. It was great. And the music … well, the music kind of blew, actually. Nickelback was big. And the drugs were pretty crappy. No sex to speak of. But the blogs! Man, you shoulda seen the blogs! Outtasite!

And where are they now? Steven den Beste has stopped illuminating the great cycles of human history, and now writes exclusively about porny Japanese schoolgirl cartoons. Reynolds never got past that summer, never learned how to change with the times, and now he’s Kid Charlemagne. I don’t know what happened to Friedman - he’s behind the Times Select wall now, probably writing about globalization or whatever, or whatever anime den Beste was into 6 months ago. Funny how everyone grew up.

The past really is another country. I would like to bomb it.

No comments: