How many Friedman Units ago did New York Times columnist (and amateur futurist) Tom Friedman declare that we were one Friedman Unit away from the greatest turning point in whatever it was Tom Friedman was focusing on at the time? One Friedman Unit away from making or breaking — or being made or breaked (sic) — in whatever it was we were doing?
I love Tom Friedman. Not because he is insightful. He wrote one brilliant book — From Beirut to Jerusalem — and then built a career on it. (Okay, it’s one more brilliant book than I’ve written.) He is the kind of person who spend too much time interviewing Indian CEOs in sparkling Bangalore buildings and thinking, because of this, he sees the future. A future in which our lunch is eaten by those hungrier and quicker than we. When we aren’t bashing them upside the head with two-by-fours to remind them who’s boss.
And when I read columns like the one he’s written today (2 March 2011), I get goosebumps and squeal to myself: I want to be ruled by competent, liberal technocrats too!
Okay, I don’t. Not ever. At least, no more than I suspect that any Egyptian or Bahraini or Yemeni or Libyan has woken up in the mornings since January 20, 2008, looked in the mirror, and compared himself to Barack Obama: “Hmmm, let’s see. He’s young. I’m young. He’s dark-skinned. I’m dark-skinned. His middle name is Hussein. My name is Hussein. His grandfather is a Muslim. My grandfather is a Muslim. He is president of the United States. And I’m an unemployed young Arab with no vote and no voice in my future.”
That comparison has to be one of the dumbest things I think I’ve ever seen in print. In a dumb world, that says a lot.