They’re Not Like Us

Not that this is new, but HONESTLY:

He seems to think the Iraqis are sad and mad because we liberated them instead of letting them liberate themselves. It’s nice that Tommy Friedman likes this happy rhetoric of liberation, though it’s a bit different from the days when he was saying we invaded Iraq so our soldiers could go door to door telling Iraqis to Suck. On. This. I don’t know how much our soldiers actually did this, but in any case Little Tommy Friedman can’t get himself to understand that maybe Iraqis are sad and mad because we invaded and occupied their country and then hundreds of thousands of people died.


But more than that, we may remember that many Iraqis did, in fact, fight for it. They didn’t fight for it in the way Tommy Friedman imagines they should have, which I think involves having a staring contest or something. They fought for it by killing a lot of people and blowing a lot of things up.

I know it’s a DFH thing to say, that people who do bad things should at least be understood, if only because you can’t fight something you don’t get, but come the fuck on. It’s not like this is a way of behavior we’ve never seen before. For Friedman to pretend that this wasn’t visible coming about twenty miles down the pike is unconscionably dense, even for a splendid specimen of garden implement like him.

I am really coming to dislike this right-wing meme that Iraqis simply aren’t grateful enough for the glorious freedom we gave them. It’s been clear since at least 2005 that that was going to be the way we got out of this war and pretended not to be the asshole: blame the people whose country we blew up for not wanting to rebuild it themselves with duct tape and baling wire in their infinite spare time, you know, the vast hours they have to spend twiddling their thumbs, in between trying to find clean water and dodging mortar fire. That’s how we’re going to excuse what we did, by blaming them for not liking it. “Eh, we tried, but you ungrateful bitches threw it back in our faces and then blew some stuff up like animals. Fuck you. You don’t DESERVE the glory of our incoming grenades!”

Moreover, I am getting incoherent about the condescending, patronizing tone of Friedman and his “expert” columnist ilk. It’s just beyond the fucking pale to look at suicide bombings and political violence as somehow “other,” as something so alien we couldn’t possibly, no, we wouldnever. Christian Bale takes his shirt off a lot in Batman Begins (bear with me, here) so I watch it pretty much every time it’s on whatever random cable channel is providing background just for the push-up scene, but in talking about how to wreck civilizations: “In Gotham we tried a new kind of weapon: Economics.” Sad that I should have to go to a movie about a fucking comic book character for a point that should be made by the likes of our newspaper columnists. Like, say, Tom Friedman. Who is busy pointing out how much better than this we are. We fought for our freedom. We don’t do suicide bombings. We don’t do political violence. We’re different.

Here’s a clue for the golf outing set: Just because our people die of poverty and preventable disease (mostly) quietly and out of sight of elite columnists like Friedman doesn’t make us a place free of political violence. Poverty is political violence. Substandard health care is political violence. And yes, drive-by shootings and systemic neglect of entire swaths of humanity referred to as “the ghetto” constitute political violence. Just because nobody’s waving a flag when they die doesn’t make our society any more reasonable or moral.

Walk a mile from Friedman’s shiny office. Walk a mile from my house. Open your fucking eyes. We “fought” for this society, and it’s full of violence, and most of it begot by the same things that cause violence anywhere. Take hundreds of desperate people, wall them off from their fellow men and women, and tell everybody to forget they exist. Let their sewer pipes rot. Shut off their heat. Ignore the holes in their streets. Skip their housing inspections, and when they call to complain, tell them there’s nothing you can do. See how grateful they are for your benevolence then. See how different it looks from fucking Baghdad. We’re all people. We’re all the same. We do this to each other and then wedare act like we don’t understand?

Friedman thinks he’s standing on a pedestal here. It’s a rickety stack of wooden boxes, half of them rotted, teetering this way and that, and he hears the roar of the storm coming to knock it all over and thinks it’s applause. You mentally tone-deaf asshole, Tom. You ought to be ashamed.



10 thoughts on “They’re Not Like Us

  1. To tie this article to the one immediately more recent (Every Day which is about the dumbest generation and the role of newspapers and internet versus the dumbing down of newspapers):
    I used to look for news analysis that helps to connnect the dots. This as a case in point: how come the newspapers don’t connect the current problems with the historical genesis of the problems – even in the second half of the 20th century you had the British partitioning of the area, the US coverts supporting putting the Shah in power, then supporting Hussein, etc. etc. etc.
    For not only the events of the last 3 weeks but for the last 50 years, the people there have very good reason to be weary of us.

  2. “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

  3. Athenae, I think it’s even simpler than that:
    1) We dropped bombs on Iraqi cities.
    2) Bombs (no matter how smart or specifically targeted) will always kill people and destroy chunks of a city.
    3) Most people tend to get “upset” and “hold grudges” when they see their family members dismembered and their homes destroyed.
    What kills me is that people like Friedman can’t even grasp that simple principle: Could it be, perhaps, that the Iraqis “don’t like us” because we fuckingbombed the shit out of their cities?
    And aren’t these the exact same kind of people who completely freaked out when a few of our buildings were bombed and several thousand people were killed? How come they can’t recognize that when you’re under a pile of rubble, it doesn’t really matter who bombed you or what their intentions were?

  4. “Right-wing meme”? I don’t know about that.
    I’ve seen pretty much the same argument about ungrateful Iraqis espoused by Democrats like John Murtha and Joe Biden over the past several years. There was a whole period last summer when practically every Democrat in Congress was mouthing some form of that while complaining that the Iraqi government was squandering the wonderful benefits of the calm that the “surge” had brought to Baghdad.

  5. I’ve seen pretty much the same argument about ungrateful Iraqis espoused by Democrats like John Murtha and Joe Biden over the past several years.
    And in what way are some (most) Democratsnot right-wing? (By my country’s standards, most of the Democrats would belong with the right-wing parties’ caucuses.) I also don’t think there’s anything preventing Democrats from being imperialists; I have yet to meet an anti-imperialist establishment Democrat.

  6. Good points, all. I would add that the hawks have been on the “gratitude” thing from the start, with Bush in particular obsessed with it (although I would agree there’s more of the “grateful” thing in public now, perhaps in part to justify the American oil companies in addition to deflecting blame). It’s something about the imperialist mindset, believing that people will and should be grateful for bombing them and killing grandma.

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