Monday, February 14, 2011

Thomas Friedman, OK, and Charlie Rose: Egypt

I do not typically watch Charlie Rose, the exception being his recent series on the brain. And I find Thomas Friedman repellent, OK? By chance I stumbled upon the two of them Thursday night.

The two of them were soooooo excited about the protests in Egypt that they barely took the time to wipe each other's chins. Here's a little context:

THOMAS FRIEDMAN: There’s a sense of ownership by a people who were
motivated to go down there by a profound sense of self, Charlie. A sense
that something -- the most precious thing had been stolen from them --
their dignity, OK, their ability to compete, the thrive, to shape their own
future. And that’s what they’re reclaiming.

When I walked out of the square, I was walking across that bridge out
there and a guy stopped me. He was from Saudi Arabia. He had his two boys
and his wife he said "I work in Saudi Arabia, I’m Egyptian. I came back.
I wanted to bring my two boys." They looked to be about eight years old.
He said "I want them to see this. I want it to be seared in their memory."

CHARLIE ROSE: Everybody knows this is a moment in history.


CHARLIE ROSE: You also talk to people they know they’re young. They
also know that they’re professional people. They’re middle-class people.
They’re rich people. Tell me about the people you met who have changed
Egypt. Whatever the outcome, as you have said, it will be before Egypt and
after Egypt.

THOMAS FRIEDMAN: Yes. There’s a -- I feel privileged, Charlie, to be
here, OK, because if you’re not here you can’t understand it, I mean,
because it’s so unusual to see who’s in the square. Egypt’s in the square
-- Egypt of young men in jeans, women in veils and women in very modern
western clothes.

The above is from the beginning of the interview. I found myself wondering why these statements were heaped onto the Egyptian protests as lavish praise, but the Tea Party protests were depicted as violent, racist, and extreme. According to the logic of the President and his useful idiots, President Obama himself should step down. He is not viewed as legitimate by many people, regardless of the controversy over his birth certificate (which I view as a non-issue).

CHARLIE ROSE: Well, the most interesting thing I heard the vice
president say was the notion "I’m not sure Egypt and Egyptian culture is
ready for democracy. I’m not sure these people can manage their own
affairs. I’m not sure that they can take on the responsibility."

THOMAS FRIEDMAN: There’s only one name for that, Charlie. It’s
called the soft bigotry of low expectations, and that’s exactly what people
in that square so resent. Again, I talked to another guy today, and he
said -- this was a wealthy person who actually benefited from the status
quo but he wanted to be in the square because he wanted change. He
understood it was not stable.

The one thing he said that really struck me was he said "I was
embarrassed to tell people I was an Egyptian. Now after today I am not
embarrassed. I feel like I’m leading not only just the Arab world.
They’re like watching this in China."

This place has so much untapped potential. Egypt should have been the
Taiwan of the eastern Mediterranean in terms of economics -- Suez Canal,
big work force, right next to Europe. And yet they just drifted, and
because they drifted, the whole Arab world drifted, because this is the
center of gravity for the Arab world.

You change Egypt. If this has any kind of decent positive outcome --
and I pray it will and right now I don’t want to get ahead of it and we
shouldn’t -- but if it does it will have profound ramifications for this
region and beyond.

Instead of commenting like this about Egypt, why can't these two examine the United States, its President, and his administration in this fashion? The Statist likes to say that we are not ready (or smart enough) to handle the responsibility of our own affairs. As Friedman says, this is "the soft bigotry of low expectations." It is also the soft tyranny of government operating outside of constitutional restraint. That's exactly what the Tea Party protesters resent. This place has so much untapped potential. America should be the economic power we once were. But we are drifting. And because we are drifting, the whole free world is drifting with us, because we are the center of the free world.

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