Friedman, wrong again

Well, so much for Tom Friedman’s oft-stated theory that Muslim terrorism springs from fetid wells of angry, poor young men. The latest attacks in London and Scotland came from damned doctors. They’re not poor. I don’t give a damn if they’re angry. They’re just insane and dangerous.

  • chico haas

    Possibly it’s the National Health Service that does it.

  • That’s what he gets for always falling back on the same templates — you just can’t force fit every story into them. But, the real problem has been a lack of serious competition to challenge NYT’s content. It has made them lazy and all to certain of their own genius. The erection of the TimesSelect subscription firewall was a monument to their inflated sense of self-worth. For once, they got a valid measurement of how indifferent the public is to their columnists’ opinions — not that they necessarily noticed. (Steve Boriss, The Future of News)

  • Tom

    Well, I do believe in that perhaps old fashioned notion of “innocent until proven guilty”, Jeff.

    I know in these post-Guantanamo days that must seem such a twee concept to some!

    We don’t exactly know quite whom is guilty of organising the attempted terrorism in my homeland, but already folk are indulging in point scoring about it.

    Of course some terrorists are richer and middle class, and some are poorer, but the common sense point that if there was economic progress in such places as Afghanistan and Palestine, fewer failed states etc, this might drawn the swamp somewhat I think is still a good one.

    I don’t think the discovery that these terrorists may have been doctors cancels that out, unless one is rather fixated on making a rather crude and one eyed neo-conservative point.

  • Schultz

    Sure Jeff, Tom Friedman is so wrong on so many issues especially when it comes to the middle east and terrorism. So I guess Tom should change his theory to “most” Muslim terrorists are young poor men? That is reality. I am pretty sure Friedman doesn’t believe that wealthy Muslim men, like these doctors, couldn’t be terrorists.

  • Jon

    I have never understood the “angry, poor young men” argument. Africa is full of “angry, poor young men”, but you don’t see them driving explosive-laden cars into Western airports.

  • Wow – you managed to perceive their guilt with amazing speed! Perhaps we should be guarding against such quick judgements.

  • Time to take time out of a holiday day to correct some a falsity above.

    First, despite his affectation for mixed metaphors, Tom Friedman writes at a pretty simple level. The SMOG calculator (simple measure of gobbledygook) puts it at 10.18, about the level of Newsweek (whereas Times articles are 13-15). So there’s no excuse to completely misread this article.

    Tom Friedman clearly did not use the “angry, poor young men” argument. He did say that “on 7/7 [2005] it was about unemployed and alienated Muslim youth in Britain.”

    Regarding this latest round– which, as a couple of readers above mention, there have only been suspects detained, not charged or convicted– Friedman wrote:

    “Two trends are at work here: humiliation and atomization. Islam’s self-identity is that it is the most perfect and complete expression of God’s monotheistic message, and the Koran is God’s last and most perfect word. To put it another way, young Muslims are raised on the view that Islam is God 3.0. Christianity is God 2.0. Judaism is God 1.0. And Hinduism and all others are God 0.0.

    “One of the factors driving Muslim males, particularly educated ones, into these acts of extreme, expressive violence is that while they were taught that they have the most perfect and complete operating system, every day they’re confronted with the reality that people living by God 2.0., God 1.0 and God 0.0 are generally living much more prosperously, powerfully and democratically than those living under Islam.”

    And thus, if this were the ideology of the bombers, the ends justify the means.

    Which is not that much different from blogging. Steve Boriss takes your bait to bash the New York Times for having a “firewall.” (actually, people call it a “paywall.”)

  • Dan

    Yeah Matthew, that Muslim doctor who tumbled out of that burning 4×4 at the Glasgow Airport was just along for the ride.

  • Glyn

    I agree with Dan.

    “Innocent until proven guilty” is an essential assumption for a court of law, but we’re not people in a court of law and can make any presumptions we wish. In this case, I’m willing to assume that people trying to blow up cars with their own cell phones as the triggers, and then the same people crashing into a Glasgow airport terminal – are guilty until people can come up with a convincing explanation of how they could be innocent.

  • Glyn, Dan – do you think that is the same reasoning that was applied to the Brazillian chap that the British police shot dead – oops, wrong guy!

  • Jim Karna

    Usually i’d totally agree with you Matthew, but that blazing 4×4 was about as smoking a gun as there is.

  • Jim Karna

    Jon – those angry, poor young men are too busy killing each other :

    i’d suggest the situation across a lot of africa illustrates the angry, poor young man notion that extreme poverty and a lack of hope drive people to extremes better than anywhere else

  • Guy Love

    Carefule Jeff, in the age of political correctness, admitting the obvious will get you ostracized as an insensitive bigot. Who cares if Islamic militants want to convert us or kill us, we need to make sure that we don’t unfairly characterize these individuals. It is more important to understand why they keep doing this so we can help them to adjust to become more moderate and tolerate. I am sure that once they fully grasp how concerned we are about their plight they will cease the last 50 years of killing innocent bystanders and will abandon their effort to return the world to the totalitarian rule of a caliphate.

  • kat

    Politically correct terrorism is what it is. We can’t discriminate against terrorists–might hurt their feelings.…7/6/07

  • stevebenjamins

    First things first; fundamentalists radicalize easily under injustice, well educated neuro-surgeons radicalize when their intellect tells them we have reached a point of no return: the war profiteers on both sides are determined to have an endless war, hence, only those who are willing martyrs will effect change, for either war or peace, depending on their preference, all your postulations as to intent or prejudgements of guilt depend on who’s pack of propaganda you’ve been swallowing all of your intellectual life or in the case of the sheeple, unintellectual life.

  • Paul

    What I’m finding hard to understand is how within hours of any major terrorist attack the police can gather up a bunch of suspects. You would think that those who are plotting these attacks are taking every precaution to avoid discovery. But once the attack is done, the police can gather up in no time those who are suspected of carrying out the attack.

    I hate to think in this day and age that it is more important for the Police to gather up anyone and label them as a suspect than it is for them to actually possess proof that these individuals are actually involved. Suspect, in the public eye, equals guilty. So instead of taking the time to gather the evidence, and thus face certain public outrage as to why it is taking them so long to arrest someone, the police gather up marginal suspects and release them later when no one will remember, or care to remember, that everyone should be entitled to protection from such an abuse of police power.

    Next time there is a kidnapping of some child, see how long it is until the police arrest or even find the guilty person. Same goes for any other crime. But as soon as there is a terrorist attack, they can immediately determine that Bin Laden is to blame and arrest a dozen suspects.

    I believe to some extent we are being conned by the media, politicians, and police into believing that we will be protected after the attacks when in reality what the police need to do is arrest the suspects before they carry out their deeds.

  • kat

    Yes, but if they did, there would be screams of profiling and curtailment of free speech to preach jihad. Look what happened with 911–we still have lunatics believing the muslims didn’t do it. We have people believing Padilla is innocent because he didn’t actually carry out a major terrorist attack. Isn’t a guy pouring gas over himself and blowing up the jeep proof enough. Did you want them to wait till they hit another target and were successful after two botched attempts?? How long did you want the police to wait?? How many lives later? There is no more time to gather evidence when barbaric nutcases are involved and have already attempted two mass killings.
    And when there is a major terrorist attack, bin laden or his followers ARE involved.
    I wish we could arrest them all but that isn’t going to happen. CAIR and the ACLU wouldn’t allow it. We’d be mass arresting one group of people.

  • chico haas

    Paul: think in this case London’s vast array of public cameras aided the quick round-up.

  • stevebenjamins

    I just met a couple from australia, they told me the quick round up of islamic doctors in their country was already proving to be a mistake, look for more hysteria to reduce neither terrorism or the underpinnings of it, but an increase in the likely hood of more injustice and true crimes against our privacy; and it’s only a matter of time before they come for your friends and acquaitances, even if accidentally.

  • I know that a lot of people conclude that just because there are privileged and educated people involved in terror (not just the Islamist variety, I might add) that poverty has nothing to do with it. The fact is that most of the poor are too busy surviving for ideology, while the privileged all through history have the leisure to devise ways to make the world more “fair.” Unfortunately for us, those ways often are drastic and vicious.

    I think it is wrong to assume that just because people are educated / privileged that they do not care about injustice and poverty. The problem is that they care us to death.