Tom Friedman interrupts what seems to be a not-terrible column about unrest in Turkey, Egypt, and Brazil to mention recent American protest movements, and decides that getting the facts straight is not as important as writing a sentence with clever-sounding symmetry:
In America, the Tea Party began as a protest against Republicans for being soft on deficits, and Occupy Wall Street as a protest against Democrats for being soft on bankers.No, Tom. A thousand times no.
Even the second part of that is mind-bogglingly ignorant -- Occupy Wall Street wasn't a protest against Democrats, it was a protest against the whole damn system. But it's the first part that's preposterous -- yes, Tom, all those pictures at tea party rallies of Obama as Hitler, as a sociopathic (and socialist) Joker, as the political heir of Lenin and Mao, were waved because teabaggers were angry at Republicans.
Friedman actually starts the column by looking at an issue worth examining: why is there so much unrest right now in democratic nations? He concludes that Turkey, Brazil, and Egypt have "majoritarian" governments that don't do enough for groups that are the part of the electoral minority, and that modern capitalism makes it harder to attain and retain middle-class status.
So, perhaps naively, I though he'd ask why we don't have a million people streets in America, when the government seems not to be responsive to ordinary people's needs and the middle class is shrinking. Nahhh. His theory about other nations is that the victors aren't interested in the welfare of the losers, but his view of America is that Both Sides Do It, so I guess that's all you need to know.
After that, it's off to Friedmanland, as in: Isn't the Internet amazing!
Finally, thanks to the proliferation of smartphones, tablets, Twitter, Facebook and blogging, aggrieved individuals now have much more power to engage in, and require their leaders to engage in, two-way conversations -- and they have much greater ability to link up with others who share their views to hold flash protests. As Leon Aron, the Russian historian at the American Enterprise Institute, put it, "the turnaround time" between sense of grievance and action in today's world is lightning fast and getting faster.Oh, right, the Internet! Almost forget about that! Now I understand the world, Tom! Thanks for clearing everything up!