Monday, November 30, 2009

Friedman and the Narrative

Thomas Friedman has garnered plaudits from the hawks for his most recent column:

The Narrative is the cocktail of half-truths, propaganda and outright lies about America that have taken hold in the Arab-Muslim world since 9/11. Propagated by jihadist Web sites, mosque preachers, Arab intellectuals, satellite news stations and books — and tacitly endorsed by some Arab regimes — this narrative posits that America has declared war on Islam, as part of a grand “American-Crusader-Zionist conspiracy” to keep Muslims down.

Yes, after two decades in which U.S. foreign policy has been largely dedicated to rescuing Muslims or trying to help free them from tyranny — in Bosnia, Darfur, Kuwait, Somalia, Lebanon, Kurdistan, post-earthquake Pakistan, post-tsunami Indonesia, Iraq and Afghanistan — a narrative that says America is dedicated to keeping Muslims down is thriving.

Although most of the Muslims being killed today are being killed by jihadist suicide bombers in Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Indonesia, you’d never know it from listening to their world. The dominant narrative there is that 9/11 was a kind of fraud: America’s unprovoked onslaught on Islam is the real story, and the Muslims are the real victims — of U.S. perfidy.

Sorry, but I'm not impressed. The narrative (or The Narrative) wasn't created after 9/11; it has been aimed at Israel and to a degree at America for many decades. A totally dishonest narrative about how Israel is the source of all evil in the Mideast has been the meta-narrative in the Arab world for generations; 9/11 was its result, not the other way around, because America is regarded as Jewish, or controlled by Jews.

Nor is this Arab pathology particularly novel. Europeans of the Left were convinced Jewish capitalists were behind all evil for the past 200 year, perhaps more, even as Europeans of the Right were convinced Marxism and all its spawns were cynical Jewish inventions. Read Voltaire and you'll be surprised how central the nefarious Jewish influences are that he identifies.

Need I mention the Christian ideas about the Jews and their roles in history and theology? Hardly savory, many of them.

Now I'm not saying hatred of Jews has always been universal, nor that it's the central plank of history. Not. But to look at the post-9/11 world and be surprised by the centrality and potency of antisemitic ideas and their derivatives seems, to me, a bit lightweight.


Anonymous said...

Recall Christopher Hithchens' three s' of the jihadist mentality: self-pity, self-righteousness and self-hatred (though
this last one I think doubtful, as they seem pretty proud of their deeds).


Anonymous said...

Lightweight indeed.


Soccer Dad said...

The reason I'm not impressed is because, in many ways, Friedman has nurtured the narrative, at least regarding Israel. Even now, I wonder if he'd have written this column if McCain, not Obama were President.

Anonymous said...

Yo, Friedman,

How about this narrative?

Does America know about it?

The Anglo-American-Wahabi Alliance

Or this one here?

Sanctions, Genocide, and War Crimes

~ Hmm?

What sez u?

Want more?