So Tom Friedman has been wrong about almost everything. No surprise there. He's about as great a foreign policy mind as Bush himself. But something else that occurs to me as I read this. Friedman really is just a dick:
This is something liberals should care about -- because liberating the captive peoples of the Mideast is a virtue in itself and because in today's globalized world, if you don't visit a bad neighborhood, it will visit you.
You know what else happens in today's "globalized world" (WTF does that even mean? Does this guy listen to himself?) People hear about you dismissing their entire country as a "bad neighborhood," you condescending fuck, and if they were inclined to listen to you and your class before, certainly they're not anymore.
Bad neighborhood. Jesus Christ in a hoopskirt. Nobody thinks their own neighborhood sucks, nobody says, "Yeah, I live in a shithole, I feel bad about my life." People may know there are problems in their communities but it's fairly rare that genuinely engaged members of a community see their own environment with despair. It's an outside characterization, the kind made by people who come to the city, see a member of a minority group on the street, and loudly *ker-thunk* the automatic door locks. It's a dismissal, moreover, of everything that neighborhood IS, its struggles and its successes, by somebody who has no interest in understanding it, who thinks he's so much better than all the people in it.
Am I being clear about this? I'm not saying there aren't places that have high crime, addiction, poverty, substandard housing stock and high incidences of illness and unemployment. I'm objecting to the "bad neighborhood" label because that's what it is, a label, something you slap on a place you're afraid of, a place you don't understand, a place you don't intend to spend any serious time on. It's such an outsider thing to say, full of so much judgment and so much ignorance, and it's about classifying, not discussing. Tom Friedman doesn't want to talk about why the neighborhood has problems, nor does he really give a fuck how they can be solved. He wants us to "visit" that neighborhood, presumably to "clean it up" by kicking in doors and telling people to suck on stuff. What a jackass. What a privileged, superior, insulated jackass.
The world is flat, so you go around talking about somebody's home as the ghetto, and you're done, basically, because once people hear that they know you've already made up your mind that all they are doesn't matter anymore, that all you can see is "bad" or "good." I wonder if he'd say that to the faces of a family that took him in and fed him, in this "bad neighborhood" he's talking about. I wonder if he'd tell them why he needed to make a little personal-security disaster-tourism pit stop where they fucking live.