Saturday, December 23, 2006

Americans are so surprised

David Seaton's News Links
One of my favorite "how dumb Thomas Friedman is" stories, is in fact an anecdote that holds a key to understanding the entire predicament that the USA has gotten itself into. The story concerns a visit Friedman made to a Pakistani madrassa, famous as the alma mater of many of the most illustrious and most fanatical of the Afghan Taliban. Following the Islamic traditions of hospitality, Friedman was received politely and offered refreshment. While they chatted, our Tom and the headmaster or head Iman of the school sipped at bottles of chilled Coca Cola. The Iman roundly and eloquently denounced the policies of the United States in the Muslim world. Friedman than asked him with an air of "gotcha", "If you don't like America's policies, why do you drink Coca Cola?" as if that were an "end of argument" crusher. The Iman calmly replied, "Because Coca Cola is sweet, but America's policies are poisonous." In a sense, the cultural problem that is at the heart of America's present failure is all there in a nutshell in that story. In their heart of hearts, most American's think that everybody, everywhere, wants to be American too... That Hamburgers and Coca Cola are mysteriously transubstantiated into the "body and blood" of the United States of America and in partaking of them, somehow foreigners join in the "mystical body" of the USA and become in some way American too. But, if you like Sushi and eat enough of it, do you develop palpebral folds on your eyes? If you own a Mercedes Benz, are you in danger of invading Poland? Like the Iman pointed out, in reality, people take the USA a la carte, what they like they take and what they don't they don't. The big mistake almost all Americans are making now is to think that they are being attacked, when if fact they are being counterattacked, they have been just too self-absorbed to ever know, or even care what was being done all over the world in their name. And now that the new technologies make it possible, they are surprised that somebody who drinks Coke could explode right next to them. If you imagined Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse with the Internet and prostrated toward Mecca, you might get some idea of what we are looking at. DS

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