Sunday, August 22, 2010

Thomas Friedman's Search for Magic Men...

Continues unabated. It seems that there's no problem in the world of business or politics that cannot be cured by finding a new Nelson Mandela, Steve Jobs... has he evoked MLK?

Why think hard and work hard to solve problems, when it's so much easier to lament that if only the other side had a "magic man" who had the "courage" to act "against the popular will of his country or party" - with courage, of course, defined as the unstoppable will to do exactly what Thomas Friedman wants - the problems would go away all by themselves?

While Friedman hopes that his "suck on this" war will inspire a host of Nelson Mandelas who can lead their nations to happiness and unity, perhaps he should stop to think about the implications of his suggestion. This would be the Nelson Mandela who was imprisoned as a terrorist, and held for decades during which he adamantly refused to renounce violent resistance. It may well be that there is somebody who is roughly equivalent to Nelson Mandela in Iraq or the occupied territories, but perhaps he is presently preaching violent resistance against occupation and perhaps he's also presently in prison.

But perhaps it would also make sense for him to consider that the circumstances that give rise to a "magic man" are sui generis, which is why to date there is only one Gandhi, only one MLK, only one Nelson Mandela.... Even if you cloned them, you wouldn't duplicate them or their success. And perhaps he should consider that it was Gandhi's education in England that enabled him to become what he became, not so much the fact that his country was colonized. Does Friedman truly believe that bombing and occupying a country is the best way to produce the type of leader who only comes along once in a generation - in unprecedented numbers?

(Sadly, he probably does.)

Perhaps his column should be retitled from "Surprise, Surprise, Surprise" to "No Suprise, and condensed to, "I just saw a movie presenting fictionalized versions of real events and now I know how to solve the world's problems." Funny how when you fictionalize things, they become so much simpler and neater.

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