A Visit to Friedman World
I was at a conference in Brussels last week and having trouble with my column. Thomas Friedman hadn’t changed as a writer or a human being for many years, and I’d written about him 100 times before. I took a walk down to Cinquantenaire Park to get some fresh air and clear my head. As I left the park, I stopped in a small cafe to order a coffee.
I happened to notice a young Palestinian man working behind the counter. When I ordered my coffee, he realized that I was American. “Ah, like Thomas Friedman,” he said. “Friedman, the great New York Times columnist who understands the needs of and challenges facing people like me, working-class Palestinians living in the European Union, because of how often he travels the world and how many brief but illuminating conversations he has with service industry employees. We are all grateful to be material for his columns and books,” he said, standing in for all people like him, by which I mean most foreign brown people.
As I wrote down what he said to use it in my column, it struck me that the world is changing. The world used to be flat. Now, everyone I talk to, everywhere I go, tells me something is bending the world into a new shape. This 4G, 401(k) world is getting rounded. That scares a lot of people. But it doesn’t scare Thomas Friedman. Because while some old media dinosaurs are going extinct thanks to the asteroid of globalization and the giant dust plume of hyperconnectivity, Friedman is a cockroach. A cockroach made of stone. A cockroach made of stone that lives in The Cloud...Wow, I'm no TLF fan, but I would never call him a cockroach.
A Zion-loathing hyena; a clueless Obama toady; a self-important blowhard--for sure. But a cockroach? Ouch!