FLYING WITH FRIEDMAN

Like any worthy liberal columnist (commentator or author), The Times’ Thomas L. Friedman knows he can get away with saying very depressing things as long as, by the end of his column, he has restored to his readers a sense of hope in and about America.   Conservative pundits are temporarily excused from this obligation, in view of their Nominee’s own attitudes.

But he’s sure working hard to keep within the boundaries of his calling.

In today’s Times, Friedman writes: “Are we all just Shiites and Sunnis now?  More and more of our politics resembles the core sectarian conflict in the Middle East between those two branches of Islam, and that is not good.  Because whether you’re talking about Shiites and Sunnis – or Iranians and Saudis, Israelis and Palestinians, Turks and Kurds – a simple binary rule dominates their politics: ‘I am strong, why should I compromise?  I am weak, how can I compromise?’”

He goes on to point out historically the Republican Big No to Obama, and what he imagines will be the Big No to Clinton should she win.   (The obverse – Trump versus the Democrats in the Senate – is apparently not worth discussing.  Our reasoning would be that the Democrats are simply smarter than that.)

O.K., there are places in our world where sectarian differences reign supreme, where hatred is imbibed with mothers’ milk and with fathers’ threats, warnings and beatings.

But Friedman ignores how these differences so often are fostered.  From birth.

More, we don’t bottle-feed our children with hatred and bias and bigotry – at least most of us don’t.

Looking ahead to the unknown results of November 8th, Friedman concludes as others have:  “As  Americans, we were once summoned by our politics to be participants in a race to the moon.   Lately we’ve been summoned by our politics to be spectators in a race to the bottom.  We can do better and we must.”

Well, nuts! we say.  If we’re summoned to be spectators only, we get what we deserve.

We believe we are on the edge of losing what made our country prosper.   Watching others in action is not part of that folly.

How do we catch ourselves from falling?   By being part of that action.   It’s that simple.  Today’s generations – Millennial or whatever comes next (Gen. Z?) – have to be able to see clearly and understand that to live in the United States means exactly that – to live here, to be involved, to work, to love, to live, to vote.  What these younger people teach their own children is, therefore, paramount.  Just as much as what members of this generation say to each other.   Their attitudes towards “others”  will make or break the spine of  a to-date blessed nation.

“It’s rule or die, baby.  Nothing else matters.”

Friedman short-circuits our national desire for cooperation and progress.  He’s ready to blame politicians of all stripes rather than the people who, year after year, elect them, and who by doing so ignore their own best interests.

We believe we are still able to agree bipartisanly in order to maintain the sort of democracy that has developed here, with its faults and corruptions, but more importantly with its dreams, disappointments and desires.

Hey, Tom, get off your airplane.

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