Dear Thomas Friedman,
Recently, I went to Breitbart News to see how they were presenting Donald Trump’s presidency. I quickly found a post about an article you had just written for the New York Times. Their post was titled (and the all caps are their’s, not mine), “NEW YORK TIMES COLUMNIST PLEADS WITH GLOBALIST BILLIONAIRES TO SAVE NATION FROM TRUMP.”
I read their post about your letter to America’s wealthiest, then I read your letter for myself, and now I am going to write you a letter.
You present yourself as dramatically different from Trump, but you’re not. Like Trump, you, too, believe that life is most meaningful when it is a part of America’s capitalist economy. That’s why you asked a ton of millionaires to, as you say, “save the country” from Trump (your alleged adversary). According to you, Trump has such a “distorted view” that he might upend America and the economic system that is America’s foundation.
One of the millionaires you address is Apple CEO Tim Cook. It doesn’t bother you that work conditions in Apple’s factories are so foul that they had to install suicide nets because workers were killing themselves.
Another millionaire you address is JPMorgan Chase chairman Jamie Dimon. It doesn’t bother you that JPMorgan Chase was one of the too-big-to-fail banks that caused the 2008 financial crisis.
Do you remember that article you published shortly after the Paris attacks in November 2015? I do. In it, you praised people in Arab countries who are cloning camels and raising 60 million to create a startup that could compete with Uber. You describe these places in the Arab world as “islands of decency, where more young Arabs and Muslims can realize their full potential and build their dignity by disrupting camels and cabs.
For you, decency, dignity, and potential is entwined with free enterprise, entrepreneurship — capitalism. Considering how corrupt and exploitive capitalism is, conflating dignity with capitalism is a bit strange.
But, before Trump was telling everyone “America first,” and before he was generalizing Muslims as either present terrorists or potential terrorists, you were telling everyone something similar. Trump kind of copied you.
A couple of months after 9/11, you wrote in the New York Times:
We patronize Islam, and mislead ourselves, by repeating the mantra that Islam is a faith with no serious problems accepting the secular West, modernity and pluralism, and the only problem is a few bin Ladens.
You concluded by telling Muslims that their only hope is a “future in this integrated, globalized world.”
But, Thomas, why would Muslims accept America or want a future with it? America is the country that drops bombs on them, ignores their suffering, and makes expedient alliances with leaders, regardless of how these leaders treat their citizens.
Just because a country is secular, pluralistic, and integrated, doesn’t mean it’s a good country. And just because the rich people you like have names like Indra Nooyi and Satya Nadella, doesn’t mean they’re not as compromised as rich people with names like Steven Mnuchin and Rex Tillerson.
Like Trump, you think America should be the blueprint for the world. If someone doesn’t accept America’s martialism and money-grabbing ideals as a way of life, then they have no decency or potential, so, for you, Trump, and millions of other, it’s not important what happens to them: ban them overtly, bomb them surreptitiously… who cares.