Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Thomas Friedman's version of "truth"

From Thomas Friedman's column in the NYT:

I’m in Tahrir Square, and of all the amazing things one sees here the one that strikes me most is a bearded man who is galloping up and down, literally screaming himself hoarse, saying: “I feel free! I feel free!”

In a region where the truth and truth-tellers have so long been smothered under the crushing weight of oil, autocracy and religious obscurantism, suddenly the Arab world has a truly free space — a space that Egyptians themselves, not a foreign army, have liberated — and the truth is now gushing out of here like a torrent from a broken hydrant.

...This is not a religious event here, and the Muslim Brotherhood is not running the show. This is an Egyptian event. That is its strength and its weakness — no one is in charge and everyone in the society is here....

You almost never hear the word “Israel,” and the pictures of “martyrs” plastered around the square are something rarely seen in the Arab world — Egyptians who died fighting for their own freedom not against Israel.

I have no doubt that Friedman is reporting what he is seeing and understanding in English, but he was not in Tahrir Square last Friday - when hundreds of thousands prayed together:

It is folly to deny the religious dimension here. Egypt's "seculars" are far more religious than Western secularists.

As far as no mention of Israel, John Rosenthal uncovered - just by doing regular Internet searches - many anti-Israel and anti-semitic messages at the protests:

And just today, the Palestine Times paper discusses some of the Arabic slogans that can be heard in Tahrir Square, including "Leave Mubarak, Tel Aviv is waiting for you!" and "Mubarak is a stooge selling gas to Israel."

One other joke going around the protests is that if you want to get Mubarak to leave, you have to speak Hebrew to him so he understands.

If Friedman wants to report the truth, just parachuting onto the scene for a day and relying on locals to translate is not the way to be a reporter. But his ego is so huge now that he is convinced that his limited perception is representative of what is going on and he fearlessly reports things as true when it is easy to find proof that he is missing large parts of the story.

(h/t SoccerDad)