That title is stolen from Atrios, who refers to him as Little Tommy Friedman, age 9. I couldn’t agree more. Besides being married to a billionaire mall developer, he’s also a jingoist of the first order, using his NYT column to rhetorically taunt the Serbians back in the mid-90’s: “You want 1940? We’ll give you 1940. How about 1540? or 1340?” Implying that we would bomb them back to some past age. Excellent, Tommy.
Vanity Fair now has Friedman’s Five Worst Predictions and it’s a passable list, reflective of the intellect that allows him to breeze past CNBC producers straight to the pineapple daiquiris in the green room. Though this list of brutishly simplistic conclusions based on counter-intuitive and patronizing over-extrapolations of routine activity in the developing world leaves out some doozies, the thing about Friedman that almost makes my head explode is the seemingly highest-regard in which he is held by academics, many of whom I know personally. I just don’t get it that they don’t get it. Maybe the flat world idea is just too easy and useful to let pass despite its fundamental flaw, and so they can’t. It’s truly one of the great mysteries of my proximity to academia. But I think he essentially misunderstood the cabbie or whomever it was in Bangalore that first told him that line. And now it’s everywhere. And it’s truly stupid.
At least he makes our usual question easier to answer.