Reading Thomas L. Friedman today!


While thinking of Maddow from Monday: For our money, Thomas L. Friedman’s new column is quite intriguing.

He cites a wave of reaction in the Middle East—reaction against the recent rioting. “Backlash to the Backlash,” his headline says.

This is Friedman’s first example. All deletions by him:
FRIEDMAN (9/26/12): On Monday, the Middle East Media Research Institute, or Memri, which tracks the Arab/Muslim press, translated a searing critique written by Imad al-Din Hussein, a columnist for Al Shorouk, Cairo’s best daily newspaper: “We curse the West day and night, and criticize its [moral] disintegration and shamelessness, while relying on it for everything. ... We import, mostly from the West, cars, trains, planes ... refrigerators, and washing machines. ... We are a nation that contributes nothing to human civilization in the current era. ... We have become a burden on [other] nations. ... Had we truly implemented the essence of the directives of Islam and all [other] religions, we would have been at the forefront of the nations. The world will respect us when we return to being people who take part in human civilization, instead of [being] parasites who are spread out over the map of the advanced world, feeding off its production and later attacking it from morning until night. ... The West is not an oasis of idealism. It also contains exploitation in many areas. But at least it is not sunk in delusions, trivialities and external appearances, as we are. ... Therefore, supporting Islam and the prophet of the Muslims should be done through work, production, values, and culture, not by storming embassies and murdering diplomats.”
Throughout his column, Friedman quotes other voices in the backlash against the brouhaha. He even quotes an Egyptian man of the joke:
FRIEDMAN: The Egyptian comedian, Bassem Youssef, wrote in Al Shorouk, translated by Memri, on Sept. 23: “We demand that the world respect our feelings, yet we do not respect the feelings of others. We scream blue murder when they outlaw the niqab in some European country or prevent [Muslims] from building minarets in another [European] country—even though these countries continue to allow freedom of religion, as manifest in the building of mosques and in the preaching [activity] that takes place in their courtyards. Yet, in our countries, we do not allow others to publicly preach their beliefs. Maybe we should examine ourselves before [criticizing] others.”
We don’t know what these examples of backlash might mean. But might we make a confession?

As we read these examples of backlash, we thought of segments we saw on the Maddow show the last two nights. These segments dealt with Scott Brown’s ongoing complaints concerning Elizabeth Warren’s past (and apparently current) claims about her family’s ethnicity.

On Monday night, Maddow spoke with Melissa Harris-Perry about these complaints by Brown. As such, liberal viewers saw a former Rhodes Scholar speak with a ranking professor.

This fulfills the favorite (pipe) dream of us liberals: We are the very smart people! But are we really the very smart people? As we watched, we were struck by how many facts were being withheld from Maddow’s viewers. We had a similar reaction last night as Maddow declaimed about this matter on her own, first in a fairly lengthy tease, then in a stand-alone segment.

Due to our recent presence at a top-secret government training session, we haven’t had a chance to review the transcripts. We will do so tomorrow.

That said, is Warren really “Native American?” Maddow made this assertion each night. As she did, and as Harris-Perry lectured, we were struck by how many facts and points of view were being withheld from her liberal viewers.

This morning, we thought of those segments as we read those examples of backlash to the backlash. Should we liberals perhaps “examine ourselves?” That’s the advice that Egyptian comedian has now given to fellow Egyptians. Do we liberals practice the conduct we savage in others, the behavior that comic described?

More on Maddow’s segments tomorrow. That to the side, we recommend Friedman’s intriguing column. Is there a backlash to the backlash?

He reports, you can decide.

Why not treat yourself to a lecture: To watch Maddow’s main segment from Monday night, go ahead: Just click here.

To see Maddow preview this segment on Monday night, click this.


  1. AFAIK there's no evidence at all that Elizabeth Warren is part Cherokee. Her academic record, although fine by ordinary standards, is well below that of other Harvard Law School Professors. It seems clear that her unsupported claim of Native American heritage was crucial to being hired by Harvard Law School. Nevertheless, she's surviving what should be a pretty big scandal.

    Now a new scandal has erupted: she's been practicing law without a Massachusetts law license. I've seen legal opinons saying that she apparently broke the law by doing so. I've seen other lawyers defend her action, saying that she might not have needed a Mass law license for the legal work she did. E.g., see

    Both sides admit that the legality would depend on the exact cases she handled and the status of her other state law licenses at various points in time. I don't know whether any official body intends to do a full investigation. The necessary facts are not public information.

    As far as I can tell, this controversy has been entirely in the blogs. No newspaper has reported what seems to be the definite fact that she never had a Mass law license.

    1. *As far as I can tell, this controversy has been entirely in the blogs.*
      Which makes me think there's no there there. Newspapers have to be a little more cautious about rushing BS into print.
      *what seems to be the definite fact*
      Seems from what angle? David, maybe we're all a little too ready to swallow the info that pleases us.
      Ray DeLagarto

    2. "Both sides admit that the legality would depend on the exact cases she handled and the status of her other state law licenses at various points in time."

      Yes, it would, David. As well as the exact nature of the services she allegedly provided. When you get the answers to all that, come back and make your allegation. Not before.

      This is classic Rovian tactics. Get a surrogate to make a damning charge against the oppoent's strongest point with little or absolutely no evidence to support it, watch it spread through the right-wing blogosphere until Fox News then picks it up, then you've got your political opponent wasting time defending him/herself on charges he/she shouldn't waste five minutes on.

      In other words, we are witnessing the "swiftboating" of Elizabeth Warren.

  2. Really, David? No evidence? AFAIK, there is no evidence that you are in Calif. or named David. What sort of evidence would suffice and why should she give it to you? She said a grandparent told her she had some Cherokee ancestry. Not good enough for you?
    WTF difference does it make to you in Calif?
    More distraction, which is your speciality.

    Her state license also doesn't matter to her run for a Senate seat but, once again, dust in the eyes to obfuscate any real substance. This is what Scott Brown hired his Rovian advisors to do: keep the focus on bullshit. Well done Dave, you ate it all up! Good boy!

    1. Tom, like Elizabeth Warren, my wife grew up being told by the family that a particular ancestor was a Cherokee. However, my wife's ancestor was not on the official rolls, just as Elizabeth Warren's ancestor wasn't. The difference is that my wife and daughters never sought to gain an advantage in employment by claiming an unsubstantiated ancestry. Like Warren, my wife was also a Professor. Perhaps she could have gotten hired at a superior university if she had claimed Cherokee heritage.

      Warren's choice hurt Harvard. It led them to hire a weaker person than they might have. And, it embarassed them, now that Warren't trickery has become public. The episode illustrates that my wife is scrupulous, unselfish, and not overly ambitions. Evidently Elizabeth Warren is the opposite.

      Practicing law without a license or having a law office in a state without a license is a crime. Warren seems to have committed these two crimes (although there conceivably could be a legal defense.) Harvard Law School teaches its students not to practice law without a license. If Warren illegally did so, it reflects badly on her character and it embarasses Harvard.

    2. Troll, no food for you.

  3. Don't get this post. I live in MA (as opposed having lived there once years ago). Brown's whole Cherokee thing has never gotten traction (beyond people who would have supported him anyway, like DaveinCal) and, as he continues to pursue it, may be hurting him now. I don't care (nor do any undecided MA voters care) what Maddow and Harris-Perry may be saying about this story. Their comments are weak weak add-ons to the local coverage and, for those who use the internet for more sophisticated analysis, nothing next to Charlie Pierce.

    Btw, my children are 1/8 Cherokee and have red hair and blond hair, respectively. By Cherokees' own definition, they are entitled to call themselves Cherokee. My husband is from Oklahoma, where these phenomena are well known, but they're not a total mystery in New England either (lots of Native Americans here, too, of some combination and description). The racisim of Brown's pointing to Elizabeth's looks was lost on few (Brown himself among those few,but then, he's hopeless).

    1. So how much have your blond and red-headed children been discriminated against, or otherwise lived a life that might make Harvard deem them as hirelings with experience outside of the European lineage majority?

  4. Lots of law professors file briefs in cases occuring in states in which they are not licensed to practice law. This is because the cases are brought in federal court and the professors are admitted to the bar of that federal court. Get it Dave? Federal court, state court - there's a difference. Thing is, he knows the difference; Dave in Cal is bs-ing as usual. And Warren never claimed to have a law office in Mass.

  5. Well, Dave, in addition to "no evidence" that Warren is Native American, there is also not only "no evidence" that her ethnicity played any role in landing her Harvard job, there is evidence to the contrary.

    Sitting on the Harvard appointments committee that hired Warren in 1995 was former Reagan Solicitor General Charles Fried. He has said Warren's Native American ancestry was never mentioned, never discussed, and never even brought up at the time she was hired.

  6. Mark Thompson, Elizabeth Warren's primary defender on the charge of practicing law without a license, has changed his mind, in the light of addtional information.

    Professor Jacobson has uncovered this morning a case in which Elizabeth Warren entered an appearance in a federal appellate court as a representative of a Massachusetts client in a case that appears to have clearly implicated Massachusetts law. Although this is still a federal appellate court, because we’re dealing with a Massachusetts client and issues of Massachusetts law, this looks really, really bad for Professor Warren. With this bombshell, I would no longer view the case against her as weak.