Tom Friedman has an Op Ed column that starts out with a seemingly reasonable suggestion:
We need to shine a spotlight on hate speech wherever it appears. The State Department produces an annual human rights report. Henceforth, it should also produce a quarterly War of Ideas Report, which would focus on those religious leaders and writers who are inciting violence against others.It's pretty clear that such a list could itself become a war propaganda tool, but maybe the times require that. His next suggestion feels a lot slimier though:
We also need to spotlight the "excuse makers," the former State Department spokesman James Rubin said. After every major terrorist incident, the excuse makers come out to tell us why imperialism, Zionism, colonialism or Iraq explains why the terrorists acted. These excuse makers are just one notch less despicable than the terrorists and also deserve to be exposed.He doesn't give any examples here, but it's not a stretch to imagine that he's talking about people like Juan Cole and Robert Pape whose actual work is not excuse making but analyzing the real and imagined goals and grudges that motivate the terrorists. It's not too surprising that Friedman, who wasn't interested in the 9/11 commission report, is similarly disinterested in any real analysis of what's going on in the Muslim world. Like the bishop who refused to look though Galileo's telescope for fear of seeing something that would challenge his faith, Friedman is profoundly uninterested in anything that would challenge his world view. Friedman is one of those unusual individuals who manages, despite a wealth of experience and education, to remain utterly shallow in his thinking.
He blathers on about a "war of ideas" but can only articulate the empty pieties of Bush and friends ("freedom," "democracy"). Worse though, is his failure to understand or even mention the ideas that the enemy wields - the fear of having their land stolen, their way of life shattered, their culture despoiled, and their religion trampled.