I agree, to the extent I know much about the what's going on around the globe in Islamist circles, which in effective essence is little to nothing. When I say I agree, I'm referring to the useless notion they are victims -- not at all that they actually are victims. But when I examine American culture, which I do regularly, the grating, legitimacy-free, responsibility-shirking proposition that nothing is my fault and every failure or disappointment I experience is because "'they' are agin me"is such a dominant force here that it only seems reasonable to suspect that it might be elsewhere also.
In fairness to Friedman, while his article seemed to throw a somewhat accusatory shawl over the Muslim world (and it was directed to them today), while always positively we-can-do-better-and-be-better optimistic, he's been a rather consistent equal-opportunity accuser, letting no one or no group, most especially including Americans, off the hook.
And in certain instances I am every bit as guilty as anyone. This past week was devoted to laying a laminate floor where I live. The flooring came in packages of 7" by 47" tongue-in-groove boards; two adjacent sides consisted of a groove, and the opposing two sides features tongues that interlocked with the grooves of the subsequent boards in the row. Lay a row, install the next board, and eventually you'd get to a wall that required sawing the length to fit. As the progression of rows laid moved toward the opposing wall, eventually that last one would require ripping the 7" width to, say 5". As bad luck would have it, and all rooms are originally erected with that bad luck built in, although slight, the configuration was somewhat a sort of parallelogram-trapezoid. As I am very much an anal-retentive perfectionist, I would tolerate no gap whatsoever as the board ends abutted the wall; saw the ends to fall flush against the wall, not with one corner with a " gap. (For reasons I won't address, the option of molding that would disguise the gap was not available to me.)
I offer the preceding not with any sense of pride, but only to illustrate that, as a wholly imperfect human, the role of frustration fused with passion often leads to the compulsion to locate personal responsibility onto some other source. No deity conspired against me, by creating non-square walls or with a saw blade that, under the strain of intense heat, would begin shifting off course. Nor did any other person or group of persons. Whatever difficulties I encountered and errors I experienced were from me; no Right-wing nuts, no Jews, no blacks, no Christians or Moslems . . . just me.
Nonetheless, pan-historic and pan-global, blaming others has been the genuine human pastime. The Old Testament is rife with the most sordid tales. God's supposed chosen people slew entire populations -- men, women, even suckling babes; supposedly because God had commanded the slaughter. Our own grimy road of race relations -- how whites abused blacks, and engaged the mass slaughter of the native peoples who had been here for thousands of years, and shuttered upstanding Japanese citizens behind barbed wire compounds -- is manifest evidence of the eagerness to fix blame on others and then to commit the most horrid travesties as a byproduct of the blame fixing. The Germans did it during the 30s and into the first half of the 40s, and were only prevented from completing the "final solution" by losing a war. So-called Christians in America have been and are blaming non-Christians and those they esteem not quite good enough Christians for every ill under the sun, including hurricanes. And 100% of right-wing shock talk radio and Fox News is devoted to telling listeners and viewers that every problem in their lives is not at all due to something they either did or did not do. Rather they're suffering whatever it is they're suffering because of some elite, godless, liberal conspiracy to enslave them.
But I digress.
In Luke 4:23 Jesus is reputed to have used the phrase "Physician heal thyself," which is kind of like chiding you for chiding your neighbor for leaving his barn door open, while your own cattle are wandering off into the night. And that gets me to my Christmas wish list; the same one I've had for several years.
1.) I want the United States to begin staying out of the affairs that rightfully are those of other countries. We've an awful lot of unfinished business of our own to attend to. There are 50 stars on that old flag. And the populations represented by each and all of them are fraying badly as a consequence of the inattention.
2.) I want everyone's religion to cease and desist worrying about the sins of those who don't subscribe to its tenets. I challenge anyone to produce even the first grain of evidence that his or her god is more disturbed by who loves whom than he/she/it is with who hates whom. In this vein, I want all contest winners to quit thanking their god for the victory. You really think some god was watching the game or match, and decided he/she/it cared who won, or wanted someone or some other team to lose a sporting event? While entire populations are being hacked to death elsewhere?
3.) With ZERO EXCEPTIONS, I want every American to have access to a health care system that will not bankrupt them, should they fall prey to an unlucky spin of the health roulette wheel. Who one's parents are or one's measure of fortune landing a position with an employer should have no bearing whatsoever on whether someone can visit a doctor for regular checkups or repair to a hospital for critical care.
5.) Following close on the heels of Number 4, I want folks to be skeptical of what all others say and skeptical of what all others write, and to begin thinking for themselves. Digging for the truth may not always be easy, and possessing the truth may not always be pleasant, and it's highly probable you'll never locate even most of it, but it's certainly preferable -- not to mention a whole lot smarter -- to persevering in a falsehood that someone else contrived.
6.) I want everyone to volunteer themselves first, before volunteering others for the defense of this country. If by dint of age or legitimate physical or intellectual incapacity they cannot, then I want them to drag their service-age offspring to the recruiting office with the understanding they will be permitted back into the house after they too have served in a combat operation.