Wednesday, August 27, 2008

It's Not Just the Airport, Mr. Friedman

So I would blog about the convention and how impressed I was by Hillary Clinton's speech while it was happening and how it reminded me of the first time I saw her speak in Chicago in 1992, but I won't. All the backstory about how upset the Clintons are and how Hillary is stoking the coals for 2012 has really taken the bloom off the rose of that speech. Enough other people are writing about that this morning.

Instead, this morning I want to write about Tom Friedman's NY Times column about China. Because the China Friedman saw in Beijing for the Olympics was so clean! The broadband was so sophisticated! The airport so swanky! Those Chinese, man, they've really got us lapped, and according to Friedman, they did all that by dint of their hard work.

So here's what I want to know. I want to know if Mr. Friedman has already forgotten the horrible images of this spring. Picture filled with heaps of rubble which crushed thousands of school children in poorly built schools in an earthquake prone region of China. Has he forgotten the images of devastated parents holding up pictures of their children whose bodies were lost in the debris? Did he consider that the Chinese could have taken a few hundred million out of their Olympic budget and directed it toward safer schools, even if those schools serve poor, rural villagers and not airport travelers?

And to write this column, maybe Mr. Friedman simply pushed out of his mind the stories of hundreds Chinese dissidents jailed before the games for fear of some kind of disruption through -- what's that called? -- Free Speech. Maybe he didn't notice the cloak of grey smog that choked athletes and made every day look like rain, at least on TV. No, Mr. Friedman didn't notice any of that because the Bird's Nest was so pretty! The closing ceremonies so fantastic! The train to the airport so clean!

Sure, there's no nice clean high speed train from La Guardia to New York City. But if, as Friedman suggests, the future means a few over-priced buildings constructed by a repressive regime that won't build safe schools out of camera range of the Western media, that jails people for speaking their minds, and that can't figure out that long-term growth means attention to the environmental impact development has on things like air and water, then Mr. Friedman can have his future and move to Beijing. It sounds really great there. As long as you can afford to get to the airport.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Robin Aronson, your ignorance of China is beyond me.