New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has a well-documented fascination with China’s authoritarianism means the nation uses to run its economy and govern its people. But Friedman’s appreciation for benevolent authoritarianism is dangerous, National Review columnist Mark Steyn said Wednesday.
On Dennis Miller’s radio program, Steyn gave his best effort to explain the logic behind Friedman’s theory on governance, which is predicated on a distrust of the citizenry to elect the right people.
“I think it’s not so odd because Friedman succumbs nakedly to the totalitarian temptation,” Steyn said. “In other words, every so often he writes these columns and he’s supposedly the most influential in-house thinker at the New York Times saying, ‘China — sometimes if you have benevolent authoritarianism, you can do the things that need to be done,’ which as he sees it is banning the plastic bag. In America it is difficult to ban the plastic bag because you got this great big messy, democratically elected legislature. And unfortunately the kind of boobs that the citizenry elect aren’t as benign and enlightened as the kind of chaps that wind up on the Chinese politburo.”
And if analyzed closely, Friedman’s theories should disturb even his loyal affluent audience, Steyn explained.
“Now this is the most influential newspaper in America advancing this argument seriously,” he continued. “I think every — even liberals reading this at their homes in Malibu or the Hamptons or wherever ought to recoil in horror. They wouldn’t last for a minute under the kind of benevolent dictatorship, benevolent authoritarianism that Freidman is proposing.”
Host Dennis Miller likened those that read Friedman to Catholic parishioners who go through the motions during Mass and trust blindly.
“I sometimes think that liberals don’t read the New York Times in the same way that Catholics don’t read things that are spoken in encyclical,” Miller said. “They just take it for Holy Writ, you know what I mean? It’s almost like they don’t sit down and consider it as much. I know everybody pores over it in the morning. I just wonder if they occasionally hear that the last reliable journalist there might have been Jayson Blair?”
Steyn agreed, labeling it “liturgical mood music for liberalism.”
“I think the way you put it is right,” Steyn replied. “I think that it’s a kind of liturgical mood music for liberalism. You have it delivered in the morning and the fact of having it delivered relieves you of the necessity of having to engage with the arguments — already signed up for the club. You can read Thomas Friedman, but it all washes over you like turning up at church but not paying any attention at what the guy is saying.”
“The masthead reads, ‘All the Gregorian that’s fit to chant,’ I believe,” Miller added.