Iraqi Metaphors

IRAQI METAPHORS….Thomas Friedman has a column today in which he seems ? as he often does ? to be constructing an entire theory based on a single person telling him something he’s already eager to hear: Iraqis resent the other Arab regimes, the American occupation is a dandy thing, in 10 years Iraq will be the next Hong Kong, etc. etc. Well, fine. But check out this quote:

“Iraq is going to be the Arab libido,” a Lebanese aid worker in Baghdad said to me. “You know, when you have those naughty dreams that you can’t tell anyone about and then suddenly you’re on the couch talking about them ? that’s going to be Iraq.” It’s going to be where all the taboos that are not supposed to be spoken, get spoken. Indeed, they already are.

Am I the only one who finds this an unlikely reaction from a Lebanese aid worker in Baghdad? That’s a hellaciously strained metaphor for someone to come up with in casual conversation and, frankly, it doesn’t even really make any sense.

In fact, what it really sounds like is the kind of tin ear metaphors that abound in Friedman’s own writing. And so I’m forced to wonder: what did that Lebanese aid worker really say before his words got filtered through the Friedman metaphor processor? It sure doesn’t sound like your typical man-in-the-street kind of conversation to me.

UPDATE: Matt Yglesias once took a class co-taught by Friedman, and he has some thoughts about Friedman’s reporting too.

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation