Sunday, February 06, 2005

A Penny for Osama

Poker-faced Thomas L. Friedman proposes that raising the bounty on Bin Laden will lead to a situation like this:
"Osama bin Laden was apprehended this morning after villagers turned him in to local police. The villagers collected the $50 million reward and then fled their country in ski masks, not wanting anyone to know their identities."
When what we really want is to have a situation like this:
"Osama bin Laden was captured this morning after villagers tipped off local police. One of the villagers, Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed, told reporters: 'This man sullied the name of Islam, a religion of mercy and compassion. There is a special place in hell for him. I will dance on his grave.' "
In order to make this happen, lower the bounty to a penny for Bin Laden and a pistachio for Zarqawi.

Alternate rewards for someone who turns in Bin Laden and Zarqawi:Then Friedman goes off and proposes to send the best and brightest from the Muslim world to US colleges and universities to be educated, ignoring UPDATE:
Matthew Yglesias makes essentially the same point.
UPDATE:
I posted something on Friedman's discussion forum at the NYT
I have a different dream. I believe in the power of liberal arts to elevate discourse and explore the "I-thou" relationship in an illuminating way that is not addressed in any religious writing. Literature has been circumscribed in Muslim lands, except in rare time periods, for 1300 years. The Sufis are the only notable exception. Muslims have not been exposed to great literature with universal themes and hopes. They have not been exposed to all the different strains of humanity that have been explored in western literature. This is a tragedy! Not only because they don't understand us, but because it would help them understand themselves. ...

We can start with the works that are out of copyright. Instead of educating the scholarship students, hire them. Have them translate the works, and a corps of professional editors will be hired to polish the translations. Get Dickens, Thoreau, Melville, and the Brontes out and see what the reaction is like.


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