Many people have made a sport of telling NYT columnist Tom Friedman to eat shit. May I join in?
In his latest, he says that freedom-starved Arabs should emulate (or have sought to emulate) the example of the bestest, greatest, most peachy-keeniest Arab country ever: Dubai.
Why, even the very name sounds like an ode to capitalism! Do. Buy. Do. Buy. DUBAI!
Did Dubai cause the Arab awakening?
Wait. How could it have? The U.A.E. and Dubai are absolute monarchies that tolerate no opposition or real freedom of the press. It’s because Dubai, beyond the glitz, glass and real estate booms and busts, has become the Manhattan of the Arab world — a place where young Arabs from across the region can come to realize their full potential in arts, business, media, education and technology start-ups — with world-class companies — and in their own culture, their own language, their own religious milieu, their own food preferences, music and clothing.
As more young Arabs came to Dubai, or viewed it on TV from afar, more and more asked: “Why don’t we have that in my Arab country?” The former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said to me: “People know what it means to be a citizen everywhere now.”
“Dubai is the capital of the Arab Spring — the real revolution started here,” argued Mazen Nahawi, 39, a Palestinian who founded News Group International, a media-monitoring company here in Dubai.
And so on.
Tom, Tom, Tom...let me explain something about Dubai to you. Let me tell you the real secret lurking behind those gleaming towers. Let me tell you about something that your Quisling Palestinian mouthpieces may not want to discuss in public.
That secret comes down to one word: slavery
The people of the Arab world know full well that Dubai and the UAE were built on horrifying exploitation. Yet Friedman thinks that working people in Egypt and Libya want to emulate conditions in those lands. Is he insane
From a 2008 Guardian story titled "We need slaves to build monuments"
"They lied to us," a worker with a long beard says. "They told us lies to bring us here. Some of us sold their land; others took big loans to come and work here."
As they eat, the men talk more about their lives. "My shift is eight hours and two overtime, but in reality we work 18 hours," one says. "The supervisors treat us like animals. I don't know if the owners [of the company] know."
Down in the Diera quarter of old Dubai, where many of the city's illegal workers live, 20 men are often crammed into one small room.
The writer then spoke to members of the upper classes:
"We need slaves," my friend says. "We need slaves to build monuments. Look who built the pyramids - they were slaves."
Sharla Musabih, a human rights campaigner who runs the City of Hope shelter for abused women, is familiar with such sentiments. "Once you get rich on the back of the poor," she says, "it's not easy to let go of that lifestyle..."
Here's the BBC
"The latrines are so filthy we cannot use them, we are so disgusted. The roads are full of garbage and waterlogged. Living and moving about here is a great problem. We suffer greatly," one of the workers told us.
This story attracted some interesting comments from people who know the truth all too well:
Dubai is a brilliant place for the rich but the poor have very little to reap from it. The poverty gap in Dubai is massive, and I myself am quite disgusted in how the public treat the low pay workers.
Having lived and worked in Dubai, everyone out there knows that Dubai is built on the modern day equivalent of slave labour. It is not a secret, is not hidden, and anyone who tells you different is lying. Whether you choose to ignore it or not is up to you, but do not pretend not to be complicit, when their poor wages subsidise your lavish lifestyle, gas guzzling car, swimming pool, school fees etc etc
From a now-classic expose by the Independent
. A Bangladeshi worker named Sahinal was promised a well-paying job if he traveled to Dubai...
So Sahinal sold his family land, and took out a loan from the local lender, to head to this paradise.
As soon as he arrived at Dubai airport, his passport was taken from him by his construction company. He has not seen it since. He was told brusquely that from now on he would be working 14-hour days in the desert heat – where western tourists are advised not to stay outside for even five minutes in summer, when it hits 55 degrees – for 500 dirhams a month (£90), less than a quarter of the wage he was promised. If you don't like it, the company told him, go home. "But how can I go home? You have my passport, and I have no money for the ticket," he said. "Well, then you'd better get to work," they replied.
The room stinks, because the lavatories in the corner of the camp – holes in the ground – are backed up with excrement and clouds of black flies. There is no air conditioning or fans, so the heat is "unbearable. You cannot sleep. All you do is sweat and scratch all night." At the height of summer, people sleep on the floor, on the roof, anywhere where they can pray for a moment of breeze.
The water delivered to the camp in huge white containers isn't properly desalinated: it tastes of salt. "It makes us sick, but we have nothing else to drink," he says.
The work is "the worst in the world," he says. "You have to carry 50kg bricks and blocks of cement in the worst heat imaginable ... This heat – it is like nothing else. You sweat so much you can't pee, not for days or weeks. It's like all the liquid comes out through your skin and you stink. You become dizzy and sick but you aren't allowed to stop, except for an hour in the afternoon. You know if you drop anything or slip, you could die. If you take time off sick, your wages are docked, and you are trapped here even longer."
One could cite many similar stories. It's worth noting that all of the above pieces were printed in the UK. I doubt that any British paper would have printed Friedman's garbage.
I used to think that Tom Friedman was just silly, but "silly" doesn't suffice to describe his latest. This shit is evil