New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has a recurring daydream. In Friedman’s daydream the United States adopts the highly efficient Chinese Communist mode of government under the leadership of “a reasonably enlightened group of people” — such as Friedman finds the Chinese Communists to be. Friedman finds enlightenment among the Chinese Communists in their collective pursuit of “electric cars, solar power, energy efficiency, batteries, nuclear power and wind power.”
By contrast with Friedman, Jonathan Mirsky is a leftist who knows what he is talking about and who has refused to check his devotion to freedom at the door when he writes about China. I recently noted Mirsky’s essay on Liu Xiabo, the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner, in the New York Times Book Review and proposed a fitting headline for it: “Thomas Friedman, you pitiful fool.”
Over at the New York Review of Books, Mirsky has awoken from Thomas Friedman’s daydream to find himself “Banned in China.” Mirsky writes:
In late December, a foreign correspondent in Beijing emailed me to say that a four-page article on China I’d written for a special New Year’s edition of Newsweek had been carefully torn from each of the 731 copies of the magazine on sale in China. Now, friends and colleagues are telling me what an honor it is to have one’s writing banned in the People’s Republic.
Mirsky adds: “In over forty years of writing about China, I have been subjected to many forms of pressure. But this has never happened to me.” Check out Mirsky’s report to discover how he earned the extreme disapproval of Friedman’s “reasonably enlightened” leaders.
Friedman has been awarded many honors in the course of his career, but being banned in China is one honor that probably exceeds his grasp.