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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Thomas Friedman, "Pussy Riot, Tupac and Putin": More Pontification from Moscow

"In front of me 327 pages of the manuscript (about 22 chapters). The most important remains - editing, and it's going to be hard, I will have to pay close attention to details. Maybe even re-write some things... 'What's its future?' you ask? I don't know. Possibly, you will store the manuscript in one of the drawers, next to my 'killed' plays, and occasionally it will be in your thoughts. Then again, you don't know the future. My own judgement of the book is already made and I think it truly deserves being hidden away in the darkness of some chest..."

- Mikhail Bulgakov on his book "The Master and Margarita," June 15, 1938


Bulgakov's "The Master and Margarita," not published until 1967 owing to Soviet censorship, is considered one of the finest novels ever written, and it is also one of my favorites. Repression in Russia? Although Gorbachev and his introduction of glasnost provided an inkling of hope, nothing has really changed over the course of my lifetime.

Having left Cairo and writing now from Moscow, Thomas Friedman, in his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Pussy Riot, Tupac and Putin" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/19/opinion/friedman-pussy-riot-tupac-and-putin.html?_r=0), proclaims:

"Every time I come here, I expect to find that, this time, Russia is really pivoting from being a petro-state, with a heavy authoritarian gloss — and a president who relies on anti-Western rhetoric to maintain his political base — to a country that has decided to invest in education, innovation and its human capital and is ready to be a partner with the West. But it never materializes, and lately it has started to go backward."

Tom expects Russia to change? I suppose this naivete is also the reason why he pinned such high hopes on change coming to Egypt in the aftermath of the so-called "Arab Spring."

Friedman continues:

"But I couldn’t resist noting that innovative cultures don’t do things like throw the punk band Pussy Riot into prison for two years for performing a 'punk prayer' in a cathedral. That sends a bad signal to all freethinkers."

Friedman tells us that "Pussy Riot probably is no Tupac [Shakur]." Regrettably, I am not familiar with the work of Pussy Riot or Tupac. I do know, however, that throwing Pussy Riot into prison was exactly the carefully considered signal Putin wanted to disseminate.

What is the Master of Piffle's next destination from which he can again grace us with his carefully considered pearls of wisdom? As you can well imagine, I wait with bated breath.

2 comments:

  1. Well, you are right and Friedman is ... Friedman.
    "That sends a bad signal to all freethinkers"
    This is the quality, profound writing for which our "master" is known and which I stopped reading after two miserable attempts (I mean I was miserable).
    This also sends a bad signal about American education and journalism.

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  2. Somehow, Russia did manage to have well educated and profoundly thinking individuals. I am ready to replace our Thomas with Misha (Bulgakov) any moment.
    Maybe it's because I just can't stand shallow, pretentious, pompous and plain primitive writing.

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