Thursday, April 19, 2007

Friedman framing global warming

Via a rather stupid article at American Thinker, I came across this piece by Thomas Friedman in the NY Times Magazine

The Power of Green

One day Iraq, our post-9/11 trauma and the divisiveness of the Bush years will all be behind us — and America will need, and want, to get its groove back. We will need to find a way to reknit America at home, reconnect America abroad and restore America to its natural place in the global order — as the beacon of progress, hope and inspiration. I have an idea how. It’s called “green.”

In the world of ideas, to name something is to own it. If you can name an issue, you can own the issue. One thing that always struck me about the term “green” was the degree to which, for so many years, it was defined by its opponents — by the people who wanted to disparage it. And they defined it as “liberal,” “tree-hugging,” “sissy,” “girlie-man,” “unpatriotic,” “vaguely French.”

Well, I want to rename “green.” I want to rename it geostrategic, geoeconomic, capitalistic and patriotic. I want to do that because I think that living, working, designing, manufacturing and projecting America in a green way can be the basis of a new unifying political movement for the 21st century. A redefined, broader and more muscular green ideology is not meant to trump the traditional Republican and Democratic agendas but rather to bridge them when it comes to addressing the three major issues facing every American today: jobs, temperature and terrorism.

Let's ignore the idea of the "natural place in the global order" of the US as "the beacon of progress, hope and inspiration", and instead focus on what he is actually trying to say. He wants to redefine the word "green" in the mind of people, and get them to think of it was a subject on which there can be a broad concensus. And he consider this the major issue.

Because a new green ideology, properly defined, has the power to mobilize liberals and conservatives, evangelicals and atheists, big business and environmentalists around an agenda that can both pull us together and propel us forward. That’s why I say: We don’t just need the first black president. We need the first green president. We don’t just need the first woman president. We need the first environmental president. We don’t just need a president who has been toughened by years as a prisoner of war but a president who is tough enough to level with the American people about the profound economic, geopolitical and climate threats posed by our addiction to oil — and to offer a real plan to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.

This is not something I say often, but Friedman is quite right about this.

The rest of the article goes on at some length (the article is 11 pages long) about a number of reasons why being green is important, framed in such a way that it will also appeal to more conservative readers.

The article shows one problem with framing - since Friedman is writing to a specific audience, and targeting his arguments to them, I have serious problems with it, even though I am quite in agreement with the message of the importance of alternative energy.

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Blogger Trinifar said...

Nice pick up. Friedman, who puts me off in interviews (just too smarmy), really nails the issue. I'm glad you chose to focus on what he's really trying to say rather than, as has been too often done in the framing debate, get distracted by some of the language he used.

April 20, 2007 12:19 AM  

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