If we have learned anything from the war on terror, it’s that individual Middle eastern taxi, livery, and car service drivers have no special insight into world affairs. Someone on the web has kept track of how often Tom Friedman used that kind of anecdotal evidence to characterize the opinions and feelings of the entire Middle East. Now it’s time for Richard Cohen, liberal pundit of the Washington Post. He writes:
In the end, the photos taken at Abu Ghraib produced an explosion of
outrage. When I visited Jordan in 2005, my driver — Bassam was his
name — brought it up himself. Just as the military’s interrogators
knew the intense shame Muslim men feel when stripped naked and viewed
by women, or when forced to wear women’s underwear on their heads, so
did Bassam deeply feel that shame himself. "We are Muslims," he said.
No offense to Bassam, but what makes Cohen think this guy represents anything more than his own view? There is little question, by the way, that Cohen is right–he’s just not right on account of the testimony of this or of every conveyance driver he meets.