Friedman Wrongly Claims Only One Attack in US by Foreign-Born Terrorists

Appearing as a guest on Monday's Andrea Mitchell Reports on MSNBC, New York Times columnist Tom Friedman incorrectly claimed that there has only been one case of a foreign-born terrorist staging an attack in the United States when there have, in fact, been a significant number of cases.

Although he didn't say so, one assumes he was referring to terrorism since the 9/11 attacks when vetting procedures were presumably changed. But, even so, he is still wrong as The Federalist recently put together a list of terrorists who were born in other countries before they made attacks in the U.S. The liberal columnist even erroneously claimed that the Tsarnaev brothers who bombed the Boston Marathon were American-born, even though they were both born outside the U.S.

As host Andrea Mitchell referred to his new book, Thank You for Being Late, the MSNBC  host seemed sympathetic to critics of President Donald Trump's recent travel ban as she posed:

The brain drain of these students who are coming from Muslim, you know, majority countries, and it's also the message we're spreading to students from India and other countries which have benefited us so greatly. Universities, Silicon Valley companies, all concerned about what we're losing.

Friedman brought up the case of Steve Jobs -- whose father was an immigrant from Syria -- and seemed to assume that no one else would have developed the iPhone in his absence as evidence that immigration is important for America's success:

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This iPhone was conceived by Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs was conceived -- his biological father -- by Abdul Fatah al-Jindali, who was a Syrian student at the University of Wisconsin in the 1950s. And so who knows what incredible wealth of knowledge and talent and energy we are now sending a signal to stay away.

It's interesting that the liberal Friedman would probably never make an argument that preventing the abortions of a million American babies each year could also result in the next Steve Jobs being born in the U.S.

He then made his claim that there has only been one terrorist attack in the U.S. by someone who was born in another country as he added:

Of course we want people vetted. I mean, but who said the vetting system had failed us? What is the proof of that? The Orlando attack was done by an American-born Muslim, Boston basically the same thing. There was a case obviously in San Bernardino. That's, you know, one out of how many?

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Monday, February 6, Andrea Mitchell Reports on MSNBC:

ANDREA MITCHELL: Thanks for not only being on time, Tom, but on point in your new book because this gets to the whole question we are now looking at. You look at the global situation from the standpoint of your childhood in Minnesota and how globalization helps us.

I mean, there are net losers, as you point out, you're quick to point out, but the brain drain of these students who are coming from Muslim, you know, majority countries, and it's also the message we're spreading to students from India and other countries which have benefited us so greatly. Universities, Silicon Valley companies, all concerned about what we're losing.

THOMAS FRIEDMAN: Well, you know, the essential argument of the book, Andrea, is you got to connect the dots, and the main dots you've got to connect is climate technology and globalization. They're all really reshaping the world. And so if you just think checking boxes -- not connecting boxes -- you're going to have a problem.

So just taking that Libyan student, here's my iPhone. This iPhone was conceived by Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs was conceived -- his biological father -- by Abdul Fatah al-Jindali, who was a Syrian student at the University of Wisconsin in the 1950s. And so who knows what incredible wealth of knowledge and talent and energy we are now sending a signal to stay away.

Of course we want people vetted. I mean, but who said the vetting system had failed us? What is the proof of that? The Orlando attack was done by an American-born Muslim, Boston basically the same thing. There was a case obviously in San Bernardino. That's, you know, one out of how many?

Of course we want vetting. But the signal we're sending is: Stay away. And when you send that signal, Lord knows in a world where there's -- what makes us great as a country over the years, Andrea, is we have attracted more high-IQ risk takers than any other country over 250 years basically. If we know -- global brains are divided equally -- and if we now tell people basically to stay away, we'll revert to the global norm. And the global norm is about a quarter of our GDP.

(...)

FRIEDMAN: One of the points I make in the book is, when people ask me what I do for a living, I tell them I'm a translator from English to English. That's what I really try to do. I try to take complex subjects, break it down so first I can understand it and then I can explain it, and I have a quote from Marie Curie in there talking about really that process. And she said, you know, "Now is the time for us to understand more so we will fear less." And that's really the point. When people don't understand the world, they're easily prey to those who make them afraid of everything.

NB Daily Economy 9/11 Boston Marathon Bombing Foreign Policy Middle East Immigration Islam MSNBC Andrea Mitchell Reports New York Times Video Andrea Mitchell Thomas Friedman Donald Trump


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