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July 9, 2005

Al Qaeda is Flat

Over a month ago, Jack Shafer wrote an article in Slate in which he asked Thomas Friedman to quit using his spot on the editorial page of the New York Times to publicize his newest book, The World is Flat. "Since the book came out two months ago," he wrote, "his columns have stated that the world has become 'flat,' is 'increasingly flat,' has become 'flatter,' or some other variant ('flattened,' 'flattening,' 'flatten') at least six times, and that's not counting the 5,000-word excerpt ('It's a Flat World, After All') from his book…" Friedman has not stopped, and is now even expanding his use of the term.

In the wake of the London bombings, Friedman could again not restrain himself from the overused phrase, writing, "The Al Qaeda threat has metastasized and become franchised. It is no longer vertical, something that we can punch in the face. It is now horizontal, flat and widely distributed, operating through the Internet and tiny cells."

This gratuitous flattening of Al Qaeda seems to have little to do with Friedman's meandering point, which seems to be something about how Muslims should do more to isolate terrorists. As Shafer wrote, "…
may I suggest that if his Big Idea best seller needs any more nudges in the Times, he should purchase ads?"

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