Thursday, March 24, 2005
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Noam Chomsky, egomaniacal liar
Via Alina Stefanescu (who has a blog that's worth checking out), I stumbled across this Sunday Herald column by Alan Taylor on Noam Chomsky. The most absurd bits:
I'm not sure what Barsky and Chomsky are smoking, but my information about the latter's flirtation with totalitarian, oppressive, exclusionary movements comes from several sources. Click here and here to read about Chomsky's errors of omission and comission with regard to the Khmer Rouge. Click here to read about Chomsky's bizarre theory of why the U.S. supported the Bosnian Muslims. And then there's Stefan Kanfer's takedown of Chomsky from the Summer 2002 City Journal:
I wonder how the supporters for the Iraq war will look in a few years. I wonder how support for "freedom" and human rights will wear after more of the user of torture, murdering of prisoners and extraordinary rendition comes to light. Not to mention the denial of constitutional rights to "enemy combatants". . .
Not to defend Chomsky's mistakes, but it really seems like those who live in glass houses shouldn't be throwing stones.posted by: Hal on 03.24.05 at 10:15 AM [permalink]
Then why bring it up?
You attempt to discredit the charges leveled agains Chomsky by saying that those in glass houses..., how does that provide any serious commentary on Chomsky's actions?
While I cannot comment on his work as a linguist, his attempted forays into other areas put him on par with Marx in terms of academic honesty.posted by: Johnny Upton on 03.24.05 at 10:15 AM [permalink]
I've never seen such a pathetic attempt to attack one man's character and reputation. I haven't followed this blog for very long (6 months) but I'm surprised to find it here. I suppose in a country with "freedom of speech" a war of words are inevitable. One thing that older people won't understand about what makes Chomsky so intriguing is his treatment of empirical history. In today's age of information it becomes harder for the Don Kings, PT Barnums and George Bush's. Those that attack him personally immediately lose their credibility and deeply show their own insecurity.
Look, we're all human. I'm sure all of us, at one time or another, have risen to the defense of holocaust deniers. Its just a part of life, like rolling a stop sign.posted by: Mark Buehner on 03.24.05 at 10:15 AM [permalink]
THe reason for the apparent disconnect as regards Chomsky supporting/not supporting totalitarianism, is because of a disconnect in the definition of the word. Chomsky (A lit prof, no less" seems to operating under the idea that if he supports it by definition it cannot be totalitarian.
Funny thing, though; Out here in the real world, people have sightly different criteria than Chomsky in this matter, as in most others.posted by: Bithead on 03.24.05 at 10:15 AM [permalink]
When I was an 18-year-old freshman at MIT in 1969, I thought Chomsky was the cat's pajamas. Since then, I've matured somewhat, and he hasn't. To Chomsky, the entire modern world is explicable as an imperialist, capitalist conspiracy, with the Jews playing a minor role as the running dogs of the colonial crusaders. Sheesh, even Mao left the Jews out of it. It's kind of pathetic to see such brainpower wasted.posted by: DBL on 03.24.05 at 10:15 AM [permalink]
Quote : "[Chomsky] wrote the introduction to a book by French Holocaust-denier Robert Faurisson."
First, it wasn't the introduction but the preface. Second, Chomsky only wrote a letter to Faurisson: it was the editor's choice to make it a preface. Chomsky was not involved in this decision.
The exact content of the letter should be easily available on the Internet. Find it, read it: the letter clearly states that Chomsky does not agree with Faurisson. The letter focuses on freedom of speech.
Please feel free to email me for details.posted by: François on 03.24.05 at 10:15 AM [permalink]
François's details are mostly correct, except that there's no getting around Chomsky's statement that denying the Holocause isn't anti-Semitic. I don't think that Chomsky is anti-Semitic, but he shows a disturbing amount of insouciance towards anti-Semites if they fufill other political needs.
Also, he sucked up to Pol Pot quite a bit, and frequently claimed, incorrectly, that reports of the Khmer Rouge's atrocities were exaggerated.
Chomsky has, I think, never actually been a member of any of these nasty movements, but he has certainly been quick to minimize and excuse the crimes of such people. And not just in a free speech way.posted by: John Thacker on 03.24.05 at 10:15 AM [permalink]
"Chomsky never flirted with movements or organisations that were later revealed to be totalitarian, oppressive, exclusionary, anti-revolutionary, and elitist"
BWAAHHHAHAHAH.posted by: am on 03.24.05 at 10:15 AM [permalink]
Let us never forget that the apparent demise of "anti-Americanism" as a respectable means of stifling recognition of American imperialism provides a pretext for the end of any possibility of social justice in a reactionary state. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Pax Americana of the future represents the crushing of internal dissent in order to propagate the theocrat Ashcroft's suspension of our civil rights. On the other hand, the pro-Sharon neoconservative cabal belies justifications given by the world's leading apologists for the police state which has come to pass. Clearly, the American state, with its unelected president, venal Supreme Court, silent Congress, gutted Bill of Rights and compliant media brings about the essential Western imperial interests.
- Educated & Caring Leftist (unlike you fascist nazis)posted by: Caring Leftist Professor on 03.24.05 at 10:15 AM [permalink]
Ashcroft isn't the AG any more
Looks like you need to update your rant...
There should be a law that states: "If you live in a nation where you can call your political leaders fascists, they are not fascists and neither is your nation".
Too much common sense involved in that I suppose. Stiffling of dissent indeed. Not likely the political consequences of your words with the electorate is not censorship. Its called losing the battle of ideas and whining about it.posted by: Mark Buehner on 03.24.05 at 10:15 AM [permalink]
Well, it's possible you might live in a nation where the leaders take being called fascists as a compliment.
Not knowing of any such nation at present (though I don't think Mussolini would have particularly minded being called a fascist), however, I think your point is well-taken.posted by: Chris Lawrence on 03.24.05 at 10:15 AM [permalink]
"Do you think any intellectual or academic in history has ever received such praise? I mean, it�s way beyond the Nobel Prize."
Is that what justified the term egomanical? I prefer your politics to Chomsky's, Dan, but you wouldn't know irony if it walked over and gave you a noogie.posted by: raymond on 03.24.05 at 10:15 AM [permalink]
I suspect the Caring Leftist Professor is a clever satirist. The academese is dead on, however.posted by: TJ on 03.24.05 at 10:15 AM [permalink]
TJ is just a lying red-stater fascist. What a ditto head, stop listening to Hanity.
As Norman Mailer pointed out, the appropriation of Arab resources represents the repudiation of international law in order to bring about the theocrat Ashcroft's suspension of our civil rights. It appears that Americanism as an ideology brings about an act of international violence that exceeds even those of the "liberal" Bill Clinton. This suggests that the Pax Americana of the future leads our attention to the final subjugation of the Middle East, beginning with the $90bn invasion of Iraq. So far, the influence of Leo Strauss can be regarded as a humanitarian disaster of unimaginable scale. It is not heartening that Bush’s argument for war belies justifications given by the world's leading apologists for the predatory imperialist aims outlined by the crypto-fascist Project for a New American Century.
-- Educated & Caring Leftist (unlike you fascist nazis)posted by: Caring Leftist Professor on 03.24.05 at 10:15 AM [permalink]
Rofl.posted by: Mark Buehner on 03.24.05 at 10:15 AM [permalink]
Caring Leftist Professor:
I think a few exclamation marks might just be the final touch needed.
Perhaps gilding the lily; but I think not.
To the barricades.
Chomsky may be liar, and his linguistic theories certainly won't make it out of this decade alive but I don't know that this particular piece shows him to at his egomaniacal best. I think it is clear he was being sarcastic when he said this: "Do you think any intellectual or academic in history has ever received such praise? I mean, it’s way beyond the Nobel Prize." The point being that he does in fact realize he does not enjoy the same power and status as Cheney.posted by: Vanya on 03.24.05 at 10:15 AM [permalink]
posted by: YetAnotherRick on 03.24.05 at 10:15 AM [permalink]
Chomsky is a much slandered figure. If he can't be beat on facts or logic then mud-slinging is the next resource. The following provides a decent defence:
I would add that his key point for his most important work on cambodia is that the western media is far more eager to look for and focus on the crimes of our enemies rather than on our own crimes or on the crimes of those we support. I agree with Chomsky that this represents an elementary moral failing. I also recommend Manufacturing Consent to anyone who hasn't read it and to anyone who takes any of the slurs against him seriously.
posted by: peter on 03.24.05 at 10:15 AM [permalink]
"the western media is far more eager to look for and focus on the crimes of our enemies rather than on our own crimes or on the crimes of those we support.."
Really? Blame the media? Seems too convenient.posted by: rastajenk on 03.24.05 at 10:15 AM [permalink]
peter: You are a true believer. But if you really want to worship a guru, may I suggest Lyndon LaRoush or Scientology? Both of these cults more staying power than poor Choam, who is a walking parody.posted by: Redstate on 03.24.05 at 10:15 AM [permalink]
Chomsky has demonstrated considerable staying power over the last four decades and remains an important intellectual in America today. Indeed, I think no other dissident intellectual is as well-known and as frequently referred to both positively and negatively. Red herrings about anti-semitism aside, the fact remains that if you haven't read him then you should.posted by: peter on 03.24.05 at 10:15 AM [permalink]
Peter--I've not only read him, I've heard him speak in person. Whenever I catch him on C-SPAN, I can't switch the channel. The man makes me giggle like a school gurrrl!posted by: chris in st. lou' on 03.24.05 at 10:15 AM [permalink]
Do you really find him that attractive? I admire his ideas a lot but I wouldn't have thought he was giggle-inducing.posted by: peter on 03.24.05 at 10:15 AM [permalink]
Attractive? Pas de tout! Just giggle-inducing ridiculous.posted by: chris in st. lou' on 03.24.05 at 10:15 AM [permalink]
You know, I hate to break it to all of you, but Chomsky is correct that denying the Holocaust does not make you anti-Semitic. It might make you factually incorrect or insensitive, and in many cases people who deny the Holocaust are anti-Semitic, but that you deny it does not make you de facto anti-Semitic.
Similarly, does the fact that most people don't know how many non-Jews died in the Holocaust make people anti-gypsies? Or anti-gay? Or anti-handicap? No.
That is not to say that Jewish suffering is not very sad or that they do not deserve our honor, of course they do, but it is not very correct to think that denying the Holocaust is enough to make someone anti-Semitic.
A sad addition is that the term "anti-Semitic" is so quickly used that it almost has no meaning any longer.posted by: face it on 03.24.05 at 10:15 AM [permalink]
The great thing about Chomsky is he makes predictions. Rremember the deliberate decision that the Bushies made to starve Afghanis by going to war to oust the Taliban (who were using food as a weapon). It was a silent genocide. Except no one starved, the Pentagon made concerted efforts to get food to the people who were being deprived by the Taliban. It didn't matter what the actual result was, Chomsky decided the motives of the American Government and therefore it was so. I think the term is Maroon. America has freed more people from tyranny than any other country and we continue to, The failure of Rumsfeld Iraq, if that is a faiure can we see the same in Iran, Saudi Arabia et al. Hposted by: kevin on 03.24.05 at 10:15 AM [permalink]
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