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Tue Mar 26, 2013, 07:15 PM

Why Noam Chomsky Is the Subject of Relentless Attacks by Corporate Media and Establishment

Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn were two Left Libertarians that heavily influenced me. They both stressed critical thinking (even to question their authority). Take nothing at face value. Go and examine, discover. I started learning about anarchist philosophy about 7 years ago. It was in no small measure because of these two.

Why Noam Chomsky Is the Subject of Relentless Attacks by Corporate Media and Establishment 'Intellectuals'
Greenwald: "no living political writer who has more radically changed how more people think in more parts of the world about political issues than he."
March 23, 2013


One very common tactic for enforcing political orthodoxies is to malign the character, "style" and even mental health of those who challenge them. The most extreme version of this was an old Soviet favorite: to declare political dissidents mentally ill and put them in hospitals. In the US, those who take even the tiniest steps outside of political convention are instantly decreed "crazy", as happened to the 2002 anti-war version of Howard Dean and the current iteration of Ron Paul (in most cases, what is actually "crazy" are the political orthodoxiesthis tactic seeks to shield from challenge).

This method is applied with particular aggression to those who engage in any meaningful dissent against the society's most powerful factions and their institutions. Nixon White House officials sought to steal the files from Daniel Ellsberg's psychoanalyst's office precisely because they knew they could best discredit his disclosures with irrelevant attacks on his psyche. Identically, the New York Times and partisan Obama supporters have led the way in depicting both Bradley Manning and Julian Assange as mentally unstable outcasts with serious personality deficiencies. The lesson is clear: only someone plagued by mental afflictions would take such extreme steps to subvert the power of the US government.

A subtler version of this technique is to attack the so-called "style" of the critic as a means of impugning, really avoiding, the substance of the critique. Although Paul Krugman is comfortably within mainstream political thought as a loyal Democrat and a New York Times columnist, his relentless attacks against the austerity mindset is threatening to many. As a result, he is barraged with endless, substance-free complaints about his "tone": he is too abrasive, he does not treat opponents with respect, he demonizes those who disagree with him, etc. The complaints are usually devoid of specifics to prevent meaningful refutation: one typical example: " often cloaks his claims in professional authority, overstates them, omits arguments that undermine his case, and is a bit of a bully"). All of that enables the substance of the critique to be avoided in lieu of alleged personality flaws.

Nobody has been subjected to these vapid discrediting techniques more than Noam Chomsky. The book on which I'm currently working explores how establishment media systems restrict the range of acceptable debate in US political discourse, and I'm using Chomsky's treatment by (and ultimate exclusion from) establishment US media outlets as a window for understanding how that works. As a result, I've read a huge quantity of media discussions about Chomsky over the past year. And what is so striking is that virtually every mainstream profile or discussion of him at some point inevitably recites the same set of personality and stylistic attacks designed to malign his advocacy without having to do the work to engage the substance of his claims. Notably, these attacks come most frequently and viciously from establishment liberal venues, such as when the American Prospect's 2005 foreign policy issue compared him to Dick Cheney on its cover (a cover he had framed and now proudly hangs on his office wall).

Last week, Chomsky was in London to give the annual Edward W. Said lecture, and as always happens when he speaks, the large auditorium was filled to the brim, having sold out shortly after it was announced. The Guardian's Aida Edemariam interviewed him in London and produced an article, published Saturday morning, that features virtually all of those standard stylistic and personality critiques:

"When he starts speaking, it is in a monotone that makes no particular rhetorical claim on the audience's attention; in fact, it's almost soporific . . . . Within five minutes many of the hallmarks of Chomsky's political writing, and speaking, are displayed: his anger, his extraordinary range of reference and experience . . . . . Fact upon fact upon fact, but also a withering, sweeping sarcasm the atrocities are 'tolerated politely by Europe as usual'. Harsh, vivid phrases the 'hideously charred corpses of murdered infants'; bodies 'writhing in agony' unspool until they become almost a form of punctuation.


Read more at AlterNet.

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Arrow 49 replies Author Time Post
Reply Why Noam Chomsky Is the Subject of Relentless Attacks by Corporate Media and Establishment (Original post)
Fantastic Anarchist Mar 2013 OP
Luminous Animal Mar 2013 #1
Fantastic Anarchist Mar 2013 #2
Cleita Mar 2013 #3
RedCappedBandit Mar 2013 #5
rhett o rick Mar 2013 #6
Egalitarian Thug Mar 2013 #28
Fantastic Anarchist Mar 2013 #29
Egalitarian Thug Mar 2013 #44
rhett o rick Mar 2013 #32
Egalitarian Thug Mar 2013 #47
rhett o rick Mar 2013 #49
Puzzledtraveller Mar 2013 #39
Egalitarian Thug Mar 2013 #48
Fantastic Anarchist Mar 2013 #7
Cleita Mar 2013 #9
Fantastic Anarchist Mar 2013 #10
rhett o rick Mar 2013 #30
KG Mar 2013 #19
Fantastic Anarchist Mar 2013 #21
rhett o rick Mar 2013 #31
smirkymonkey Mar 2013 #4
Blue_Tires Mar 2013 #8
RudynJack Mar 2013 #11
Kurovski Mar 2013 #13
Luminous Animal Mar 2013 #14
Fantastic Anarchist Mar 2013 #15
Luminous Animal Mar 2013 #20
Kurovski Mar 2013 #12
limpyhobbler Mar 2013 #16
woo me with science Mar 2013 #18
woo me with science Mar 2013 #17
JaneyVee Mar 2013 #22
ReRe Mar 2013 #23
Luminous Animal Mar 2013 #25
ReRe Mar 2013 #26
rhett o rick Mar 2013 #33
ReRe Mar 2013 #35
rhett o rick Mar 2013 #40
ReRe Mar 2013 #41
rhett o rick Mar 2013 #42
ReRe Mar 2013 #45
Luminous Animal Mar 2013 #24
love_katz Mar 2013 #27
idwiyo Mar 2013 #34
bemildred Mar 2013 #36
KoKo Mar 2013 #37
Uncle Joe Mar 2013 #38
rhett o rick Mar 2013 #43
snagglepuss Mar 2013 #46

Response to Fantastic Anarchist (Original post)

Tue Mar 26, 2013, 07:41 PM

1. Lovely defense of Chomsky and good to hear that Greenwald is working on a new book...

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Response to Luminous Animal (Reply #1)

Tue Mar 26, 2013, 07:47 PM

2. Yes, very good defense ...

... it's sad about the "substance" criticisms, ironically themselves, quite unsubstantiated.

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Response to Fantastic Anarchist (Original post)

Tue Mar 26, 2013, 07:51 PM

3. I've seen attacks on those two right here on DU.

Since I'm familiar with what goes on in Latin America, I always found Chomsky's brilliant analyses of what the USA was doing there right in line with what I had observed in person while living there and visiting in later years. He knows what he speaks of and Howard Zinn certainly opened my eyes to history that I never was taught in school.

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Response to Cleita (Reply #3)

Tue Mar 26, 2013, 07:59 PM

5. I have as well.

Still surprises me on a supposedly left-wing site.

Two of the most influential authors in my life for sure.

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Response to RedCappedBandit (Reply #5)

Tue Mar 26, 2013, 08:15 PM

6. DU and the Democratic Party have plenty of conservatives. They call themselves Democrats

but dont believe in true Democratic values. When they turn on the left, just ask them what their values are. They wont respond.

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Response to rhett o rick (Reply #6)

Wed Mar 27, 2013, 06:47 AM

28. That's the problem with conflating a political party with philosophy. The republican party was the

 

liberal party that actually instituted real progress for almost half a century before Big Money authoritarians took it over. For the overwhelming majority of its history the Democratic party has been the party that unflinchingly defended the status quo. Both of our Roosevelt Presidents were traitors to their parties and both enjoyed great popularity from those betrayals.

Political parties have no allegiance or purpose beyond gaining political power. The Democratic Party is no more liberal than the republican party is conservative, they are merely facades hiding the real powers behind each of them. Gore Vidal, IMO, put it best when he stated that,

"There is only one party in the United States, the Property Party ... and it has two right wings: Republican and Democrat. Republicans are a bit stupider, more rigid, more doctrinaire in their laissez-faire capitalism than the Democrats, who are cuter, prettier, a bit more corrupt until recently ... and more willing than the Republicans to make small adjustments when the poor, the black, the anti-imperialists get out of hand. But, essentially, there is no difference between the two parties"


The only difference that matters, and I think that if one simply spends some time here it becomes apparent, is the difference between the authoritarians and the egalitarians. If one truly believes in equality, the inevitable conclusion is that we must accept and make allowances for the entire range of diversity and therefore become truly egalitarian. If one cannot make take that step and insists that some things are just too different to be acceptable, than you are, to at least some degree, an authoritarian and willing to suppress some in order to accommodate the prejudices of the current majority. In essence it boils down to either; "I would like to relieve your burden, as long is it doesn't inconvenience me to much." or, "we really are all equal and I am willing to sacrifice in order for you to achieve yours."

Unfortunately, far too many of us fall into the former.

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Response to Egalitarian Thug (Reply #28)

Wed Mar 27, 2013, 06:59 AM

29. Great post, Egalitarian Thug.

Bravo!

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Response to Fantastic Anarchist (Reply #29)

Wed Mar 27, 2013, 02:14 PM

44. TYVM. It is appreciated. n/t

 

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Response to Egalitarian Thug (Reply #28)

Wed Mar 27, 2013, 09:03 AM

32. I second the "great post". I wish I could bookmark a post.

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Response to rhett o rick (Reply #32)

Thu Mar 28, 2013, 05:19 AM

47. YVW as well, and you can. Select the OP, click on the reply you wish to bookmark, then bookmark as

 

you normally do with the browser you use.

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Response to Egalitarian Thug (Reply #47)

Thu Mar 28, 2013, 08:23 AM

49. Good idea. Thanks. nm

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Response to Egalitarian Thug (Reply #28)

Wed Mar 27, 2013, 11:08 AM

39. well put

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Response to Puzzledtraveller (Reply #39)

Thu Mar 28, 2013, 05:21 AM

48. TYVM.

 

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Response to Cleita (Reply #3)

Tue Mar 26, 2013, 08:24 PM

7. I can kind of sort of see people attacking Chomsky here on DU (and have) ...

... he is sort of polemical, perhaps more well-known, and courts authority a bit more "abrasively" (as he should). But Zinn? How can anyone hate that guy??? Wow.

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Response to Fantastic Anarchist (Reply #7)

Tue Mar 26, 2013, 08:33 PM

9. There are some who think he's not unbiased enough.

How can you be biased about history unless you are a creationist or some similar ilk?

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Response to Cleita (Reply #9)

Tue Mar 26, 2013, 08:37 PM

10. For the love of fuck.

Oh well ...

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Response to Cleita (Reply #9)

Wed Mar 27, 2013, 08:55 AM

30. It is almost impossible to be "unbiased". Especially history, which IMO is heavily biased one way

or the other.

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Response to Fantastic Anarchist (Reply #7)

Tue Mar 26, 2013, 09:43 PM

19. he's been known to tell the truth about the obama administration...

some DUers find that...disturbing...

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Response to KG (Reply #19)

Tue Mar 26, 2013, 10:16 PM

21. Party fealty is for the brain-dead.

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Response to Fantastic Anarchist (Reply #21)

Wed Mar 27, 2013, 09:01 AM

31. I believe that we all have different levels of denial we use to maintain our sanity.

Liberals are more willing to risk venturing out of their denial bubbles than conservatives who will fight like crazy to remain in their denial bubbles. Conservatives will tell you ignorance is bliss because they want to believe it as it rationalizes their ignorance. But they never find the bliss. I would feel pity for them but they are very dangerous. They would follow Hitler if he promised them candy.

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Response to Fantastic Anarchist (Original post)

Tue Mar 26, 2013, 07:58 PM

4. K&R, Excellent Thread!

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Response to Fantastic Anarchist (Original post)

Tue Mar 26, 2013, 08:29 PM

8. Do any paleoconservatives still throw out "chomskyite" as an insult?

lalz

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Response to Fantastic Anarchist (Original post)

Tue Mar 26, 2013, 08:40 PM

11. Really?

Chomsky is "relentlessly attacked"?

More like relentlessly ignored. I haven't heard mention of him in the media in ages.

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Response to RudynJack (Reply #11)

Tue Mar 26, 2013, 08:47 PM

13. I found a lecture on Netflix, and the sound was so low

no matter how high you put the volune, it was impossible to hear.

Why does everyone want to make me so paranoid? it had to be an accident, right?

I was at someone else's house, but I should have complained to nf,I must have been suffering an excess of complaint that day.

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Response to RudynJack (Reply #11)

Tue Mar 26, 2013, 08:49 PM

14. It's Alternet's headline. The original from The Guardian is titled, "How Noam Chomsky is Discussed"

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Response to Luminous Animal (Reply #14)

Tue Mar 26, 2013, 08:53 PM

15. Oh, I didn't realize that AlterNet took liberties with the title.

Interesting ...

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Response to Fantastic Anarchist (Reply #15)

Tue Mar 26, 2013, 09:44 PM

20. Author's rarely write their own titles...

it takes a big reputation to demand that perk. That is why I usually ignore them. They are created for their eye-grabbing appeal and quite often do not reflect the contents of the article. The Guardian's title is much more in tune with the intent of the article.

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Response to Fantastic Anarchist (Original post)

Tue Mar 26, 2013, 08:42 PM

12. K&R. (nt)

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Response to Fantastic Anarchist (Original post)

Tue Mar 26, 2013, 08:54 PM

16. I nominate this for post of the day!

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Response to limpyhobbler (Reply #16)

Tue Mar 26, 2013, 09:18 PM

18. Seconded.

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Response to Fantastic Anarchist (Original post)

Tue Mar 26, 2013, 10:28 PM

22. He's not really attacked, he's ignored. Which in his field is even worse.

At least if he were being attacked he may get publicity, but he gets ignored because our media is a JOKE.

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Response to Fantastic Anarchist (Original post)

Tue Mar 26, 2013, 11:12 PM

23. They are attacked by "the establishment" because they speak Truth to Power...

Last edited Wed Mar 27, 2013, 02:23 PM - Edit history (1)

They choose to tell the truth, rather than going-along-to-get-along or rocking the boat.



http://www.alternet.org/tea-party-and-right/shocking-new-evidence-reveals-depths-treason-and-treachery-watergate-and-Iran/

http://consortiumnews.com/2012/03/04/profiting-off-Nixons-vietnam-treason/


*Edited: to correct a wrong assumption, but leaving the two links just FYI


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Response to ReRe (Reply #23)

Wed Mar 27, 2013, 12:46 AM

25. You are confusing the Watergate break in with Ellsberg shrink's attempted

break in. Two different things.

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Response to Luminous Animal (Reply #25)

Wed Mar 27, 2013, 03:33 AM

26. There were two break-ins at the Watergate Bldg?

On the same night? Or at different times?

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Response to ReRe (Reply #23)

Wed Mar 27, 2013, 09:15 AM

33. Are you referring to this part. "Nixon White House officials sought to steal the files from Daniel

Ellsberg's psychoanalyst's office precisely because they knew they could best discredit his disclosures with irrelevant attacks on his psyche." ??

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Response to rhett o rick (Reply #33)

Wed Mar 27, 2013, 10:02 AM

35. Yes. Daniel Ellssberg's Psychiatrist's...

... office was located in Beverly Hills, CA. That burglary, looking for DE's mental health records, occurred on Sept 3, 1971.

The Watergate Break-in occurred in DC. on June 17, 1972. Democratic National Committee offices in the Watergate Hotel. I think they said they were just looking for stuff they could hold against the Democratic Party for political purposes in the general election campaign. What they were actually looking for was that file that Hoover said he couldn't find...the one that linked the Nixon Administration to cavorting with the enemy before the election in 1968. Nixon, in 1972 was furious to find that missing file, fearing that the Democratic Party had it.

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Response to ReRe (Reply #35)

Wed Mar 27, 2013, 12:32 PM

40. I am confused as to why you are discussing the Watergate breakin. Did Greenwald mention Watergate?nm

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Response to rhett o rick (Reply #40)

Wed Mar 27, 2013, 12:44 PM

41. It's me....

...I thought Ellsberg's psychiatrist office was in the Watergate building too, in DC. I was wrong and corrected myself. Respectfully, should I delete that post? I've never been in a situation like this before!

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Response to ReRe (Reply #41)

Wed Mar 27, 2013, 01:53 PM

42. No problem. We are all friends here. Well most of us. Well a couple of us.

Just kidding. I would go back and edit the post and not delete.

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Response to rhett o rick (Reply #42)

Wed Mar 27, 2013, 02:19 PM

45. You practice....

... "a friend in need, is a friend indeed." I will do that now...

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Response to Fantastic Anarchist (Original post)

Wed Mar 27, 2013, 12:44 AM

24. Kick.

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Response to Fantastic Anarchist (Original post)

Wed Mar 27, 2013, 04:01 AM

27. Kicking.

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Response to Fantastic Anarchist (Original post)

Wed Mar 27, 2013, 09:29 AM

34. K&R

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Response to Fantastic Anarchist (Original post)

Wed Mar 27, 2013, 10:23 AM

36. The people who attack Chomsky are not the people whom Chomsky is addressing.

And they attack his character because they cannot refute his evidence.

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Response to Fantastic Anarchist (Original post)

Wed Mar 27, 2013, 10:41 AM

37. Recommend

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Response to Fantastic Anarchist (Original post)

Wed Mar 27, 2013, 10:53 AM

38. Kicked and recommended.

Thanks for the thread, Fantastic Anarchist.

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Response to Fantastic Anarchist (Original post)

Wed Mar 27, 2013, 01:53 PM

43. kick

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Response to Fantastic Anarchist (Original post)

Wed Mar 27, 2013, 03:38 PM

46. to read later

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