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Taxloss Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-31-05 07:24 PM
Original message
Noam Chomsky: The Greatest Intellectual? (UK Guardian)
Edited on Mon Oct-31-05 07:25 PM by Taxloss
An interview with the man himself. Critical, but I think fair. A bit snarky in tone. (Ed Vulliamy is a family friend.)

------------

Despite his belief that most journalists are unwitting upholders of western imperialism, Noam Chomsky, the radical's radical, agrees to see me at his office in Boston. He works here as a professor of linguistics, a sort of Clark Kent alter ego to his activist Superman, in a nubbly old jumper, big white trainers and a grandad jacket with pockets designed to accomodate a Thermos. There is a half-finished packet of fig rolls on the desk. Such is the effect of an hour spent with Chomsky that, writing this, I wonder: is it wrong to mention the fig rolls when there is undocumented suffering going on in El Salvador?

Ostensibly I am here because Chomsky, 76, has been voted the world's top public intellectual by Prospect magazine, but he has no interest in that. He believes that there is a misconception about what it means to be smart. It is not a question of wit, as with no 5 on the list (Christopher Hitchens) or poetic dash like no 4 (Vaclav Havel), or the sort of articulacy that lends itself to television appearances, like no 37, the thinking girl's pin-up Michael Ignatieff, whom Chomsky calls an apologist for the establishment and dispenser of "garbage". Chomsky, by contrast, speaks in a barely audible croak and of his own, largely unsuccessful, television appearances has written dismissively: "The beauty of concision is that you can only repeat conventional thoughts." Being smart, he believes, is a function of a plodding, unsexy, application to the facts and "using your intelligence to decide what's right".
This is, of course, what Chomsky has been doing for the last 35 years, and his conclusions remain controversial: that practically every US president since the second world war has been guilty of war crimes; that in the overall context of Cambodian history, the Khmer Rouge weren't as bad as everyone makes out; that during the Bosnian war the "massacre" at Srebrenica was probably overstated. (Chomsky uses quotations marks to undermine things he disagrees with and, in print at least, it can come across less as academic than as witheringly teenage; like, Srebrenica was so not a massacre.)

While his critics regard him as an almost compulsive revisionist, Chomsky is more mainstream now than ever as disgust with the Bush government grows; the book he put out after the twin towers attacks, called 9-11, sold 300,000 copies. Given that until recently he worked full-time at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, there remain suspicions over how he has managed to become an expert, seemingly, on every conflict since the second world war; it is assumed by his critics that he plugs the gaps in his knowledge with ideology.

... more ...

http://books.guardian.co.uk/departments/politicsphiloso...
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Fenris Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-31-05 07:40 PM
Response to Original message
1. Withholding my own personal feelings about Chomsky...
I will say that he did not come off well in that interview.
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Teaser Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-31-05 07:56 PM
Response to Original message
2. Wow, they let Emma Brockes urinate on a page
Edited on Mon Oct-31-05 07:57 PM by Teaser
Far too much of that interview is the interviewer describing Chomsky's reactions in negative terms, rather than letting the words speak for the mselves. A really piss-poor interview that was clearly cut and pasted to make the author's point.
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TabulaRasa Donating Member (223 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-31-05 08:34 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. I agree
What a demented "interview" by a truly stupid person. I especially like the bit about her not wanting to be lectured by "hypocrites". This is the intellectual equivalent of Franken's ditto-moron friend telling him to give back his Bush tax cut to the government (otherwise, he's a hypocrite). Are people really this dumb?

Chomsky didn't come off poorly to anyone who has a functional brain and critical thinking skills. Take out the author's snarky commentary and see what you're left with. And anyone actually familiar with Chomsky's work has even more reason to be embarassed by this asinine piece, as they actually know the context for all of the out-of-context quotes. Maybe if I'm up to it I'll destroy the piece bit by bit, but I hope the vast majority of DU is rational enough not to need such services. The snarkiness and underhandedness of pieces like this (there was a similar one in the New Yorker a couple of years ago) is what really pisses me off. If you don't have the courage or intelligence to actually deal with somebody's arguments, STFU. Don't snipe at them from the sidelines. Unfortunately, this is what the "liberal" press has been reduced to, given Chomsky's obvious intellectual superiority. Hell, there are probably dustmites in Chomsky's office that could tear this woman to shreds. (Sorry, for all the personal invective ... as I said, if I have the time, I'll deal with the substance.)
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Taxloss Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-01-05 09:27 AM
Response to Reply #3
6. Emma Brockes often has a very irritating style, but she's far from stupid.
I get the impression that she may have an axe to grind with Chomsky, possibly related to the whole LM/Srebrenica/Vulliamy thing. But her tone in this piece is certainly undesirable. On the other hand, breathless hero-worship or even uncritical respect would be the wrong approach.
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Joe Chi Minh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-02-05 02:04 PM
Response to Reply #6
10. But perhaps more enlightened than her infantile carping.
Edited on Wed Nov-02-05 02:04 PM by KCabotDullesMarxIII
I also beg to differ with you over the level of her intelligence. If she doesn't realise how chronically meretricious and profoundly perjurious her profession in the mainstream British media is, she is wilfully blind.
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Taxloss Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-02-05 03:59 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. "Well, meretricious and a happy new year,"
as Gore Vidal once said.

She's conceited, I'll give you that. But as I say, I detect the hand of internal politics. And like or not, she is clever and has delivered some corking interviews in the past.
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Joe Chi Minh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-02-05 05:22 PM
Response to Reply #11
12. Alas, the internal politics is the constant background. But
it is of the right, not of the left.

Your comment reminds me of the words of Niall O'Brien, an Irish missionary priest to his captors, (I believe it was the Phillipine government, though doubtless CIA-enabled proxies of your own government).

Angered by his endeavours to obtain some minimal standards of economic justice for the people there, they expelled him on the grounds that he was being "political". To which he replied that, had he wanted to be political, he would have "kept his head down" and carried on as if he hadn't noticed the economic oppression suffered by the mass of the people, as though such basic injustices were no none of his business.

Indeed, it had, of course, been very impolitic of him to challenge entrenched privilege in the Philippines, over their economic oppression of the poor.

I read about this in the papers here some twenty years ago I suppose, but had met Niall when he was newly-ordained, through his brother Fergus, who I sometimes visited in Highbury, when I was on leave. I'd met Fergus at a Benedictine retreat at Ramsgate Abbey. Strangely enough, a member of his missionary order visited our Jesuit church one Sunday, I think for a Mission appeal, and I got chatting to him in the vestibule.

He'd seemed very dour up to that point, but absolutely thawed and enthused when I asked him if he knew Niall, told him I knew him and his brother, and mentioned the newspaper account. He did know him very well. I think they had the same religious house, as well as being of the same order.
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Taxloss Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-02-05 07:30 PM
Response to Reply #12
13. My own government? I'm English. I live in London.
:D

"Angered by his endeavours to obtain some minimal standards of economic justice for the people there, they expelled him on the grounds that he was being "political". To which he replied that, had he wanted to be political, he would have "kept his head down" and carried on as if he hadn't noticed the economic oppression suffered by the mass of the people, as though such basic injustices were no none of his business."

"Government is the shadow cast by business on society" - NC. Probably his best ever thought. That and the intellectual basis of "Manufacturing Consent".

Part of my defence of Emma Brockes here is down to personal interest. Brockes is a friend and colleague of Ed Vulliamy, who saw Omarska first hand and knows that the stories of thousands dead were not lies. Ed's family is friends with my family, and I have met him on more than one occasion, and he is an absolutely straight guy, pure ethics. An inspiration, really, for me. Chomsky, though I admire much of his work greatly, is wrong about Omarska.

Something Ed wrote about Bosnia today:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/yugo/article/0,2763,1606489,0...
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firefox Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-31-05 08:46 PM
Response to Original message
4. Chomsky demonstrates something important
Edited on Mon Oct-31-05 08:53 PM by firefox
Chomsky to me exemplifies the glory of being an author and he exemplifies authority in what might be the truest sense of the word. My Internet reading led me to the writings of Thomas Paine when he wrote of time being more important than reason when trying to change things.

If everyone had the time and inclination to read all of Chomsky's works they would find a true intellectual that is presenting a reality far different than what exist in the minds of most Americans that have received most of their programming from television. He has studied where others are just too busy or unconcerned.

What makes me want to say something is the part in this article about the deaths at Srebrenica being overstated. I hold up this CounterPunch article to say I agree with him- http://www.counterpunch.org/johnstone10122005.html I never understood Bosnia and this article helped, but it is all so involved even for someone with an appetite to understand it. The point here is that people are just too busy to read up on everything. Even I would like to read the article edited by the CounterPunch editors at http://www.counterpunch.org/black.html but am really too busy.

That is why authors are so important. Once you put trust in what they are saying, they can summarize things for you. Chomsky was where I read about the War Crimes of 1996 that could see the death penalty for our un-beloved WarCriminal. Chomsky is where I read about the wealthy nominating candidates for both parties where the public gets to ratify who rules over them. As a professor of linguistics his name for this is highly important and I regret that I cannot recall his archy for what the plutocracy is although it means a few. It was Chomsky that taught me that we only have the illusion of elections.

It is all another lesson on the media as you do not see Chomsky on television explaining his version of reality despite his accolades. Chomsky is a great author and I wish that there were a documentary on his life and writing. There is America the Reality awaiting us all as America the Illusion wears off. I just wonder if it is going to be like Frank Zappa said when he talked about the powerful preserving the illusion as long as it was useful and when it was no longer useful they would tear down the curtain where we all saw the bricks that imprison us.

Chomsky faintly blogs at Zmag.org but he has many articles up and some audio interviews- http://www.zmag.org/weluser.htm The heading at http://www.zmag.org/weluser.htm is "The Spirit of Resistance Lives". It is there that he unmanufactures consent.
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JohnCarvill Donating Member (2 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-10-05 10:07 AM
Response to Reply #4
22. Chomsky is plain wrong over Srebrenica
Edited on Thu Nov-10-05 10:08 AM by JohnCarvill
You will never 'understand Bosnia' if you rely on Chomsky, CounterPunch, etc. Johnstone is a friend of Milosevic's wife and a long-time Serb apologist. People on the left slavishly follow Chomsky's every pronouncement and this is very dangerous. Whatever his past record - and I personally have in the past agreed with a lot of what he's had to say - he is completely wrong on Bosnia. And defending Johnstone's 'sound work' is tantamount to denying the genocide in Bosnia and the massacre at Srebrenica, no matter how Chomsky et al like to finesse it.

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K-W Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-10-05 11:18 AM
Response to Reply #22
23. If you want to understand Bosnia you rely on the facts.
You will never 'understand Bosnia' if you rely on Chomsky, CounterPunch,

No, of course not, but you will certainly come away with a more fact based analysis than you will get most other places.

etc. Johnstone is a friend of Milosevic's wife and a long-time Serb apologist.

Nothing of hers that I have read on this issue has been in any way shape or form apologetic.

People on the left slavishly follow Chomsky's every pronouncement and this is very dangerous.

That is literally impossible since Chomsky first and foremost urges people to do independent research and make thier own analyses of the facts.

Whatever his past record - and I personally have in the past agreed with a lot of what he's had to say - he is completely wrong on Bosnia.

No he really isnt.

And defending Johnstone's 'sound work' is tantamount to denying the genocide in Bosnia and the massacre at Srebrenica, no matter how Chomsky et al like to finesse it.

First of all, nobody has denied or in any way questioned the massacre at Srebrenica, so Im not sure why youd bring that up.

Its funny how the word genocide works. Once you label something genocide, then everyone who disagrees with you is automatically 'denying genocide'.

Its very important to remember that different people have different definitions of genocide. We all generally agree on what it is, but it isnt always clean cut when it has or hasnt occurred. Whether or not you, Chomsky or anyone think the current available evidence suggests that what occurred was genocide is really incidental. The only place where that matters is in the courtroom where there are legal definitions to work with.

The underlying fact is that many people died, that tragedy is mourned by you, Chomsky, and all caring people. Whether you academically agree on what to lable the deaths is just that, academic.
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newyawker99 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-11-05 02:22 PM
Response to Reply #22
24. Hi JohnCarvill!!
Welcome to DU!! :toast:
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JohnCarvill Donating Member (2 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-14-05 07:12 AM
Response to Reply #24
26. Hi NewYawker99
Thanks for that!
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firefox Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-01-05 01:35 AM
Response to Original message
5. The official Noam Chomsky website
http://www.chomsky.info / must have gone up this year. It has all kinds of material by Chomsky and its copyright list Noam Chomsky. Here is the articles section http://www.chomsky.info/articles.htm
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Monkey see Monkey Do Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-01-05 02:23 PM
Response to Original message
7. FWIW, letters to the Guardian in response:
I've read some bad interviews with Noam Chomsky in my 30 years of following his work, but your ill-informed and supercilious exercise (G2, October 31) was one of the worst. Chomsky has never said that the Khmer Rouge were "not as bad as everybody makes out". He has said that they killed fewer people than the American "secret" bombing, which in turn laid the groundwork for the predictable rise of the KR. Remember that the Americans later supported the KR at the UN, fully aware of their crimes, when the Vietnamese attempted to remove them from power.

As for Srebrenica, General Lewis Mackenzie wrote an article about it in the Globe and Mail (www.transnational.org/features/2005/MacKenzie_Srebrenic... ). Maybe your writer could tell us why, then, he should be ignored on the subject. Going into an interview having already decided that the subject is a revisionist, but respected and revered, nutter is perhaps not the best stance if one wants to produce light rather than heat.
Jill Abson
Montreal, Canada

The fact that Noam Chomsky has serious doubts about the validity of certain aspects of television reportage, particularly in relation to the inevitably controversial coverage of war, hardly places him on the lunatic fringe. In fact, as I'm sure the interviewer would acknowledge, he is Noam Chomsky: it's his job. Your writer's job, on the other hand, would seem to be to confuse the distinction between an interview and an opinion piece, and in the process to construct a spiteful attack on the views and opinions of someone with whom she has issues.
Peter Jones
Winchester

http://www.guardian.co.uk/letters/story/0,3604,1605639,...

----------

Regards the article, the snark annoyed me too. Whilst I wouldn't expect reverance, I thought Brockes came across as an ass. Anyway, I thought his views on the internet were interesting:

"It's a hideous time-waster. One of the good things about the internet is you can put up anything you like, but that also means you can put up any kind of nonsense. If the intelligence agencies knew what they were doing, they would stimulate conspiracy theories just to drive people out of political life, to keep them from asking more serious questions ... There's a kind of an assumption that if somebody wrote it on the internet, it's true."

I disagree with the first sentence, but have great sympathy with the distracting & demoralising abilities of conspiracy theories. (Not to mention the wholesale adoption by some on the left of right-wing bollocks.)
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Monkey see Monkey Do Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-02-05 01:04 PM
Response to Original message
8. And today, a letter to the Guardian from Chomsky
Emma Brockes's report of her interview with me (G2, October 31), opens with the following headline:

"Q: Do you regret supporting those who say the Srebrenica massacre was exaggerated? A: My only regret is that I didn't do it strongly enough"

I did express my regret: namely, that I did not support Diana Johnstone's right to publish strongly enough when her book was withdrawn by the publisher after dishonest press attacks, which I reviewed in an open letter that any reporter could have easily discovered. The remainder of Brockes's report continues in the same vein. Even when the words attributed to me have some resemblance to accuracy, I take no responsibility for them, because of the invented contexts in which they appear.

As for her personal opinions, interpretations and distortions, she is of course free to publish them, and I would, of course, support her right to do so, on grounds that she makes quite clear she does not understand.
Noam Chomsky
Lexington, Mass, USA

There's also a letter from Kemal Pervanic, a survivor of the Omarska camp and author of "The Killing Days: My Journey Through the Bosnia War", in rebuttal to Chomsky.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/letters/story/0,3604,1606321,...
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Barrett808 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-04-05 01:50 PM
Response to Reply #8
15. Confused: I read a statement by Chomsky comparing Fallujah to Srebrenica
Last year, I think. He seemed to agree with the majority opinion that Srebrenica was genocide; he then characterized the destruction of Fallujah as a similar atrocity.
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K-W Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-04-05 02:09 PM
Response to Reply #15
16. He has never suggested Srebrenica was not a massacre.
And you are right, he has compared it other war crimes.

As for the term genocide, im not sure it really applies to either scenario, an individual battle or massacre itself really cant qualify as genocide, it could be a part of genocide, but I think this gets us off track.

The important issue here is that the interviewer has completely fabricated the Srebrenica debate.
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makeanoise Donating Member (159 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-02-05 01:15 PM
Response to Original message
9. Chomsky is not one for Soundbites....
The man can go on and on....when put into an interview for a paper, it's hard to sometimes read Chomsky, but he has plenty of books for those interested....I personally thought Mr. Chomsky did great, always a pleasure to hear him speak...

While I don't agree with him 100% of the time, i would say I do 95% of the time...

the www.chomsky.info link given above is great full of debates, speeches, books, etc...

Hey, he has even been on Bill Maher, and yes I do believe he is one of the greatest intellectuals of our time....
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occuserpens Donating Member (836 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-04-05 07:04 PM
Response to Reply #9
17. GU sedates Chomsky
Edited on Fri Nov-04-05 07:29 PM by occuserpens
One good way to oppose Chomsky's views is to arrange a discussion between him and a specialist in certain area on concrete issues. Instead, Emma Brockes tries to challenge him all by herself. The result is painfully miserable: the journalist cannot really concentrate on anything, as for Chomsky, he is effectively half-asleep. Either Professor does not care to use basic debating techniques and make the discussion lively - or Ms. Brockes deliberately sedates him and presents as a dupe.

Even Chomsky's response is under the same spell. Instread of helplessly lamenting on misrepresentation, he should better work out a few brief points he really wants to communicate to the readers regardless of media obfuscation.
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K-W Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-07-05 09:51 AM
Response to Reply #17
21. Chomsky didnt write the article.
Edited on Mon Nov-07-05 09:55 AM by K-W
Nor have I seen any indication he was asked to debate anyone.

He was there to earnestly answer questions in an interview, she was there to do a hatchet piece, its very hard to argue that he can be blamed for coming off badly in a clearly dishonest piece that portrays him as denying atrocities. The author of the piece obviosly had no intention of letting Chomsky express himself clearly or giving him a chance to make meaningful points.
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K-W Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-04-05 12:59 PM
Response to Original message
14. Smearing Chomsky - The Guardian in the Gutter
SMEARING CHOMSKY - THE GUARDIAN IN THE GUTTER
http://www.medialens.org/alerts/index.php

Introduction

On October 31, the Guardian published an interview with Noam Chomsky by Emma Brockes, 'The greatest intellectual?' (The Guardian, October 31, 2005; http://books.guardian.co.uk/departments/politicsphiloso... )

The article was ostensibly in response to the fact that Chomsky had been voted the world's top public intellectual by Prospect magazine the previous week. Chomsky describes his treatment by the paper as "one of the most dishonest and cowardly performances I recall ever having seen in the media". (Email copied to Media Lens, November 2, 2005)
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Monkey see Monkey Do Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-05-05 12:40 PM
Response to Original message
18. "Yes, this appeaser was once my hero"
Me? Frankly, I'm just surprised it didn't happen sooner. Once the turncoat had sold his soul, why shouldn't he go the whole way and pick up a few extra shillings chancing his remaining scruples on the stock market? I know we columnists tend to pay a bit more attention to world events than your average homme moyen Norm, but am I the only one who knows what this born-again conservative's been getting up to? These days Noam Chomsky's about as radical as Alan Greenspan. Correction: Greenspan's part of the noble neocon mission to spread democracy worldwide. Chomsky's happier sitting at home, reviewing the fruits of his - sorry, Mrs Chomsky's - share portfolio.

Granted, the Chomsky family's personal-finance ventures, highlighted in an interview by my lovely, leggy and, I'd go so far as to say, very promising young colleague Emma Brockes, must have come as a nasty shock to Prospect magazine's constituency of stoppers, root-causists and not-in-my-namers. Without this ancient reactionary, how will they know what to think?

But, believe me, I feel their pain. It wasn't easy for me, either, when I realised the brilliant academic whose linguistics lectures had once held me spellbound, that the political theorist I'd revered for his unsentimental computation of Mao Zedong's balance sheet, and firm evaluation of Pol Pot's achievement in creating modern Cambodia, had morphed into an unfeeling appeaser to whom the murder of Milosevic's victims could be assessed with an amoral sophistry that might have been lifted, with barely an adjustment, from the speeches of Douglas Hurd.

Was it possible that this do-nothing conservative, who presumed, from his armchair, to mete out death sentences to Balkan peasants (let alone his request that Saddam Hussein be offered a visiting professorship at MIT and, I gather, a suggestion that David Cameron contribute to a Festschrift in honour of Robin Cook) was the same far-sighted but, above all, warm-hearted intellectual, who'd written by return when, as an idealistic student, I sent him an account of my first impressions of the Soviet Union, "in the footsteps of Sidney and Beatrice"? How did my former hero, who spent his life fighting ignorance and tyranny, turn into the wannabe-seer who now spends all his time - when not checking online share prices - coming with up the baddest names he can think of (Stalin, Hitler, Bluebeard, Saddam, Lord Voldemort), then denouncing George Bush as the equivalent, or worse. Put it this way: when it comes to mental agility, the great intellectual Chomsky makes Bush look like Christopher Hitchens.

http://education.guardian.co.uk/higher/comment/story/0,...
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muriel_volestrangler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-05-05 06:11 PM
Response to Reply #18
19. People should know the 'Norman Johnson' piece is satire
It's a made-up character the Guardian has been running for a few weeks now.

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...

(Sorry if that spoils an intended joke, but those who haven't followed the Norman Johnson columns might easily think he's real. When I read just the first one, I thought he was).
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occuserpens Donating Member (836 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-05-05 06:49 PM
Response to Original message
20. Update: Colorless green ideas sleep furiously
One good way to oppose Chomsky's views is to arrange a discussion between him and a specialist in certain area on concrete issues. Instead, Emma Brockes tries to challenge him all by herself. The result is painfully miserable: the journalist cannot really concentrate on anything, as for Chomsky, he is effectively half-asleep. Either Professor does not care to use basic debating techniques and make the discussion lively - or Ms. Brockes deliberately sedates him and presents as a dupe.

Chomsky's response is under the same spell. Instread of helplessly lamenting about misrepresentation, he should better work out a few brief points he really wants to communicate to the readers on concrete issues - regardless of media obfuscation.

When Edwards comes to play, it gets even worse: Cambodia, Srebrenica, Falluja - everything gets messed together. It is all like in a late night Web forum discussion - no concrete theme, no concrete points, just colorless green ideas sleeping furiously all around.

1. GU. Emma Brockes. The greatest intellectual?: http://books.guardian.co.uk/departments/politicsphiloso...
Such is the effect of an hour spent with Chomsky that, writing this, I wonder: is it wrong to mention the fig rolls when there is undocumented suffering going on in El Salvador?
Chomsky's activism has its roots in his childhood. He grew up in the depression of the 1930s, the son of William Chomsky and Elsie Simonofsky, Russian immigrants to Philadelphia. He describes the family as "working-class Jews", most of whom were unemployed, although his parents, both teachers, were lucky enough to work. There was no sense of America as the promised land: "It wasn't much of an opportunity-giver in my immediate family," he says, although it was an improvement on the pogroms of Russia, which none the less Chomsky can't help qualifying as "not very bad, by contemporary standards. In the worst of the major massacres, I think about 49 people were killed."
"Well, what capitalist system? Do you use a computer? Do you use the internet? Do you take an aeroplane?..."
2. GU. Chomsky's response: http://www.guardian.co.uk/letters/story/0,3604,1606321,...
3. David Edwards. Smearing Chomsky - The Guardian In The Gutter: http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=2...
4. Wiki on colorless ideas: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colorless_green_ideas_slee...
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barb162 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-12-05 02:12 PM
Response to Original message
25. "...the Khmer Rouge weren't as bad as everyone makes out..."
The man should stick to linguistics.
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K-W Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-14-05 12:40 PM
Response to Reply #25
28. Yes, if he avoided speaking out against injustice, he wouldnt be smeared,
but to his credit he doesnt let the smears quiet him.

Care to provide a source for that quote in your topic?
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Monkey see Monkey Do Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-14-05 11:21 AM
Response to Original message
27. Chomsky gives a lengthy response
This is an open letter to a few of the people with whom I had discussed the Guardian interview of 31 October, on the basis of the electronic version, which is all that I had seen. Someone has just sent me a copy of the printed version, and I now understand why friends in England who wrote me were so outraged.

It is a nuisance, and a bit of a bore, to dwell on the topic, and I always keep away from personal attacks on me, unless asked, but in this case the matter has some more general interest, so perhaps its worth reviewing what most readers could not know. The general interest is that the print version reveals a very impressive effort, which obviously took careful planning and work, to construct an exercise in defamation that is a model of the genre. Its of general interest for that reason alone.

A secondary matter is that it may serve as a word of warning to anyone who is asked by the Guardian for an interview, and happens to fall slightly to the critical end of the approved range of opinion of the editors. The warning is: if you accept the invitation, be cautious, and make sure to have a tape recorder that is very visibly placed in front of you. That may inhibit the dedication to deceit, and if not, at least you will have a record. I should add that in probably thousands of interviews from every corner of the world and every part of the spectrum for decades, that thought has never occurred to me before. It does now.

http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=2...
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