Monday, June 19, 2006

Oliver Kamm takes Chomsky to task again

Chomsky is practically a poster child for Srebrenica massacre/Bosnian genocide deniers and apologists. For him, America-as-imperialist-bully is not only an ideological default position, it is the only conceivable reality. Many knee-jerk anti-Americans have convinced themselves that America has become evil and corrupted by all the sins it has committed; for Chomsky, it seems, the actions of America are sinister simply by virtue of having been committed by the United States of America. Or 'the West.' Or the forces of globalization. Etc.

I'm far from the first to make this generalization about Chomsky, I realize--plenty of right-wing critics who probably never wanted to hear what he had to say about Nixon and Kissinger's war crimes in Southeast Asia back in the day would heartily endorse this view even if they've read nothing of his recent comments on Bosnia and Kosovo.

But just because the man once pissed off the right people shouldn't give his current writings any legitimacy. Judge Chomsky by what he has to say about the here and now, and his moral and intellectual authority looks pretty shaky.

The status accorded to Chomsky in the American far left is practically hagiographic. Check out this excerpt from David Barsamian's introduction to Imperial Ambitions, subtitled "Conversations on the Post-9/11 World". The book consists of transcripts of interviews with Chomsky carried out by Barsamian:

"Chomsky's soft voice masks a torrent of information and analysis. He has an extraordinary power to distill and synthesize reams of information. And he misses nothing. In one interview he referred to the 1988 shooting down of a civilian Iranian airliner by the USS Vincennes. I was flabbergasted to learn that his source was Proceeding, the journal of the U.S. Naval Institute."

A tenured, experienced academic knows how to locate obscure sources of information? A long-standing critic of US military interventions would have studied documents produced by a branch of the US military? Wow. Color me underwhelmed.

The entire forward is an exercise in hagiography commensurate with Chomsky's outsized status among knee-jerk 'anti-imperialists' and wide-eyed wannabe be revolutionaries pining for revolutionary street cred.

1 comment:

Srebrenica Massacre said...

Hi Kirk,

I would like to thank you for your constructive opinion that you left at Srebrenica Genocide Blog.

Dan