Monday, April 12, 2021
Chomsky’s Spockian insistence that his adult self is immune to such temptations has led some fiercer critics to scoff at his habit of batting away questions about atrocities committed by other countries as a kind of reverse chauvinism, a calculated pose rooted in some unknown pathology, leading to overcorrections back in the direction of America’s bad behavior. Surely he doesn’t really believe the U.S. government is worse than al-Qaeda?
Then you watch “Collateral Murder,” or film of American cluster bombs dropped in the cities of Yemen, or our Air Force dropping thousands of tons of bombs on civilians in North Vietnam — speaking of sports, one such bombing campaign was called Operation Linebacker — and Chomsky becomes harder to argue with. Suddenly we’re glad he’s no flag-waver, because who else is going to point these things out?
This is why I’ve always admired Chomsky a great deal, even if I sometimes disagree with his politics (or his takes on sports for that matter). Unafraid of criticism, few people of his stature in American life are willing to do what he does. He is clearly a man of principle, a character trait that might have gotten him in even more trouble had he come of political age in the Internet era. His defense of the speech rights of Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson is still brought up by critics and sticks to his name like flypaper on Twitter.
More evidence that he’s honest broker lay in the fact, as Christopher Hitchens once noted, that over time, “the more Chomsky was vindicated, the less he seemed to command ‘respect’” from mainstream pundits. His fame has grown in inverse relationship to the number of his green room invites. Although American political life has moved toward him, as noted below, he’s still largely an unperson to the networks and the newsrooms of the great dailies like the Times, who’ll never forgive him for being right about everything from the civil rights movement to Vietnam to Iraq. Even his views on Russiagate (“farcical,” he said) identify him as an outside-the-tenter, confirmed in his shameful lack of deference to the manufacturers of consent.
Chomsky says he is a "libertarian socialist" which makes him half-right, I guess. Or, possibly all wrong, as being incoherent.