Sadly, the visit of Naom Chomsky passed us by here on the lofty Northernliness of Slugger. But for a humble linguistics the man had big drawing power. Even Rick O’Shea was there to blog the atmosphere. Much of the publicly expressed comment on his Amnesty lecture (podcast here) was reverent. But one sceptical aside (subs needed) came from a certain Mr Myers in the Irish Times on Tuesday:
Chomsky is a chump – a brilliant and dysfunctional genius, like the autistic child who knows the day of every date in 2001 BC, but can’t explain why we have a calendar. He inhabits a fantastic world, in which cabbalistic covens in Washington ruthlessly control the world, conducting genocides here and massacres there, diverting rivers to cause drought, felling rain forests and driving entire species into extinction. These cabals can do this undetected because they control the media – which is presumably why he got an almost unprecedented two-page interview in this newspaper last weekend.
Since this world view is no more than a vast cartoon conspiracy theory, and since both conspiracies and cartoons by their nature conceal the truth, the very absence of evidence for the conspiracy is proof of its existence. It is, at bottom, a faith, and the messiah and the gospeller of this faith is Noam Chumpsky. And he – like all those thousands of people at the RDS – is apparently unaware that we are all engaged in an epoch-making conflict: the sixth world war is under way.
Part of Chumpsky’s technique is to ignore the empirically inconvenient. Thirty years ago, despite all the evidence, he proclaimed that all was well in Cambodia. Last weekend, he told his listeners in the RDS that he backed an immediate US withdrawal from Iraq, citing as justification “opinion polls” in Iraq. But democratic countries are not governed by polls, but by democratically elected politicians; and the overwhelming mass of Iraqi political parties loudly insist that the US military should stay until their police and army are capable of defending their country’s emerging democratic institutions. So what kind of morality is it which would abandon the Iraqi people to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, an Islamic Pol Pot?