Monday, June 19, 2006

Bobservations on Chomsky

Gagdad Bob says that Noam Chomsky’s ideas are so “bizarre” that it would be “a waste of time” to analyze them. Perhaps he’s right, but I wouldn’t know, because he doesn’t explain how they’re bizarre. He says Chomsky has made a long career of being “wrong about everything,” but, again, I wouldn’t know, because he doesn’t give examples and explanations of why they’re wrong. This is unfortunate, because if Chomsky really is wrong about something, I’d like to know it and understand why it’s wrong. But it looks like I may never find out from Gagdad Bob, because he says that Chomsky is “much more of a religious cult figure and should be regarded as such. He cannot be discredited.”

For the record, I don’t worship Chomsky or reflexively accept everything he says about U.S. foreign policy as being true. But I have great respect for his tremendous intellect and awesome erudition, and it seems to me that many of his observations regarding this nation’s actions abroad ring of some degree of truth. Maybe not the whole truth, but at least part of it.

Bob says that according to Chomsky, “it always comes out looking the same: U.S. bad, enemies of U.S. good.” I respectfully disagree. I think Chomsky has credited the U.S. with good deeds and “enemies” of the U.S. with bad ones. Furthermore, I think he’s been realistic in saying that virtually any country in the U.S.’s position of power would do at least as many bad or questionable things to preserve that power as this country has. He says that every nation looks out for its own interests first and foremost and will exercise as much power as it has to serve those interests. Nothing “bizarre” about this that I can see.

I think a more compelling case might be made for saying that Gagdad Bob’s behavior is the antithesis of what he falsely accuses Chomsky’s of being. For Gagdad Bob, it always comes out looking the same: U.S. good, enemies of the U.S. bad. He probably wouldn’t even deny this. But what I’m afraid he would do is fail to satisfactorily explain how his assertion is true.

That’s too bad, because I think Gagdad Bob is a brilliant man and a great writer. I’d like to think he can do better.

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