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May 30, 2002

Chomsky on CNN

Noam Chomsky debated Bill Bennett on CNN this morning (check out this transcript) which was remarkable mostly for the fact that Chomsky was on television at all. Apparently, this was do to Bennett wanting to debate him and arranging the encounter in hopes of exposing the "anti-American left." Now, I often feel Chomsky ties US foreign policy into too neat a package of illegal secret executive orders, without fully engaging the conflicting values and interests driving the country's erratic mix of idealism and atrocities around the world. But Bennett made himself to be an ass on air, calling for Chomsky to leave the country if he has any criticism of the country and other authoritarian "love it or leave it" rants. Chomsky calmly labelled Bennett as a liar and said about living in the US: "I choose to live in what I think is the greatest country in the world, which is committing horrendous terrorist acts and should stop." This is the voice of dissent in America that has always praised what was good in America and it's ideals, while denouncing all the more the atrocities wrapped in that noble package. As Frederick Douglas would note in an 1852 speech, "What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim." Our traditions of liberty do not excuse the crimes committed in our name; they make them all the worse for the victims.

Posted by Nathan at May 30, 2002 03:19 PM


It sounds like you need to re-read the interview. Bennett is asking Chomsky if he feels that the US is one of the greatest terrorist states, why would you choose to live here? That does not translate to a "love it or leave it rant" - If someone is thinking that they are living in one of the greatest of all terrorist states, why would they also think it's the greatest country in the world. A great terrorist state rapidly falls to the bottom of my list for that very reason. How do we still come out the greatest in Chomsky's mind? I have been puzzled by this ever since I started reading his books back when I was 18 and a true believer. Twenty year olds think Chomsky is a real political thinker and historian, if you're twenty five or beyond, generally you'll recognize him a great linguist and that's about all.

Posted by: John Christian at October 11, 2002 02:28 PM

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