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    The American right has become insane


    by Sunny on 7th July, 2006 at 3:34 am    

    This weekend, prominent neoconservative David Horowitz proclaimed that the United States is fighting a war and “the aggressors in this war are Democrats, liberals and leftists.” In particular, he cited the now infamous NYT Travel section article on Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld’s vacation homes as evidence that the employees of the NYT are among the enemies in this war, and he then linked to and recommended as a “proposal for action” this post from his associate, Front Page contributor Rocco DiPippo. The post which Horowitz recommended was entitled “Where Does Punch Sulzberger Live?” and this is what it said:

    I issue a call to the blogosphere to begin finding and publicly listing the addresses of all New York Times reporters and editors. Posting pictures of their residences, along with details of any security measures in place to protect the properties and their owners (such as location of security cameras and on-site security details) should also be published.

    American blogger Glenn Greenwald shows how the American right is employing thug tactics to get their way. It’s comedy isn’t it? That a standard New York Times article on Dick Cheney’s pad is seen as helping Al-Qaeda shows the insanity of modern political conversation.



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    42 Comments below   |  

    1. Desi Italiana — on 7th July, 2006 at 3:47 am  

      The post’s title reads:

      “The American Right Has Become Insane”.

      Has BECOME? It has always BEEN insane :)

      On another note, I knew something was up with the NYT…I say, place the US troops in front of their office!

    2. Bikhair aka Taqiyyah — on 7th July, 2006 at 4:18 am  

      Sunny,

      I saw this Horowitz fellow on Cspan speaking about his new book entitled The Professors. I guess you can go to Amazon and get a description of it. Anyway he ws being rudely interrupted during his talk by what seemed to be some young kids heckling and yelling from the front, back, and in between rows. I think civility needs to be adopted by everyone. Except for me.

      I dont like you posting about irrelevant American politics.

    3. sleepy — on 7th July, 2006 at 4:21 am  

      Didn’t Michelle Malkin publish the addresses of some college students that she disagreed with? They got plenty of death threats after that and Malkin refused to take down their addresses from her blog. If only conservatives could recognize irony, the world would be a much better place.

    4. Refresh — on 7th July, 2006 at 8:47 am  

      This is a deeply depressing development. As we know what happens in America is followed by what happens here. Blogs and Hate sites are a cheap way of spreading filth.

      As Bikhair mentions, academics (lecturers labelled as ‘classroom dictators’) and intellectuals are already under personal attack. Now journalists.

      Despite them having blindly swallowed everything fed to them by the Bush administration in the run up to the invasion of Iraq.

      I read Western Union was stopping money transfers to even friends and families if their names sounded muslim (Mohammed, Ahmed for example). And there is more

      http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060706/ap_on_bi_ge/emirates_muslim_money

      I am currently part way through a very moving/disturbing book by Philip Roth (The Plot Against America), which is based on a Hitler-friendly Nazi-supporting President elected to the Whitehouse in WW2. It sees a fictitious America through the eyes of a jewish family and their turmoil in a country which was turned against them.

      It is quite tempting to see the loss of civil liberties and the fear being sown in that light. Some of these changes are probably irreversible. This type of brainwashing is necessary if you want ‘The Long War’.

    5. Vikrant — on 7th July, 2006 at 10:14 am  

      sorry of interuppting this discussion… finally Indian autorickshaws will grace the streets of Brighton.

      http://www.timesonline.co.uk/newspaper/0,,173-2257931,00.html

    6. sonia — on 7th July, 2006 at 10:53 am  

      It’s pretty clear now who the troublemakers are and who want to ’stamp out debate/dissent’ and ‘against the values of democracy’ are - heh hehe. Honestly though, i’m fed up of that term ‘leftist’ - what the hell does it mean nowadays - anyone who isn’t some kind of war-crazed fascist?

      yes and on another note - its one year on today -> my post on my diary page isn’t showing on the links for some reason.

      http://sonia.pickledpolitics.com/2006/07/06/seventh-of-july-one-year-on/

    7. sonia — on 7th July, 2006 at 10:56 am  

      “Didn’t Michelle Malkin publish the addresses of some college students that she disagreed with? They got plenty of death threats after that and Malkin refused to take down their addresses from her blog”

      if she did do that - then she’s an out and out bitch. Talk about dirty tactics - what’s this - a war?

      Now of course that’s the problem with war - after a while, folks get PARANOID and BELLICOSE. Perhaps we can offer up some prozac.

    8. sonia — on 7th July, 2006 at 11:06 am  

      notice how people like MM don’t allow you to comment on their blogs - just a trackback.

    9. Desi Italiana — on 7th July, 2006 at 11:25 am  

      If I’m not mistaken, David Horowitz used to be…(gasp!) a leftist! I’m not kidding. He went over to the Dark Side later on.

      PS Sonia, I agree with you on this whole play on the term “leftist”.

    10. Desi Italiana — on 7th July, 2006 at 11:29 am  

      You guys have no idea what’s been going on here…or maybe you do, but our rights in every way are being severely curtailed. Example: academic is increasingly policed and has major surveillance. Academia is supposed to be the space of free thought, not restricted and tailored to serve state purposes.

      If I may insert something else: people tend to think that since the coming of the Bush administration, things have take a turn for the wrong. I disagree, I think we were already on this path, except Baby Bush and Co have just accelerated the pace.

    11. Cisoux — on 7th July, 2006 at 11:41 am  

      *Earth calling Refresh…..Earth calling Refresh*

      The fascists are in your back garden. In the name of your religion they are slaughtering people with bombs. They operate in an ideological swamp that imposes collective punishment on humanity by collectively blaming them for their self hystericalised grievances and victimhood. They hate the world and divide it into manichean categories. They are supported in their ideology by fascists and they killed 52 people a year ago, and are going to kill more people on the streets of London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. This is the real long war, and its up to us to repudiate the stupidity and wickedness of the world view that cultivates the hatreds and fascism within it. Time to snap out of our dreams and into the real world and wake up to the fascists in the garden.

    12. sonia — on 7th July, 2006 at 11:43 am  

      Yeah - personally i don’t think labels like left or right are much use - i mean the neoconservatives probably deserve a designation of their own! i’m sure there have been plenty of people who consider themselves ‘right wing’ who have nothing in common with the neoconservatives. similarly while i’m dubbed a lefty wherever i go, i have nothing in common with lots of people who espouse state-centric totalitarian style of governance, in the name of the ’social good’. i get called a socialist but im not even sure i am even that. After all - everyone seems to call for whatever it is they want in the name of ’social good’( including fascism, dictators say pretty much that) - so..? How we go about acheiving consensus on what is ’social good’ is probably more interesting - instead of silly labels.

      War is called for in the name of the ‘collective’ and the social good. Hey i could call them a bunch of hard socialists.

      Anarchic individualism which values freedom and justice for the individual - (and the right of the individual to safety and peace - as opposed to hegemony over individuals by the masses and valuing the abstract collective entity (e.g. nation) over real individuals), may be considered by some to be the antithesis of what is popularly considered ’socialism’, or ‘communism’.

      anyhow, obviously it all
      depends on your thinking and understanding of what’s real and not so real - your starting point. I could just call myself a realist - rather than anything else.

      But the bottom line is that such categorization on such a simple linear scale is patently ridiculous.

      In any case - it seems to me the term liberal lefty is used to shrug off and dismiss anyone who isn’t a nasty-let’s-fight-our-enemies-and dis-them-real-bad-type-conform-to-what-your-group-tells-you- don’t-think-for-yourself-you’re-not-an-individual-with-the-right-to-your-own-opinion

      gah.

    13. Refresh — on 7th July, 2006 at 11:45 am  

      Hello Cisoux

      How are you today?

      Your not the Helene Cisoux by any chance?

    14. Cisoux — on 7th July, 2006 at 11:48 am  

      Refresh

      No I am not Helene Cisoux. I am the man called Cisoux.

    15. Refresh — on 7th July, 2006 at 11:57 am  

      Like the Man from U.N.C.L.E?

    16. Vikrant — on 7th July, 2006 at 12:24 pm  

      American Right has always been insane!… I remember they talked on FreeRepublic (fringe neo-neo-con forum) about killing the restaurent owner who reported Jenna Bush for under age drinking…

    17. Ravi Naik — on 7th July, 2006 at 1:38 pm  

      “If I’m not mistaken, David Horowitz used to be…(gasp!) a leftist! I’m not kidding. He went over to the Dark Side later on.”

      Most neo-cons come from a liberal background. In fact, neo-conservatives are anything but conservatives: they are for foreign intervention and big government. The latter is based on the idea that government is a force that can do good. Whereas conservatives believe in small government because power ultimately corrupts. At least, that’s the theory.

      Michelle Malkin is a hypocrite and a rotten human being. You can read her blog to learn about the latest rant of the American right.

    18. Leon — on 7th July, 2006 at 3:17 pm  

      “It’s comedy isn’t it?”

      Looks like desperation to me. The President and thus the whole Neo Con agenda is sinking in the polls. Iraq is looking more and more (finally) like the mess it truly is to the American people. So what do the far right do? They turn on those they think they can beat rather than sort out the mess they made elsewhere. Fucking cowards the lot of em.

    19. johnny — on 7th July, 2006 at 4:08 pm  

      I wish you guys would quit using the NEO prefix every time you speak of American Republicans. As Ravi Naik pointed out most neo-conservatives are anything but conservatives: they are for foreign intervention and big government. Big government is a leftist idea. Neo as a prefix is from the Greek “neos”, new, young, fresh, recent. Examples of terms starting with “neo-” include neonatal and neonate (the newborn), neoplasia and neoplasm (new growth = tumor), in politics it is a prefix used to indicate a revival or development of an older form, often in a different spirit. Examples include neo-Marxism and neo-Darwinism and neo-Nazism which the British press like to imply is associated with neo-Cons. So lets all drop the neo prefix if we want to be taken seriously.

    20. Leon — on 7th July, 2006 at 4:15 pm  

      Conservatives come in many varieties, there was a time when in this country the Conservatives had no problem with the NHS etc. Other variants of them are what they use to call monetarist, these lot are a new breed, ie Neo, of idealogues who take conservatism off in another tangent of fundementalism.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conservatism

      The term is a legit one in my view.

    21. Ravi Naik — on 7th July, 2006 at 6:10 pm  

      Johnny, Bush’s foreign policy is based on the neo-con vision, and the Republicans went along with it, abandoning the conservative principles. Hence, to say that the Republicans stand for small government, fiscal responsability and no foreign intervention is innacurate in my view.

      And they are no liberals either. The big-spending is not to give aid to the poor, but rather to give tax-breaks to the rich…

    22. Bikhair aka Taqiyyah — on 7th July, 2006 at 7:45 pm  

      Desi Italiana,

      I am sure you have heard of the Academic Bill of Rights supported if not authored by Horowitz? I dont know who drafted that thing but anyway it is really aimed at teachers in the Middle East departments of major universities who arent seen as sufficiently pro Isreal. Campus Watch is completely dedicated to that. The idea is that they dont want students to be indoctrinated to be anti American or anti Isreal or liberal. I doubt any student has actually been punished for being pro American or pro Isreal but they dont want academics using their class room as a soap box. They also target ethnic studies departments i.e. Black studies, Chicano studies etc.

    23. Bikhair aka Taqiyyah — on 7th July, 2006 at 7:54 pm  

      Ravi Naik,

      They dont seem to be your traditionally conservative. Certainly not the Pat Buchanan kind who is from the traditional American anti semitic, populist, xenophobe and non interventionist stripe. Buchanan usually blasts the “neocons.”

      Not only that the “neocons” seem to be social libertarians but they have managed to benefit from the support of social conservatives and other factions in the Republican party to institutionalize thier foreign policy.

      If there is a liberal elites its got to be the case that the neocons are the conservative elite.

    24. Desi Italiana — on 7th July, 2006 at 9:17 pm  

      Bikhair:

      Yes, I know all about the “Academic Bill of Rights” (ironically obscene term, this).

      Also, do you guys remember the “Dirty 30″ from the “Hit List”?

      http://www.cft.org/councils/uc/uclareljan06.html

    25. Ravi4 — on 7th July, 2006 at 9:44 pm  

      Refresh

      “As we know what happens in America is followed by what happens here.”
      Er, does that mean we’re going to get the death penalty reintroduced, massively loosened laws on gun ownership, and buggery made illegal in many parts of the country?

      “This type of brainwashing is necessary if you want ‘The Long War’.”
      This type of brainwashing has produced a US population of whom 62% now disapprove of the way Bush is handling the situation in Iraq, and 58% think the war was not worth fighting ( http://www.pollingreport.com/iraq.htm ).

      The US right – as in hard right – IS insane. But there’s something about US politics which seems to encourage political insanity – I don’t know, maybe the size of the population/economy means there’s more space for extreme viewpoints to flourish. The US hard-left is pretty insane too. After all, Noam Chomsky is just about the most revered left wing intellectual in the USA, if not the Western World, and he’s a nutter who argues that the US is no better than Nazi Germany.

    26. Astra — on 7th July, 2006 at 9:56 pm  

      Nonono - THIS (http://www.nicedoggie.net/2006/?p=951) is truly terrifying.

      Thug tactics? Try lynchmobs.

    27. Refresh — on 7th July, 2006 at 10:28 pm  

      Ravi, I think you know what I meant.

      We’re already losing over civil rights.

      Can’t agree about Naom Chomsky. Didn’t Soros also get headlined with the same US is bad as Nazi Germany?

    28. Refresh — on 8th July, 2006 at 12:26 am  

      More on Soros:

      In 1979 Soros founded the Open Society Fund, and since then has created a large network of foundations that give away hundreds of millions of dollars each year, much of it to individuals and organizations that share and promote his left-wing philosophy. He believes that in order to prevent right-wing fascism from overrunning the world, a strong leftist counterbalance is essential. Asserting that America needed “a regime change” to oust President Bush, Soros maintained that he would gladly have traded his entire fortune in exchange for a Bush defeat in the 2004 election. In a November 2003 interview with the Washington Post’s Laura Blumenfeld, he stated that defeating President Bush in 2004 “is the central focus of my life”. . . “a matter of life and death.” “America under Bush,” he said, “is a danger to the world, and I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is.” Claiming that “the Republican party has been captured by a bunch of extremists,” Soros accuses the Bush administration of following a “supremacist ideology” in whose rhetoric he claims to hear echoes from his childhood in occupied Hungary. “When I hear Bush say, ‘You’re either with us or against us,’ ” he explains, “it reminds me of the Germans. It conjures up memories of Nazi slogans on the walls, Der Feind Hort mit (The enemy is listening). My experiences under Nazi and Soviet rule have sensitized me.”

      From http://www.discoverthenetwork.org/individualProfile.asp?indid=977

    29. Ravi4 — on 8th July, 2006 at 4:29 am  

      Refresh - I never said anything about Soros. Nice to see how a multi-billionaire capitalist can - rightly - become a stalwart defender of the left.

      On Chomsky’s extremism, see this Observer article - http://observer.guardian.co.uk/review/story/0,,1799901,00.html

    30. Sid — on 8th July, 2006 at 11:29 am  

      Lenin dismantles that

    31. Refresh — on 8th July, 2006 at 12:16 pm  

      Ravi, true you did not mention Soros; and I hadn’t Chomsky.

      My concerns are clearly that we did and will follow US lead on overseas adventures; and silence debate at home.

      Question is why?

    32. Leon — on 9th July, 2006 at 12:23 am  

      “After all, Noam Chomsky is just about the most revered left wing intellectual in the USA, if not the Western World, and he’s a nutter who argues that the US is no better than Nazi Germany.”

      Try actually reading a few of his books instead of believing what ever smear campaign is trendy…

    33. Desi Italiana — on 9th July, 2006 at 12:53 am  

      Ravi4:

      “he’s a nutter who argues that the US is no better than Nazi Germany.”

      I’ve read most of his books, and true, he is unsparing in his critique of the US, but I don’t think I’ve ever come across him arguing what you are asserting. Can you name specifics?

      “On Chomsky’s extremism, see this Observer article - ”

      I read this article, and again, I don’t really see what you are referring to other than he is very steadfast in his opinions. Is this proof of him comparing the US to Nazi Germany?

    34. Ravi4 — on 10th July, 2006 at 10:10 pm  

      Oh dear. Apologies for replying so late – detained by wage slavery. Apologies also to fans of Chomsky. I exaggerated about Chomsky for effect. I’m not in the ranks of obsessive anti-Chomskyites like Oliver Kamm and David Aaronovitch. My point was that both left and right in the US seem to tend to extremes. I was trying to illustrate that by pointing out that Chomsky is a revered icon of the US left and he is extreme – his critique of US foreign policy as being irredeemably malign being one example of that.

      An additional point I could have made was that although David Horowitz and Rocco DiPippo are idiots, they aren’t in charge of US legislation. Even with all the unnecessary curtailments of civil liberties since 9/11, I don’t see any chance of freedom of speech in the US being curtailed. There are thousands of thriving hard left US websites and publications which prove that. See http://www.guardian.co.uk/frontpage/story/0,,1809557,00.html on how even when dominated by right wing appointees, the US supreme court won’t let Bush get away with his attempts to override the US constitution and Geneva Conventions.

      Desi – do you think there’s a serious risk of freedom of speech being curtailed over your side of the pond?

      Also I agree the US=Nazi point was an exaggeration by me about Chomsky’s views, although one which is widely made by those “trendy” anti-Chomsky campaigners. According to one of these anti-Chomskyites, Oliver Kamm ( http://oliverkamm.typepad.com/blog/2005/12/chomsky_replies_2.html ), Chomsky’s first book on politics, American Power and the New Mandarins (1969) says on page 17:
      “We have to ask ourselves whether what is needed in the United States is dissent – or denazification. The question is a debatable one. Reasonable people may differ. The fact that the question is even debatable is a terrifying thing. To me it seems that what is needed is a kind of denazification.”

      There are I believe other examples of this. In Chomsky’s latest book he apparently again compares the US to the world’s worst dictators – as quoted in that observer article. I agree this is not very strong evidence. The more major point is his belief that US foreign policy is irredeemably bad.

      Sid – the lenin piece you link to is interesting and fairly well-argued, although (as usual) he uses much of the same personalised abuse that is he fairly criticises Beaumont for. But you have to admit that having lenin as a defender doesn’t vouch for your non-extremism. My point is that Chomsky is a revered icon of the US left and he is extreme. Lenin’s defence of him and some of the arguments he uses (eg about the Marshall Plan, non-fear of Soviet Union, Kosovo – Chomsky’s use of evidence on the latter has been taken apart by the obsessive Kamm) doesn’t disprove that does it? I remember you posting comments that I agreed with to the effect that Afghanistan was on balance a just war. I’d have thought that immediately puts you at odds with both lenin and Chomsky on what to them would be a really key point …

      Leon – Thanks for your kind advice. You’re right, I haven’t read Chomsky’s books. But I have read a fair number of his articles and his output on his website ( http://blogs.zmag.org/ttt ). Some of his stuff I agree with, but a lot I don’t. Have you read any books by neo-cons? (Robert Kagan’s about the most readable eg http://www.carnegieendowment.org/publications/index.cfm?fa=view&id=985&prog=zgp&proj=zusr ) Should that stop you or others at PP criticising them? Even if you have read neo-con books, are you arguing that PP readers should only comment about authors on this site if we’ve read their books?

      There is one US lefty whose books (eg http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0465037070/026-9004076-8759636?v=glance&n=266239 ) I’ve read for a couple of decades now, at first forced to do so at Uni. Also icon of the academic left, unlike Chomsky a specialist in political science as well as renowned intellectually rigorous trasher of such thug-realists like Kissinger et al: Michael Walzer the pre-eminent left-wing just war theorist ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Walzer ). Some of you must have read his essay “Can there be a decent left” ( http://www2.kenyon.edu/depts/Religion/Fac/Adler/Politics/Waltzer.htm ) which passionately spoke about the powerless extremism of much of the US left from the position of a regretful insider. He never mentions Chomsky, as far as I’m aware, but Walzer’s critique does apply to him (as well as some on this side of the pond eg lenin).

    35. Sunny — on 10th July, 2006 at 10:32 pm  

      Ravi4 - when you say Chomsky is extreme, do yo mean he condones or advocates violence? In what ways is he comparable to the hard right?

    36. Ravi4 — on 11th July, 2006 at 10:50 pm  

      Sunny - Chomsky has tried to underplay totalitarian violence and or refused to condemn it (some of the quotes in this doc linked to from Kamm’s site are interesting, although a lot’s rubbish too http://www.paulbogdanor.com/100chomskylies.pdf ).

      But I agree Chomsky hasn’t done anything like encouraging intimidation like these idiots Horowitz and DiPippo have. There are supporters of left-ish causes who do similar stuff - http://www.guardian.co.uk/animalrights/story/0,11917,1268819,00.html

      But that’s no excuse for the thuggish tactics of those on the right either.

      As you said in the original post all this “shows the insanity of modern political conversation.”

      See you all sometime in August hopefully.

      And - off-thread I know - I do hope we see Jai (and yes even the usually infuriating Amir) again.

    37. Desi Italiana — on 12th July, 2006 at 4:56 am  

      Ravi4:

      -”I was trying to illustrate that by pointing out that Chomsky is a revered icon of the US left and he is extreme – his critique of US foreign policy as being irredeemably malign being one example of that.”

      I am not so sure about this assertion that Chomsky is a revered icon of the US left. It may seem like it, but I don’t think that this generalization is all that accurate. Has a poll been taken? (I’m not being snarky, I’m just asking). I know that outside of the US, people are much more familiar with Chomsky than Americans themselves are (ie have read him) AND assume that he must be the GodHead of the US Left. But to be honest, I have’t come across that. Sure, writers may discuss him, cite him, and so on. But every individual in the entire US left doesn’t get the opportunity to publish and perhaps cite someone else besides Chomsky :)

      I don’t see how Chomsky’s opinion that US foreign policy is “irredeemably malign” makes him an extremist??

      -”I haven’t read Chomsky’s books. But I have read a fair number of his articles and his output on his website”

      Hon, you haven’t even read any of his books! You can certainly get a sense by reading his articles, but it is not the same as reading the books (this goes for any author). There is always a whole lot of information that is left out of articles because, well, you have to write an article, which means within limited space.

      I have read most of his books. And I have to admit, with the first two books I read, I had to keep one finger in the Notes section at the end of the book to constantly check his sources and citations, because I just couldn’t believe some of the things he asserted. But his evidence is solid, there is no mistaking that (unless one thinks that declassified State Department documents are faulty). One could contest him on the conclusions that he draws from the evidence he uses, but to contest the evidence that has been provided is pretty darn hard.

      -”Chomsky has tried to underplay totalitarian violence and or refused to condemn it”

      It may seem this way because his focus is not on totalitarian violence in general, but the US. He looks at the US specifically in the context of its interventions, excursions, foreign policies, and interests. I think his main point is to force US citizens to look at what we ourselves are doing. And I think he is right. It is of no help when we study, dissect, and condemn violence, terrorism, politics etc of other countries and systems without looking at our own actions and government, as if the US’ actions are completely removed from our speculation, or indeed, there is no question of speculation. It’s too easy and convenient to look at others and denounce them without looking at ourselves :) Quick, superficial example: In the US, there was no end to mocking Berlusconi, and in Italy, vice versa with the Italians ridiculing Bush. I have to remind Americans of Bush, and the Italians of Berlusconi.

      Lastly:

      “Desi – do you think there’s a serious risk of freedom of speech being curtailed over your side of the pond?”

      In some ways, yes. “Freedom of speech” has interesting connotations in the US. Theoretically, we do have it. But in reality, the one who has the buck usually has access to a bullhorn. Most of the talk radio hosts- which have a high number of listeners- are complete right wing whackos. Limbaugh (sp?) is just the tip of iceburg. There is hardly any “freedom of speech” there for others who do not share the same view points.

      The policing of academia is extremely grave, in my opinion, since it is one of the few places where ideas, based on empirical data, can be freely thought out without fear of intimidation, state supression, etc. The Academic Bill of Rights and the “International Higher Education Act of 2003″ have been controversial precisely because it can severely curtail intellectual freedom. And without giving away too much personal info, two of my professors have been attacked for their writings by various forces/individuals. These lambastes against professors hardly deal with the evidence that is provided; they simply state that some things can’t be said, period.

      Furthermore, in the context of the US, mass media has the greatest outreach. Most Americans get their news through the evening TV news, or read mainstream newspapers (but not even that- I think, (am not sure) that somewhere around 15-25% actually read newspapers). But mass media is not always practicing freedom of speech. Who needs specific laws of censorship when you already have self censorship and gatekeepers in the mass media? :) I think it was Orwell who wrote eloquently on the subject of self censorship.

    38. Desi Italiana — on 12th July, 2006 at 4:57 am  

      Oh, sh*t, just saw how long my post came out. And Ravi4’s probably not even going to get to read it as he is going on vacation.

      Sorry.

    39. Njus — on 12th July, 2006 at 11:15 am  

      So the US will send condolences to India and weapons to Pakistan at the same time?

    40. sonia — on 12th July, 2006 at 11:59 am  

      Desi - brilliant post.

    41. Ravi4 — on 12th July, 2006 at 10:45 pm  

      Desi – In fact I’m still here, but just about to set off on hols. So this is honestly my last post till August.

      Thanks for bothering to reply to me in detail. I should point out that I do agree with you - and Sunny’s original post - that the US right is insane and Horowitz and DiPippo are idiots. I didn’t agree with some of the subsequent comments that implied the US is in danger of turning into some sort of right wing dictatorship and I wanted to point out that there are strong extremes at both ends of the US political spectrum. Would you refute Michael Walzer’s v thorough critique of the left that I linked to in #34?

      It’s my fault that this has become a discussion about Noam Chomsky and that’s not what this thread is about. But I feel compelled to reply to some of your points. (And I bet mine turns out to be longer than yours!)

      “Has a poll been taken?”
      Yes – Chomsky is officially “the world’s top public intellectual”! ( http://www.prospect-magazine.co.uk/intellectuals/results ) But I agree not many people will have actually read him.

      “I don’t see how Chomsky’s opinion that US foreign policy is “irredeemably malign” makes him an extremist??”
      Are there many more extreme opinions than one which argues that the US has done virtually nothing positive in external relations since 1945 and whose opinion of the US is “To me it seems that what is needed is a kind of denazification”? (see my #34 for ref) That position may of course be objectively “true” – I don’t think so – but it IS extreme.

      “One could contest him on the conclusions that he draws from the evidence he uses, but to contest the evidence that has been provided is pretty darn hard.”
      Afraid I don’t agree here Desi. Chomsky has misquoted sources, edited quotes from sources (eg missing out elipses when he deletes words from a quoted passage), misinterpreted sources (eg the way he refers to a UK parliament enquiry on Kosovo in his latest book – see the obsessive but thorough Kamm for details http://oliverkamm.typepad.com/blog/2006/06/chomsky_bambooz_2.html ).

      I’m not just relying on Kamm – I’ve had examples of this demonstrated to me by someone I know (who’s really sad) showing quotes from his writings against a copy of the source documents.

      “It may seem this way because his focus is not on totalitarian violence in general, but the US.”
      This would be OK if Chomsky only talked about US faults. But why does Chomsky sometimes actually try to under-estimate or disguise non-US totalitarian violence? (eg the bits playing down the deaths from Soviet Communism and the Khmer Rouge, and the careless support he gave to anti-semites like Faurrison quoted here http://www.paulbogdanor.com/100chomskylies.pdf )

      “It is of no help when we study, dissect, and condemn violence, terrorism, politics etc of other countries and systems without looking at our own actions and government”
      Agree with you completely here. Strident and clear eyed criticism of ones own government’s faults is vital – something which many critics of Chomsky (eg Kamm) don’t do enough of. US government has plenty of faults as does UK. But I reckon criticism needs to be rigorous, especially if you’re a highly regarded academic. Chomsky doesn’t meet that standard to my eye (but then why should “the world’s top public intellectual” care about what some asian guy in a dead end if reasonably paid office job thinks).

      Depending on how generous you are, Chomsky is either unintentionally (but consistently) careless and/or irresponsible – particularly in his use of sources and in giving unwise support to anyone who stridently criticises the US (eg the Faurrison incident, defence of Khmer Rouge); or he’s deliberately and malignly deceptive. Based on reading some of his articles but not his books, I tend to the first two options. But then I’m a bit of a softy.

      “But in reality, the one who has the buck usually has access to a bullhorn. … There is hardly any “freedom of speech” there for others who do not share the same view points.”
      I get the point you’re making. The same is true for most people including me – nowhere reflects my point of view because I don’t work in or own any media. But Desi, you and I have access to lots of websites and publications in both our countries which taken in totality broadly reflect our point of view and that’s true for most people in the UK and US. The current US opinion polls showing falling support for the Iraq war ( http://www.pollingreport.com/iraq.htm ) show the effect of that freedom.

      You and I really can’t compare our own lack of freedom of speech to people in say N Korea, Saudi and elsewhere in the middle east, Uzbekistan etc. If we did that it would be rather insulting to those who really do suffer because of lack of freedom of speech.

      “These lambastes against professors hardly deal with the evidence that is provided; they simply state that some things can’t be said, period.”
      Yeah I too don’t like the sound of this pressure on academic freedom of speech and oppose it totally. Hasn’t there also been similar pressure on right wing US professors to tone down what they say & the way they say it? There was certainly a fair bit of that at my Uni many many years ago – and in those youthful days I fully supported it. (what the stupid Daily Mail calls “Political Correctness Gone Mad!!!!”) Aren’t the (UK) university votes to ban academic contacts with Israeli universities the same sort of thing?

      “But mass media is not always practicing freedom of speech.”
      That’s true to some extent everywhere – can anyone name me the last non-stopper BBC documentary/ news report on Iraq? And the last time Humphrys/Naughtie et al on the R4 Today programme did anything on Iraq which didn’t convey the message “it’s all a total disaster and we knew it all along”?

      I’d say Sunny’s view of the Iraq war as I’ve seen him describe it is by far the mainstream – if not only – one presented by UK broadcast media. But there’s no way I’d argue that pro-Iraq war people suffer from lack of freedom of speech in the UK…

      “Hon, you haven’t even read any of his books! You can certainly get a sense by reading his articles, but it is not the same as reading the books”
      Actually I would like to read a book by Chomsky as a bit of post-holiday homework, but don’t know where to begin. Can you (or anyone) suggest something representative of Chomsky’s world-view and methods and yet still relevant? Is “Failed States” worth a read? I’ll come back here when I’m back from hols to see if anyone has bothered to give me any (non-abusive!) advice…

    42. Ravi4 — on 12th July, 2006 at 10:53 pm  

      btw not saying that what I see as the mainstream view of the Iraq war (that the war was wrong but that we can’t pull out now until Iraq is stable) is necessarily unreasonable. I disagree with the first half of that but agree with the second half.

      definitely my last post!

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