Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Great Pretender

The perpetually enraged Arab talks about the "smearing" of Chomsky.

Glenn Greenwald, perhaps the most courageous US journalist, writes about smearing of Chomsky: "But what is at play here is this destructive dynamic that the more one dissents from political orthodoxies, the more personalized, style-focused and substance-free the attacks become. That's because once someone becomes sufficiently critical of establishment pieties, the goal is not merely to dispute their claims but to silence them. That's accomplished by demonizing the person on personality and style grounds to the point where huge numbers of people decide that nothing they say should even be considered, let alone accepted. It's a sorry and anti-intellectual tactic, to be sure, but a brutally effective one."

And here I am, thinking about Chomsky the purist-anarchist par excellence. What could possibly be a greater smear on his "dissents from political orthodoxies" than the way prof. AbuKhalil bowdlerizes and abuses anarchist theories in the service of his own fascist, particularist agenda?

Imagine, just for the sake of the point I want to make in this post, No'am Chomsky saying something like AbuKhalil's repeated refrain, with one tiny alteration

I don't like flags, and I don't like nationalisms but for Israel and the Jews, everything and anything. 

"Anarchism is generally defined as the political philosophy which holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful, or alternatively as opposing authority and hierarchical organization in the conduct of human relations. Proponents of anarchism, known as "anarchists", advocate stateless societies based on non-hierarchical voluntary associations." (Wikipedia)
 According to Wikipedia, "Chomsky has stated that his "personal visions are fairly traditional anarchist ones, with origins in the Enlightenment and classical liberalism".

AbuKhalil's concern for Chomsky's reputation is rather vacuous. It simply does not make sense and misrepresents Chomsky's rejection of all statehoods, nationalisms, and flags as illegitimate corruptions of human justice and freedom. The two of them are certainly not on the same page. I have little doubt that Chomsky's political vegetarianism precludes the possibility that any exception might be made for one special place in his life where he can  always indulge in carnivorous gastronomy.

To conclude, let me remind you of how Paul Ricoeur defines evil: "Evil is, in the literal sense of the word, perversion, that is, a reversal of the order that requires respect for law to be placed above inclination. It is a matter of a misuse of a free choice...”

So here is the prof. of political science, here are his principles: [as a self-proclaimed anarchist] "I don't like flags, and I don't like nationalisms" except that he cannot subject his own personal inclinations to the very principles he claims to uphold:  "..for Palestine and the Palestinians, anything and everything".


Update: It is tragically amusing to note the extent of Prof. AbuKhalil's self-regard and cognitive dissonance. It's not as if he is incapable of noticing structural contradictions of the type I reported above in others:

 "It is an extremely disturbing interview [with Chomsky] ... the reference to Israel "harming itself" as Chomsky put it, is telling enough. It is time that we learn that we dont have to stand and applaud any White Man who comes to our region with some criticisms of Israel, OK? I mean, imagine if a supporter of the struggle of blacks against Apartheid were to say: I count myself as a supporter of the Apartheid regime."

What emerges is a clear picture of an absolutist academic incapable of even the tiniest bit of self-reflection or self-criticism. I wonder what he teaches* his students? What benefit, what learning, what skills, do they gain from attending the classes of such a "teacher"?? 

BTW, Is Chomsky a "white man"? A redneck? Perhaps a "new Afrikaner"? An Aryan, perhaps? (Apparently, one is a "white man"when one is not as virulently hostile to Israel's very existence as one ought to be. When a "white man"comes along and praises the Angry Arab, the white man's words are not only welcome but paraded with some pink-faced pleasure:) ).

*Sidebar about teachers:

 Bertrand Russell, in one of his Unpopular Essays, tries to explain that the role of a teacher is to be the guardian of civilization. A teacher, says Russell, "should be intimately aware what civilization is'.

But what does Russell mean when he invokes the term "civilization"?

It's much more than advanced technology. It is "a thing of the mind"

"it is a matter partly of knowledge, partly of emotion... A man.. should see his own country not only as home but as one among countries of the world, all with an equal right to live, and think, and feel. He should see his own age in relation to the past and the future".

The danger and impossibility to fulfill the true role of the teacher is much less present in democratic countries. A teacher, however, in totalitarian countries, cannot hope to serve his noble goal, for

"In each of these countries fanatical nationalism was what was most emphasised in the teaching of the young, with the result that the men of one country have no common ground with the men of another., and that no conception of a common civilization stands in the warlike ferocity". In such countries, he goes on to say, "Collective hysteria, the most mad and cruel of all human emotions, is encouraged instead of being discouraged".

Yet Prof. AbuKhalil does not live in a totalitarian country. What's his excuse for encouraging his readers, on his blog  "Collective hysteria, the most mad and cruel of all human emotions"??


At 8:13 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good post.
Good Pesach.

Good obituary for TNR:


At 10:36 AM EDT, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

Happy holidays, K2K. Thanks for the head up on TNR. It is impossible now to read anything as access is blocked to non-subscribers. A very sad end to a very fine magazine.

At 11:55 AM EDT, Blogger SnoopyTheGoon said...

What's his excuse?

Try obsession as an excuse for him. It fits.

At 11:56 AM EDT, Blogger SnoopyTheGoon said...

Oh, and hag sameach, which is much more important.

At 5:56 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can access 8 free articles a month, until that changes :)


At 9:31 PM EDT, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

I've seen the announcement but I don't know how to access those 8 articles. I'm asked to subscribe.

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