Saturday, November 05, 2005

Desperately smearing Chomsky

Ordinarily the Guardian is a fairly good source of information for a mainstream publication. You can certainly find a much wider range of information and opinion there than anywhere in the American press. So it was especially disturbing that they decided to publish such an unprofessional hatchet job as the Emma Brockes "interview" with Noam Chomsky.

The "interview" appeared fishy at first glance as lenin rightly noted. It is just the latest installment in a flurry of recent Chomsky bashing, The "hypocrite" charge Brokes tries to make against Chomsky was test driven in an awful article at Tech central. The argument is beautifully demolished by Stephen Downes as "a rather straightforward (and fairly boring) instance of the logical fallacy known as Ad Hominem Tu Quoque. "

But this "interview" is the worst piece yet. As lenin points out, Brockes seems afraid to even let him get out more than a couple of sentences without making some disparaging comment. I also suspected right away that her frequent descriptions of Chomsky's angry outbursts are simply made up. One of the striking things about Chomsky in all the interviews I have heard is his almost preternaturally calm demeanor even when talking about the most horrific atrocities. She likely added this detail to shore up her portrait of him as an "irrational' critic. Cockburn (below) finds a similar technique in one of her earlier interviews.

Now it turns out that more substantial sections of the published interview were simply falsified. More on this from Alexander Cockburn here.

This current wave of Chomsky bashing goes back to the days immediately following 9/11 when Christopher Hitchens, showing off his new found love of the Bush Imperium, launched a shameful attack on Noam Chomsky for what can only be termed emotional incorrectness. His attack on Chomsky contained little debate about facts, concentrating instead on the emotional weight Hitchens considered those facts rightly should have. Hitchens' comrade in arms David Horowitz even followed up with an Anti-Chomsky Reader again focusing on ad hominem attacks.

The desperate aim of all these attacks is plainly to divert the debate from Chomsky's arguments to his person.

UPDATE 11/7:. The Guardian "interview" was even picked up by Infoshop news, with only a rather belated and partial recognition that it was simply disinformation.

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