Noam Chomsky: My Dinner with Hassan

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Just a short post until Chris can give it the full treatment. Last May Noam Chomsky, groundbreaking linguist and veteran lefty, had dinner with Hassan Nasrallah. That’s right, Hassan Nasrallah. Now, we know that Chomsky and Nasrallah are likely to set off some alarm bells, but regardless of how you feel about the two, wouldn’t you like to be a fly on the wall for that conversation? We’ll have Chomsky on for the hour tomorrow.

Noam Chomsky

Professor of linguistics, MIT

Public intellectual in philosophy, intellectual history, and international affairs

Author, most recently, Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy

Thomas Ricks

Staff Writer, Washington Post

Author, Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq

Update, August 15 2006, 6:52 PM

As you can see, we’ve added Thomas Ricks to the conversation. Here, from Chris’s billboard, a better idea of what we’re going to be talking about.

Noam Chomsky and Tom Ricks could be said to embody two different ways of knowing – the war in Iraq, for example. Chomsky is the Einstein of language theory, not a military strategist. He got to know about Iraq by reading up and thinking hard, before the US invasion: for example, about a major problem in the Shiite majority which, in any kind of Iraqi democracy, would want to align with the Shiite state of Iran. That was “the last thing the US wants, Chomsky saw in advance, because “Iran is [the US’s] next target, as now it seems to be. Tom Ricks is a Pentagon reporter who covered the war room and the fighting day-to-day for four years compiling his top-of-the-list best-seller, Fiasco, about a bad war plan, badly executed. With two ways of knowing, two angles of view, one from the briefing room and battlefield, the other from hyper-rational analysis at satellite height, Tom Ricks and Noam Chomsky are next, on OS.

Chris Lydon, Open Source billboard, August 15, 2006

Comments

219 thoughts on “Noam Chomsky: My Dinner with Hassan

  1. This promises to be a creepy show.

    Dining with the Jew hating Nasrallah is like dining with Hitler. But then, Chomsky has been a defender of Holcaust deniers and he probably would have had dinner with Hiter if the Fuhrer had let him sit down at his table.

    Disgusting!

  2. I think we can count on this being far more informative than Mike Wallace’s juvenile attempts to goad him on last night’s Sixty Minutes interview.

  3. *Shakes head*

    Dear Fiddlesticks,

    Your right-wing talking point on Chomsky is factually inaccurate and tip-toes between satirical and simply sad. Chomsky defended his right of Robert Faurisson to be heard–not his views and obviously not his obscene historical narrative. He defended his freedom of speech–you know freedom of speech–it’s one of those silly tenets that underpins a liberal democracy?

    I should not have to explain the difference between defending someone’s right to be head and defending someone’s hateful views, but alas not all grade school teacher were as awesome as mine.

  4. Fiddlesticks is not completely wrong, it was about more than defending Faurisson’s right to free speech. Chomsky allowed Noontide Press, the publishing arm of the revisionist Institute for Historical Review, publication rights for “The Fateful Triangle”, a move that saved the beleaguered publisher and institute.

    From revisionists to the Khmer Rouge, to his rousing speech over Radio Hanoi, to this … a lovefest with Nasrallah, Noam Chomsky epitomizes all thats wrong with the academic left.

  5. ““Self hating Jewâ€? doesn’t even begin to describe this man.”

    Indeed, he is weirder than any one can imagine.

    He was asked recently since he hated America so much where in the world he would rather live. He said, in America because of its freedoms and if not here than in Israel because of its freedoms.

    Go figure.

    Sometime I don’t think he knows what he is saying.

    As for the concept of self hating Jews: Alain Finkielkraut the French philosopher said that such Jews don’t hate themeselves they hate other Jews. The point being that it is self hatred indirectly because by attacking other Jews they are inevitably also attacking themselves. They of course don’t realize that hence the pathology.

    I don’t think Chomsky is self hating in this sense, he is lost rather in a fog of his theories which are totally impractical and which make him say and believe strange things.

  6. I’ll leave the heaving around of epithets like “self-hating Jew” to others.

    The idea of Chomsky being “lost in a fog of his theories” gets it exactly wrong. Chomsky offers linguistic theories but rather few political ones. He proceeds above all as a rationalist (too coldly so for my own taste), adducing factual evidence often from sources readily at hand like major newspapers. How he strings those together into an interpretation is of course fair ground for critique, and I disagree often with his “iron cage” vision of power’s workings. But he is clearly offering the public exercise of reason, rather than arcane academic theorizing, as a model for non-expert citizens to exercise dissent.

    The man is above all an unflinching and in many ways solitary critic of the state, its mythologies and the communications regime that enables those. I’ve never understood why even his detractors can’t appreciate his deep grounding in American and Enlightenment democratic rationalism.

    Dismissing him as “strange” or “weird” is just American consensus affirmation at its most mindless. Indeed, it’s the thing Chomsky himself aims to unsettle.

  7. Yes, what a terrible idea. Rather than convene the usual panel of talking heads with scant knowledge of the Middle East to discuss the role of Nasrallah in the region, invite the man — a neighbor, no less — widely considered to be the world’s premier intellectual, who has has not only written many books and countless essays on the area, but who has actually SPOKEN WITH NASRALLAH. What could ROS be thinking?

  8. Hey guys, by all means continue to spar, but I’d hate to see this thread become a just a referendum on Chomsky himself. What — short of whether or not he’s a Holocaust denier — would you like to ask him? About Lebanon? About the Middle East?

  9. Sorry, Brendan… my interest in Chomsky is almost entirely related to transformational-generative grammar, innate language mechanism, etc. I haven’t heard much about thag sort of thing in the past few years, perhaps since machine translation has been, well, unspectacular. But it doesn’t sound like that the sort of thing you want to be talking about tonight,

  10. I’d like to ask Chomsky whether he believes that the aim of Hamas, Hezbollah, and others is in truth not the release of prisoners, return to pre-1967 borders, an Arab capital in East Jerusalem, and so on, but is actually the destruction of Israel. In other words, is there any possibility of dialogue and a negotiated settlement in the Middle East, or is this a case where nothing the Israelis could offer would settle the problem? The answer to this question obviously makes all the difference in how one responds.

  11. Questions for Chomsky:

    -What is the role of the US in the current debacle?

    -What could the US do to rectify the situation?

    -What are the responsibilities of the Europeans?

    -To what extent does he see the war in Lebanon in the terms outlined most recently by Seymour Hersh?

    -Who has done what right?

    -Who has done what wrong?

    -What is to be done? (To coin a phrase.)

  12. “Sorry, Brendan… my interest in Chomsky is almost entirely related to transformational-generative grammar, innate language mechanism, etc.”

    I lost interest in his linguistic theories when I realized that he can’t explain the plurality of languages in the world. Is view of language is based on a rigid monism which is also at work in his political “theories.”

  13. “Questions for Chomsky:

    -What is the role of the US in the current debacle?”

    I wouldn’t ask him anything since I already know what his answers will be. The guy is nothing if not boringly consisten in his anti-Americanism.

  14. Hi, Brendan.

    I might like to know how he would position Nasrallah vis-a-vis other resistance/”vanguard” figures he has encountered over the years, whether in Southeast Asia, Central America or the Middle East. Most of these latter were driven by Marxist and/or nationalist ideologies of liberation, and I wonder if it makes a difference that Nasrallah comes more from a position of militant religious affiliation.

    Is he best understood as an heir to that tradition of anti-colonial revolt, or does he augur something newer? Hezbollah seems to be playing the role of a classic military-political vanguard quite successfully at the moment—provoking over-response from a stronger foe, levelling the military playing field, winning propaganda victories, polarizing the political landscape of the region. Do the lines of inspiration run more through Arafat or through Khomeini?

  15. I would ask Noam his views on the global condition. As we double oil consumption every 20 years, and population every 30 years on a planet with finite and largely dwindling resources, and with a finite atmosphere for absorbing greenhouse gasses, we had better come up with solutions to conflicting ideologies, and competition for those resources, beyond hurling bombs at one another. What may be most important to the survival of civilization are all the issues we don’t talk about while wars are being waged. The phrase ‘equitable distribution’ seems an important but forgotten concept in solving conflicts largely between the most desperate societies and the most privileged.

    This is a quote of his from the 1992 documentary film “Manufacturing Consent,

    Noam Chomsky and the Mass Media”.

    “As long as some specialized class is in a position of authority, it is going to set policy in the special interests that it serves. But the conditions of survival let alone justice, require rational social planning in the interests of the community as a whole, and by now that means the global community.

    The question is whether privileged elites should dominate mass communication and should use this power as they tell us they must, namely to impose necessary illusions, to manipulate and deceive the stupid majority and remove them from the public arena. The question in brief is whether democracy and freedom are values to be preserved or threats to be avoided. In this possibly terminal phase of human existence, democracy and freedom are more than values to be treasured. They may well be essential to survival.”

  16. “The man is above all an unflinching and in many ways solitary critic of the state, its mythologies and the communications regime that enables those. I’ve never understood why even his detractors can’t appreciate his deep grounding in American and Enlightenment democratic rationalism. ”

    Rationalism is not taking a source and twisting it to the point where it bears little if any resemblance to its original point, ala Sam Huntington and George Kennan. Constructing a polemic by carefully selecting information that buttress an argument and ignores anything that might challenge it is dishonest and is itself a form of propaganda.

    His analysis is one dimensional and resembles the logic of a child more than that of an MIT professor. Whatever the problem is, wherever it occurs, whoever is doing it, it can all be “pinned� on the United States (or our ZioNazi client state Israel). The Cold War, our fault; Pol Pot, our fault; the repression of political dissidents in Cuba, our fault; the violence perpetrated by the FARC, our fault; Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, our fault; the civil war in Yugoslavia; our fault; the Koran War; our fault … you get the idea.

    His detractors don’t respect him or appreciate him because he castigates anyone who disagrees with him as evil. Huntington is a “vile propagandist�, Vaclav Havel is a “morally repugnant Stalinist�, and so on. His black and white portrayal of world is just as one dimensional as any other model he attacks.

  17. jdyer says:

    Questions for Chomsky:

    -What is the role of the US in the current debacle?�

    “I wouldn’t ask him anything since I already know what his answers will be. The guy is nothing if not boringly consisten in his anti-Americanism.”

    So don’t. But given your animus, why wouldn’t you? Here’s your chance. It’s one thing to stop listening, another to stop asking. Both suggest a desolating prospect for actually learning anything.

  18. Since I got off topic, a question: Professor Chomsky, as a Jew, would you consider yourself to be included in Nasrallah’s belief that “If we searched the entire world for a person more cowardly, despicable, weak and feeble in psyche, mind, ideology and religion, we would not find anyone like the Jew. Notice, I do not say the Israeli�?

    Another: Professor Chomsky, did you feel that your safety was at risk during you meeting with the leader of an organization that proclaims “It is an open war until the elimination of Israel and until the death of the last Jew on earth�?

  19. 1st/14: Chomsky isn’t responsible for Nasrullahs calculatedly inflamed rhetoric, but those are legitimate questions. My guess is a double “No.”

  20. Joseph Goebbels was Hitler’s chief propagandist. He famously wrote that the Nazis entered into parliament to:

    “…arm ourselves with democracy’s weapons. If democracy is foolish enough to give us free railway passes and salaries, that is its problem. It does not concern us. Any way of bringing about the revolution is fine by us.”

    and that:

    “We are coming neither as friends or neutrals. We come as enemies! As the wolf attacks the sheep, so come we. You are not among your friends any longer! You will not enjoy having us among you!”

    (see translation in

    http://www.calvin.edu/academic/cas/gpa/angrif06.htm)

    The diabolical nature of the Nazi party is little different from the ideology that generates statements such as:

    “We will use your democracy to destroy your democracy.”

    Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed, London, June, 2000

    Hizbullah, Hamas, the Taliban, Al-Qaida, they’re aptly called Islamo-Fascists. I would never dream of living under the rule of the Klu Klux Klan any more than under Stalin, Pol-Pot or the lunatic father and son team of the Kims. Why are we so timid in fighting the Islamo-Fascists?

    You only have to listen attently to someone like Buthaina Shaaban–Syria’s version of Joseph Goebbels–to understand that their interpretation of compromise is a dystopic future for each and every one of us.

    I do believe that the way to fight hateful dogmas is to expose and to bring them to the light of day (think apartheid).

    To my very own personal grief, Chomsky has been ineffectual in fighting the enemies of freedom today.

    The world is facing unprecedented danger as petro-dollars are making it easier for nuclear weapons to fall in the hands of crazies like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Things are not improved the least when ‘me-first’ incompetents like Cheney and Rumsfeld are still around anywhere near the gears of power.

    Yes, let’s talk with Nasrallah, but let’s make sure he tells us everything he wants to happen to his people and to the rest of the world.

  21. “So don’t. But given your animus, why wouldn’t you? Here’s your chance. It’s one thing to stop listening, another to stop asking. Both suggest a desolating prospect for actually learning anything.”

    I have read enough many books by Chomsky to know how he repsonds to anyone who disagrees with his premises.

    If any one else is interested in asking him something I would suggest they ask him:

    1) why he seems to speak up so often for people like the late unlamented Milosevich, Nasrallah, Pol Pot, etc.

    2) what is it about his views that they are so often quoted on neo-Nazi, Holocaust denier, and other ultra right wing websites?

  22. I second cpaynter. Chomsky a global citizen, for better or worse (what’s your carbon footprint, Noam?), who has been looking at the world critically longer than I suspect most of us here have been alive. Let’s hear what he has to say about it, beyond Nasrallah & co.

  23. hurley Says:

    “1st/14: Chomsky isn’t responsible for Nasrullahs calculatedly inflamed rhetoric, but those are legitimate questions. My guess is a double “No.”

    How do you know that Nasrallah’s is using “inflamed rhetoric” and isn’t articulating a deep seated belief about Jews being evil?

    And why do you answer for Chomsky?

  24. I would like to ask Chomsky if he thought Hizbollah was justified in killing the US Marines during the early 80′s. I wonder if he asked Nasrullah that question?

  25. btw: here another interview with someone who had met Hizbollas leaders:

    “Middle East

    Understanding Hezbollah’s Leadership and Mission

    Fresh Air from WHYY, July 19, 2006 · A few years ago, writer Jeffrey Goldberg spoke with Hezbollah leaders for a 2002 article in called “In the Party of God: Are Terrorists in Lebanon Preparing for a Larger War?” Goldberg will help us understand the background of the current unrest in Lebanon. Goldberg serves as Washington correspondent for The New Yorker.”

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5567843

  26. jdyer says:

    “I have read enough many books by Chomsky to know how he repsonds to anyone who disagrees with his premises.”

    -Which books? What passages are you referring to?

    “If any one else is interested in asking him something I would suggest they ask him:”

    It’s not a matter of “any one” else, but you: what would you like to ask him?

    “1) why he seems to speak up so often for people like the late unlamented Milosevich, Nasrallah, Pol Pot, etc.

    2) what is it about his views that they are so often quoted on neo-Nazi, Holocaust denier, and other ultra right wing websites?”

    Again, both legitimate questions in the context of this forum. However, again, I’d like to know what exactly you’re referring to? For example, where, at least before tonight’s program, which presumably at this hour none of us has heard, has he spoken in defence of Nasrallah? I’d like to know about it. Help me out.

    As for the second question, I suppose it has to do with the right-wing’s tendency to twist things to their own purposes, not that the rest of us are blameless on that score. Was it Emerson, Once a particular point is taken, all history can be made to prove it…

  27. jdyer says:

    How do you know that Nasrallah’s is using “inflamed rhetoric� and isn’t articulating a deep seated belief about Jews being evil?

    Good point, and “inflamed rhetoric” is a bit of a cliché, no? I don’t know, but I suspect that if his hatred of Jews was all that has been suggested, he really would have had Chomsky for dinner, scrawny old bird that he is. But the race card common to politicos time and space over. He may very well be, and I would even say I suspect he is, programmatically against Jews, but before drawing conclusions, why not listen, ears cocked for fresh information, to someone who has actually spoken to him? Nasrallah now reckoned the most popular figure in the Middle East. Hark, goddamnit! Listen and learn.

  28. “1st/14: Chomsky isn’t responsible for Nasrullah’s calculatedly inflamed rhetoric, but those are legitimate questions. My guess is a double “No.�

    Chomsky never answers a question with a simple “yes� or a “no�, it makes it too easy to tie him down to something later. He always answers a question in a way that allows him with an out for something he said.

    But a few more questions:

    1. Professor Chomsky, was the United States government, or elements within it, behind the attacks of 9/11?

    2. Professor Chomsky, considering the power of propaganda, did you consider the possibility that a meeting with Nasrullah’s would be used to advance or soften Hezbollah’s image and message in the West?

    3. Professor Chomsky, if you had a meeting with George W Bush, would you physically embrace him as you did Hassan Nasrallah?

    4. Professor Chomsky, to the best of your knowledge were your parents or any of your ancestors “apes and pigs� as your host Hassan Nasrallah believes all Jew’s are descended from? (sorry I could not resist)

    “As for the second question, I suppose it has to do with the right-wing’s tendency to twist things to their own purposes, not that the rest of us are blameless on that score.�

    Chomsky did allow Noontide Press, the publishing arm of the revisionist Institute for Historical Review, publication rights for “The Fateful Triangle�, a move that saved the beleaguered publisher and institute.

  29. 1st/14 says:

    Chomsky did allow Noontide Press, the publishing arm of the revisionist Institute for Historical Review, publication rights for “The Fateful Triangle�, a move that saved the beleaguered publisher and institute.

    I’m unfamiliar with the Noontide Press. I read The Fateful Triangle under the South Boston imprint, whose name escapes me. I’m curious about these Noontide Press people, however. Who are they, and why do you suppose Chomsky allowed them to reprint his work? My guess would be a simple if stark — that’s what often gets him into trouble — view of free expression. Seems like the gist of another good question. Why not have him on for another hour to answer them all…? Another neocon howling in pain. But why not? Have at him.

    As for Chomsky’s skill as a debater, you’re right.

  30. “Good point, and “inflamed rhetoricâ€? is a bit of a cliché, no? I don’t know, but I suspect that if his hatred of Jews was all that has been suggested, he really would have had Chomsky for dinner, scrawny old bird that he is.”

    and Nazi leaders met with anti-Nazis and even with Jews, when it was in their interest, hurley!

    The guy is a bigot, but he is not a fool.

  31. jdyer says:

    “There views are too disgusting for me to want to spend much time with these sites, however, if you have the stomach for it look up other neo-Nazi and Holocaust denying sites and see how many of them quote Chomsky?”

    I haven’t, but I thank you for yours, and for doing it in my stead. I take you at your word, but remind you of “guilt by association.”

    As for having to “hunt up” Chomsky’s books, my presumption was that you had read them, otherwise why — how? — would you comment on them?

  32. Hurley: He is a fantastic debater, impossible to back into a corner. I listened to him debate several people, and he has an uncanny ability to answer any question posed to him, no matter how loaded it may be, to make his case appear as strong as possible. I am not saying that there is any substance in his responses aside from a bunch of gobbledygook, but his responses always leave him an out.

    Noontide has website, go check it out if you like. I should have been more specific, he gave the publication rights for the French edition of “The Fateful Triangle� to Noontide.

  33. jdywer asks:

    “Why do you answer for Chomsky?”

    I wish I could say “I wouldn’t presume,” but in a way I did. To the extent that I did, well just contemplate all the formerly self-evident notions of evidence, free-speech, not to mention simple fair play. For the second time in a matter of days, someone has been slandered on this site as a “Jew hater,” without any evidence — not a word, not a line — being adduced in support of the accusation, just a sort of crabwalk into the shadows when these accusations were called into queston. Why not call him a paedophile into the bargain? By all means, bring the raging anti-semites to heel, but with evidence and reasoned and informed argument. Otherwise your conclusions are worthless and the “anti-semites” therebye free to perform their own crabwalk into their own lurid shadows. There are several serious things at play here. Why not treat them that way?

  34. “I haven’t, but I thank you for yours, and for doing it in my stead. I take you at your word, but remind you of “guilt by association.â€?”

    Come on, Hurley, it’s not giult by association. It’s meant to pose the question why is it that Neo nazis are more comfortable quoting Chomsky than say Jefferson?

    “As for having to “hunt upâ€? Chomsky’s books, my presumption was that you had read them, otherwise why — how? — would you comment on them?”

    Isn’t this casting doubt by faint praise?

    I have been reading Chomsky, Hurley for many year. It’s his linguistic theory that got me interested in his work. As I said above I found his linguistics problematic.

    I find his political critic, more than problematic, I think it is detrimental to democracy.

  35. Questions for Chomsky:

    Do you see the anti-semetic rhetoric of figures like Nasrallah and Ahmadinejad only as a response to Zionist rhetoric? Isreali military action? Something else?

    If Hezbollah embeds itself in Lebanese civilian communities, how might Israel defend itself from their attacks without killing hundreds of civilians and potentially creating scores more recruits for Hezbollah?

    Similarly, if Hizbollah is being supplied by Syria, how could Israel cut off supply lines without destroying critical infrastructure and potentially setting off a humanitarian disaster?

    Do you think our past support for dictators like Saddam Hussein is necessarily a reason for the world’s only superpower not to intervene militarily on behalf of oppressed populations around the world? Is there a way we could do this without destroying a country?

    Was there an alternative to force in Iraq? What might have been the best way to overthrow Saddam and empower the people?

    How do you think the U.S. and the international community can best encourage democracy and human rights in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world?

    How could the U.N. be reformed to be more effective in confronting international humanitarian disasters and threats to international peace (outside of those posed by the U.S.)?

    Can’t wait to listen to the show!

  36. Calling Chomsky a supporter of holocaust deniers is so remarkably misinformed it is hard to know where to start.

    I find it laughable that _he_ would be labeled a bigot, while at the same time all his beliefs are shut-down by broad-stroke painting of “self-hating Jew”. Is this high school?

    Then again, it is entirely consistent with wanting to know who was embrasing whom, rather than asking some truely interesting questions…

  37. jdyer says:

    “Come on, Hurley, it’s not giult by association. It’s meant to pose the question why is it that Neo nazis are more comfortable quoting Chomsky than say Jefferson?”

    Again, “what ” is meant to pose the question? What are you on about? So many things are set in motion by your line of argument, why not bring some of them to rest? What’s your answer to the question you pose? It’s an interesting one, but answer it with some sort of evidence other than inuendo. To begin with, Chomsky likely to be cited because no one reads Jefferson anymore. And he’s also the boogeyman, so I’m lead to believe, of many right-wing blogs…Furthermore, the very form of the question cancells any meaningful response. How about this, “Why is it that neo-Nazis are more comfortable quoting Alice Duer Miller than say Betty Crocker?” Mind your P’s and Q’s and maybe some understanding will emerge.

  38. “I find it laughable that _he_ would be labeled a bigot, while at the same time all his beliefs are shut-down by broad-stroke painting of “self-hating Jewâ€?. Is this high school?”

    You can laugh all you want to, oolitic.

    After you finish, please explain why Chomsky spent his time defending Milosovich, Pol Pot and other despicable dictators.

    As for his being a supporter of Holocaust deniers, he did write a forward for Faurrison’s Holocaust denial book. Make of that what you will.

    btw: you do sound like a high school teacher yourself, or pobably a Lycee teacher.

    “Then again, it is entirely consistent with wanting to know who was embrasing whom, rather than asking some truely interesting questions… ”

    Here is a “truely” interesting question: why is it that Chomsky supporters feel more comfortable praising the man than dealing with his ideas and his writings?

  39. I doubt any one will, but I’d like to ask him why he signed a letter accusing Israel of provoking the kidnapping of it soldier by Hamas after it had arrested some terror suspects in Gaza?

    The letter said that the kidnapping which happened the day after was a direct result of its arrest. Yet I read somehwere that it usually takes weeks of planning on the part of a terror group to mount an operation not to mention the time it took to dig the tunnel.

  40. A question was asked in Santa Fe of Robert Fisk when he was touring with his latest book, and that was, “Do you have any hope?” His answer was in the negative (and when we see his city now—Beirut—we can understand.) I’d like to ask Chomsky the same thing…Have you any hope? For the world, for America, for the oppressed and downtrodden? Obviously, my question is leading, for I haven’t any. But from the world’s leading intellectual, I would love to hear his take on the way things stand now, today.

  41. Hurley,

    “Again, “what â€? is meant to pose the question?”

    Gove me a break, Hurley. This isn’t a critical theory seminar on the semiotics of close reading.

    It’s a straight forward question. Chomsky knows how to answer a question, methinks.

    “What’s your answer to the question you pose? It’s an interesting one, but answer it with some sort of evidence other than inuendo.sic”

    Let Chomsky answer it, buster; and learn to spell.

  42. Here is another view of Beirut than that of the masochist Fisk:

    http://www.menapress.com/search.php?query=&topic=67

    By Michael Béhé in Beirut

    “The politicians, journalists and intellectuals of Lebanon have, of late, been experiencing the shock of their lives. They knew full well that Hezbollah had created an independent state in our country, a state including all the ministers and parallel institutions, duplicating those of Lebanon. What they did not know – and are discovering with this war, and what has petrified them with surprise and terror – is the extent of this phagocytosis….”

    you guys have your predictable sources. Try reading articles by people who have a different point of view from yours, Nabobnico.

  43. I don’t think of Professor Chomsky as being an apologist at all. I think the charge is infantile. He examines, granted from the safety of his ivory tower, the world and what he sees in it. What he does is find the connections behind things, the why to the recent war in israel. An obvious and immediate answer would be the Hezbollah rockets? So then why hezbollah? Why the phenomen of Nasrallah? Why the divide? He keeps taking things back in the way others only claim to, examining the reason for things being, for situations existing. An exxample is his alleged defense of Pol Pot. In fact what he writes is,

    “There is a doctrine to be established: we must focus solely on the (horrendous) crimes of Pol Pot, thus providing a retrospective justification for (mostly unstudied) US crimes, and an ideological basis for further “humanitarian intervention” in the future — the Pol Pot atrocities were explicitly used to justify US intervention in Central America in the ’80s, leaving hundreds of thousands of corpses and endless destruction. In the interests of ideological reconstruction and laying the basis for future crimes, facts are simply irrelevant, and anyone who tries to suggest otherwise is targeted by a virulent stream of abuse. That runs pretty much across the spectrum, an instructive phenomenon. But one consequence is that no one can give a serious answer to the question you raise, because it is about US crimes.”

    He wants to understand Pol Pot, now history, in order to understand the actions of the governement. When we didn’t catch Osama or Mullah Omar in Afghanistan, the reason for our invassion was changed to “liberating the people.” This was just an excuse conjured up to distract the people and comfort the war widows. The same is being used now in Iraq; our reason lately is “Democracy on the move, see?” and it is because we found no WMD…

    In his Hegemony or Survival (pg. 22, Holt, 2003) he asks “Why were the 1990′s considered ‘the decade of humanitarian intervention’ and not the 1970′s?” He then describes the two cases since WW2 that resulted in a liberation of the people by brute force; the first is East Pakistan by India, and the second is Cambodia by Vietnam. He asks why these are not recogniozed. “The idea is unthinkable, and the resaons seem clear. The real examples of intervention that terminated huge atrocities were carried out by the wrong people.” In both cases of intervention, the US was opposed and even went so far as to offer direct support for the Khmer Rouge. This hardly seems a stance of an apologist and in fact even indicts the supporters of the KR.

  44. This to Hurley

    Let Chomsky answer it, buster; and learn to spell.

    and this to me

    you guys have your predictable sources. Try reading articles by people who have a different point of view from yours, Nabobnico.

    Brendan, can we get a break from this guy so we can have a decent conversation?

  45. Let’s sling some more MUD on Chomsky to completely detract from Israel’s humiliating failure in its latest criminal war against Lebanon. And let’s also completely forget that Hezbollah wouldn’t have been here had it NOT been for another stupid misadventure by Israel 28 years ago. Lets talk about 1559 but completely ignore 242… C’mon! Lets!!

    Oh, and Chomsky?….Holocaust denier.. blah blah blah pohlpot.. blah blah nazi… blah denier.. blah blah grunt grunt. bad man.. hitler.. hitler.. huff puff.. holocaust denier.. denier denier.. denier..denyyyerrrrrrrrrr!!!!!…

    terrrrorrr.. terrrorrr… iran… missils syria.. missiles.. terrors self hating… selff… anti-semit.. oh-wait.. terror attacks on soldiers.. blah blah saddam.. torror toerrrrrorreerrr

    Question for Noam:

    Can Israel really survive another hundred years with it cranking up the violence on its neighbours like it does every half decade? Let us also assume that Uncle Sam does help it liquidate Iran or Syria befor the Republic implodes on itself. Looks like America’s got one more war left in her before the Martial Law is declared.

  46. Nabobnico,

    “I don’t think of Professor Chomsky as being an apologist at all. I think the charge is infantile. He examines, granted from the safety of his ivory tower, the world and what he sees in it. What he does is find the connections behind things, the why to the recent war in israel. An obvious and immediate answer would be the Hezbollah rockets? So then why hezbollah? Why the phenomen of Nasrallah? Why the divide? He keeps taking things back in the way others only claim to, examining the reason for things being, for situations existing. An exxample is his alleged defense of Pol Pot. In fact what he writes is,”

    This is both too sophisticated and too naive (infantile–to use your expression).

    btw: when quoting Chomsky it’s very important that you provide a reference. When and where he said something is important since he often backtracks and claims that he didn’t say what is attributed to him.

    Yes, Chomsky likes to look for root causes and he always come up with one root cause: the USA.

    “What he does is find the connections behind things,…”

    So do paranoiacs.

    The analysis you attribute to him about the Lebanon war is pretty superficial.

    “Why the phenomen of Nasrallah?” Nasrallah is not a phenomen (a nice French term) nor is he a phenomenon. He is a doctrinaire antisemite who accepted Khomeinis doctrine about evil Jews. To call him a phenomen is like calling Hitler a phenomen.

    If you want to understand Nasrallah study the history of Islam, the Shiites, and the history of antisemitism in the Arab world. Then study the Arab Israeli conflict. (You will also need to study his persnonal history, but that is another matter) All of these phenomena have a bearing on who Nasrallah is.

  47. “Brendan, can we get a break from this guy so we can have a decent conversation?”

    This is a personal attack and threat by Nabobnico.

    Well, Nabobnico did you read the article by M. Behe?

  48. LninYo (Lenin Yo)

    “Let’s sling some more MUD on Chomsky to completely detract from Israel’s humiliating failure in its latest criminal war against Lebanon. And let’s also completely forget that Hezbollah wouldn’t have been here had it NOT been for another stupid misadventure by Israel 28 years ago. Lets talk about 1559 but completely ignore 242… C’mon! Lets!!”

    yrs, let’s talk about 242 and the way the Arab States ignored it for years. Let’s talk about 242 and the way the PLO kept resorting to criminal acts of violence rather than sit down to negotiate a final end to the conflict as 242 demanded.

    And let’s not mention Hizb’allah’s criminal attacks on Israeli civilians.

    Yes, let’s have another antisemitic discussion about how Israel is at fault for wanting to defend itself from religious totalitarians.

    Let’s do it, Lenin!

  49. Hi all.

    Nice, pithy sparring, plus a real trove of questions here. Now that we’ve lined up another dance partner, though, how does that change the shape of the conversation? Does anyone have a question for Tom Ricks?

  50. nabobinico says:

    This to Hurley

    Let Chomsky answer it, buster; and learn to spell.

    Buster? How wonderfully quaint, and I don’t mean in Alberto Gonzales’s sense of the word. Or do I? Well, you told me. I stand corrected. Run your spell-check over the forum and you’ll have no end of fun. As for “letting Chomsky answer it,” whatever “it” is, my point was just that. Let him speak. Interesting that in the same message you should call for Brendan to censor me, in the interests of a “decent conversation.” Well done. I couldn’t have made the point clearer myself.

  51. No, no, no, Hurley…you don’t understand. I’m sorry for the misunderstanding. My fault entirely and I realized after I posted I shouldn’t have used your name. I quoted JDyer writing that to you, and then something he wrote to me. I am tired of JDyer’s constant harangue and I was asking Brendan if couldn’t we get this guy to tone down his rhetoric a little…

    Again, I apologise and I shouldn’t have cut and pasted your name without checking first.

  52. hurley, your last message is confused.

    nabobnico wanted to censor me, not you.

    You wrote as if you thought he and I were the same poster.

  53. “Apologies to nabobnico and jdywer for confusing their messages.”

    jdyer accepts your apologies, but I am not sure about, jdwyer. he or she may a little harder to please.

  54. Look, kids, don’t make me turn the car around and take EVERYONE’S ice cream away. The rules of engagement are pretty straightforward and easy to understand: engage the argument, not the motivation. That means don’t cal anyone an antisemite, and don’t call anyone a mindless Fox drone. This doesn’t mean don’t argue — argument, is, after all, the point of this thread — it just means argue and show respect for each other at the same time. These things — argument and respect — are not mutually exclusive.

    As for asking me for a ruling, I’m reading the threads, I promise; I’ll jump in if I see a foul. Don’t work the ref.

    Carry on.

  55. “I read the link to M. Behe and found it more nonsense.”

    Typical. The guy is a Lebanese intellectual not a reporter.

    He wrote about his own experiences and about a reality he has to live with day in and day out.

    Most people here, including me, though I have been speaking to people in Israel who were in the line of fire, didn’t experience the war the way that Behe did. To call his passionate views “nonsense” is pretty arrogant.

  56. Here is a link to another interesting piece on Lebanon by a French intellectual published in the NY Times Sunday magazine:

    Questions For . . .

    Bernard-Henri Lévy

    Published: August 11, 2006

    “Bernard-Henri Lévy, a French philosopher and writer, is the author, most recently, of “American Vertigo: Traveling America in the Footsteps of Tocqueville” and an essay in The Times Magazine about Israel and Lebanon. He recently answered readers’ questions about the current state of the Mideast conflict.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/11/magazine/11levy-questions.html?_r=1&8dpc&oref=slogin

  57. “don’t cal anyone an antisemite, and don’t call anyone a mindless”

    You mean I can’t call Nasrallah an antisemite, or anyone else how makes anti-Jewish comments? I don’t think Nasrallah is mindless though, he is a mindful in the sense that he knows what he is about, but he is definitely an antisemite.

  58. JDyer, You write that M. Behe is an intellectual, not a jouranlist, as though to justify his nonsense; in a brief search however I found the “inteliiegnt design” Behe who was refered to as an intelectual. Your Behe however is just a journalist, and a screeching one at that.

  59. Apologies for the imprecision. Please feel free to call David Duke or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad an antisemite. Try to avoid calling nabobnico or anyone else posting to this thread an antisemite. Try, in general, to imagine you’re talking to a kind, rational person who happens to disagree with you. Happens all the time.

  60. From the New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, 3rd Edition, 2003

    Semitic

    (suh-MIT-ik) A descriptive term for several peoples of the Middle East and their descendants, including Jews and Arabs (see Arab-Israeli conflict).

    From Wikipedia—touch to cite I know.

    Hassan Nasrallah was born the eldest of nine children in East Beirut on August 31, 1960. His father, Abdul Karim, was a vegetable vendor from Bassouriyeh (Al Bazuriyah), a small village near the city of Tyre in South Lebanon.

    Tough nuts for Nasrallah eh?

  61. “JDyer, You write that M. Behe is an intellectual, not a jouranlist, as though to justify his nonsense;”

    Nonesense to you, not to me.

    I find Mr. Fisk’s reporting nonsensical on many levels.

    You tomato, I tomato,….

  62. Hey guys, check out this just in from Chris’s billboard, a better idea of what we’re going to talk about.

    Noam Chomsky and Tom Ricks could be said to embody two different ways of knowing … Chomsky is the Einstein of language theory, not a military strategist. He got to know about Iraq by reading up and thinking hard, before the US invasion … Tom Ricks is a Pentagon reporter who covered the war room and the fighting day-to-day for four years…

    I read a lot in these threads about how we can and can’t know things. At the risk of getting all metaphysical, these two men “know” things in very different ways; whose approach should we trust? Why? Anyone read “Fiasco”? Got a response to it? Is Ricks, an outsider himself as a journalist, albeit one with careful and deep sourcing in the Pentagon, a credible witness?

  63. “From the New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, 3rd Edition, 2003″

    So what, Nabobnico.

    Semitic as a term was originally used in linguistics in the 19C.

    “Semite

    Person speaking one of a group of related languages, presumably derived from a common language, Semitic (see Semitic languages). The term came to include Arabs, Akkadians, Canaanites, some Ethiopians, and Aramaean tribes including Hebrews. Semitic tribes migrated from the Arabian Peninsula, beginning c. 2500 BC, to the Mediterranean coast, Mesopotamia, and the Nile River delta. In Phoenicia, they became seafarers. In Mesopotamia, they blended with the civilization of Sumer. The Hebrews settled at last with other Semites in Palestine.”

    http://www.answers.com/topic/semite

    Semite as a racial designation came later, and the term anti Semite was introduces in late 19C Vienna and was used by people who called themselves the enemies of the Jews.

    After WW2 people stopped calling themselves anti-Semites because of the obvious association with Nazism.

    At this time antisemites started to claim that the Arabs were semites and that they didn’t hate the Arabs hence they couldn’t be antisemites.

    This is of course nonsense. Antisemitism means a person who hates Jews and Nasrallah is an antisemite. There are some Jews who also, for whatever reason, hate Jews, and they too are antisemites. (You find the same phenomenon among members of other minorities–people who hate their own brethren—and among women. There is a substantial psychological literaure that deals with this issue.)

  64. “Noam Chomsky and Tom Ricks could be said to embody two different ways of knowing … Chomsky is the Einstein of language theory,…”

    Oh please, I beg to differ.

    His is the phlogiston theory of language.

  65. @Jdyer: LninYo as in el-Ninio as in little boy as in spanish.. though I must admit “Lenin” is a nice touch as well :)

    also criticism of Israeli crimes is NOT anti-semitism regardless of how loud you shout and try to link the two. Finklestien is antisemitic. Chomsky is antisemitic. Lerner is Antisemitic. Get a hold of yourself my friend. and calm down.

    And if we’re talking about criminal attacks on civilians, lets talk about terrorist activities by the thugs and assasins of Irgun, and their terrorist bombing of King David hotel.. etc. etc.

    But I digress. So lets get back to asking Mr. Chomsky questions.

  66. LninYo Says:

    “also criticism of Israeli crimes is NOT anti-semitism”

    This begs the question that Israel did commit crimes. Make the charge, come up with specifics and prove them.

    ” regardless of how loud you shout and try to link the two.”

    and regardles of how loud you shout that doesn’t make it true.

    “Finklestien is antisemitic.”

    Yes, he is.

    “Chomsky is antisemitic.”

    Chomsky is anti American and sees Israel as an ally of America which is why he hates that country, though he said he wouldn’t mind living there. The man is a bit ctrange, methinks.

    “Lerner is Antisemitic. Get a hold of yourself my friend. and calm down.”

    Lerner is just an editor of a lefitst magazine and a self ordained Rabbi.

    His literary editor, By THANE ROSENBAUM btw, recently admited that he was wrong about his criticisms of Israel and wrote and op ed piece in the Wall Street Journal about called “Red State Jews.”

    Look it up and calm down.

  67. Let’s get serious guys. We are at war. People-especially women and children -are getting killed. The middle east is aflame. Let talk about Iraq!

  68. Chomsky doesn’t know Russian. Why is he talking about Pravda as if he had first hadn knowledge of what was written there?

  69. Yes, about Iraq, Chomsky said that we should do what the Iraqi people want then he points to polls in the US.

    How typical.

  70. The US intended to destroy Iraq, from the outset. There is one important subject missing here: Oil. Perle and other neocons were thrown out not because their Iraq policy was unsuccessfuly, but because they wanted to pump Iraq dry to control the cartel.

    The fact is that Iraq’s oil wealth is enormous, much larger than their OPEC allocation based on disclosed reserves, has been kept off the market for eighty years since a US-UK agreement, and will continue to be, by an outcome in which Iraq collapses into civil war. If there is any stable outcome, Iraq will resume pumping, probably at maximum capacity, and oil prices will collapse; oil consumption will surge.

  71. @jyder: He said he read some translations. talk about hearing what you want to hear. Want to witness Israeli crimes? there is this thing called CNN ?? or FOX.. I hear they’re quite fair and balanced. Give them a try.

    @douchebags: And thanks a lot for intimidating the ROS crew by crying antisemitism at the drop of a hat. Anyone who dares to oppose Israel is antisemitic. Now we won’t know what Chomski and Nasralla had for lunch.

  72. “@jyder: He said he read some translations. talk about hearing what you want to hear.”

    Hey el nino, I know what he said, he talked about reading Pravda articles then he corrected himself.

    “Want to witness Israeli crimes?”

    This is so dumb it doesn’t merit a reply.

    What you see on TV is a country trying to defend itself against Hizb’allah Lebanese crimes.

  73. “The US intended to destroy Iraq, from the outset. There is one important subject missing here: Oil. Perle and other neocons were thrown out not because their Iraq policy was unsuccessfuly, but because they wanted to pump Iraq dry to control the cartel.”

    Watch out another Chomskyite on board!

  74. I am curious as to Mr. Chomsky’s view on why so many Americans are reticent to see their country’s actions in the Middle East- not to mention much of the world- as imperialist in nature.

  75. “This is so dumb it doesn’t merit a reply.”

    right you are.. start calling people names and start shouting real hard and call everyone an anti-semite.. well.. hysterics will only take you so far.

    plus its just boring.

    bring something to the table, rather than being imbecilic and trying to act like Daniel Pipes’ shock troops. You cannot intimidate everyone with your shouting. Stop acting like Hezbollah.

  76. Thrilling, rich with content, and a joy to listen to. The chomsky, ricks commentary was without doubt one of the more intelligent appraisals of the middle east conflicts that I have heard or read. Once again congradulations. How can I obtain a repeat of the program, or perhaps a transcript?

    Dr. Tom Golden

  77. I too like the idea of oil as a unifying root cause of the conflict in Iraq. It would be good to have both Ricks and Chomsky comment.

  78. 1st/14th, “Yeah, stop acting like Hezbollah! I mean, are you tring to get a face to face lovefest with Chomsky?”

    LninYo isn’t worth a reply. He is just emoting, 1st/14th.

  79. Ricks was very good, Chomsky was a disgrace up to his usual tricks.

    Nothing he said could be backed up with solid evidence.

    The worst of it was that he writes and speaks about Iran, Arabs, etc as if they were not actors with their own agenda. To him they are like children merely reacting to imperialist intervention.

    It’s also the way racists view the “natives.”

  80. “I too like the idea of oil as a unifying root cause of the conflict in Iraq.

    The “root cause” is in Chomsky’s mind.

  81. This was Chomsky at his best. Usually he comes through as not having had his coffee today. But here Tom Ricks and Chris Lydon gave him plenty of stimulation.

    Great perfomance by Chris, Tom, and especially Noam. Chomsky was at his best in the last half of the show, including Palestine/Israel.

  82. When I first saw that Tom Ricks would be the hour’s second guest, my expectations sank. Not from any dislike of Ricks, but because I felt he deserved a whole show as the featured guest. Moreover, I couldn’t imagine how Ricks would mesh with Chomsky. How, I worried, would a journalist so accustomed to the US military and its concomitant worldview converse with a analyst like Chomsky, who is nothing if not notorious for his role as an American dissenter?

    Well, I’m happy to be wrong. This show was terrific. I was surprised, even while sensing their differing lenses at work, at how civilly the two guests interacted. It was a wonderful example for us ROS bloggers, in our attempts to make our conversations broadly appealing and welcoming.

    Case in point:

    “Brendan, can we get a break from this guy so we can have a decent conversation?�

    nabobnico, Aug 15th at 4:41 PM.

    Good Gaia, do I ever have to agree. I’ve resisted this thread (and, increasingly, several others over the past few days) precisely from my growing disgust of the snide incivility poisoning the conversation.

    Look, jdyer often (but not invariably) offers content I agree with. Her/His opinions on the true nature of Islamism jibe with mine. But I resist thanking him/her or expounding because, honestly, I don’t want to associate myself with all the scorn for the other bloggers that accompany her/his posts. (This is equally applicable to the post of the less prolific fiddlesticks and scribe5.)

    I’d have liked to participate in some of the conversations lately. But civilly. By respectfully asking the other bloggers to endure my admittedly ‘politically incorrect’ takes on our collective perceptions of Islamism and many other matters (like the curiously predictable lens Noam Chomsky views the world through). And then by asking for an enlightening dialogue.

    Not by spewing scorn and disdain.

    As an example: making fun of spelling (and while misspelling ‘give’ as ‘gove’ – the lead word of the criticism!!!), and others too: ‘giult’ at 2:10 PM on 8/15/06; ‘pobably’ at 4:13 PM while unjustly scorning oolitic; and who knows what other hypocrisies.

    And worse: the constant characterization of posts from others by use of disparaging smears like ‘nonsense’, ‘naïve’, and ‘dumb’.

    Not to mention the by now utterly-beyond-tolerable tactic of accusing every dissenting byline of ‘anti-Semitism’.

    I’d have (politely) liked to offer evidence of the authentic bigotry of many Muslim Koran-addicts, and the truth that these folks aren’t poor, undereducated tools of living demons (‘terrorists’—the Orcs of the 21st century) masquerading as faithful religionists, but middle class college graduates whose memetic absorption of their religious scriptures enables them to view human life as expendable.

    But the ‘conversations’ lately in ROS threads have been just too appalling. Disgusting, even.

    Jdyer, don’t get me wrong: I’ve learned a lot from your posts that include links. The substance of your posts often reflects my own understanding of the issues.

    But your conversational technique is nothing short of abhorrent.

    In fact, it’s not ‘conversational’ at all. It’s an electronic kind of ‘shout down’.

    For you to write: “This is a personal attack and threat by Nabobnico…� after all the scorn you consistently spew at others is nothing less than breathtakingly myopic.

    You and I, at a bar and over a beer, would probably have a mutually satisfying conversation…well, except that I’m sure your attitude toward dissenting opinions would send me, sooner instead of later, looking for someone less opinionated and more honestly interested in an exchange of information.

    Now, to steer this post toward something more constructive: the Rules of Engagement/Terms of Endearment (thanks, sidewalker!) ban trolling, but leave disrespect a matter of mere warning. My question then is this: what good are the ROE if our moderators, in their hopes of encouraging civil conversation, can’t feel free to apply them to snideballs?

    This thread, at this writing, already boasts over 100 posts. Yet a third of these (at this writing) are jdyer’s.

    But that’s not all. A mere twenty-seven—that’s 27—bylines contributed those 100+ posts. (Including two [in 5 posts] from the already hard-pressed ROS staff trying to moderate the mayhem.)

    How many more contributors might we have had if the offerings from the bulk of the bloggers hadn’t been subjected to derision from a domineering know-it-all?

    This sort of discourse is off-putting, to say the least.

    Look, we don’t mind defending our posts from attack—we know at the outset that that’s the risk of posting. But we don’t want to have to do it while defending our character, too, for cryin’ out loud. That’s supposed to be ‘out of bounds’.

    Despite reading Brendan’s 5:24 PM, and despite appreciating all that goes with the concept of free speech, and even while appreciating how tricky it must be to indulgently monitor the conversation herein, I feel compelled to request from ROS a bit more moderation in many of these threads.

    And for a bit less ‘carpet-bombing’ from the bloggers who Claude Rains would surely dub ‘the usual suspects’.

    Again (and nothwithstanding this rather substantial gripe) the show was excellent. (And this is coming from someone who, despite identifying with the Left, often finds Chomsky much too dogmatic and tediously predictable in his analyses.)

  83. my problem with chomsky is he is disengeuous. he repeated the often repeated(by islamists and their sympathisers) nonsense about all the arab states accepting peace with israel. that is a lie. their terms were absurd and anyone knows recognition of current fact of existence is not the same as recognizing the right to exist. its playing with words. anyone with half a brain knows a deal acceptable to unabashedly antisemitic regiems like iran or syria is not an honest one. it is a p.r. offer, a false hand of peace for the niave and the media, and people like chomsky to pretend his position has the high moral ground when its just built on bad faith. it is an unviable and unfair plan. the right of return? right, the palestinians get a state, and get to settle in the israeli’s state too, so they can flood it until they are the majority and effectively destroy it? that is just a deal breaker and no honest plan would include it. he doesn’t have long term solutions, he just doesnt take any responsibility.

  84. Yup. I enjoy differing opinions. That is what makes the blog interesting. But the same old insults over and over and over and the consistant negativity does get extreamly tedious.

  85. Hello everyone- I have not heard the show yet but sounds like a good one and I look forward to it. I agree with Old Nick’s comment above which said things that need to be said, apparently over and over. Thanks for tha analysis Nick- I think it’s helpful.

  86. Ditto in spades regarding Old Nick’s comments. I’m fairly new to this game, and on the evidence so far I doubt I’ll last long. But many thanks for a great show.

  87. First, let me say that I initially became acquainted with Chomsky’s work in 1967, when I was an undergraduate studying language. I did not know of his political views or activities until the mid-1970′s, and was quite surprised. I read several of his books, and was stricken with the realization that his thinking was at least an order of magnitude greater than mine, and I had (and to this day continue) to think of myself as a pretty smart guy. But Chomsky is in a different league, though in his modesty, he would deny it. His contributions to the world of ideas rank with those of Darwin, Freud, Marx, and Einstein. If you don’t realize this, you’re missing the point.

  88. Hurley:

    Don’t you dare get queasy on us now. I’ve always appreciated reading you — even when I don’t always agree with your posts. Stick around and give us more!

  89. I agree with Old Nick too and my feelings about Chomsky are similar to those of bobby

    It’s a pity that instead of commenting on what Chomsky said in the broadcast, we get the same old allegations against him (and they call HIM predictable !) from people who are usually pro-Israel. It’s rather pathetic that from all of Chomsky’s vast output all they can find are the same few examples, none of which have any serious merit.

    Chomsky is obviously not afraid of saying unpopular things; if he doubted the Holocaust he would have said so explicitly. Instead he has explicitly said that such views are absurd. As someone else said above, his point was that if you believe in free speech that means even for views which are absurd or abhorrent; it doesn’t mean freedom only for views most of us find acceptable.

    Similarly he has never “defended Pol Pot” – if he thought he needed defending he’d say so and explain why. Instead he said that what the Khmer Rouge did was a terrible atrocity and he and Herman did not take a position at the time on the actual figures because of the difficulty of getting at the facts.

    They were making a point about US media coverage, which usually adopted the highest estimates anyone offered. They pointed out that even the US State Department had lower estimates of the numbers killed than those generally used by US media. The point was not to defend Pol Pot, but to illustrate the general bias in US media, which understimates atrocities by the US and its allies, and overestimates those by its enemies.

    All rather obvious, but this won’t stop those who wish to attack Chomsky because he tells some awkward truths about the US and Israel, from repeating the same few, tired allegations against him.

  90. Old Nick says:

    “even when I don’t agree with your posts”

    Why you malicious ant-Semite…The noive!

    And thanks to ted for a lucid rehearsal of some of the alleged issues that have led to Chomsky being an object of mindless hatred to so many. For a while there I thought this discussion a tedious sideline to the issues Chomsky engages, but it’s not. Chomsky is worth defending, and this is a good place to do it. Long may he carry on, in truth and, inevitably on occassion, in error, in which case I’m sure we can count on jdyer and others to hold him accountable, as they should.

  91. Long ago Herbert Marcuse called talk radio “obscene.” As I read these comments about Noam Chomsky’s appearance on Open Source I remmember why he said that. When you give an “open mike” or an “open blog” to people who think that any opinion is as good as any other, without concern about argument, logic, evidence, or truth you invite thoughtless ad hominem attacks. That is, indeed, obscene. Is that the best we can do?

  92. What an abuse of the name “Socrates” and what an absurd claim: [Chomsky thinks] ” that any opinion is as good as any other, without concern about argument, logic, evidence, or truth”. Where’s the argument, evidence or logic to support this ?

    One might disagree with Chomsky, but he presents you with massive evidence and and logical argument for his views, as well as a sardonic sense of humour. He needs the latter, given the amount of vilification he gets – much of it as silly as this and hence only deserving a derisory laugh.

    In fact Chomsky has criticised much “postmodern” writing for its relativism and disdain for such Enlightenment practices as logical argument and use of evidence – practices which in fact characterize his own work.

  93. Oops, sorry – my mistake Socrates ! I read and posted too quickly (it’s my afternoon dip in alertness here in Paris :-) ). You are in fact talking about the comments here rather than Chomsky ! And how right you are :-)

  94. Hurley, thanks for the LOL your 10:50 AM awarded me. :-)

    Regarding my appreciation of Noam Chomsky: first, I value him highly as our leading American dissenter. Even if he overstates the case on occasion, his voice and views are more than welcome – they’re damned necessary as an intellectual counterweight to the ideological rantings of the reactionary chorus wailing from richly funded prop-shops like the Heritage Foundation, American Enterprise Institute, FOX News, and the intellectually dishonest publishers of cretins like Ann Coulter.

    We need a thousand more Noam Chomskys.

    And they deserve at least as much ‘think tank’ funding as the ultraconservative wealthy heap onto their many pet prop-shops.

    My quibble with Chomsky lies mostly in how he frames his analyses. Now, it could simply be an outcome of my own sloppy reading, but it seems to me that he accuses the corporate-government establishment of consciously/deliberately subjecting the world’s less privileged to US corporate imperialism. I’m not disputing the reality of the subjection. I simply tend to think that the subjugation is a result of the establishment’s culture: the way their worldview/paradigm allows them to rationalize their selfishness as ‘good for all’, and even as ‘godly’. John Maynard Keynes reputedly said:

    “Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wicked of men will do the most wicked of things for the greatest good of everyone.�

    http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/John_Maynard_Keynes

    Even if that quote is a misattribution, it’s not exactly wrong. In fact, it ironically nails a central tenet of corporate capitalism. It points to the importance of culture to explain the inhumane workings of today’s parasitic economic systems. Our elites require their entire think-tank industry to justify their concept of ‘ownership’ and how they use it squeeze ever more juice from the fast-drying fruit we call the Earth.

    But most of this happens at a semi-conscious level, I think. Otherwise, the elites would never be able to sleep at night. Clueless folks like Dubya’s mama have to believe the propaganda to be able to articulate the couple of quips you can read HERE: http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Barbara_Bush (and you should!)

    IMHO, Professor Chomsky weakens his impact by implying that the prop-shop foisting of ‘necessary illusions’ onto the American population is fully conscious and unabashedly cynical. He’s not wrong about the kernel of it, just the deliberateness of it, I plause.

    I welcome alternative takes on this.

  95. A few things,

    To Socrates: yes how dare the little people have an outlet to voice their opinion, their “uninformed opinions� are obviously not worth hearing.

    Ted: not to drag out an old and tired debate, but Chomsky and Herman put quite a bit of effort into downplaying the reality of Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge through their usually tools, deceit, misdirection and colorful reinterpretation of sources. Many have deconstructed this transparent effort, but I don’t think I have seen a better point by point refutation that here and here. Chomsky use of “evidence� as shown by the article (and this is just one of many) is lazy and designed to provide support to his ideas where none exists. Perhaps he thinks no one will really dig up the information he sources, or maybe he believes no one will care (as his apparatchiks apparently don’t), but for whatever reason, he has been caught distorting his sources on so many occasions that if it were not for his cult like status, he would be dismissed as the third rate hack that he is. On the anti Semitic point, two words “Noontide Press�.

    On Chomsky’s recollection from Pravda, it is, like most things he writes a distortion of actual events, all be it minor in this case. There was one man, Vladimir Danchev, who on one occasion (may 23rd 1983 not the many Chomsky claimed) voiced a very strong opposition to the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan whole giving a English language broadcast on Radio Moscow. He went away for “psychiatric treatment�, and was back at work about a year later. Chomsky actually wrote about this 15 years ago, so I can see why it wasn’t on the tip of his tongue last night, but needless to say the only reason he mentioned Vladimir Danchev (and botched the version of events) was to imply that Danchev’s one act was more courageous and honest that all the reporting done in the US during Vietnam. Horse shit, plain and simple, but lots of people ask for seconds.

    I like going back and reading what Chomsky wrote about Nicaragua, its actually almost comical now that so much is known about the situation, but that’s another topic for another day.

    I also found Chomsky admission that Paul Wolfowitz actual sincerely believes what says to be interesting, considering that this is a 180 from what what he wrote 3 years ago, but perhaps Chomsky’s newfound belief that Wolfowitz is not a baby eating monster and just an “ideological nut� is a step in the right direction.

    Perhaps Chomsky signifies what’s best in America: tolerance. Someone who so consistently sides with our enemies and proclaims from the highest peaks about how evil we all are is provided with a government sponsored job, makes boat loads of cash, and is even invited to speak at West Point. Talk about a dichotomy.

  96. Sadly, it does appear that Noam Chomsky doesn’t count on the fact that there are people who agree the world (especially the White House) is run by a bunch of yahoos, but who do bother to listen and check the facts.

    The point about West Point is illustrative: when someone in the show joked that Chomsky should be consulted by the Pentagon, Chomsky’s reply was that indeed he had been. It turns out this was his invitation to West Point (I’ve also heard him talk about speaking at the NSA to an audience full of admirers). There is a world of difference about being invited to speak before college students (West Point is a military school) and being consulted by the Pentagon.

    I think the question Chris Lydon has been asking people since September 11, is indeed very important: if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were entirelly resolved amicably between the two antagonists, how would the Middle East change?

    The real answer is that very little. The Taliban were emboldened by the confused view that they had defeated the Soviets in Afghanistan (if the Soviets had really cared to stay, they would have nuked Kabul–plain and simple), not by what the PLO was doing. Why not take the Islamo Fascists at their word?

    Bin Laden’s letter to America

    http://observer.guardian.co.uk/worldview/story/0,11581,845725,00.html

    is explicit in the goal of ‘restoring’ sizable chunks of Spain and France to Sharia law. What does it take for us to take the threat seriously enough to present a viable alternative to Bush’s morally bankrupt ‘war on terror’?

  97. chena: As to Chomsky’s ostensible boast conflating his speech at West Point with an invitation from the Pentagon, I think it’s safe to say that it was intended ironically. His delivery not what it might be, but he’s not without humor.

    I’m struck by this phrase of yours: “if the Soviets had really cared to stay, they would have nuked Kabul-plain and simple.” Why would the Soviets have done such a thing, particularly if they intended to stay? The parallel you’re drawing a bit murky to me, my fault most likely, but if you can clarify it I’d be grateful.

    Also curious, as who can fail to be, by your notion of a “viable alternative to Bush’s morally bankrupt ‘war on terror.’” That sounds like a show in itself. Alternatives, anyone?

  98. The idea isn’t one of ‘who’ could possibly be worse than Bush (it’s the reason I voted for Gore and for Kerry), it’s the lack of constructive responses to the threat Islamo Fascism presents. We need something better than the dog and pony show put on by Michael Moore and other self-promoters (e.g., Chirac); at least something effective enough to, among things, start the processes needed to indict Cheney for high treason. Real men and women in uniform are bearing the brunt of Rumsfeld’s mistakes and the best solution to the problem is having a clear political agenda that both overcomes the neocon propaganda and addresses the real threat presented by clerical Fascists.

    When the French were losing their colonies in Vietnam, they asked the US to use nuclear bombs to help them out (battle of Dien Bien Phu). The US (and the UK) refused and France went on to lose that war and the rest of its colonies. In the 1980′s Reagan’s psychotic plans included nuclear weapons that left buildings standing but killed their inhabitants with lethal doses of radiation. Could the Soviets have vaporized parts of Afghanistan and kept the rest? If the value of human life is of no consequence, then that’s one of the lessons from Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

  99. I know this thread is winding down and I find myself back in it partly by accident.

    But I wonder if Chena or anyone else still around could justify the term “Islamo-fascist”, which seems to be winning new devotees by the day. I understand its ideological and polemical value in rallying popular fear and anger, but does it have any analytical value whatsoever? In what sense, if any, can radical Islam be considered a variant of fascism? Fascism is an extreme nationalist ideology that exalts the power of the state above all else, embraces modernization and shuns religious affiliation as anything other than political convenience. Radical Islam has no use for any of that.

    This is all by way of responding to hurley’s call for alternative visions to the “war on terror”. If we continue insist on viewing the challenge before us in these confused and self-serving ways (“they hate us because we’re free”), we will never be able to stop simply making things worse.

  100. its just sad how many are just swayed by titles. he uses his title as a mit professor to give himself authority on subjects he is not really an expert in. he’s a linguist, not a political scientist. his breakthroughs were in his linguistics studies only. but people listen to him on politics as if he were a qualified wise sage when he has no experience in any real politics himself. sometimes deference to authorities is a good thing, but when the authority has blatently been intellectually dishonest so many times it becomes rather questionable. do people just ignore his mistakes and deceit so they can swallow the rest of the nonsense they want to believe? putting out that comment demonizing israel as the unreasonable one by saying all the arab states were ready for peace in 2002 when it was a false offer is just a perfect example of his dishonesty. a scholar wouldn’t sink to such lows to make his points. thats a right wing radio/pundit type tactic. to use a half truth, to spin. he doesn’t deserve the label of scholar.

  101. pryoung, chena, hurley, et. al.,

    I agree that ‘Islamo-fascist’ misses the mark. It’s an evolutionary memetic step away from the meaninglessness of ‘terrorist’, and has all the utility that pryoung (@ 5:08) ascribes to it – utility for the political and media class of folks who define and frame our global and national dialogue, that is.

    But as a truly useful term, it fails. It conflates a 20th century governmental meme-complex that no one in the world champions any longer (not since the demise of Franco and Peron, at least), and that no one cares to rehabilitate, with the real problem that no one in the world today honestly wants to confront: the application of literal readings of the Koran and hadith to the House of Islam (the Umma http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ummah ) and the House of War (all the non-Islamic world). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_War

    As for alternatives to the ridiculous ‘War on Terror’, it’s my opinion that we’ve got to get deeper than labels. ‘Islamist’ is the most useful name, it seems to me, for describing an adherent of Koranic literalism; but simply naming them as accurately as possible isn’t the same thing as figuring out how to handle the problems Islamism presents to the rest of the world.

    To go deeper, I suggest we begin to distinguish between kinds of ‘belief’. As it stands now conceptually, religionists seem to think their beliefs are of equal (at least) or of greater (supernaturally sanctified) value to the findings, hypotheses, and theories of science.

    I’ve begun a site designed to discuss and explore this: here.

    I welcome feedback and input from one and all.

    My point is that once we begin to distinguish between beliefs unsupported by evidence and ‘beliefs’ supported by empirically obtained evidence (plauses), we can demonstrate how reason trumps faith. Or that it SHOULD trump faith.

    Let me know what you think. (And thanks in advance.)

  102. I was wondering why so many people enjoy and put so much value into what Chomsky has to say. Even though he has been discredited in much of his works.

    His factual errors be they honest mistakes or politically motivated are so numerous,that people are actually able to devote whole websites whos main theme is exposing Chomsky for what he really is.

    Then I read Old Nicks post on people and there religous beliefs.how they think their beliefs are of equal or greater value then the findings and theorys of science.

    I guess the same holds true with the chomskys followers. No matter how much evidence is presented that discredits him, the true believers will never waver in their belief. He has acquired god like status to some,

  103. “I guess the same holds true with the chomskys followers. No matter how much evidence is presented that discredits him, the true believers will never waver in their belief. He has acquired god like status to some,”

    Yes, and this is why I called him the Lysenko of modern linguistics as well as political theory.

  104. Ol’ Nick,

    First, thanks for the support earlier.

    Second, I think where you are going with your last post (@5:41) in asking that we get away from blanket terms such as “terrorist” and “islamo-fascist”, and try to isolate the problem in detail is an interesting one. (And, Brendan, maybe a good show topic…) What I mean is how do we trace the rise and change of Islam from Mohammed(PBUH) to Bush’s “evil-doers.” What remains honest to Islam after lo these 1400 years, to the words of Mohammed(PBUH)? And how did ibn al Tamiya and ibn Abd al Wahhab and Qutb distort (or did they distort) the teachings of the Prophet. Was islam always “evil” to use the Bush phrase, or has it morphed and been changed over the centuries? How has the modern nationalist state changed and unified Islam?

    It is clear to anyone who pauses that wahabiism (and its theosophic ilk) is totally the opposite of fascism; facsism, with its basis in a totalaitarian nationalist state policy has no place for the—dare I say it— “internationalist” views of Islam. In Islam, it is the state beholden to the theocracy (think Tehran to Qom), wheras, of course in fascism, it is religion being used by the state to create a national identity.

    Jdyer, can you exxplain the Lysenko comment? I’m afraid with my middling knowledge of soviet biology, it went over me head. How is Chomsky, who is not emboldened nor embraced by the state, Lysenko, in either of his two fields of expertise?

  105. Nabobnico: first, (and I know you didn’t ask it of me), here’s a link to Lysenko http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trofim_Lysenko and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lysenkoism

    And the telltale quote:

    “Lysenkoism was a campaign against genetics and geneticists which happened in the Soviet Union from the middle of the 1930s to the middle of the 1960s, centered around the figure of Trofim Denisovich Lysenko. Lysenkoism has also been known as Michurinism or Lysenko-Michurinism.

    In a broader context, Lysenkoism is often invoked to imply the overt subversion of science by political forces.�

    And: “Lysenko’s “science� was practically nonexistent. When he had any clearly formed theories, they were generally a mishmash of Lamarckism and various confused forms of Darwinism…�

    Second, I’d like to engage you in a conversation from your latest post in this thread…but need a bit of time to draft a readable contribution. So stay tuned, please. :-)

  106. “It is clear to anyone who pauses that wahabiism (and its theosophic ilk) is totally the opposite of fascism; facsism, with its basis in a totalaitarian nationalist state policy has no place for the—dare I say it— “internationalistâ€? views of Islam.”

    It isn’t clear at all.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0393325555/sr=1-1/qid=1155807462/ref=sr_1_1/002-1371441-5423247?ie=UTF8&s=books

    Terror and Liberalism (Paperback)

    by Paul Berman

    “Berman puts his leftist credentials (he’s a member of the editorial board of Dissent) on the line by critiquing the left while presenting a liberal rationale for the war on terror, joining a discourse that has been dominated by conservatives. The most original aspect of his analysis is to categorize Islamism as a totalitarian reaction against Western liberalism in a class with Nazism and communism; drawing on the ideas of Camus in The Rebel, Berman delineates how all three movements descended from utopian visions (in the case of Islamism, the restoration of a pure seventh-century Islam) into irrational cults of death. He illustrates this progression through a nuanced analysis of the writings of a leading Islamist thinker, Sayyid Qutb, ending with some chilling quotations from other Islamists, e.g., “History does not write its lines except with blood,” the blood being that of Islam’s martyrs (such as suicide bombers) as well as of their enemies, Zionists and Crusaders (i.e., Jews and Christians). Berman then launches into his most provocative chapter, and the one he will probably be most criticized for in politically correct journals: a scathing attack on leftist intellectuals, such as Noam Chomsky, who have applauded terrorism and tried to explain it as a rational response to oppression. Berman exhorts readers to accept that, on the contrary, Islamism is a “pathological mass political movement” that is “drunk on the idea of slaughter.” A former MacArthur fellow and a contributing editor to the New Republic, Berman offers an argument that will be welcomed by disaffected progressives looking for a new analysis of today’s world.”

  107. “facsism, with its basis in a totalaitarian nationalist state policy has no place for the—dare I say it— “internationalistâ€? views of Islam.â€?”

    Nazi totalitarianism as well as Communist totalitairanism also had “internationalist” aspirations.

    Let’s call them globalization 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0.

    Capitalist globalization would be 4.0.

    I don’t subscribe to any form of globalization.

  108. so a book blurb from amazon.com and a haiku on globalization proves that radical Islam is fascism?

    I’ve read Berman’s book and found it unconvincing, as it treats ideologies too much as gigantic contending monoliths, and hinges the analysis almost entirely on the writings of one (important) figure, Qutb. Because he is an intellectual, with only a passing and selective understanding of the history of the Middle East, he has to turn it all into something he feels comfortable addressing. Thus do we get gigantic ideologies, just like we had in the Cold War.

    Fascism is based on the total mobilization of all of the resources of a modern society behind the end of national power. I ask again, what makes “Islamism” a form of fascism?

  109. pryoung Says:

    August 17th, 2006 at 5:38 am

    “so a book blurb from amazon.com and a haiku on globalization proves that radical Islam is fascism?”

    Don’t be a joker. Read the book or reread it since you say you read. You don’t sohw signs of having understood it.

    “I ask again, what makes “Islamismâ€? a form of fascism?”

    You ask again? When did you ask before?

    Are you nabobnico posting under another name?

    In any case to answer your question take a look at the Iranian State, at Afghanistan under the Taliban, at any Islamicist controled country or areas such as the Sudan or part of Somalia.

    I don’t believe, though, that any amount of evidence will convince you since you decided that Islamicism and Fascism are incompatable.

  110. jdyer:

    “I don’t believe, though, that any amount of evidence will convince you since you decided that Islamicism and Fascism are incompatable.”

    Which of course justifies your not offering any evidence, only taunts. I’d love it if you could explain exactly how it is that these regimes qualify specifically as fascist. None of them has the capacity to mobilize their economies and societies to the degree that fascist regimes could, because the latter were fully modern. Iran also has a democratic reform movement, however marginalized at the moment. Such a thing is unthinkable under full-blown fascism.

    Turning fascism into an all-purpose term of opprobrium used to be the province of radical leftists.

  111. “Which of course justifies your not offering any evidence, only taunts.”

    pryoung, the evidence is out there for all to see, all who have eyes and an open mind.

    “I’d love it if you could explain exactly how it is that these regimes qualify specifically as fascist.”

    Try reading about the Iranian regime and the ideology which empowers it.

    “None of them has the capacity to mobilize their economies and societies to the degree that fascist regimes could,…”

    Really, Iran had the capacity to engage in a brutal war against Iraq where they sent tens of thousands of children to their death as suicide bombers.

    They have more of a capacity to mobilize their economies and societies than did Franco or Salazar in Portugal yet no one ever denied that these regimes were Fascist.

    “because the latter were fully modern.”

    Neither Portugal not Spain were fully modern and some have argued that even Italy under Mussolini wasn’t fully modern.

    As for the Soviet Union it had been described as a medieval State with atomic weapons.

    The term “fully’ modern leaves a lot of wiggle room doesn’t it?

    “Iran also has a democratic reform movement, however marginalized at the moment. Such a thing is unthinkable under full-blown fascism.”

    Its “reform movement” is a Potemkin village; as did Fascism under Franco too. So did the Soviet State in different periods. Don’t forget that under Mao there was the “let a thousand flowers bloom,â€? period before they were all mowed down.

    Were there no “liberal� Nazis under Hitler? Even Mussolini had a more liberal monarchy to contend with.

    Fascism like any ideal presents different faces in different periods and is adoptable to different circumstances.

    “Turning fascism into an all-purpose term of opprobrium used to be the province of radical leftists.�

    That is till they decided to make common cause with the Islamo-Fascists.

  112. I hear your point about there being different “fascisms”, and think it is an important one. This is exactly why I think terms like “totalitarian” are less than useful, because they imply a completeness of control that often didn’t exist even in Hitler’s Germany. The ambition was certainly there, but the reality was often something different.

    Most historians actually consider the Franco and Salazar regimes authoritarian dictatorships rather than fascist regimes. It was really more a military-clerical dictatorship than an ideologically fascist one. They aimed more at preserving existing authority and elites in the fashion of traditional conservatism than at creating the new “fascist man” in the fashion of twentieth century revolutionary movements.

    Regarding Iran: to the contrary, the reform movement in Iran was actually growing in recent years, especially when it had a sympathetic president in Khatami. It also has demography on its side, as an overwhelming portion of the population consists of young people, whose aspirations have little to do with the world of the mullahs. Heightened American involvement in the region has of course had the effect of elevating the conservative-nationalist clericals like the awful current president, and diminishing the opposition.

    Further proof that America does more to discredit than to advance democarcy in the region when it follows its current policy.

  113. Thanks to all for your posts, and a special thanks to Old Nick for giving us all a reality check about the ethics of posting. I see, however, that your sound words have a shorter temporal effect than a whippet (see JDyer 8/17 8:27am).

    I think the question of “Islamo-fascism�, as raised by Old Nick and pyoung, is of the utmost importance. I would hope after the disastrous results of conflating Al Queda and Saddam Hussein (see http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2004-06-16-al-qaeda-comments-by-bush_x.htm ), the US public has learned to be a bit more careful about naming our enemies. These things do matter: a good argument can be made that without the supposed Al Queda connection, the US public would not have supported the most recent invasion of Iraq.

    “Totalitarian� is now used as a blanket term to describe German Fascism and Soviet Stalinism during and after World War II, among other things. But the confusion of Fascism and Stalinism is itself unproductive and masks many important lessons about the singular nature of each of these two regimes. Further conflating the many political ideologies that are inspired by Islam into one grand “Islamo-fascist totalitarianism� guarantees that we will not understand our enemy. And for those of you who fancy yourself buffs of the philosophy of warfare, “Know thy enemy and know thyself, find naught in fear for 100 battles. Know thyself but not thy enemy, find level of loss and victory. Know thy enemy but not thyself, wallow in defeat every time.�

    Islam itself is not monolithic. Imagine how a Christian European would explain the history of Ireland to an uninformed Muslim. Would that be possible by only making recourse to “Christian fundamentalists�? Absolutely not; without a nuanced understanding of the Catholic-Protestant split, and how these two groups were connected to class and colonialism, it would be impossible. Why should we assume that Islam functions as one uncontested body bent on world domination? The term “Islamo-fascism� mixes Sunni with Shia, it combines Islam-inspired struggles for national liberation with a less structured but international-in-scope movement with shifting aims.

    I second the motion for a show dedicated to exploring the nuances and internal divisions within that thing we have named “Islamo-fascism�. Hopefully, this conversation will be a step towards a more accurate assessment of the true status of the so-called War on Terror.

  114. ” This is exactly why I think terms like “totalitarianâ€? are less than useful, because they imply a completeness of control that often didn’t exist even in Hitler’s Germany. The ambition was certainly there, but the reality was often something different.”

    But that is the point, “the ambition was and is certainly there!”

    It is important to remember that these regimes do have something in common which allowes us to group them together under the rubric of totalitarian or Fascist just as many regimes have something in common which allowes us to call them “democracies.” There are no perfect democracies either but there is a world of difference between regimes aspiring to democratic values and those that wish to control the lives of their citizens.

    Islamo Fascism is certainly a form of fascism.

  115. “Regarding Iran: to the contrary, the reform movement in Iran was actually growing in recent years, especially when it had a sympathetic president in Khatami. It also has demography on its side, as an overwhelming portion of the population consists of young people, whose aspirations have little to do with the world of the mullahs. Heightened American involvement in the region has of course had the effect of elevating the conservative-nationalist clericals like the awful current president, and diminishing the opposition.”

    This is all mere speculation.

    “Further proof that America does more to discredit than to advance democarcy in the region when it follows its current policy.”

    This is the gist of your Chomskyite type reasoning: America bad third world good.

  116. silvio.rabioso save your have baked history lesson and “analysis.”

    A show on radioopen source on any topic will come up with answers that Chris wishes to inculcate into his audience.

    A show exploring Islamo Fascism will be nothing but another anti-American hate fest.

  117. Way to confront the issues I raised, jdyer. I especially liked that evidence you presented. And your analogy to counter my Ireland analogy really gave me pause and caused me to rethink my position.

  118. From a PC Lexicon

    http://conservativehome.blogs.com/platform/2006/08/inigo_wilson_a_.html

    Islamophobic – anyone who objects to having their transport blown up on the way to work.

    Fascism/Nazism – apparently the ‘opposite’ of Socialism – despite sharing party members, ideology and – in National Socialism – the name.

    Religion -

    • Christianity: irrational, dangerous belief that material things may not be the principal motive behind human behaviour.

    • Judaism: most Israelis are Jewish, so probably ‘intolerant’.

    • Islam: always needs to be ‘understood’.

    Root causes – foreign affairs: Usually need to be ‘examined’. Belief in ‘root causes’ reflects dogged Lefty habit of trying to see contemporary religious issues through the prism of ‘class analysis’.

    Terrorist – no such thing. Only people suffering from ‘root causes’ and ‘legitimate grievances’.

  119. silvio.rabioso,

    wholly agree, and I wonder what larger needs you think might be served by resort to this “Islamo-fascist” terminology.

    I’ve often wondered whether lumping radical Islam with communism and fascism isn’t a way of seeking refuge in the moral security of old battles, ones in which America prevailed and proved its virtue as the steward of western liberal traditions. Far easier to do that than to genuinely reckon with the challenges of the present, and with our being as overextended as we may be in an increasingly volatile, globalized world.

    It also brings together conservative militarists with certain Cold War liberals like Peter Beinert, Paul Berman and Tom Friedman. When the talk turned to Munich and “appeasement” in the run-up to this disastrous war of choice in Iraq I knew Osama bin Laden had truly left the arena.

  120. Ah, jdyer, long have we missed ye. It has to be said, the weird spectacle of someone losing no oportunity to insult someone else, in letter-perfect English no less, has its fascination, however pathological. Carry on.

  121. People can quibble over the definition of fascism. It really is a nonissue.Some how I get the feeling that the term Islamo- fascist is is coming under attack by liberals only because Bush has had the audacity to use it. If Hillary or any other prominent Dem had used the term it would be apropriate.

    The fact remains that this extremist muslim movement(for lack of a better term) has designs on spreading its influence throughout the world. It is repressive, violent, and virulently anti jewish. I hope people will look at the video link FS posted. To many of us who have spent time in the middle East this is no big suprise. The evidence is everywhere. This includes televised statements from many muslim leaders.

    The element of this and other discussions that I have read on this board that I find so disturbing is the subtle and sometimes not so subtle support that is given to this movement by the left. weather it be Hammass,hizbollah, AlQueda,the Taliban or any number of other groups including the state of Iran.

    Chomsky, and Cole along with many others in academia are helping this movement. It seems incomprehensible to me that people could be so naive as to the true motives of this movement regardless of the name or label one wants to place on it.

    From reading various posts it seems that there is a strong dislike for America by many people. Common threadsalong the lines of; The US is responsible for much of the worlds suffering through imperialism. Our capitalistic economy is keeping under developed countries poor . Our quest to control the worlds oil is responsibile for most of the wars and violence we have today. Isreal and the US have conspired to rule the middle east. The Neocons (led mostly by jews)are trying to establish a new world order that will give them control of the world.The US is an imperialistic,racist bully that exploits nations that dont have the power to fight back. My guess is the hate for the US is so strong that people will follow or at least play the part of apologists for this extremist muslim movement simply because it is the number one enemy of the US throw in the fact that it hates Jews and we have the iceing on the cake.

    I am in no way suggesting that all liberals feel this way. My guess is that many do not. But visit any college campus today and you will see this blame the US and Isreal for all the worlds ills.(especially although not limited to the mistreatment of Arabs and the muslim religon) being taught to gullible students.

  122. jdyer: I made two mistakes in my last post. The first was “oportunity,” the second was to be marginally impolite. Apologies on both scores. Let’s raise the tone, shall we?

  123. hurley:

    “Ah, jdyer, long have we missed ye.”

    later:

    “jdyer: I made two mistakes in my last post.

    You made three mistakes, buddy.

    I have been here all along so discussing issues in an “elevated tone” I don’t know who it is you have been missing, but it couldn’t have been me.

  124. Among the other distinctive features which tend to define fascism in the West and in the Muslim world is its antisemitism.

    This can take different forms determined by the history of the culture in question but it is present throughout.

    silvio says:

    “Islam itself is not monolithic. Imagine how a Christian European would explain the history of Ireland to an uninformed Muslim.”

    uninformed people don’t define the nature of fascism.

    However, the fact that Islam is not monolithic is irrelevant. Europe was even less monolithic yet fascism was present in its various cultures from the Urals to the Atlantic and from the Mediterranean to the North Sea.

    It is also present among Hindu nationalists in contemporary India were you can also find a Hitler cult as well as antisemitism even though in Indian history Jews were and are a rarity.

  125. Does it really matter to the beleagured citizens of South Central Los Angeles, whether the bullets flying come from a member of the Crips or a member of the Bloods? Both gangs are criminal and police units should know enough to distinguish them, but to anyone else the distinction is irrelevant.

    I used the term Islamo Fascism because Christopher Hitchen’s reasons for its use seemed appropriate to me. Call them whatever, but keep in mind that under their idealized regimes women live no better than somewhat prized property (if they’re lucky).

    This is the ideology that gets fully transplanted to countries like France, where clans operate a virtual state-within-a-state, that among other things–homophobia, virulent racism–use the tools of democratic dialogue in order to suppress it. It reads contradictory, but this is the point made by Goebbels in his boast of Nazi superiority.

    Whether the US decides to act more like Holland and less like Zimbabwe (each at the opposite spectrum of liberty, in my view), makes little difference to the clerics who want all men to wear beards and every woman to be hidden from head to toe. Why are we not paying attention to what the Mullahs are openly saying?

    Have you tried to imagine being yourself in such a society? The required levels of conformity make any talk about human rights absurd. What would you expect of your fellow human beings living outside such a prison? Excuses for the clerics and their armies (Hamas, Hizbullah, Revolutionary Guards)?

    Why is it so easy to ignore the fact that NATO was totally on the side of the Albanians (Muslim Europeans) in their struggle against the fascist Serbians?

  126. Jdyer: “I have been here all along so discussing issues in an “elevated tone� I don’t know who it is you have been missing…�

    This is breathtakingly preposterous.

    Can we get a moderator here to cite examples of jdyer’s consistent snideness, please? Maybe it will have more impact coming from one of the thread-tenders.

    (I suspect it’s hopeless, however.)

  127. In the context of this ROS page, I think wikipedia provides an accurate (but intellectually worthless) definition of fascism:

    “In contemporary political discourse, adherents of some political ideologies tend to associate fascism with their enemies, or define it as the opposite of their own views.�

    As for your assertion “uninformed people don’t define the nature of fascism�, I beg to differ. Exhibit A: http://www.radioopensource.org/chomsky-my-dinner-with-hassan/

    If a botanist was satisfied with defining entities as different as an oak, a palm and a cedar all as ‘trees’ without further specification or classification, he or she would be ridiculed and most likely exiled from the scientific community. So why is it that policy-makers and political thinkers can get away with using the sloppy catch-all ‘fascism’ to define our enemies? Does that definition help the US understand the situation in the Middle East?

    What are the sides of the developing civil war in Iraq? Is it Islamo-fascists vs. US-friendly Iraqis? That is an absurd assertion. There are many different factions with different goals and projects, some in conflict with one another, others making short-term strategic alliances to pursue disparate goals. The same goes for Lebanon. As the Israelis moved in to occupy Lebanon, domestic public opinion—across religious and sectarian lines—grew to support Hezbollah. Does that mean the Druze and other groups are Islamo-fascists by association?

  128. “This is breathtakingly preposterous.” Old Nick

    Another attack.

    People like ON who complain of poster are the first to sling mud.

    Check the snide tone of your own posts before you point fingers Mr. Old Nicholas.

  129. Silvio,

    “If a botanist was satisfied with defining entities as different as an oak, a palm and a cedar all as ‘trees’ without further specification or classification, he or she would be ridiculed and most likely exiled from the scientific community. So why is it that policy-makers and political thinkers can get away with using the sloppy catch-all ‘fascism’ to define our enemies? Does that definition help the US understand the situation in the Middle East?”

    Calling Iran an Islamo fascist regime doesn’t exhaust our understanding of the “situation in the Middle East” any more than calling Germany under Hitler fascists exhaust our understanding of the situation in Europe in say 1936.

    However, bearing in mind the nature of the players involved does add additional important information for an understanding of the situation in the Middle East today.

    Denying its relevance, on the other hand, will only falsify our understanding of the political realities in the Muslim world.

  130. Someone posted a link to a film anbout the Mufti and Hitler.

    I found addtional info on that video in an antitotalitarian left wing blog:

    http://jeffweintraub.blogspot.com/

    “Jeff Weintraub

    is a social & political theorist, political sociologist, and democratic socialist who currently teaches at the University of Pennsylvania.”

  131. “As the Israelis moved in to occupy Lebanon, domestic public opinion—across religious and sectarian lines—grew to support Hezbollah. Does that mean the Druze and other groups are Islamo-fascists by association?” Silvio

    Israel is moving its troops out of Lebanon and didn’t move in to occupy the country. It moved in to fight Hizb’allah. These are radically different assertions.

    The Druze and Chrisitans of Lebanon are more afraid of Syria a patron of HIzb’allah than they are of Israel.

  132. Perhaps we can start at the most basic level. This does not preclude us from erecting a more complicated structure atop our modest foundation, but our structure will only stand if the base is sound.

    Hitler was a fascist. Even he would agree. It is what he called himself.

    I do not know what Iran’s leaders call themselves. I read Ahmadinejad’s letter, but I don’t recall him naming his political organization. I am confident that he has never auto-identified as fascist.

    Perhaps another example may help to clarify this ambiguity. Malcolm X was black. He identified himself that way, and at times that identification trumped all others. Bill Clinton has been called black by others, most famously by Toni Morrison. As I understand it, Clinton earned this name for the most superficial of reasons: his musical preference, his appetites and his physical inclinations. Would any meaningful analysis of Clinton’s positions regarding civil rights and racism arise from the starting point that “Clinton is a black president?” Or does that assertion simply serve as a red herring / smokescreen?

  133. All we are doing, as pyoung suggested earlier, is demonstrating the poverty of our imagination and our inability to deal with a changing world.

    I am usually the one agruing for GREATER historical context and connections in an argument. But in some cases, a misleading comparision can blind us to the concrete steps that need to be taken.

  134. pryoung, Silvio, chena, nabobnico, hurley:

    pryoung wrote: “I’ve often wondered whether lumping radical Islam with communism and fascism isn’t a way of seeking refuge in the moral security of old battles, ones in which America prevailed and proved its virtue as the steward of western liberal traditions.�

    Thanks. That really nails, it seems to me. I like this too:

    “Far easier to do that than to genuinely reckon with the challenges of the present, and with our being as overextended as we may be in an increasingly volatile, globalized world.�

    …but I caution against the economic lens that might be implied by the phrase ‘globalized world’. I’m increasingly convinced that Islamism – which is only ‘monolithic’ to the ignorant – has only a secondary economic dimension. Its primary dimension is religious: ‘utopian’ and (mistakenly) nostalgic, as someone noted earlier this morning (it’s still morning out here on the Left Coast).

    Now, I suppose it’s true that Islam had a proto-socialist ‘share-the-wealth’ message in its inception (see posts no.s 208-219 of this thread: http://www.radioopensource.org/israel-at-war/#comments and the Karen Armstrong Islam: A Brief History cited within), but that message is and has been as diluted by human greed and its ratiocinations as many 20th century socialism-the-ideal-meets-selfishness-the-reality experiments were.

    Anyway, I don’t esteem seventh-century Islam as worthy of nostalgia: it might have improved the lives of many, but it ended the lives of many others, too. I’m an unbeliever in all ‘gods’, but if at gunpoint I had to recommend a nostalgia-based fundamentalist revival, it would be for Jainism – “Jainism stresses the spiritual independence and equality of all life with a particular emphasis on non-violence.� – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jainism

    You can’t say this about Islam so long as the Koran and hadith include exhortations to warfare that furthermore include ‘divinely given’ advice on beheading Islam’s enemies and worse. And this is the vital factor we politically correct and religiously tolerant Westerners just don’t want to confront: not all religions are equally pacific ‘spiritual paths’ whose mysteries can only be defiled by willful misinterpretation.

    Sometimes a cigar is a cigar:

    “God revealed His will to the angels, saying: “I shall be with you. Give courage to the believers. I shall cast terror into the hearts of the infidels. Strike off their heads, strike off the very tips of their fingers.” (Sura 8, Verse 12)

    “When you meet the unbelievers in the battlefield strike off their heads.” (Sura 47, Verse 4)”

    http://www.slate.com/id/2103261

    and: “When you meet in battle those who have disbelieved, smite their necks; and after the slaughter fasten tight the bonds, until the war lays aside its burdens. Then either release them as a favor, or in return for ransom.”

    http://www.jewishworldreview.com/0704/memri_saudi_beheadings.php3

    see also: http://www.meforum.org/article/713

    I don’t for an instant intend to imply that Muslims are uniformly bloodthirsty savages. That’s as pathetically nonsensical as all the sordid conspiracy theories about Jews.

    But we can’t just pretend that the Islamists are ‘demons’ who are pirating a religion as peaceable as Jainism. Any literal (not ‘interpretive’) reading of the Koran says otherwise.

    And that’s our problem: faith in scripture.

    It seems to me that two evolutions are necessary: 1) developing a concept of ‘knowledge-acceptance’ that isn’t synonymous with ‘belief’ see this

    And then: 2) using that as intellectual “leverage� for asking the professional religionists of Islam (and Christianity, too, ftm) to retire from their scriptures all the exhortations to inhumanity (including its manifest sexism).

    It might seem an uphill battle, but it’s worth trying. And the sooner the better. Recordings of the 9-11 victims, captured from cell-phones, have been airing lately. Heartrending recordings.

    If you can hear those and not want to replace faith with reason – faith in scriptural sources of call for slaughter with reason-based humanism – then you must be missing your personal allotment of human empathy.

    In sum, I don’t think we can conflate Islamism with fascism anymore than we should conflate the roots of Islamism with our usual Western obsessions with economic disparity. Islamism has much bigger roots in the Muslim concept of the Ummah ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ummah and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_War ). Exploring this requires a follow-up post, however.

    (PS to nabob: this isn’t the post I’m trying to draft to you – but feel free to comment on this one all the same).

  135. jdyer says:

    “jdyer: I made two mistakes in my last post.

    ‘You made three mistakes, buddy.

    I have been here all along so discussing issues in an “elevated toneâ€? I don’t know who it is you have been missing, but it couldn’t have been me.’

    I have to disagree with “Mr. Old Nicholas,” to borrow jdyer’s” extremely witty nick-name for Old Nick. (I know whereof I speak, having already been dubbed “buster” and “buddy. ” ) jdyer is obviously having a great deal of fun, more than the rest of us, while at the same time trying to impart some…something or other. I’d hate to be the one to recommend freezing you out, jdyer, but maybe the best thing for people who don’t want to engage you on your elevated, not to say airless, level would be to simply ignore you, no? But best for you to carry on in any case, heedless.

  136. silvio.rabioso:

    “I am usually the one agruing for GREATER historical context and connections in an argument. But in some cases, a misleading comparision can blind us to the concrete steps that need to be taken.”

    yes, we need to be as forward-thinking and canny as those who would do us harm. But here we are still talking about Al Queda when it’s already morphed into something else; rushing to prevent yesterday’s threat of liquid explosives; and convincing ourselves that we’re still somehow fighting Hitler or the Soviets. If there’s any genuine over-the-horizon thinking going on in the highest circles of American power at the moment, it may be about China and its access to energy sources in Iran. Apart from that, I can’t really see it. I’d be happy to hear otherwise.

  137. A post of mine above is awaiting moderation (because I included more than 4 links, which triggers the ROS spam-filter). In the meantime, let me laud Silvio for this:

    “All we are doing, as pyoung suggested earlier, is demonstrating the poverty of our imagination and our inability to deal with a changing world.�

    That articulates nearly perfectly why I spend my time and energy to post here. We’re stuck with obsolete paradigms on every level, from the macro – ‘Islamo-fascism’ – to the micro: that religious beliefs and scientific findings somehow deserve equal credence.

    Nothing could be less useful than the political correctness that enables (and promotes) the second idea in my previous sentence.

  138. hurley, no one here is spending as much time engaging me in an “airless” way than you.

    Go outside and play, junior.

  139. silvio: “Perhaps we can start at the most basic level. This does not preclude us from erecting a more complicated structure atop our modest foundation, but our structure will only stand if the base is sound.

    Hitler was a fascist. Even he would agree. It is what he called himself.

    I do not know what Iran’s leaders call themselves. I read Ahmadinejad’s letter, but I don’t recall him naming his political organization. I am confident that he has never auto-identified as fascist.”

    Your post had an auspicious beginning but then you had to go and mock it up by introducing MalcomX and Clinton.

    I would like to see you finish your argument which as it stands now is just a premise without a conclusion, more like an enthymeme.

    I still think that you and “Young� are looking for ways to exonerate Islamicists like the Muslim Brotherhood, Khomeini’s Hizb’allah and their offshoots from the charge of fascism. Paul Berman offered a convincing argument that they do indeed belong to that tradition of modern political thought.

    HIzb’allah by the way does hold rallies where its members raise their arms in Nazi style saluted. But these are gestures. What makes them fascists is the way they think about modernity and the way they go about trying to obliterate it.

    Btw: had Hitler been alive today he too would have denied that he was a fascist just as David Duke does. Today’s fascists are not stupid they know the baggage that term carries. I am yet to meet a Jew hater who calls himself openly an antisemite.

  140. Old Nick:

    “That articulates nearly perfectly why I spend my time and energy to post here. We’re stuck with obsolete paradigms on every level, from the macro – ‘Islamo-fascism’ – to the micro: that religious beliefs and scientific findings somehow deserve equal credence.

    Nothing could be less useful than the political correctness that enables (and promotes) the second idea in my previous sentence.”

    Hi, Old Nick. Is it the bugaboo of “political correctness” that enables this more than the surge of religious fundamentalism here and in the Middle East? It’s fundamentalism and its absolutist moral and truth claims that makes the rational brokering of competing interests a compromise with evil. Not having fundamentalism so close to the levers of power after 9/11 would have been a huge help in confronting the global dangers of fundamentalism.

  141. ” But here we are still talking about Al Queda when it’s already morphed into something else; rushing to prevent yesterday’s threat of liquid explosives; and convincing ourselves that we’re still somehow fighting Hitler or the Soviets.”

    Young is confusing the means of warfare, fighting techniques, with overall aim and strategies of a movement.

    Just as national socialism as well as communism is and was a broad movement without any single doctrine (Lenin’s’ doctrine as well as Hitler’s were but two successful doctrines) so too al Qaeda is or was one Islamic organization with the aim or restoring the Caliphate in “traditional Muslim” lands from India to Spain.

    One of the striking similarities in aims between these movements is their primitivism, a desire to restore some past simple society be it a mythical Islam at the time of the prophet, a world of manly simplicity (for the national socialists), or an archaic moment of equality for the communists.

    To be fair Marx was the only thinker here who openly broke with the backwards looking aims of popular communism and instituted a complex critic of both archaic societies (the ideal third world in modern new left thought) as well as what he called bourgeois modernity.

    Of the two alternatives, judging by his “manifesto” he would have preferred modernity to the never, never land of archaic simplicity.

  142. young:

    ” Not having fundamentalism so close to the levers of power after 9/11 would have been a huge help in confronting the global dangers of fundamentalism.”

    This would be true if, and only if we could be certain that Democrats would be serious about taking on Islamo Fascists militarily and not just rhetorically.

    David Brooks recently said “we tried doiing nothing (under Clinton) it didn’t work, we tried using force (under Bush) it isn’t working either.”

    Our use of force under Bush has been unfocused and cynical. I call it the shot from the hip and shoot from the lip strategy. We need something less cynical more serious a strategy that involves the general public. We nee to stop pretending that we can win the battle on cheap and without sacrifices.

  143. pryoung: Is it the bugaboo of “political correctness� that enables this more than the surge of religious fundamentalism here and in the Middle East?

    Good question, and one that points to the real cause.

    My beef isn’t with “political correctness’ per se, since that’s a nebulous and troubling tinderbox of a phrase anyway. So good for you for catching my sloppy use of it.

    “It’s fundamentalism and its absolutist moral and truth claims that makes the rational brokering of competing interests a compromise with evil. Not having fundamentalism so close to the levers of power after 9/11 would have been a huge help in confronting the global dangers of fundamentalism.�

    Sam Harris in The End of Faith http://www.powells.com/biblio/1-0393327655-2 makes a compelling case that religious moderates aren’t the counterweight to fundamentalists – but their enablers. This is just as true in Christianity as it is in Islam.

    I’d come to this conclusion myself before getting around to reading Harris last month.

    So, when I (mis)use the phrase ‘political correctness’, I’m trying to contend that our cultural tolerance of religious beliefs – no matter how implausible, specious, inhumane, and/or medieval – is complicit in the worldwide suffering and slaughter of innocents in the name of ‘God’.

    And I’m more than willing to defend this contention.

  144. “So, when I (mis)use the phrase ‘political correctness’, I’m trying to contend that our cultural tolerance of religious beliefs – no matter how implausible, specious, inhumane, and/or medieval – is complicit in the worldwide suffering and slaughter of innocents in the name of ‘God’.”

    This is like saying that tolerance of miniskirt is complicit in rape or from a more political point of view tolerance of Darwinism was complicit in racialist’s claims.

  145. jdyer,

    it’s a good point you make about the “primitive utopias” envisioned by these ideologies. Though again I would cue you to the fact that, at least in the case of the Nazis, the fantasy would have remained merely that were they not able do things like:

    –employ cutting edge mass media to mobilize a huge society

    –create state organizations to supplant traditional institutions like church and family in the forming of values

    –apply bureaucratic rationality to facilitate and “normalize” the genocide of an entire section of the population.

    Consummately modern tactics, available only in the industrial west.

    An important difference we’ve not yet mentioned, and which Berman misses as well, is that fascism and communism were genuine threats to liberalism precisely because they had established actual regimes INSIDE the liberal world, regimes which had supporters among a great many intellectuals, political elites and others in the West. Radical Islam enjoys no such important coterie of support in the West. The growing alienation, resentment and (more occasionally) violence of Muslim minorities in European countries is most certainly a great cause for concern. But it represents nowhere near the kind of existential threat that fascism and communism posed to western liberal regimes in the 30′s.

  146. jdyer:

    “This would be true if, and only if we could be certain that Democrats would be serious about taking on Islamo Fascists militarily and not just rhetorically.

    David Brooks recently said “we tried doiing nothing (under Clinton) it didn’t work, we tried using force (under Bush) it isn’t working either.�

    Our use of force under Bush has been unfocused and cynical. I call it the shot from the hip and shoot from the lip strategy. We need something less cynical more serious a strategy that involves the general public. We nee to stop pretending that we can win the battle on cheap and without sacrifices.”

    I agree with you here on everything, save the part about the “Islamo-fascists” of course, and I would substitute the word “strategically” for “militarily” in your formulation. I think we’ve boxed ourselves in too narrowly to a strategy of force, which makes it less possible for us to be as resourcefully strategic as we need to be in responding to the threat.

  147. Young: “Though again I would cue you to the fact that, at least in the case of the Nazis, the fantasy would have remained merely that were they not able do things like…”

    Well here we are getting into the hypothetical. They mercifully did not win the war and we don’t know how the Nazi State would have developed had they been able to conquer their enemies,

    “An important difference we’ve not yet mentioned, and which Berman misses as well, is that fascism and communism were genuine threats to liberalism precisely because they had established actual regimes INSIDE the liberal world, regimes which had supporters among a great many intellectuals, political elites and others in the West.”

    Interesting point, but I am not sure I agree.

    The two countries were these regimes were able to take over had little experience with democracy and almost none with liberal thought.

    Germany was the home of an authoritarian tradtion and its post WW1 experiment with democracy was chaotic to say the least.

    Russia of course had been autocratic since there was a Russia.

    Intellectuals in the liberal West were divided about the nature and meaning of Communism and Fascism just as they are today about the nature and meaning of the Jihadist movement.

    “Radical Islam enjoys no such important coterie of support in the West.”

    Oh, but it does, witness the recent “Respect Party in Great Britain as well as the alliances between Islamic groups and some extreme left socialists.

    “The growing alienation, resentment and (more occasionally) violence of Muslim minorities in European countries is most certainly a great cause for concern. But it represents nowhere near the kind of existential threat that fascism and communism posed to western liberal regimes in the 30’s.”

    Not yet, but when added to demographic trends it could very well become an existential threat.

    As of now many Muslims in Western Europe (Sweeden, Belgium, etc.) have already asked for the introduction of shariah law in their communities. In Belgium Muslims have demanded that Arabic be made an official language of the country.

  148. pryoung Says: August 17th, 2006 at 2:40 pm

    We’ll have to disagree on the term Islamo-Fascist then as I see some continuity both historical as well as doctrinal between the ideology of Fascism and that of the Muslim Brotherhood or the Iranian style Hizb’allah.

  149. To conflate Chomsky in particular, and the left in general, with supporting Al Qaida, Hezbollah, etc. seems to miss the whole point of Chomsky’s perspective on the world. Of all I have read and heard of his views he consistently supports democratic principles at their core, and has been an ardent promoter of peaceful means of achieving democracies. Whether that is in supporting democratic movements in a totalitarian state such as Iran, Iraq or China, or in a globalized technological society such as the US, he speaks of the necessity to organize at the grass roots level and to think and decide the issues of self governance for ourselves.

    The central point is that the foundations of democracy should always be in conflict with centralized authoritarian governments and also with mass market driven means of media. To build a strong democracy means finding ways for people to communicate in a ‘neural network’ fashion rather than by hierarchical structures to communicate their personal views and unique circumstances. Whether it’s CBS or FOX in the US or the government controlled press of China that define fixed boundaries for public discussion, we should support institutions that further truly grass roots forms of free thought and discourse.

    Any form of fascist rule means you’re already far beyond a system tolerant of democratic principles. Corporate capitalism is a very good means of driving market efficiencies. But it’s a lousy tool in its purest form for maintaining a free democratic society. Various forms of fundamentalist religious doctrine are effective ways of creating a stable moral base, but when given powers of rule they can subvert freedoms of thought, expression and action, i.e. the pursuit of freedom. Both are potential means of amassing and deferring power to the state. It seems to me Chomsky, above all else, is a critical voice of centralized state power used to subvert individual freedoms. His primary distinction is that he is critical of ‘our’ government (as well as all the others) when it acts to oppress people here or abroad.

    We live in perhaps the freest society in human history. But we also live in a country that accounts for nearly half of all military spending and might on the planet. We are also a very large corporate power in the world, with all its implications. Thus, we have a responsibility to hold our government accountable when we feel it is misusing this enormous power that we have bestowed upon it.

    The struggle is to keep in check all the various forms of institutional power that can weaken and potentially destroy the foundations of a democratic society, in both your home country and in those you hope to influence in this direction. This seems to be the point missed in the left/right divide.

  150. “As of now many Muslims in Western Europe (Sweden, Belgium, etc.) have already asked for the introduction of shariah law in their communities. In Belgium Muslims have demanded that Arabic be made an official language of the country� jdyer

    Perhaps this connects to a larger point that Old Nick keeps returning to. If we think about the push by the religious right for a Marriage Amendment to the Constitution, or Kansas School Board battle, or the Shiavo (sic?) fiasco, it becomes apparent that dogmatic conservative religious forces are at work in the US as well.

    But I am not so quick as to dismiss belief wholesale. Even the scientific method has its foundation in belief: many scientists believe that there is a unified theory of everything that will reconcile quantum mechanics and relativity, and this belief guides them in their search for evidence.

    At the risk of laying my cards on the table, I would recommend Slajov Zizek’s writings (a little book called “On Beliefâ€? in particular) as a companion to Sam Harris. I haven’t read Harris yet…perhaps Old Nick and I could swap books and share notes.

  151. Hassan Nasrallah

    Views on Jews

    “The scholar Amal Saad-Ghorayeb quotes Nasrallah describing his view of Jews: “If we searched the entire world for a person more cowardly, despicable, weak and feeble in psyche, mind, ideology and religion, we would not find anyone like the Jew. Notice, I do not say the Israeli”. [16]”

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

  152. silvio: “Perhaps this connects to a larger point that Old Nick keeps returning to. If we think about the push by the religious right for a Marriage Amendment to the Constitution, or Kansas School Board battle, or the Shiavo (sic?) fiasco, it becomes apparent that dogmatic conservative religious forces are at work in the US as well.”

    I agree that there is a religious right in this country that has a socially regressive agenda. However, I wouldn’t compare it to that of Islamicists. Everything about these two efforts is different. The social context, the history of the respective societies, the internal dynamics of the different religions, their views about outsiders, minorities, and women, etc.

    Even if the religious right here were to get is “marriage amendment” (and I doubt it will ever happen) they would still have to contend with the socio-historical and legal tradition of individual rights which defines our nation.

    My fear, rather, is from the other direction: if the Christian right is, as it will happen, frustrated in all of their aims and if they see the Islamicists achieve many or even some of their objectives through the actual use of violence, or the threat of violence this may very well embolden our own religious right to seek change through the use of violence.

    This is why giving in to violence on any level to any group means that potentially other groups will resort to the same means. In this sense it’s not impossible that the celebration of third world liberation movements may have had its own blowback effect by turning Islamicists towards the use of similar methods.

    About Zizek, like Lacan, some of his writings make sense much of it doesn’t, in my opinion.

  153. Hassan Nasrallah

    Views on Jews

    “The scholar Amal Saad-Ghorayeb quotes Nasrallah describing his view of Jews: “If we searched the entire world for a person more cowardly, despicable, weak and feeble in psyche, mind, ideology and religion, we would not find anyone like the Jew. Notice, I do not say the Israeli�.

    Come now, that doesnt mean anything, I bet he’s just some sort of apolitical liberal.

  154. Why are the only defenders of Hezbollah the straw men you guys use to set up your zinging comments? Perhaps if you actually read the posts (or god forbid listen to chomsky and ricks), you might actually be able to engage someone on the left in conversation?

    that said, i do appreciate jdyer’s last point. perhaps if the religious right and the conservative zealots actually got violent in this country, we would change the tone of the conversation. i wonder what an armed faction of fanatics would do? issue death threats to judges? fire-bomb abortion clinics? drive a truck bomb into a federal building?

  155. Nabobnico wrote:

    “What I mean is how do we trace the rise and change of Islam from Mohammed(PBUH) to Bush’s “evil-doers.� What remains honest to Islam after lo these 1400 years, to the words of Mohammed(PBUH)? And how did ibn al Tamiya and ibn Abd al Wahhab and Qutb distort (or did they distort) the teachings of the Prophet. Was Islam always “evil� to use the Bush phrase, or has it morphed and been changed over the centuries? How has the modern nationalist state changed and unified Islam?�

    (August 16th, 2006, @ 8:50 PM)

    Thanks, and I mean it, because there’s a lot of good stuff to chew on here.

    First, you’ll have to forgive me in advance for not applying the honorific “(PBUH)â€? to my use of the name Mohamed – and please also note that as a deeply challenged typist (you should see these drafts before spell-check!) that I use the shortest transliteration of the name I am aware of. Anyway, as someone outside any and all systematic beliefs in supernatural entities, I don’t consider any human—past, present, or future—any more deserving of veneration than any of the rest of us (although I do deem some humans less deserving of veneration than the rest of us: Hitler, Stalin, and David Duke spring immediately to mind). My feelings on this apply to ‘royalty’ and ‘celebrities’ just as much as to ‘prophets’. We humans may sink to deplorable inhumane actions over the course of our lives, but it seems to me that none of us deserve any more sanctification than any given thirteen-year-old girl slave in East Asia, or a junkie on the Bowery. We’re all equally human. (And I’m a secular humanist.) All right, ‘nuf said.

    So anyway, and if I still have your indulgence, the first two questions of your quote above are historically interesting, but, even more: utterly fascinating prospects for the sort of examination of “memetic evolution� that Daniel Dennett advocates so provocatively in his recent Breaking The Spell: Religion As A Natural Phenomenon http://www.powells.com/biblio/1-067003472x-3

    Dennett’s thesis is that religious beliefs, tenets, and dogmas are just like any other idea: prone to evolution. I differ with his supposition that evolving ideas are exactly like viruses, because it’s obvious to me that the ideas don’t really evolve on their own, i.e., without the prospect of utility for the peoples whose minds the ideas inhabit. But as a metaphor for the evolution of ideas, I think the meme concept has vast, untapped utility – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meme .

    I’ve been intending for weeks to write a post describing how this memetic evolution probably works. And I’ll try, at long last, to get to it tonight (after the Ellington show!).

    It seems to me that al Wahhab is analogous to Protestantism’s Calvin. This translates (roughly), to something like this: al Wahhab was unhappy with the Islam meme-complex (especially its Sufi evolutions) as it stood in his lifetime, and adapted from it a version that he believed better reflected the ‘authentic’ Word given by Allah through Mohamed. Is so doing, his interpretation of the Koran and hadith became another (and harsher) level of dogma within Sunni Islam.

    Monotheism seems to me to be little more than an evolution of memetic dogmas – but I don’t mean this to seem an outright condemnation. Because any modern mind must admit that the Abrahamic faiths were born and evolved while humans were starkly ignorant of the natural world we’re parts of. This ignorance has recently been significantly ameliorated by the scientific revolution. Now, instead of believing the world a creation of the past few thousand years, we can confidently plause that it’s billions of years old, that it revolves around a modest star in an unremarkable galaxy, and that many other life-creating worlds might exist in the universe viewable nowadays via telescope. (Note that I said “might�!)

    This revolutionary disabusement of our prior ignorance is simply incompatible with the Abrahamic faiths, no matter how we might like to pretend otherwise. Because if the original creation myths weren’t right to begin with, then what other ‘Words of God’ might be mistaken? For authentically faithful religionists, this is a terribly slippery slope. And a slope easily avoided by the Abrahamic meme-complex’s trick of ‘protection from disconfirmation’ (see the Dennett book for many compelling pages on this idea). It’s an entirely circular logic that ‘Satan’ (another memetic creation) is laughingly fooling men through the ‘lies of science’, but circular or not, it fantically protects its faith in the minds of the piously credulous.

    Now, what I’m leading up to is an unconventional answer to this from you: “Was Islam always “evil� to use the Bush phrase, or has it morphed and been changed over the centuries?�

    I don’t think the lens of ‘good and evil’ is appropriate (for a zillion reasons)—not even your tongue-in-cheek application of that lens. It seems to me that we’re attempting to evaluate the ‘morality’ of an obsolete memetic-system. And worse, a memetic system that refuses to admit its obsolescence.

    Now, it could try to update its utility to the world as we now understand it: by editing the ‘evil’ (your tongue-in-cheek meaning, not mine) from its scriptures. But one of the tricks in the bag called ‘protection from the risk of disconfirmation’ is that anyone caught messing with the central scriptures are heretics by definition – and in the cleverly evolved meme-complex called Islam, heretics (and apostates too) are to be killed. Now that’s what I call protection!

    So, to return to a post I made earlier: the first thing to do is to decouple beliefs-unsupported-by-empirically-obtained-evidence from knowledge obtained by science and via its methods. That’s what I’m stumblingly trying to begin here .

    It’s vital to conceptually distinguish the two – to negate the chronic human tendency of conflation.

    And: to firmly establish the humanistic preferableness of reason over faith.

    Okay. This post is too long (again). And besides, I’m not the best one to try to tackle your provocative question: “How has the modern nationalist state changed and unified Islam?�

    But I’ll bet someone browsing this thread might want to try it for us. (Or so I hope.)

  156. thanks again, nick. here is a review of dennets book, by freeman dyson, from the ny review of books:

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/19090

    it will hopefully push back at force you to consider a different angle

    instead of offering my words of caution against your project (“to decouple beliefs-unsupported-by-empirically-obtained-evidence from knowledge obtained by science and via its methods”…i would suggest that you hear what descartes, by way of augustine, has to say about this particular endeavor), i will simply translate one of the captions to a goya etching (bad reproduction: http://www.masterworksartgallery.com/Francisco-de-Goya-y-Lucientes/Francisco-de-Goya-y-Lucientes-The-Sleep-of-Reason-Produces-Monsters-El-sueno-de-la-razon-produce-monstruos-.html )

    –The dream of reason produces monsters–

  157. Memes

    First, I’ve got to disassociate myself from the reductionism school of biology and Darwinian evolution that hatched the ‘meme equals gene’ metaphor – and then immediately chose to forget that it’s a METAPHOR, and not ‘real’!

    That said, I think the ‘meme’ idea is a plausible lens for better understanding the evolution of ideas. And so, borrowing heavily from non-reductionist biologists (who would surely disavow my well-intended efforts) here’s (first) how ‘genes’ actually work in biology and evolution (bolded emphases mine):

    (quote)

    Genes are so battered, misunderstood and abused that I make no apologies for starting from the beginning with genetic material. Genes are not self-replicating entities; they are not units of function; and they are not units of instruction. They are modular in construction and history; invariably redundant; each involved in a multitude of functions; and misbehave in a bizarre range of ways. They coevolve intimately and interactively with each other through their protein and RNA products. They have no meaning outside their interactions, with regard to any adaptive feature of an individual: There are no one-to-one links between genes and complex traits. Genes are the units of inheritance but not the units of evolution: I shall argue that there are no ‘units’ of evolution as such because all units are constantly changing. They are intimately involved with the evolution of biological functions, but evolution is not about the natural selection of ‘selfish’ genes.

    (unquote) – Gabriel Dover, Alas, Poor Darwin, (pg.56); Harmony/Random House; 2000: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0609605135/103-2529961-0019026?v=glance&n=283155

    The second of the two bolded quotations is the most important. This authentic biologist’s understanding of ‘gene’ (which is in truth an arbitrary early 20th century concept that has no tangible physical ‘reality’ as such) is better explained in a metaphor within Steven Rose’s Lifelines: Life Beyond the Gene ( http://www.powells.com/biblio/65-0195150392-0 & http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0195150392/sr=1-3/qid=1155879389/ref=pd_bbs_3/103-2529961-0019026?ie=UTF8&s=books ) that that compares the reductionist misunderstanding of ‘genes’ to a “digital information metaphor�, and then expounds:

    (quote)

    In the digital information metaphor, these cellular mechanisms play no part in the creation of this symphony (of an organism’s actual biological development). They are as dumb as the mechanism by which a cassette player converts the trace on a magnetic tape into a Beethoven violin concerto or a Miles Davis jazz track. All that the tape head and the speakers do is to follow the instructions given by the tape. They can influence the quality and fidelity of the sound that is emitted, but they don’t carry information. They symphony remains in the DNA. But this is not how cells work. Unlike the cassette player, they (the developing organism’s “cellular mechanisms�) don’t merely play their ‘tape’ at constant speed and hang the consequences. They instruct the tape as to which bits to play and when to play them, and they also edit the output. And of course, also quite unlike the cassette player, they continuously reconstruct themselves throughout the cell cycle and the lifetime of the organism they comprise. In so far as the (digital) information metaphor is valid at all, it can be expressed only in the dynamic interaction – the dialectic, therefore – between DNA and the cellular system in which it is embedded. Cells make their own lifelines.

    (unquote)

    Likewise: “Brains make (adapt) their own ‘memes’.�

    Furthermore: “The human brain/mind that hosts the ‘meme’ isn’t the ‘tool’ of the meme’s reproduction. Instead it ‘instructs’ the ‘meme’ as to which bits to play and when to play them, and (it) also edits the output. And of course, also quite unlike the cassette player, (it) continuously restructures its content throughout the meme’s ‘playback’ cycle. In so far as the (digital) information metaphor is valid at all, it can be expressed only in the dynamic interaction – the dialectic, therefore – between the meme and the brain in which it is embedded.�

    By this reckoning of the phantasmic ‘gene’ (that seems to have only a metaphoric ‘existence’ in the interaction between DNA [and its RNA] and the organism’s cellular processes), the ‘meme’ doesn’t ‘dictate’ instructions to the hosting mind. It interacts with it. The hosting mind accepts and modifies the ‘meme’ as best suits the organism’s (lifeline’s) purposes. This, to my unruly agglomeration of plauses, makes the ‘meme’ a fine and even excellent metaphor for understanding the evolution and spread of ideas.

    So: Mohamed accepted the Abrahamic-faith meme already extant in 7th century Arabia. His mind modified it to best suit the decaying tribal ethos of his people, and combined it with (then contemporary) medieval Arabian culture. This memetic adaptation included the subjugation of women – despite his first wife (older than he) being the owner and operator of an international trading company – and this memetic evolution made sure to ‘sanctify’ this evolution. Similar ratiocinations can be understood as ‘memetic’ evolutions protecting the ‘revelations’ from threat of disconfirmation (hypnogogic hallucinations explained as ‘Divine Visitations’ – disbelief in which gets your memes killed off – by the death of your brain!), and this then logically extends to the ‘divine instruction’ of killing all the unbelievers (if they won’t convert to Islam).

    Now, it’s perfectly true that medieval Christianity offers the same sots of memetic evolutions (Crusades and Inquisitions – not to mention pogroms and more), but medieval Christianity isn’t (yet!) threatening its billions of disbelievers with nuclear annihilation. Which makes Silvio’s 10:33 PM a post worthy of pondering.

    PS: Silvio, just before posting this, I see your latest (two) (12:03 & 12:06). I hope this post’s use of non-reductionist sources answers some of the issues raised by the (probably justified) review of Dennett you cite – which I will read as soon as I post this!

  158. Silvio: that’s an effective review for its purpose, and I agree with some – maybe with even much – of its Part 1.

    But it was written by a ‘believer’.

    I’d prefer two things: 1) a review by an authentic agnostic; and 2) a rebuttal from Dennett himself.

    Well, I’m neither Dennett nor agnostic (although I hate to present myself as an ‘atheist’ since that implies ‘a position’ on the matter of the existence of supernatural entities. And my only ‘position’ is this: show me empirically obtained evidence of your supernatural entity’s existence BEFORE you ask for my credulity—or for my tolerance of your public-policy-dictating beliefs).

    Anyway, I’ll do my best to write a ‘rebuttal’ (for which I am NOT QUALIFIED to offer) by sometime tomorrow. (Unless I go mountain hiking tomorrow in the Olympics. In which case I can’t promise anything before Sunday.)

    But thanks for the link to the review!

  159. Young at heart Nick:

    Make sure you read Dennett’s reply. There is a link at the end of the original review.

  160. “that said, i do appreciate jdyer’s last point. perhaps if the religious right and the conservative zealots actually got violent in this country, we would change the tone of the conversation. i wonder what an armed faction of fanatics would do? issue death threats to judges? fire-bomb abortion clinics? drive a truck bomb into a federal building?” Silvio 10:30pm

    You are still attacking a straw man rather than dealing with the Islamic Fascist problem at hand.

    My point, too, was that we need to deal with those Jihadists so that other religious fanatics, Christians in the West, Hindu’s in India don’t decide that violence will be the only way to get what they want.

    As to your image of what Christian “fanatics” turned to violence would do, I am afraid it is too impoverished. They will probably do everything the Jihadists are doing and more. Western totalitarians of all stripes have never been deficient in coming up with horrific schemes of violence.

    “Why are the only defenders of Hezbollah the straw men you guys use to set up your zinging comments? Perhaps if you actually read the posts (or god forbid listen to chomsky and ricks), you might actually be able to engage someone on the left in conversation?”

    As to your first point, I did listen to the program and didn’t find Chomsky compelling. Ricks was a little better, though he too at times went off into the use of hypotheticals which he then took to be actual. This, btw, is Chomsky’s main mode of argumentation which makes much of his writing about political matters more than a little hallucinatory.

    btw: appeal to authority figures such as Zizek or Foucault is no substitute for a coherent argument. The same is true with setting up links. A link is not an argument.

  161. Ricks isn’t very credible

    http://www.nysun.com/pf.php?id=38163

    Washington Post Editor Rebukes His Reporter for Television Comments on Israel

    BY LEORA FALK – Special to the Sun

    August 18, 2006

    URL: http://www.nysun.com/article/38163

    “The executive editor of the Washington Post, Leonard Downie Jr., has rebuked one of his Pulitzer-Prize winning reporters for suggesting on television that Israel was purposely leaving Hezbollah rockets in Lebanon “because as long as they’re being rocketed, they can continue to have a sort of moral equivalency in their operations.”

    The action came as Mayor Koch and the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America pressed the Post on the issue. The reporter in question, Thomas Ricks, is the author of a new book, “Fiasco,” sharply critical of the Bush administration’s handling of the war in Iraq.

    On the August 6 episode of CNN’s Reliable Sources, Mr. Ricks said that “one of the things that is going on, according to some U.S. military analysts, is that Israel purposely has left pockets of Hezbollah rockets in Lebanon, because as long as they’re being rocketed, they can continue to have a sort of moral equivalency in their operations in Lebanon.”

    When CNN’s Howard Kurtz asked if Mr. Ricks was “suggesting that Israel has deliberately allowed Hezbollah to retain some of its firepower, essentially for PR purposes, because having Israeli civilians killed helps them in the public relations war here,” Mr. Ricks agreed that he had heard that from “military analysts.”

    “I have made clear to Tom Ricks that he should not have made those statements,” Mr. Downie wrote to Mr. Koch…..”

    http://www.nysun.com/pf.php?id=38163

  162. Jdyer and others who have not understood my posts:

    Perhaps the threat of terror trumps all attempts at wit. If you examine carefully that list of ‘what armed fundamentalist fanatics might do in the US’, you will see that those are all acts of attempted or successful domestic terrorism that HAVE actually taken place. The point being, as Eric Clapton says, before you accuse me, take a look at yourself. This is not ‘blame America first’, but rather ‘there is plenty of blame to go around’. I do not have a definite course of action to pursue. I see that religion is a problem in most societies, but religion also gains popular support by being able to provide simple answers to difficult questions and material support to the needy. Hezbollah may have caused thousands of people to flee southern Lebanon, but it is Hezbollah who will be there to welcome them back and to provide the aid and charity they so desperately need.

    Once again, I think my style of argumentation is coming under attack. For the record: I have yet to cite Foucault (as authority or straw man) on this page. The Zizek reference was intended to flesh out a larger conversation on belief with old nick. I did not cite him as an authority, but rather as someone who approaches belief from a different perspective. If you review that post, you’ll see that Zizek was mentioned in an offer to do a book exchange.

    And I agree that a link is not an argument. It can, however, provide supporting evidence. When I say, for instance, that the Bush administration willfully conflated Saddam and Osama, it helps my case to show the actual quotations, as documented in a respected publication. If I would be so bold, I would say that the aversion to citing authorities, as well as the aversion to supporting claims with evidence, is what allows for the drivel that occupies about 40% (based on my unscientific study) of the ROS messages.

  163. To Silvio; I liked your comparison of Christian fanatics to Muslim fanatics. The problem is there has not been a reported Christian terrorist act or conservative terror act in the US for years. As a matter of fact after the federal building was bombed most of the groups you refer to either disbanded or drasticly reduced there activity.

    They realized that mass murder of innocents was wrong. Terrorism was never in the plans of most of these groups. Isolationism and a desire to be left alone was. Anti abortion groups have little incommon with the militia groups that sprung up in the past. The terrorist acts to which you refer were carried out by fewer then 10 individuals,hardly a threat to the free world.

  164. “Jdyer and others who have not understood my posts”

    Silvio, you are not difficult to understand and I did not attack you style of writing, though I do admit that your attempt at wit isn’t always successful.

    “Perhaps the threat of terror trumps all attempts at wit. If you examine carefully that list of ‘what armed fundamentalist fanatics might do in the US’, you will see that those are all acts of attempted or successful domestic terrorism that HAVE actually taken place.”

    As to the the violence perpetrated by our Christian or Jewish fanatics it has been minimal and it was roundly condemned by most Christians and Jews.

    I agree with what rc21 said and will only add that they are a minority within a minority both here and in Israel.

    As for my points about the use of “authority figures” I wasn’t just writing about you, Silvio. People throw around names like that of Chomsky, Said, Foucault, (you are the only poster who has introduced the name of Zizek) in support of their arguments as if that automatically proved the argument correct. It doesn’t even prove that the argument is valid, much less true.

    The same goes for the introduction of names like Kristol or other neo cons in order to prove an argument false. The neo cons are not automatically wrong on all issues just as the neo-intellectuals cited above are right on most issues.

    Each position needs to be argued on its own merits.

    Again, I am not writing merely about Silvio or any other single poster. I am expressing a general view about the nature of argumentation on web sites among those people familiar with intellectual issues at play in today’s academies of higher learning.

  165. Excuse me, jdyer, but your claims are totally unsubstantiated. I am confident that you are the first person to have mentioned Foucault on this page. I am pretty sure you are the first to mention Said, but given the commonness of his last name, a simple term search does not yield definitive results.

    As for citing Chomsky: the fucking program is ABOUT Chomsky. He is the guest. WTF? The point of this page is to debate the thinker’s work.

    In fact, you are one of the few posters on this page to send us to a Continental philosopher: Henri Levy. And sorry, but Henri Levy is the lightweight of contemporary French philosophy…more of a study in narcissism than a serious thinker.

  166. You are missing the point, again, Silvio.

    I used the names as examples. I never said that with the exception of Zizek they were mentioned on this particular thread.

    My point stands.

    As for Bernard Henri Levi, I really don’t care what you think about the quality of this thought. I cited him not as an authority but as someone who like Chomsky wrote about the conflict and someone who should have been invited to participate in this discussion rather than Ricks.

    And as far as his political philosophy goes he is a lot more convincing on current events than Chomsky who seems to get most of his information from newspaper articles.

  167. Silvio: “I am pretty sure you are the first to mention Said…”

    Oh, am I?

    “For the site Christopher Lydon Interviews Dave Winer gave me a handsome custom design on his Manila software. Audio-on-a-blog was the new trick we were advertising, along with an unconventional range of interview subjects: poets and prophets including Glen Reynolds, Robert Fisk, Jay Rosen, the late Edward Said, Harold Bloom, Norman Mailer, Gore Vidal, Larry Lessig, Tim Berners-Lee and George Lakoff, among the scores.”

    http://www.radioopensource.org/cursing-and-lighting-candles/

  168. Okay, I think this will be my last post on this page. I am getting frustrated. Old Nick, I hope we can carry on this productive conversation elsewhere.

    Jdyer: first off, congratulations for scouring the entire site for a mention of Edward Said. Who would have thought that a radio program that maintains an open debate on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would make recourse to a prominent Palestinian intellectual? Unfortunately, I was referring to this particular thread—on Chomsky and Ricks. I do not think it is appropriate to accuse posters on this specific page of things that unrelated participants have posted on separate threads.

    And you conveniently ignore my rebuttal to your charge of ‘link-dropping’. Responsible posters use links and quotations from intellectuals to support ideas. This is called ‘evidence’ (in the example I gave of Bush administration quotations) or an appeal to someone more versed in a given tradition than the poster (western philosophy, military strategy, bioethics, whatever).

    It seems perfectly reasonable to hear what Nasrallah said to Chomsky, as the Bush administration refuses to communicate directly with Hezbollah. You may lament the fact that Chomsky is the mediator, but the fact of the matter is that the US is indirectly involved in a conflict with Hezbollah, and we must have some form of communication between us if we ever hope to move towards a peace agreement that is acceptable to all sides. A more productive path, instead of lambasting Chomsky, would be to demand that the Bush administration speak directly with Hezbollah.

    I thoroughly enjoy hearing different points of view on these threads, but if you don’t believe in the underlying values of the project—radio OPEN source—then bugger off. I am a newcomer here, so I don’t mean to flex non-existent muscle; it must be said, however, that jdyer has demonstrated him/herself to be opposed not only to the fundamental ethics and practices of argumentation, but also opposed to the spirit of this program.

  169. Silvio “I thoroughly enjoy hearing different points of view on these threads, but if you don’t believe in the underlying values of the project—radio OPEN source—then bugger off. I am a newcomer here, so I don’t mean to flex non-existent muscle;”

    I would say the same to you: I don’t believe that you value open debate; you are too invested in a single point of view.

    ” it must be said, however, that jdyer has demonstrated him/herself to be opposed not only to the fundamental ethics and practices of argumentation, but also opposed to the spirit of this program.”"

    My purpoese here is to show the shortcomings of a program that habitually trumpets one point of vie while claiming to present a fair and balanced program.

    Your desire to have me banned speaks volumes about your own inability to deal with a point of view contrary to your own. In this you are a perfect example of what is wrong with this program and website.

    “And you conveniently ignore my rebuttal to your charge of ‘link-dropping’. Responsible posters use links and quotations from intellectuals to support ideas.”

    Links can not be used as evidence since they usually offer more than one topic and it is often hard to know which aspect of the argument is meant to be used as “evidence.”

  170. 1st/14th Says:

    “Hassan Nasrallah

    Views on Jews

    “The scholar Amal Saad-Ghorayeb quotes Nasrallah describing his view of Jews: “If we searched the entire world for a person more cowardly, despicable, weak and feeble in psyche, mind, ideology and religion, we would not find anyone like the Jew. Notice, I do not say the Israeli�.

    Come now, that doesnt mean anything, I bet he’s just some sort of apolitical liberal.”

    It’s interesting, 1st/14th that no one picked up on the Nasrallah antisemitic quote.

    It’s too incovenient for people like Silvio to address the issue of antisemitism among Jihadists. Easier by far to quote Zizek’s meanderings or take refuge in Chomsky’s hypothetical universe.

  171. Silvio: we can certainly carry on elsewhere. I’ve got two ‘off-premises’ options to offer, and/or we can sidestep on the ROS site (with, hopefully, Brendan’s indulgence) here.

    The two offsite premises include my fledgling debating forums, and the ROS folx Listener’s Club (for lack of a better description) that’s destined soon for either a more relevant rebirth or a wholesale deconstruction. (Probably not the latter, though.)

    If you’d like to privately discuss the change-of-venue options, join my fledgling forums and send me a ‘pm’ (private message) by clicking the appropriate button beneath any of my posts.

    See you later, pal. :-)

  172. I find it more typical rather than interesting. They follow in Chomsky’s footsteps here: when confronted with information that runs counter to their worldview, they pretend it does not exist. At least I am willing to entertain and make allowances for information that may or may not undermine my beliefs, but Chomsky and his many drones would simply rather ignore it all together.

    Can someone say false consciousness?

    Speaking of Chomsky, I find it interesting how quickly, and viciously he turned on Ron Radosh after his ideological conversion. Kind of like the way he turned on Hitchens.

  173. Nicky: Silvio: we can certainly carry on elsewhere.

    no loss there.

    Can we get back to talking about Islamo Fascism?

  174. Can someone say Islamic Fascism at work?

    http://news.scotsman.com/latest.cfm?id=1213712006

    “Muslim cleric wants shutdown of Danish paper

    COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – Egypt’s top Sunni Muslim cleric on Friday called for the editor of Jyllands-Posten, the Danish daily that published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, to be imprisoned and for his newspaper to be closed down.

    The cartoons were first published in Jyllands-Posten last September and then reprinted by other media in Europe and the United States after Muslim protests began early this year.”

  175. That was my point above, 1/14.

    The worst thing we can do is allow Muslims’ threat of violence to influence our behavior.

    In any case, I think the discussion here which had a good run has come to an end for me.

  176. “An important difference we’ve not yet mentioned, and which Berman misses as well, is that fascism and communism were genuine threats to liberalism precisely because they had established actual regimes INSIDE the liberal world, regimes which had supporters among a great many intellectuals, political elites and others in the West. Radical Islam enjoys no such important coterie of support in the West. The growing alienation, resentment and (more occasionally) violence of Muslim minorities in European countries is most certainly a great cause for concern. But it represents nowhere near the kind of existential threat that fascism and communism posed to western liberal regimes in the 30’s.”

    I don’t know if that’s true or not.

    The nation-state was the dominant focus of power in the 20th century, so having “actual regimes” maye have been more important.

    Today trans-national or inter-national movements don’t NEED a nation state to be powerful and influential.

    In another thread I mentioned that terrorism is based on the open-source paradigm, and our top-down, hierarchical, centralized, power-based attempts to confront it are like Microsoft’s efforts to counter Linux.

  177. “:But I am not so quick as to dismiss belief wholesale. Even the scientific method has its foundation in belief: many scientists believe that there is a unified theory of everything that will reconcile quantum mechanics and relativity, and this belief guides them in their search for evidence.”

    But at least that HAVE a search for evidence. No major religion attempts to systematically study the evidence for and against their beliefs and run experiments to test them, and alter their beliefs based on the results.

    Science does this routinely, and the result is that science advances and changes, whereas religion starts with a set of theological “truths” that are regarded as universal and permanent. Religious people who claim that science is just another religion don’t understand science.

    An interesting tidbit – in recent years it’s been noted that some of our spacecraft seem to be exiting the solar system faster than expected. This and other recent experimental data suggest that some basic assumptions or constants that a lot of other stuff is based on in physics may be wrong. How has the world of science reacted to this? With EXCITEMENT! Everyone is talking about it, proposing various explanations and alternative models and new experiments. This is the most fun physicists and astrophysicists have had in years! If the same thing happened in religion – some discovery that Jesus was never crucified or Mohammed was a woman, they’d be freaking out!

    Religion regards its truths as truth with a capital “T” – universal and permanent. Scients accepts that its truth is truth with a lower-case “t” – provisional – the best we can do for the time being but subject to change – hopefully not until the research grant or tenure arrives – but still subject to change.

  178. “As a matter of fact after the federal building was bombed most of the groups you refer to either disbanded or drasticly reduced there activity.

    They realized that mass murder of innocents was wrong. ”

    Depends on what sense of “wrong” you mean. They realized that their intended audience of potential supporters – whatever that group of Americans is who might be attracted to their right-wing wacko message was NOT favorably impressed by deliberately killing lots of innocent civilians. Americans of ALL political stripes find that repulsive.

    Not so for Muslims. Many Muslims all over the world might tsk-tsk car and train and plane bombings but in the same breath will imply that it might be justfied by this or that conflict or struggle they support. Successful bombings and other acts of extreme violence in which different Islamic extremist organizations try to top each other have proven to be successful recruiting methods.

  179. I Just finished the cumbersome reading of this long thread ( a comment on the architecture not the content necessarily) and it’s few outstanding posts. I started to read after listening to the show mp3, not at first for this discussion, but to see if anyone touched on Chomsky’s comment about Israel’s main purpose being to keep the West Bank and the Golan ( ie land in place of of peace). Though Chomsky impresses ( particularly with his very tough moral code- we need this) he disappoints as well with such contentions which misrepresent ( re represent the worst impulses in Israel).

    As well, above a link was provided about Ricks contention that Israel ( the government) is deliberately endangering it’s own people by leaving rockets in Lebanon.http://www.radioopensource.org/chomsky-my-dinner-with-hassan/#comment-15288

    For me, these are instances, ones that I could notice anyway, where both Ricks and Chomsky harm themselves, and the communication of otherwise good insights/criticisms.

  180. I searched through this thread and found nobody commenting on the only serious point where Ricks and Chomsky disagreed. that point is about stability as a goal in US policy. Ricks said that the reason Wolfowitz, Perle, et al., are extremists is because they don’t accept stability as a worthwhile goal. Chomsky could not break from the “common knowledge” argument that all imperial powers want stability. It is from this disagreement that any others seems to derive, at least between Chomsky and Ricks. Until that point, they mostly agreed and co-supported each others’ comments.

  181. This ridiculous thread makes me more convinced than ever that each person should be allowed three posts MAXIMUM…. Make your point(s), and then let move on…. I thought the show was very good, and — above all — thought Ricks’ questions showed genuine curiousity and a desire to understand Chomsky. Too bad this string shows so much combativeness, and so little curiousity…

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