Monday, June 19, 2006

Noam is an island*

This from the blog, Red State Son

Army Of Noam

(Watch the clip of Noam Chomsky addressing West Point cadets on 4/20/06.)

"You'd think that when someone like Noam Chomsky speaks to West Point cadets about US imperial history and the high power hypocrisy that justifies it, there'd be a lot of online commentary, across the board. Personally, I didn't know anything about this until a friend mentioned it to me the other night -- so yesterday I looked it up, and there was Noam, laying down the righteous shit in front of an audience of well-scrubbed, soon-to-be butterbars. It's an hour long, but worth the time.

Noam, as always, starts slow, building his argument piece by piece, and from the looks on some of their faces, it seems that the cadets have been forced to eat cold canned spinach. But Noam then expands on what several "thinkers" like Michael Walzer consider "just war," a topic the cadets probably have already considered if not studied in class. The real fun comes during the Q&A, and I hope these young officers were taking serious notes. If Noam could impress someone as gung-ho as Pat Tillman, then he can reach pretty much anyone in uniform. And that's a good thing.

Notice, too, how much respect the cadets show Noam. Of course, part of this is their training, prefacing each question and comment with "sir." But I get the impression that the kids kinda dug the old man, who easily and graciously handled every query thrown at him. I actually found it touching, and wonder how the Noam haters felt about him receiving such a warm reception at a place like West Point. Noam was equally polite and respectful. Clearly, he doesn't consider these young men as mere cannon fodder for imperial war, as do certain bloated state propagandists in love with endless misery and death.

When I was in the Army, we didn't get speakers like Noam. We had to sit through assholes like Woody Hayes, the now-late Ohio State football coach. Hayes blustered on about the glories of war, talking about how we really stuck it to the Japs in the Big One. In fact, ol' Woody dropped the J-word several times, causing a couple of Japanese-American officers to walk out.

Needless to say, Noam is a huge improvement."

I tried and failed to find either the entire video or a transcript.

* Thanks to my bro for this title.

13 comments:

whosyourhuckleberry said...

Actually, I caught this on CSPAN a couple of weeks ago, (yes, cuz I'm lame like that) and Chomsky didn't merely get a warm reception at West Point, he was treated like freakin royalty. They even gave him a gift at the end of his presentation. I can't remember exactly what it was, but I remember thinking at the time that is was a really cool gift. While I didn't buy all of his arguments - he tends to declare self-evident "truths" that don't seem to wash - the whole affair was surprisingly civil and cogent.
Check out CSPAN.com, I'm sure you could find out when they'll show it again...

kissyface said...

Huck - I appreciate in you very much Sir, despite the divergence of our beliefs, your respectful if challenging responses to what little political I offer up here. I am a bleeding heart liberal, and won't apologize for it, but it's a beautiful thing that you practice kind and measured response in your discourse. That's, in part, what democracy's about.

...and running from pies. and run-on sentences.

Citizen H said...

[soapbox]
I can respect Chomsky while disagreeing with him. He is probably the most, if not the only, civil dissenter in the public eye in the States. The kids at "Hudson High", as the other services call West Point, must have clearly seen that. Anyone else flying in the face of what they've been taught would likely have been met by stony reserve. You would still have heard the "sirs" but they would have been pretty stilted and edgy. Perhaps he should be the public face of the anti-war movement, not the screeching Sheehan or the premature judgment-passing, fellow Marine-betraying Murtha. The left needs sages now, not demagogues.

[/soapbox]

The Frito Pundito said...

Hey, I just clicked on the link and got the show in Realtime. If you still can't get it, I might be able to save it for you in avi - the quality would be crap, but at least you would be able to see the man :)

BTW, Murtha is not "betraying" his fellow Marines by wanting to keep them from dying in a pointless war with no end in sight. Rather, the betrayal is being done by the ones who sent them there to die under such circumstances

Citizen H said...

Interfering in an official investigation by pronouncing judgment prematurely, and claiming that there was an official coverup that has been disproven ( http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-investigate17jun17,0,6125137.story?coll=la-home-world )isn't betrayal? Murtha has thrown the doctrine of innocence until guilt is proven out the window to score political points.

To my mind, and many others standing in the ranks, that IS betrayal, thank you very much.

It does appear that there was a "failure to demand a thorough explanation", which, frankly, means politicians were screaming for results, NOW, and harried and harrassed investigators bollixed it up. In these days of 24-hour news coverage, every service has to rush things before the media goes off half-cocked, draws their own conclusions, and passes their own judgment.


Tell you what, frito: Rather than drag this blog into a political mire, if you feel a burning need to carry on this discussion, I'll gin up a blank post on my blog and we can pick up the thread from there. Fair enough?

kissyface said...

woohoo! things are heating up! you boys can slug it out here, if you like. just keep it sportsmanlike. i'm sure we'll be hearing from Huck soon.

whosyourhuckleberry said...

There's not much I can add, the good Sgt. covered my take on it pretty well...
Murtha's vaporations - however malignant - are all for naught though. Hillary locked up the nomination quite awhile ago, and nothing short of a total catastrophe on her part can alter that course.
As for the war, its WAY too early to tell how "pointless" it is, as such judgements are rightly reserved for the historians and academics of tomorrow, who will have a much more complete view every extenuating circumstance at play in the here-and-now...

The Frito Pundito said...

Fair enough Sarge, as long as you don't pull the "me and the boys in the ranks" number. What's your blog? Although I predict this will be a futile discussion

And Huck, a) Murtha is not seeking the Democratic nomination (except in your fantasies), and b) Hillary will not get it. I am willing to put money on that.

The Frito Pundito said...

One more thing Huck, that argument that "we have to keep fighting in Iraq because history might not judge it as pointless" is a doozy. (And what's this 'way too early' stuff? We've been there for three years, for Chrissakes.) By that standard you can justify any sort of absurd behavior because it may be justified in the long run. In the real world for sensible people there are benchmarks for determining whether a given course of action is likley to produce a favorable outcome or not, and sadly the Iraq War fails on just about all of them.

whosyourhuckleberry said...

"that argument that "we have to keep fighting in Iraq because history might not judge it as pointless" is a doozy."

Which says nothing to the supposed "pointlessness" of it.
Call it dumb, call it an expedition in foolishness or (my favorite) hyperbolic hubris, but the Iraq War is certainly not sans point.
Its point, quite clearly, is to establish a military/political presence in a region of the world which we do not currently have much of either.
Now whether that point is a wise course of action, well, we can (and relentlessly do) debate its merits, but just as you can't accurately critique the first half of a book with any competency, so to is it unwise to presume omniscience by saying something doesn't have a point, when that point hasn't been reached.
You mentioned "benchmarks" to be met. Please elaborate.

As for Murtha, he may not be vocally seeking the bid, but there is a not insignificant segment of Democrats that would love to run him. And how would it be my fantasy for him to run? My political fantasies tend to include the dissolution of Congress and exploding White Houses...Ah, the benefits of anarchy.

And for clarity of terms, its really not much of a war anymore, its an occupation. Perhaps its my fault for not clarifying - I am by no means a Bush/War cheerleader. It would have been far more sensible (if we had to go) to go in, take out the regime and leave. But upon some thought, its clear Saddam/oil/whatever was never the goal.
From the start its been Iran. Look at the geography, and consider the two places U.S. troops occupy in the region.
Anyhow, my apologies for the appearance of random incongruity of this...

whosyourhuckleberry said...

My apologies, my head hasn't been where it should have been.
You are correct, Frito, about Murtha and the Dems' nomination...
I had it in the back of my mind, and forgot the specifics. He wants to be House Speaker if his party gains control.
That'll teach me to go off half-cocked...
Eh, no it won't.

The Frito Pundito said...

OK Huck, a nice benchmark would be if the President of the US could fly in and out of Iraq and give the Prime Minister more than *one hour's* notice that he was coming because the place is so dangerous. Or if he could go outside the Green Zone. Or if you didn't need flak jackets and armored vehicles to go from the Green Zone to the airport. Or if electricity in Baghdad worked more than six hours a day. Or if oil production equaled pre-war levels. Or if women could talk on cellphones in public without harrassment. I could go on...

whosyourhuckleberry said...

Fair enough, but how would any of that be better if the military were no longer there? That it just wouldn't be our problem, so we could forget it?
My biggest problem with it, is the old axiom that an army standing still isn't an army, its a target. That's been proven true throughout history. Yet our military is there, either to stand around taking pot shots, or to facilitate Prong One of a Two-Pronged invasion of Iran. At any rate, they are there until at least January of 2009, and there's nothing to be done about that. Yet most any argument that one hears about the war invariably includes "quagmire" and comparisons to Vietnam, and that is ridiculous.