What Chomsky wrote in self-defense

William S. Lear rael at zopyra.com
Wed Oct 28 11:37:12 PST 1998

On Wed, October 28, 1998 at 12:27:14 (-0500) Rakesh Bhandari writes:
>I think this Nation letter shows how badly Chomsky has muddied the waters.
>On the one hand, he defends his right to defend Faurisson without careful
>analysis or indeed any knowledge of what he has actually written (an
>admirable and justifiable position); on the other hand, he attempts to
>reassure us that Faurisson supported the good fight against the Nazis while
>correctly underlining that it is irrelevant to the civil liberties issue.
>But having made the parenthetical comment, Chomsky now makes it impossible
>to determine whether his defense of free speech is absolute or whether he
>thinks in the case of RF free speech win outs because of the little actual
>danger RF represents as he is not a real fascist or war criminal (indeed
>according to Chomsky he is a Jew sympathizer), or does not control the
>media. I can understand why people would be outraged by Chomsky's lame
>attempt to reassure us that RF is no real danger, and perhaps they then
>confused their opposition to Chomsky's irrelevant comments with opposition
>to his brave defense of civil liberties. But in my reading Chomsky is as
>much to blame for the confusion here.

This is getting tiresome. Rakesh, you are too intelligent to foul things up so completely with such sloppy analysis, so I'll graciously assume you've mistakenly taken a few too many painkillers left over from your basketball injury.

First, he is not "defend[ing] his right to defend Faurisson". His right to defend Faurisson is not at issue, and needs no "defen[se]". He is simply pointing out that a few idiots claimed it was a huge scandal that he was defending the right to speak of someone with whose ideas he had little familiarity, and that this was absolutely nuts.

Second, he does not "reassure us that Faurisson supported the good fight against the Nazis" --- he merely points out, quite accurately, that there is good evidence that Faurisson is not a mere Nazi (as has so carelessly been claimed) and that he supported much more extreme positions ("far more controversial stands") of free speech for those who *could* quite easily be compared to Nazis, and nobody seemed to care much (this is *very* important: it shows the bankrupt hypocrisy of the media and intelligentsia generally, a topic that Chomsky has spent much time illustrating --- so much so that I'm astonished that you could glide over this point so easily).

Third, this parenthetical comment has nothing to do with whether or not his support of Faurisson's rights was "absolute" (an idiotic notion that Chomsky, as well as myself, would reject as absurd) or done simply because Faurisson represents "little actual danger" (a topic Chomsky ignores, quite rightly: would Faurisson be "more dangerous" were he a "fascist" or a "war criminal"? The question itself if simply bizarre).

Fourth, Chomsky's comments are not "irrelevant" --- they were a very specific response to very specific attacks on his stance, and were important to illustrate the selective nature of the outrage against him.

Finally, quite obviously, those with something stuck in their craw are to blame for the confusion, as Chomsky's words are utterly transparent. Only utter fools, or those with nothing better to do with their time, or with an axe to grind (or with a few too many painkillers floating in their blood) could confuse things so easily.

Let's drop this nonsense and get back to more important issues, shall we?


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