Gene Healy reviewed Noam Chomsky’s 9/11 book here extremely well last month, and since I agree with virtually all of his judgments, I will not reinvent this particular wheel. But I ran across this article that tells us Mr. Chomsky’s book has sold well over 100,000 copies, is even now ranked #392 by Amazon, and I couldn’t leave these facts unremarked upon.
I have no desire whatsoever to stifle Mr. Chomsky – let the 100 flowers bloom – but his perverse self-hatred and the implication that “we deserved it” need to be fought with all the vigor we can muster. This kind of laughable drivel can’t be left unchallenged because a lot of people don’t get the joke. Per the NY Times article:
- While the attacks were “horrifying atrocities,” he writes, “we can think of the United States as an innocent victim only if we adopt the convenient path of ignoring the record of its actions and those of its allies.”
The United States, he asserts, is “a leading terrorist state,” basing his opinion on actions like its interventions in Central America, its imposition of sanctions on Iraq, its support for General Suharto in Indonesia and its backing of what he calls “Israeli atrocities” in the occupied territories.
As for Afghanistan, Professor Chomsky argued against military action, maintaining that an attack by the United States would probably kill “enormous numbers” of “innocent civilians.”
To the extent that no state is literally “innocent” because this is a messy, complicated world, and the only possible “innocent” state would be one that no longer existed because its policies had allowed it to be overrun by the predators and picked over by the scavengers, I am happy to say the U.S. is not an “innocent,” i.e. naive, milksop, easily manipulated country. But this doesn’t make it a “terrorist” state, or make it deserving of terrorism, and Chomsky was just plain wrong about the Afghan civilians. Chomsky is so wrong so often, he makes Francis Fukuyama look like the Oracle of Delphi.
There is no possible equivocation of the intentional, cynical, inhuman destruction of over 3,000 truly innocent lives (the terrorists didn’t attack a “nation,” they attacked individual people from all over the world, none of whom bore any culpability whatsoever for the attacks that took their lives) for the purpose of political theater (mass murder as pamphleteering, I’m surprised Chomsky didn’t defend the atrocities as “free speech”) with any action the U.S. has EVER taken in defense of itself, its policies, or allies.
I can only hope that a large measure of the Chomsky book’s appeal is novelty: its sheer perversity, the audacity of its twisted agitprop. The core of Chomsky’s audience is made up of college students in their most experimental, contrarian phases, who are thrilled to be told something naughty that confirms their natural inclination toward mistrust of the “adult world,” that buttresses their impulse to rip it all down just because. And Chomsky is an “adult” who tells them these impulses are correct and justified. How fun.
But the fact that he finds an audience, that he influences thinking, that he poisons minds redoubles our duty to tell the other side, to speak up for core American values and the fundamental rightness of the American way, and to renew the stark, almost incomprehensible reality of 9/11 over and over like Sisyphus resolutely pushing his rock up the hill one more time.