Monday, 17 May 2010

Saying no to Noam

Fisking BBC News' online report of Noam Chomsky's exclusion from the West Bank:

The report describes Chomsky as a 'renowned US scholar', and later as 'renowned for his work on linguistics and philosophy'. Nothing about his notoriety as a genocide denier and apologist for tyrants. Not even any mention of his 'renown' (which you'd think might be relevant) as an unrelenting critic of Israel.

Apparently Chomsky was on his way to give a lecture at the Palestinian university in Bir Zeit when he was denied entry:

Prof Chomsky said the officials were very polite but he was denied entry because 'the government did not like the kinds of things I say and they did not like that I was only talking at Birzeit and not at an Israeli university too.'

Note that we only have Chomsky's word for the rationale behind his exclusion: handy that it aggrandises his own reputation. Note too the characteristic Chomskyan attempt to cast himself as the fearless outsider:

He added: 'I asked them if they could find any government in the world that likes the things I say.'

Well, yes, that might be difficult, now that Pol Pot and Milosevic are no longer around. But I reckon authoritarian populist Hugo Chavez is quite pleased with the things Prof. Chomsky says, and he also seems pretty popular with the theo-fascist government of Iran.

The BBC quotes the reaction of Chomsky's Palestinian host, Mustafa al-Barghouti: 'This decision is a fascist action, amounting to suppression of freedom of expression'. Well, maybe. But there's also this quote from Israeli interior ministry spokeswoman, Sabine Hadad: 'We are trying to contact the military to clear things up and if they have no objection we see no reason why he should not be allowed in'. Even Chomsky admits that the officials who denied him were 'polite'. The incident has been widely reported in the Israeli press and has been the subject of protests by the Association for Civil Right in Israel. Sound like a fascist state to you?

Of course Chomsky shouldn't have been denied entry to the West Bank, any more than that other objectionable self-publicist Geert Wilders should have been refused entry to Britain. But to present this incident as the action of a repressive state against a poor innocent scholar is at the very least disingenuous (but unfortunately rather typical) of the BBC.


Minnie said...

A necessary corrective, Martin, thank you. NC clearly believes the truth as being (Humpty Dumpty-like) just what he wants it to be ...
I'm always astonished by him, and many others, who are inordinately eager to present themselves as victims when, all too often, they are no such thing. What is so great about victimhood? And why is it so desirable a status in this and related contexts? Whatever happened to grace under pressure? Survival skills? Engaging in democratic debate? Mature recognition of reality leading to accommodation/co-operation?

radicalarchives said...

in all fairness, Chomsky has called on Iran to free the hikers (who, as I hear, are leftists anyway)

Anonymous said...

what a pathetic weasel blog. you spend the whole time attacking Chomsky's views (as if to imply that he shouldn't be allowed in, otherwise to what end?) only to state that free speech shouldn't be denied.

Martin said...

Dear Anonymous
I thought I'd made myself clear. I loathe Chomsky's views, just as I detest those of Wilders and his ilk. I don't support banning him, but I think he loves playing the victim at times like this. Also, I hate the lazy way media outlets like the BBC play into Chomsky's self serving narrative.