• On Noam Chomsky and Osama Bin Laden

    Best buddies Noam and Hugo

    I recently wrote a post on the pseudo-intellectual Chomsky and his strong condemnation of the killing of Osama Bin Laden, which, unsurprisingly, drew the ire of a couple of his dyed-in-the-wool fans.  While the comments left in Chomsky’s defense are striking in their inanity and similar in tone to what I have received in the past from apologists for militant Islam, it seemed that a full post discussing them would be in order. If nothing else, as an example of how political ideology (extreme left in this case) could cloud the judgment of (I am assuming) otherwise intelligent people.

    Let’s start with a few facts that are not in dispute. Chomsky condemned the killing of Osama Bin Laden, on the grounds that “his crime was not proven”. He was even dismissive of Bin Laden’s confession, comparing it to someone gloating about something that pleased them without actually having anything to do with it. Also, to borrow directly from my troll, according to Chomsky,

    It’s increasingly clear that the operation was a planned assassination, multiply violating elementary norms of international law. There appears to have been no attempt to apprehend the unarmed victim, as presumably could have been done by 80 commandos facing virtually no opposition—except, they claim, from his wife, who lunged towards them. In societies that profess some respect for law, suspects are apprehended and brought to fair trial.

    What a nice example of Monday-morning-quarterbacking. The Marines DID NOT KNOW IN ADVANCE what they would face. Having sent in a large number of them was only prudent. Their number does not mean this was a “planned assassination”. The operation was extremely complicated and risky. As for what they did when they got there-I wasn’t there and I am not sure why they did what they did. The movie dramatizing the event was not called “zero dark thirty” for no reason. It was as dangerous a situation as it gets, at the darkest hour, deep within enemy territory. They had to finish their job and get out of there before the Pakistanis arrived. It is nice for Chomsky to stay in the comfort of his hometown and second guess what happened that night.

    But if you put Chomsky’s objection to the way the operation was conducted in the context of his opinion, of Bin Laden’s crime being far from proven, then it means something else altogether. Effectively Chomsky is telling us Bin Laden was killed because no court would convict him. That is pure rubbish. Can anyone doubt that a random jury of Americans (excluding Chomsky and his fans, and possibly 9/11 “truth” movement) would even need to leave the jury box to turn in a guilty verdict for Bin Laden? To put it differently, how many of those accused of terrorism since 2001 in either civilian or military courts have gotten acquittals?

    To put the matter differently, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith (one of Bin Laden’s henchmen) is currently awaiting trial. He was not shot on sight, and there was no need to. Because he was not caught in a dangerous and delicate situation. He will be tried, and the videos in which he makes threats are going to be enough to get a conviction. Because, unlike Chomsky, sane people take a confession to a serious crime as evidence of guilt.

    My troll objects to my finding fault with Chomsky’s phrase “democratic deficit”. According to this Chomsky defender, there is nothing wrong with what he has said, as Chomsky made the indisputable claim that certain stances of the (then Bush) White House were at odds with public opinion. But that is not the point. The question is, is Chomsky himself the person with credibility to speak about the so called “democratic deficit”? In case Chomsky and his ilk missed it, they are not the only ones talking about the government not representing the will of the people. It is not hard to cherry pick some issues on which some government policy or another does not conform to opinion polls. And politicians themselves do it all the time, attacking one another for being “out of touch”. The question that arises, for example, when some Tea Party supporting politicians make this accusation against President Obama, is whether the persons making the accusations are themselves more in touch with the public than the accused. The most hilarious such example, perhaps, is Mitt Romney, living in what can be called a “space ship”, calling the Democrats “out of touch”.

    My troll then told me I shouldn’t mind Chomsky’s calling of Sam Harris and Christopher “religious fundamentalists”, because “they worship the state, enabling US action around the world”. Now, this coming from a person who apparently agrees with the context of “democratic deficit”, is hypocritical in the extreme. Look, for example, at the polls showing 70% of US population approve of drone strikes against suspected terrorists. While the killing of one man-Bin Laden-got Chomsky and his fan mad, the truth is that in that operation no one else was harmed. Drone strikes, on the other hand, do result in death of civilians (their one and only drawback). And yet an overwhelming majority of US population approve of them. Does this mean all those people are “religious fundamentalists”?

    But the gems of this Chomsky fan only get more and more jaw-dropping. When I pointed out that due to Chomsky’s extremism, few politicians ever openly endorse his views, he responded that that is “entirely to Chomsky’s credit”. Really? Well what about neo-confederates, neo-Nazis, and the KKK? Is the fact that no one openly speaks in their favor a plus for them? If Chomsky’s views are so popular that he has to complain about “democratic deficit”, why is it that no one acknowledges him?

    Speaking of which, how can anyone not see through Chomsky’s “democratic deficit” cliché, while Chomsky himself rubs elbows with less than democratic heads of state, like Hugo Chavez? Of course, in the end, Chavez’ undercutting of democracy became too much to stomach, even for Chomsky. But was Chomsky unaware all along that Chavez was a former coup plotter? That he was buddies with the likes of Ahmadinejad and Mugabe? What did he expect?

    While I do not expect facts to change the mind of an ideologue like my troll, I do think that the rehashing of the flaws of being motivated by political ideology is an important part of not falling into the kind of trap that skeptics and free thinkers always warn against. And even though I consider myself politically left leaning (to be point of criticizing political right and left being put on equal grounds when it comes to acceptance of science), sticking with facts is the only way to avoid pitfalls.

    Update-

    I did make one mistake in this post that I need to correct. In addition to Bin Laden, 3 men and one woman were killed in the operation, as the agents believed was necessary to protect themselves and get to their target. On the other hand-I do not believe this has any bearing on what I have said otherwise. And if anything, I only find it surprising that in a jammed, crowded, dark, and completely (to the agents) cryptic environment, the death toll was not much higher.

     

     

    Category: Uncategorized

    Article by: No Such Thing As Blasphemy

    I was raised in the Islamic world. By accident of history, the plague that is entanglement of religion and government affects most Muslim majority nations a lot worse the many Christian majority (or post-Christian majority) nations. Hence, I am quite familiar with this plague. I started doubting the faith I was raised in during my teen years. After becoming familiar with the works of enlightenment philosophers, I identified myself as a deist. But it was not until a long time later, after I learned about evolutionary science, that I came to identify myself as an atheist. And only then, I came to know the religious right in the US. No need to say, that made me much more passionate about what I believe in and what I stand for. Read more...
    • iamcuriousblue

      Well, this is the same Chomsky that dismissed the horrifying crimes of the Khmer Rouge as “less than proven” for many years, until the documentation and historical truth of what happened simply became overwhelming, after which he went into full backpedaling mode claiming to have never been a KR apologist.

      The thing with Chomsky is that he’s an extreme case of somebody who’s a genuine achiever in one field, who begins claiming expertise in a whole different area and is really just a crank when it comes to that subject. In the case of Chomsky, his expertise was linguistics, and even if some of his ideas about Universal Grammar have been called into question since he posited them, he was the author of some real milestones in that discipline nevertheless.

      Unfortunately, sometime around the Vietnam War, Chomsky went beyond the role of being merely a public intellectual who had something to say about the Vietnam War and American policy more generally, and started offering himself up as some sort of expert on global politics and modern history. However, when one got beneath the surface, his “expertise” rarely got beyond the most crude New Left kneejerk anti-Americanism, neither deeply insightful nor original. And sadly, he largely moved away from linguistics, where his talent was, and towards political analysis, where he wasn’t so hot. It was helped in no small part by the fact that much of the far Left was hailing him as a political genius, something that no doubt went to his head.

      One can see a similar dynamic with Lynn Margulis. Somebody achieved a landmark breakthrough in our understanding of evolution with endosymbiotic theory, and more controversially with Gaia theory. But has drifted increasingly toward fringe ideas in evolutionary biology, stating that neo-Darwinism and selection theory is entirely wrong, and that horizontal gene transfer is the real engine of evolution. Not to mention her even-more embarrassing embrace of the 911 Truth movement. Hopefully, the latter foibles are not what she’ll be remembered for.

      For Chomsky, who’s went down the garden path early, it’s too late and his politics is probably all he’ll be remembered for in the popular imagination.

    • Carl

      Noam reminds me of a lot of conspiracy nuts they tend to live in a bubble and no matter what facts you throw at them they skirt around it and keep their bubble secure from the truth.

    • Peter Beattie

      So you accuse Chomsky of Monday morning quarterbacking, but you couldn’t be bothered to look up the most basic facts about the event that you are so heroically defending, e.g. that, contrary to your confident assertion that “the truth is that in that operation no one else was harmed”, in fact at least four other people were killed by American soldiers. Maybe due to “being motivated by political ideology”?

      being motivated by political ideology”
      the
      truth is that in that operation no one else was harmed – See more at:
      http://www.skepticink.com/nocrossnocrescent/2013/08/02/on-noam-chomsky-and-osama-bin-laden/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter#sthash.o1LL0Wzp.dpuf
      the
      truth is that in that operation no one else was harmed – See more at:
      http://www.skepticink.com/nocrossnocrescent/2013/08/02/on-noam-chomsky-and-osama-bin-laden/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter#sthash.o1LL0Wzp.dpuf

      • Peter Beattie

        Sorry for the cruft at the bottom of the post. Stupid website inserted that stuff when I only copy/pasted two phrases. Safe to delete. As is this.

      • NoCrossNoCrescent

        Yes, I did make one mistake and I will correct it. On the other hand-this has zero to do with Chomsky’s Monday morning quarterbacking. The facts remain that the high number of agents was only prudent given the unknown and extremely dangerous situation they were going into, and this is not a hallmark of an assassination, as Chomsky cavalierly proclaims from Massachusetts-ironically a state hit hard by 9/11.

    • First, what is your definition of troll and how do I fit it?

      Second, if you are going to write a whole post based on my comments, it is unfair to keep your diktat that I only post once per day. Besides being obvious censorship for its own sake, it makes debate harder to have because I explicitly put different aspects of my response into different threads. If you’ve got a threaded comment section, it should be used.

      Third, you lead with a point that I granted you in the previous post in my first comment: http://www.skepticink.com/nocrossnocrescent/2013/07/13/noam-chomsky-shameless-and-despicable-defender-of-terrorists/#comment-963896749

      Fourth, where is your quote “his crime was not proven” come from? I googled “crime was not proven” Chomsky and got one result which wasn’t it: https://www.google.com/search?q=%E2%80%9Ccrime+was+not+proven%E2%80%9D+chomsky

      Fifth, thank you for quoting the real reason Chomsky condemned the way in which Osama was killed.

      Sixth, your MMQB to Abu Ghaith paragraphs are just stupid. I can’t be bothered with it or my one post per day will be incredibly long.

      Seventh, okay, I can’t make this comment any longer due to the terrible arguments about the “democratic deficits” issue. If you will deign to allow me to post another comment today, I’ll get back to you later today. Otherwise, I’ll write up a substantial comment (or how about letting me have a guest post?) and enter it tomorrow.

      • NoCrossNoCrescent

        Man, you have some nerve.
        First things first: your claim about censorship is ridiculous. I am not the government. I don’t control the traffic on the web. You can do all the Chomsky-worship you want elsewhere. (As I’ve already mentioned, given your claim that Hitchens and Harris “worship(ped) the state”, it is perfectly sensible to call your devotion to Chomsky worship).
        On the other hand if I come to your home and repeatedly insult you, which you have done and continue to do to me, you can ask me to behave, or leave. Same here.
        As for what a troll is: one who throws out insults, substitutes responses to arguments with personal attacks (“what you said is stupid and I won’t respond to it”) and leaves countless comments making it harder to respond to-damn well qualifies. I’ve had creationists and climate change deniers vehemently disagreeing with me without being trolls like you.
        And Chomsky is not saying Bin Laden’s guilt was not proven? Gee, what the heck does “there was no evidence against him and his confession doesn’t count” mean?
        As for posting more than comment, or worse, getting a guest post here (LOL! I’ve never seen a troll so presumptuous, I should say!), not happening.
        And as you prepare to post your next comment-you better be sure it is insult-free, or you are done here.
        And no, it’s not unfair. I write this blog, and I don’t have to put up with insults.

        • Like I really meant that I had no possibility for speech anywhere. Come on. You wrote a post about my comments, so I should be able to comment more than once a day on that post. Agree? Especially because several shorter posts about different subjects are better than one long one.

          If you think calling your arguments stupid is insulting, fine. Stop making stupid arguments or show me how they aren’t stupid. I didn’t call *you* stupid.

          I have given and continue to give substantive responses to your writing. You haven’t responded to much, but seem to exclusively focus on perceived slights.

          “Countless comments” (how high can you count to?)

          You used quote marks around “his crime was not proven.” Where did you get this quote from? Now you have further quoted “there was no evidence against him and his confession doesn’t count”. Where does this quote come from? Even if it is a paraphrase, you should provide the link of what you are paraphrasing so that others can see if it is accurate.

          You can do whatever you want with this comment and any other I write.

          • NoCrossNoCrescent

            No, I don’t. Chomsky writes book after book trashing his country and glorifying third world tyrants. Would he allow me to write a chapter in his newest book, to expose his lies and hypocrisy?

            Were you good at English in grade school? You don’t think the words “stupid” and “full of shit” are insults? And you continue to accuse me of making “stupid arguments”, even after being warned to avoid insults? You also seem not to get “there was no evidence against him” means “his crime was no proven”.
            “I have given and continue to give substantive response to your writing”. Lol. This is a direct quote from your writing: “your MMQB to Abu Ghaith paragraphs are just stupid. I can’t be bothered with it”. You don’t know what “substantive” means either. You need to work on your vocabulary.
            And where did I get that quote from? It was in my last post that you trashed. Are you telling me that you chewed up what I wrote without reading it? Why am I not surprised.
            In either event, since you were warned to keep your comment insult-free and you didn’t, I am happy to let you know you are done here. I could say I am sorry. But then I would be a hypocrite. Like Noam Chomsky.

    • Christopher Hitchens debunked this charlatan more than once, whose ego is the only thing he has bigger than his despise for the West and Enlightenment values.

    • “whether the persons making the accusations are themselves more in touch with the public than the accused” So your point is that Chomsky is being hypocritical to denounce politicians who are not following public opinion because Chomsky is even further from public opinion on some specific issues?

      I need clarification because you never addressed this in the previous post comment thread. Rather, you gave the “then he can run for office” reply, which is ridiculous, and limited me to one post a day.

    • grepo

      I would love to see you debate Chomsky. He would mop the floor with your trolling nonsense.

      • NoCrossNoCrescent

        For the moment grepo, you are the trolling one. As for Chomsky-I’d love to see him run for office, I doubt he can’t get elected dog catcher in the most liberal district of the most liberal state.

        • grepo

          Neither could any atheist, nor you? What’s your point? You don’t have to run for office to make sense.

          You’re a troll, and an ugly one at that! See I can use adhominem too, and it proves nothing.

          By the way, regarding Bin Laden’s “confession”, Chomsky put it best. It would be like Chomsky confessing to have won the Boston Marathon. Now you wouldn’t believe Chomsky if he made that claim, would you? Probably not, because you think he’s a liar. However, you believe Bin Laden apparently because he’s such an honest person.

          I don’t defend Bin Laden or Chomsky. I defend only what Chomsky defends–the rule of law. Chomsky will run circles around you in a debate because he will stick to the rules and you will not. You’ll just carve out exceptions for yourself.

          • NoCrossNoCrescent

            Well let’s see, you come here calling me a troll, and when I return the favor it’s an ad hominem?
            My point is that Chomsky is a hypocrite. I don’t mind his opinions, I mind the fact that he continues to claim his views are popular, while they are not.
            I do believe bin Laden, but not because of his honesty. I believe him because his confession has been corroborated by tons upon tons of evidence. Also that no one else has made a rival claim. If there were a marathon and Chomsky made an unchallenged claim that he won it, I wouldn’t dismiss it out of hand just because the man is vile. That is not relevant to his athletic qualifications.
            Incidentally if you don’t believe the confession, do you have an alternative explanation? A truther inside conspiracy? Even Chomsky is not making that claim. As for the rule of law-well hasn’t Chomsky claimed countless tikes it should change to accommodate him?
            As for his debating skills-they don’t show he is truthful, simply that he is smooth with words and quick on his feet.

      • NoCrossNoCrescent

        Hey troll, you might be interested to know I am tearing Chomsky up again, except you can’t defend him, unless you like sexual slavery!

        http://www.skepticink.com/nocrossnocrescent/2014/11/03/a-question-for-anti-drone-trolls/