November 07, 2011

Chomsky on genocide denial

Noam Chomsky’s Sydney Peace Prize lecture (full text)The 2011 City of Sydney Peace Prize Lecture was delivered to a sold-out crowd at Sydney Town Hall on Wednesday November 2 by the 2011 Sydney Peace Prize Recipient Professor Noam Chomsky.Chomsky's own words on Indians:Whatever the ultimate judgment of God may be, the judgment of man is far from Adams’s expectations. To mention a few recent cases, consider what I suppose are the two most highly regarded left-liberal intellectual journals in the Anglosphere, the New York and London Reviews of Books.

In the former, a prominent commentator recently reported what he learned from the work of the “heroic historian” Edmund Morgan: namely, that when Columbus and the early explorers arrived they “found a continental vastness sparsely populated by farming and hunting people … In the limitless and unspoiled world stretching from tropical jungle to the frozen north, there may have been scarcely more than a million inhabitants.”

The calculation is off by tens of millions, and the “vastness” included advanced civilizations, facts well known to those who choose to know decades ago. No letters appeared reacting to this truly colossal case of genocide denial. In the companion London journal a noted historian casually mentioned the “mistreatment of the Native Americans,” again eliciting no comment. We would hardly accept the word “mistreatment” for comparable or even much lesser crimes committed by enemies.
Comment:  This is a good example of how liberals are almost as bad as conservatives when it comes to minimizing genocide.

For more on the subject, see Descendant Excuses Columbus's Crimes and Textbooks Neuter Columbus Critiques.

Below:  Noam Chomsky. (Ben Rusk/Flickr)


Anonymous said...

Genocide denial is fairly standard. I mean, hell, if you're an American politician, you pretty much have to deny or downplay every genocide other than that one because that's the official Israeli stance. (This has a lot more to do with Christian fundamentalists than Jews, though. Jews criticize Israel all the time, in Israel!) In the case of Indians, we also have Ayn Rand and Ronald Reagan, two intellectual giants who are only so because you have the press and the think tanks pumping them full of intellectual HGH (weird metaphor, I know), saying how Indians "never built anything".

dmarks said...

Really, rich considering that Chomsky came out in favor of Pol Pot and the Killing Fields in Cambodia.

dmarks said...

Anon: Don't forget the left-wing "new age" racists such as Shirley MacLaine: Indians were too stupid to have piled blocks together, so space aliens had to have made the Inca ruins instead of the Inca themselves.

Rob said...

I figured you were wrong about Chomsky and Cambodia, DMarks. And I was right. The only thing Chomsky did was hesitate to condemn Pol Pot in a 1977 article when the death toll was in doubt. That's not even close to coming out in favor of him.

Great efforts have been made to show that Noam Chomsky went to great pains to lie about the Khmer Rouge, that he was somehow "beguiled" and supported their cause during the civil war, and afterward denied solid evidence of genocide. Chomsky has never apologized for his statements on the subject, his statements since have been quite clear to the effect that there was, in fact, a genocide [1], and the argument is thusly whether his statements at the time classify as "denial," presumably in the fashion of deniers of the holocaust, of Pol Pot's genocide.

When Chomsky and Herman end the [1977] piece by disclaiming knowledge of the truth ("We do not pretend to know where the truth lies amidst these sharply conflicting assessments") Sophal makes yet another absurd attack, calling this statement "craftily hid[ing] their argument in the cloak of academic sophistry." Declaring what it is that you don't know and suggesting a direction for further research isn't sophistry, it's just academic.