Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Spare time reading

For kicks I like to read academic articles. Now, I don't claim to have read them fully, sometimes skimming through them or cherry-picking parts I like. One of the subjects that interests me is the interpretations and re-interpretations of the absolutely appalling history of Kampuchea (Cambodia) and how other readers see the whole affair too.

I was very bemused when Noam Chomsky, who was a great defender of Pol Pot's regime, was awarded the Sydney Peace Prize of 2011. I mean, what has he done to deserve it? And can someone who is living in a free liberal democratic nation be called "courageous" for criticizing the government? Its ridiculous. They should have given the prize to someone whose very life was endangered by speaking out against corruption and crimes against humanity.

When I look at lefties, they seem stuck in a protest mindset at the height of the Vietnam War. ie. US Govt evil. Lefty Govt good. But that's just me, because I'm a liberal conservative.

And so Noam comes up with this line- written in 1977 when the world, even the Reader's Digest, was well aware of the atrocities going on in Cambodia.

The "slaughter" by the Khmer Rouge is a Moss-New York Times creation. Noam Chomsky

He says this because - the evidence is coming from Western Media and the US Govt - so by default, such claims are "a completely worthless source".

The whole thing becomes rather infantile. Instead of meaningful dialogue - it becomes a case of us and them. A sort of "(insert Country name) bomb" game.

"India bomb, India bomb, India bomb to Pakistan bomb"
"Pakistan bomb, Pakistan bomb, Pakistan bomb to England bomb"
"England bomb, England bomb, England bomb to..."

What I find perplexing... and paradoxically enlightening in my understanding of how humans behave, is the way Noam Chomsky chooses to deny he ever supported Pol Pot's evil regime and instead chooses to do some serious mental yoga moves to rewrite history. It would have gained him the respect of many people if he had simply come out, admitted he made an error in judgement instead of trying to rewrite or re-interpret his earlier stance on Pol Pot's regime.

I guess the moral of the whole story is that very smart people can be incredibly petty, proud, and incapable of seeing their own flaw even if it bit them in their ass. And sometimes, when you hate something long enough, you end up becoming like it. You become what you hate.

Anyway, here are some articles which I've been reading on the whole subject.

I see it as an education in rhectoric - ways of arguing etc.. and you get gems like this by Bruce Sharp:

Bruce Sharp, "Curiously, he never gets around to explaining precisely what he thinks is "dishonest." (Generally, I believe it is customary to cite something that is actually false when you accuse someone of lying.)"

Bruce Sharp: "I find myself rather underwhelmed by the accuracy of Professor Chomsky, a man who is surely one of the world's most renowned scholars. There is something vaguely amusing about being called "dishonest" by a man of the Professor's stature... particularly when he admits that he didn't actually read what I wrote, and neglects to explain exactly what I said that he finds dishonest."

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