"It has long been impossible to take anything he says seriously."

That’s arch-Democrat Arthur Schelsinger describing Noam Chomsky. And yet it seems that much of Europe takes everything Noam says ever-so seriously.

When I was last in Berlin–late in 2004–I was amazed (and somewhat amused) at how Chomsky volumes headlined the English language section of almost every bookstore I entered (which is pretty much every bookstore I saw). And not just in English–loads of Chomsky has been translated to facilitate wider Euro consumption.

When you’re so far on the unhinged left that even Arthur Schlesinger thinks that nothing you say passes the laugh test, how do you become a respected icon in the minds of the well-read European public? What is it that enables Europeans to take Chomsky, and others like him, seriously? And more importantly, what does it say about so many mainstream Europeans that they are willing/able abandon the basic obligations of analytical detachment in order to embrace Chomskyite antics? And if a nutter like Chomsky is taken seriously by the European public is it then possible (to paraphrase Schlesinger) to take them seriously?

BTW, for anyone who happened to see/hear Chomsky debate Alan Dershowitz (another left-centrist who disowns Chomsky) you would have seen Dershowitz eating Noam’s lunch and walking off with his girlfriend. It was a brutal head-hanging moment for anyone who has tried believing Noam had anything of substance to say on anything other than linguistics.

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10 thoughts on “"It has long been impossible to take anything he says seriously."

  1. Chomsky shows Europe what they are already predisposed to see: wicked, decadent, corrupt ol’ America.(But seriously: now is a great time for Europe and America to come together and embrace what makes them similar–Western Values.)

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  2. Re Ronan’s ” Chomsky shows Europe what they are already predisposed to see: wicked, decadent, corrupt ol’ America,” this might be why people like Ann Coulter are so wildly popular– she shows Right-wingers what they are already predisposed to see: terrorist-loving, America-hating, taxing-and-spending liberals!

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  3. Good points by both of you–I think that phenomenon “showing X what X is predisposed to see” is what characterizes all frauds and intellectual posers (Michael Moore to Lancer’s Ann Coulter, anyone?).

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  4. No doubt, though for some reason the crazy libs don’t seem to be as popular at the crazy conservatives as far as the US goes! Rush, Coulter, Hannity, etc., draw way bigger numbers than the Air America crowd. Not sure why that is, but regardless, the phenomenon is the same as Ronan was suggesting…

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  5. Well I should comment here… I’m not a Limbaugh fan. I think he’s a bit of a bullethead. Hannity is the kind-of-but-not-very-smart jock we all knew in high school. And Coulter is an outright provacateur. But none of the three–certainly not Limbaugh or Hannity–rises to the level of Noam Chomsky for sheer lunacy. Limbaugh, for all of his bluster, usually presents argumentation that can be confronted and, if erroneous, refuted. Chomsky only offers a jumble of raving postulates grounded in not a thing but more half-baked postulates and speculations. Rush is not a right wing counterpart to Noam Chomsky. I don’t know who would be… but certainly no one that gets anywhere near the attention that Chomsky gets.

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  6. Well, I wasn’t looking for counterparts in terms of who is loonier. Rather, I was following up on Ronan’s point that Europeans might like a person who says “America is [insert crazed negative jab here]” because that’s what they want to hear. I simply noted that in the States, you have it, too. Bush haters are going to see Moore’s film because they hate bush, not because they want an expert and unwashed presentation of facts. (I want no part of that, BTW, and have never seen or read anything by Moore and co.)There’s also a <>huge<> market for right-wingers who are predisposed to enjoy comments about how liberals hate America, love terrorists, etc.Yes, Rish is a blow-hard, and much of what he says is easily-refuted (though Rush would never actually state that he was wrong about something). I don’t listen to Hannity much, but he just seems to more or less repeat RNC spin points. Coulter’s who career is built upon making obviously incorrect statements in the most obnixious way possible to people who care about neither. Laura Inghram seems to be a toned down Coulter, and so on.I’ve never read a word of Chomsky and don’t care to. But even if he’s far loonier than Rush and Coulter combined, Ronan’s point– that there are lots of people happier hearing what they want than getting to the truth– extends to both sides ot the aisle.

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  7. I’ve heard of him, but mostly in the context of nativism in linguistic theory. His arguments were pretty influential in the “cognitive revolution” and rejection of behaviorism. He’s pretty well-respected in that regard, so it’s interesting to hear your take on him as a “nutter.”

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  8. It should probably be noted that Chomsky, although a good clear thinker in math, is mostly known for his skill as a rhetorician in all fields. His taking down of Skinner’s Behavioralism happened mostly after it had been discarded and it hinges more on Chomsky’s rhetoric than contradictory data. And I don’t even like behavioralism.

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