Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Chomsky Bashing

Expressing admiration or respect for Noam Chomsky these days can get a person into a lot of trouble. Chomsky is a popular target for ridicule and denigration from folks on both the right and the left.

While I don’t consider myself a Chomskyite or any such thing, I do acknowledge that he has influenced my political thought over time and I continue to hold him in high regard as an intellectual heavyweight of the Left. That doesn’t mean I agree with everything he says or endorse all of his positions. Nor do I wish to defend all of his past controversial statements or make apologies for his mistakes. But I do like to read his thoughts on current issues. To that end, I find it interesting that he now keeps a blog which is updated fairly regularly and even allows for comments.

As an illustration of the unifying effect that Chomsky-bashing can have, I was amused to read the following exchange the other day by two frequent commenters at All Things Conservative in which they suddenly found themselves in agreement after going at one another for several rounds.

“I'm no fan of that putz Noam Chomsky,” declared commenter Libertas. “I am a socially conservative Libertarian. This is the direct opposite end of every spectrum from Chomsky's Atheistic Socialist totalitarianism.”

“It's a relief to know you are no Chomskyite,” chimed in commenter X “That was perplexing me. Someone so evenhanded, reasonable and generous in debate could not possibly be a Noam fan.”

It was almost touching the way these two fierce debating opponents were suddenly able to find common ground in their mutual disdain for Professor Chomsky. Maybe that has been Chomsky’s secret plan all along, to bring people with divergent views together by giving them a common enemy to despise. But, then again, maybe not.

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