News | Academics

Chomsky speaks on U.S. imperialism

  • Chomsky honors said | Students had to be turned away from Thursday’s event featuring the famed linguist Noam Chomsky, as the room filled up to three times its capacity. Chomsky gave the Edward Said lecture.

According to Noam Chomsky, all U.S. leaders are schizophrenic.

Chomsky, Professor Emeritus of Linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, came to Columbia on Thursday to discuss hypocrisy and “schizophrenia” in American foreign policy from the early settlers to George W. Bush.

Chomsky, often considered one of the fathers of modern linguistics, is also well known for his controversial criticism of the United States’ actions in international politics.

At the fifth annual Edward W. Said Memorial Lecture hosted by the Heyman Center for the Humanities, Chomsky began his speech on “The Unipolar Moment and the Culture of Imperialism” by applauding Said for calling attention to America’s culture of imperialism. Said, a cultural critic and literary scholar who taught at Columbia for about three decades, died in 2003.

Though America just celebrated the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Chomsky said the commemoration ignored a glaring human rights violation that occurred only one week after the wall fell. On November 16, 1989, a U.S.-armed Atlacatl battalion assassinated six leading Latin American Jesuit priests, he explained.

Chomsky contrasted America’s self-congratulation of the Berlin Wall destruction with the resounding silence that surrounds the assassination of these priests.

He said that this was just one example of the many stains on America’s foreign policy record. Chomsky criticized the U.S. for its role in the continuing conflicts in the Middle East. Alluding to the wall dividing Israel and Gaza, he stressed the need to “dismantle the massive wall ... now snaking through Palestinian territory in violation of international law.”

Discussing the United States as an international player, he said, “To this day, the U.S. is reverentially admired as a city on a hill.” Chomsky characterized this as an imperialist policy, “a conception that we are carrying out God’s will in mysterious ways.”

He argued that the U.S. sacrifices democratic principles for its own self-interest, and tends to “focus a laser light on the crimes of enemies, but crucially we make sure to never look at ourselves.”

Democracy, he said, is “supported if it defends the strategic and economic objectives of the United States.”

Akeel Bilgrami, director of the Heyman Center for the Humanities, said in an e-mail prior to the event that they were honored to have Chomsky return for a fourth visit. “He is one of the greatest figures of public conscience of the last century,” Bilgrami said, adding that, in linguistics and philosophy, Chomsky “single-handedly generated a revolution in the subject.”

Bilgrami noted that the Heyman Center’s choice of speakers does not necessarily reflect its political views. He said, “To some extent, the choice of speakers and interests over the years have reflected the progressive, humanistic, politically radical possibilities in the study of the humanities but it has never been a political platform” and explained that any sort of agenda would “cancel out other voices and points of view.”

news@columbiaspectator.com

Comments

Plain text

  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Your username will not be displayed if checked
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Jackie232 posted on

Chomsky was somewhat sarcastically quoting Thomas Carothers regarding the "schizophrenic" leaders -- and that context is lost in this article. Carothers, a neo-Reaganite, wrote that US leaders have supported democracy, but only when it suits US economic interests. Chomsky more or less accepts that concept, but rejects Carothers' view that democracy promotion is the guiding motivation of US. So I think for Chomsky, the leaders aren't "schizophrenic"; they're simply pursuing economic and political interests.

+1
-4
-1
FollowTheFacts posted on

It's ludicrous to assume that the central, power-wielding elites, in control of the involuntary and perfectly enslaved union would be in any way shape or form interested in "democracy" - what they obviously ARE interested in, is the persuasive appearance thereof. - Few would argue against the proposition that the US is and has been for a long time, if not for its entire history, a "plutocracy" and a plutocracy must by definition act and govern against the interests of the many. Never has that been so clearly demonstrated as it is right now and has been for the last several years.
In order to quell expressions of potential opposition to such policies, the guardians of imperial ambitions and quests, deftly navigate towards sufficiently traumatizing calamities, for which they anoint themselves as the only ones qualified to protect and rescue all, thereby effectively obliterating any expressions of dissent.
Even when laughably obvious facts contradicting the narrative of the "Imperial Impetus" are readily available, do they manage to drown out whatever feeble opposition there might be. It's a brilliant and truly impressive performance these extremists and fanatics in control of the entire system are capable of and enthusiastically engage in. A culture completely dependent on falsehoods is the result.

+1
-2
-1
FollowTheFacts posted on

It's ludicrous to assume that the central, power-wielding elites, in control of the involuntary and perfectly enslaved union would be in any way shape or form interested in "democracy" - what they obviously ARE interested in, is the persuasive appearance thereof. - Few would argue against the proposition that the US is and has been for a long time, if not for its entire history, a "plutocracy" and a plutocracy must by definition act and govern against the interests of the many. Never has that been so clearly demonstrated as it is right now and has been for the last several years.
In order to quell expressions of potential opposition to such policies, the guardians of imperial ambitions and quests, deftly navigate towards sufficiently traumatizing calamities, for which they anoint themselves as the only ones qualified to protect and rescue all, thereby effectively obliterating any expressions of dissent.
Even when laughably obvious facts contradicting the narrative of the "Imperial Impetus" are readily available, do they manage to drown out whatever feeble opposition there might be. It's a brilliant and truly impressive performance these extremists and fanatics in control of the entire system are capable of and enthusiastically engage in. A culture completely dependent on falsehoods is the result.

+1
-2
-1
davekimble posted on

followthefacts is right.
You need look no further than Afghanistan, where the disdain for democracy is clear, and the fact that the US is the world's largest purchaser of heroin, while Afghanistan is the world's largest supplier, is not mentioned either by Obama in his long speech, nor by the mainstream media who are supposed to be worthy of the Freedom of the Press.

+1
+1
-1
leotolson posted on

Fat chance the 400+ American Catholic Bishops would have chirped about six Jesuits being killed by a US Batallion. There is one of them, one, who said the 911 Commission should be reopened. All the others are praying to their fat asses. There are many good works people in RC clergy lower ranks. The ones who get promoted are the bought whores. Just like in other organilzations.

+1
+2
-1
leotolson posted on

Fat chance the 400+ US Catholic Bishops would have chirped up about six Jesuit priests in Latin America getting killed by a US Batallion. In this we can be sure these Jesuits were up to some good. There are many good-works people in the lower ranks of Catholic clergy. The bishops are evidently supremely interested in their own fat asses.

+1
-3
-1
menckenlite posted on

Noam Chomsky is one of the very few academic leaders who speak out on public affairs. Why are so many tenured professors fearful of doing what Chomsky and Howard Zinn do? What is the purpose of the notion of academic freedom when so few of the educated elite share their knowledge with the rest of us? Professor Chomsky is a courageous and decent human being. About how many other tenured faculty members can that be said? Just as among elected officials there are few faculty members with spines. Politicians worry about getting re-elected. What motivates tenured faculty? Is it fear of offending their colleagues?

+1
-4
-1
bozhidar balkas posted on

Namecalling people or what they say is an ancient practise. It obnubilates situations.
I think that the cosa nostra or world plutos are now united like never before in order to obtain the planet.
We cld say there is no longer conquering lands or regions, but the entire planet; which we may call "planetarianism".
The cosa nostra gang appears highly interdependent-socialist; cosa mias, comprising 6bn+ appear highly dependent and disunified.
This simplicity cannot be made simpler;we've hit the rock bottom and cannot dig any deeper

+1
+1
-1