Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Hitchens vs Chomsky Again

Since we're talking so much about Chomsky lately some may be interested to see his comments on the execution of OBL and Hitchens reaction to those comments.

Hitchens tried to generate a spat with Chomsky before and I think Chomsky's reaction was right. He offered a minimalist reply and then just dropped it. Because what you are dealing with in Hitchens is a guy that doesn't want to deal with Chomsky's arguments as stated. It's straw man and outrage. That's a waste of time. If your critic won't read what you write and respond to your position as stated why would he read your attempt to correct the misread?

Hitchens first tries to associate Chomsky with 9-11 conspiracy theorists, which is something Chomsky expressly rejects. Hitchens pretends Chomsky thinks it's no more likely that bin Laden is responsible for 9-11 than it is that Chomsky won the Boston Marathon. That's just not what Chomsky is saying. He's using the claim about the Boston Marathon to illustrate that we must be cautious about people taking credit in some cases because of the desire to boast. He makes the same point in this contentions and fun interview (point regarding boasting starts at 1:38). I think I've heard Chomsky say that he does believe bin Laden was responsible. In other words that would be a good guess. But we should do better than a good guess. It really is possible he is not responsible, like he claimed in the immediate aftermath of the event.

Chomsky claims there's little evidence of bin Laden's guilt. Hitchens says there is and offers sources. I'm unaware of any substantial evidence. Maybe it's buried in one of the book Hitchens refers to.


Chomsky elaborates


Chad said...

When my favorite baseball went missing I knew that my brother did it - I couldn't prove it and he denied it to me, my parents and my friends - but he did it or at the very least he was the mastermind behind that ball being gone. He also broke or took other things of mine, but that baseball was special. So when the time came to get even with him it happened and it happened big time. I piled up hundreds of rocks in a specific spot next to a patch of grass I had to mow and I waited until he was standing next to that pile of rocks and I - without pause or remorse - dropped that lawn mower down directly over those rocks. It was a shooting gallery of rocks that embedded themselves in his skin from his shoulders to his ankles. He never took a single thing of mine ever again and neither did his friends.

Usama Bin Laden was guilty, if not of 911 directly then he certainly was tied to that indirectly. He was also tied to other terriost acts and he declared war on the USA. Setting aside the Obama hypocrisy about how it was done - his death or murder was justified and God was watching.

Jon said...

It's always good to get justice. But the process matters.

The founders of our country realized that by putting limits on government, making sure they followed the legal process instead of just executing what they regard as justice with no constraints, this actually makes us less safe from criminals. Sometimes the police have a really strong suspicion that the criminal is in the house, but they don't have a warrant, so they can't go in. That makes us all less safe from criminals.

But the alternative is a government that doesn't have constraints. They can do whatever they want. That reduces the danger from the criminals but increases the danger from your own government which is an even greater threat to you. The founders came from a world where the government had that unconstrained ability to execute justice. The cost of that system is very high.

When you tell your government that they have no limits they keep you safe today by killing OBL. But who's going to keep you safe tomorrow when your own government is threatening you? Now there is no process that limits their behavior.

Chad said...

Agreed, but ....and you know the rest.

Anonymous said...

Chomsky = Wrong.
Hitchens = Wrong sometimes, right sometimes.

Winner = Hitchens.