September 8, 2003

Chomsky in Havana

If you think you can stomach it, here is the transcipt of an interview with Noam Chomsky by Bernie Dwyer on Radio Havana, dutifully published in Z Magazine. (Via Oliver Kamm.) Here are some excerpts.

[Bernie Dwyer] A couple of new popular books have recently been published such as Weapons of Mass Deception and Stupid White Men. Do you see them as a viable alternative to the corporate media?

[Noam Chomsky] No, they are not trying to be an alternative to the corporate media. They are just books among the many books written about the way the corporate media function and there is by now, in the United States, more than any other western country that I know, a rather significant popular movement concerned with the corporate media, which is virtually all the media within the United States, and the way they function as a kind of propaganda system.

This blog is not a part of the corporate media. NPR is not a part of the corporate media. The New York Times may be corporate, but it takes a rather different editorial line than The Wall Street Journal, also corporate. There is no propaganda "system" in this country. Or perhaps I should say there are many different propaganda systems. Quite unlike the monolithic state-run system in Cuba where Chomsky is giving this interview.
[Bernie Dwyer] The recent war on Iraq and the current US occupation was fully supported by the mainstream press in the US to the extent that the media became the political wing of the Bush administration. Isnít that pushing the power of the press beyond all limits?

[Noam Chomsky] Itís hard to answer that. An independent press, of course, would not function in that fashion. You are quite right.

Here is Chomsky pulling his Jedi mind trick. Indeed, an independent press would not act as the political wing of the Bush adminstration. Therefore, Chomsky suggests, the American media is not independent. It is controlled by the Bush adminstration. Including NPR and the New York Times. This he says on state-controlled Cuban radio.

Of course, our media did not function in that fashion. Fox News and the Rush Limbaugh Show can be accused of functioning in that fashion up to a point, but they did so voluntarily. And the relentlessly anti-war New York Times did not operate in that way at all. But nevermind that. Chomsky has to trash the American free press on state-run media in a Communist dictatorship, and facts cannot get in his way.

Naturally, he can't give an interview without injecting his trademark:

The fact that the United States can label other countries as terrorist states itself is quite remarkable because it not a secret that the United States is incontrovertibly a terrorist state.
[Bernie Dwyer] You would still uphold your admiration of the Cuban system as you did before?
His admiration for the Cuban system. Savor that. And remember it.
[Noam Chomsky] As far as I am concerned, I do not pass judgement on what Cubans decide to do.
But it's okay to judge liberal democracies...
I am in favour of Cubaís successful defiance of the United States.
Thanks for the solidarity, Noam.
I am in favour of them taking matters into their own hands.
Cuba is a totalitarian dictatorship, but he doesn't mind. No, really. He doesn't.
Exactly how they carry it outÖ I have my own opinions. A lot of things I think are fine, a lot not, but itís a matter for the Cubans to decide. My concern is that the hemispheric superpower not resort to violence, pressure, force, threat, and embargo in order to prevent Cubans from deciding how to determine their own fate.
Cubans are not allowed to determine their own fate, and it isn't the United States that prevents them from doing so. They live in a prison-state from which they are not allowed to leave.

I do agree with one thing Noam Chomsky said, though not what he meant. It is a matter for Cubans to decide. Too bad when he said "Cubans" he only meant Fidel Castro.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at September 8, 2003 1:06 AM
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