This writer was most fortunate to get wind of a Bard College presentation, U.S. Foreign Policy In the Middle East, sponsored by Bard Students for A Just Peace In Israel-Palestine featuring Noam Chomsky. Anyone at all interested in radical analysis of American foreign policy has heard of Professor Chomsky, MIT linguistics expert and long time political activist. Before proceeding let me put forth the dictionary definition of radical: (rad' i–kəl) adj. 1 Of, proceeding from, or pertaining to the root or foundation; essential; fundamental; inherent; basic. [NOTICE: Radical does not mean "off the wall"] While the word has been overused in describing the "left" it has also been bastardized to mean "wooly headed" or worse, "dangerous" and therefore unworthy of further discussion. If one is "radical" in America, one is demonized to such an extent that no one listens to him/her. Look what happened during the last election regarding Bill Ayers, former Weatherman. The major media labeled him a radical and a terrorist (the flip side of the radical coin) without any contemplation of what he did in its proper context. Yet any acts allegedly committed by Ayers should always be discussed in context of the 60s and 70s for that was a very harrowing time during which all of the following took place: viz., a presidential assassination; a senator assassinated; a human rights leader assassinated; women were fighting for their right to be equal citizens; a draft was put in place forcing young American men into military service for the purpose of murdering 2 million Vietnamese based upon the false Gulf of Tonkin incident and a now thoroughly discredited "domino theory" (even then it was absurd); demonstrators engaging in their Constitutional right to petition the Government for redress of grievances were summarily beaten, gassed, arrested; Black Panthers were harassed and murdered by the FBI (Cointelpro operation) even as any American denouncing the policies in play were targeted for surveillance; the CIA was busy growing coups and torturing activists in Latin America (Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, etc) even as it was involved with attempted assassination of Fidel Castro in Cuba and egregiously intruding on personal lives here in America; the first "shots" of the Drug War were fired initiating an atrocious expenditure of both money and police resources resulting in inappropriately long prison sentences for marijuana users en masse even as violent crime steadily escalated due to lack of resources and police presence.
Turbulent times. Revolution was in the air. Entrenched elite interests were completely unprepared for such resistance to America's brutal expansion of Empire and, so pushed back hard and swift. In fact, Professor Chomsky mentioned how when he began in the early 1960s he needed police protection in order to speak.
Imagine that. Right here in America, in order to speak one's mind (don't forget the Constitutionally protected right of Free Speech that has existed since the early days of this nation's origin) a person needed protection from angry crowds in order to discuss issues the main stream media refused to cover. Actually, not only did the media refuse to do its job, so did many High School teachers. This writer was in advanced track classes and yet the only mention of Viet Nam was for a World History teacher to point it out on a map with only the briefest of mentions that there were Communists attempting to take control of that nation. That was it as far as discussion went. Then it was down to the Principal's office after being personally requested to visit in order to register for the Draft as was required by law. The following year, along with all other males between the ages of 18 and 25, we watched the "lottery" while hanging out in the college Student Union building; the atmosphere alternating between gigantic whooshes of relief from the "losers" and sobbing by the "winners" as birth date by birth date was drawn from a tumbler. Surreal. It was a moment in this writer's life when the criminality of America came across full throttle. Having attempted to make sense of the situation and having spent many hours researching it, clear was the fact that whatever the Viet Nam war was about, it was not about stanching the "red peril" from devouring Viet Nam. In fact, Ho Chi Minh, the leader of the Viet Cong, was a lover of the American Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. He actually used words from those documents to write his country's own. After a long struggle against French colonialism, the Vietnamese wanted their own country where they would be free to make their own decisions about what was best for them. That's it. The Vietnamese wanted freedom to choose what was best for their country and countrymen. For the Capitalistocracy of America, such desire served as a bad example, one which had to be exterminated, (Watch out Hugo Chavez!) as such effrontery just might catch on and other people of the world would want self-determination as well and if that happened, America would not be able to continue its rape and pillaging of the Third World in order to maintain a way of life to which the American people had become accustomed. Yet, it was absolutely clear that should this writer refuse to join the murder-fest via induction against his will, he would be determined a criminal and be locked up in a Federal prison.
America's Janus Justice; two-faced; elite interests served to detriment of an entire world with murder and thievery the methodologies of choice yet, protesting against such inhuman abuses warranted prison time.
Noam Chomsky spoke against America running roughshod over an entire world of people. His voice was loud in such a wilderness of conformity. And, yes, despite conventional wisdom that remembers this period as over-run with "crazies," the 60s and 70s were extremely conformative times. The "hippies" and "yippies" and "radicals" and "activists" and even "long-hairs" all combined were a distinct minority getting more than their fair share of abuse from the "straight" majority. People like to evoke the romanticism of Woodstock and Hippies wearing flowers in their hair to serve as a lens through which to view that period of history; you know, "give peace a chance…peace and love" and all the other button/bumper sticker sound bites of the times. But for those who DID question authority, protest, agitate for human rights for all peoples, march in defiance of the status quo, defy the draft, there was a huge amount of vile abuse from continual verbal harassment to actual physical assaults and, as stated, even imprisonment. America was still Doo Wop and beehive hairdos and God Bless our great nation right or wrong. Conform or pay the consequences. The 60s and 70s weren't the 60s and 70s we know today until decades later when much of what activists were fighting for actually came to fruition and were seen as mainstream values (well, except for the Republican Right who were and still are living in the 50s filled with their delusions of grandeur and superiority.)
Chomsky stood solo against all of that. He had and still maintains courage of huge magnitude. A role model of compassionate humanism to be cherished and ascribed to by anyone wishing to be considered a human being in its most majestic form.
Thus it is with saddened heart that this writer must now offer a couple other dictionary definitions: Gremlin (grem'lin) n. A mischievous, invisible imp said to ride airplanes and cause mechanical trouble. Substitute Ship of State and/or Elite Agenda for airplane and you see how Chomsky was viewed "back in the day." He was dangerous! A single man espousing humanistic viewpoints undeterred by the threat of losing his job, of physical harm, of putting his family in jeopardy, stood against a Government hell-bent on wrecking havoc all across the planet without regard to billions of people; one man threatened to reveal the hypocrisy and greed and malfeasance of our leaders and their capitalistocratic national agenda.
Today, Noam Chomsky, is no longer a gremlin. He is no longer dangerous. Noam has been rendered a gnome (nōm) n. 2 A little, old man. For, America is now surrendering to a capitalistocratic elite that knows no nation-state, no boundaries of human decency, no compassion towards a world of humans. This financial crisis created by elites serving elite interests, closes the book on America's great experiment in democracy—rule by the people –in favor of rule by the powerful few.
Revolution is just a song from "back in the day" or a new scent to be sold. The only thing in the air now, is pollution, shouted inanity, dismal prospects for the future of the human race. And to the happy-assed optimists among you: Keep smiling. Keep imagining it's all going to be alright. Keep believing that your representatives aren't out for themselves, that "business" exists to help, that the financial bailouts are really in the people's interests and not just another greedy gamblers' loss recovery program albeit the mother of all payoffs.
We Americans like to think of ourselves as born of revolutionaries, fighting for democracy, for the people, duly blessed by God and privileged by our humanity towards others. When, in reality, that America has never been, and now made obvious with the shock doctrine of disaster capitalism gaining eminence, that America and those Americans shall never be.
Not without a violent revolution by the people…