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Noam Chomsky & MIT/Massachusetts Institute of Technology


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I have a slightly different 'take' on Chomsky. I think he is good on what he is good on and has a 'blind-spot' on the 'rest'.

Like Peter Lemkin, I have read a good deal of Chomsky's work and attended one of his lectures. His best work speaks for itself, and he seems unafraid of any topic, save one: conspiracy. Peter calls this a "blind spot," which is both charitable and an overwhelming understatement.

As the good man has said himself:

"The JFK assassination has engendered a kind of cult-like reaction, and ordinarily rational people act in what seem to me very strange ways."

Ain't it the truth, though?

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CRAZY, are we???

Peter Dale Scott offers a rather insightful mini-analysis of Chomsky's and Howard Zinn's shared distaste for pro-conspiracy public comments by "significant" progressives.

The fatal flaw in NC's JFK assassination analysis is his slavish adherence to a sum-equals-parts conception of human nature. As I read Chomsky, he argues that the corrupt system that had elevated Kennedy to the presidency would not have needed to replace the figurehead which it had spawned, nurtured, and, on 11/22/63, yet controlled.

There is no room in Chomsky's world for the X-Factor: the awakening of the spiritual impulse.

JFK exhibited just such a metamorphosis. Hence the need for the self-correcting system to act on its own behalf by removing and replacing a flawed part.

Was the Cold Warrior who signed off on the Bay of Pigs invasion the same man who, some 26 months later, reminded us that "we are all mortal"?

Edited by Charles Drago
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Noam Chomsky is an agent of disinformation? Give me a break.

Let me get this straight...despite decades upon decades of protests, lectures, books and talks all aimed at shining a bright light on the (often) criminal actions of the U.S. government and its foreign policies, it's all an act...Chomsky is a mouthpiece for the CIA/military industrial complex...right?

I guess it's irrelevant that he's written extensively about CIA torture and the sponsorship of coups in Latin America and around the world. Chomsky's excellent work has given academic backbone to what most of the world simply accepts to be fact: the U.S. behaves often as a terrorist nation with no regard for international law.

Why doesn't Chomsky accept a conspiracy in the death of JFK? For one thing, we don't actually know if he does or not. Given that he is already considered on the "fringe" by the mainstream media (at least in the United States), maybe he doesn't want to be labeled or pigeon-holed any more that he already is. Finally, even if Chomsky DID accept there was a conspiracy to kill JFK, he wouldn't say so because it invalidates much of his theorizing as to how this country (and all states) function. Chomsky believes the violence, war-making policies and criminality of our government and military are SYSTEMIC problems that have to do with power structures, not necessarily the individuals who run them. A conspiracy to kill Kennedy is almost irrelevant to this point of view, as it simply means replacing one "war criminal" with another.

It's also possible Chomsky hasn't really studied the case at any length. In the end, we don't know, but to call him an agent of disinformation is just plain ridiculous.

It is true that most of the first group to argue that their was a conspiracy to kill JFK were on the left: Thomas Buchanan, Joachim Joesten, Mark Lane, Bertrand Russell, Ralph Schoenman, Carl Marzani, etc. In fact, the tactics of the FBI/CIA was to claim that the attacks on the Warren Report was part of a communist conspiracy to blame the far right for the killing of JFK.

However, over the years, most left-wing political commentators have shown little interest in the JFK assassination. There are several reasons for this:

(1) Most left-wing intellectuals are Marxists. They believe the problem (and solution) of capitalism is located in the economic structure of the system. They are not terrible interested in studying in any detail the death of one man.

(2) They do not accept that JFK was a left-wing leader who needed to be removed to preserve capitalism. They tend to see the JFK assassination as a falling out within the elite who run the United States. JFK may indeed have been killed as a result of a conspiracy but as a subject it holds little interest for them.

(3) An awareness that to become involved in promoting conspiracy theories will undermine your credibility as a “scientific thinker”.

I suspect all three of these points have influenced people like Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn to develop an attitude of “indifference” to the JFK assassination.

I agree with Michael McMahon that it is ridiculous to then state Chomsky is a disinformation agent. For that to be true, he would have had to make detailed statements on the case. Instead, he has only shown indifference.

However, I do believe that some figures on the left have been “disinformation agents”. It would have been vitally important in 1963/64 for Operation Mockingbird to have recruited left-wing journalists for this task. As Tom Braden, the CIA official who spent a lot of money bribing politicians and journalists during the 1950s pointed out, you don’t need to spend money on those who hold right-wing views. They do your job automatically. To be a successful recruiter of disinformation agents, you need to concentrate your resources on left-wing figures.

Thomas Buchanan, Joachim Joesten, Mark Lane, Bertrand Russell, Ralph Schoenman, did a very good job of suggesting that the “far right” had been involved in a conspiracy to kill JFK. Therefore, they needed left-wing journalist to counter this claim. Who better than I.F. Stone for this task?

This is what he wrote on the publication of the Warren Commission on 5th October, 1964:

All my adult life as a newspaperman I have been fighting, in defense of the Left and of a sane politics, against conspiracy theories of history, character assassination, guilt by association and demonology. Now I see elements of the Left using these same tactics in the controversy over the Kennedy assassination and the Warren Commission Report. I believe the Commission has done a first-rate job, on a level that does our country proud and is worthy of so tragic an event. I regard the case against Lee Harvey Oswald as the lone killer of the President as conclusive. By the nature of the case, absolute certainty will never be attained, and those still convinced of Oswald's innocence have a right to pursue the search for evidence which might exculpate him. But I want to suggest that this search be carried on in a sober manner and with full awareness of what is involved.

The Joesten book is rubbish, and Carl Marzani - whom I defended against loose charges in the worst days of the witch hunt - ought to have had more sense of public responsibility than to publish it. Thomas G. Buchanan, another victim of witch hunt days, has gone in for similar rubbish in his book, Who Killed Kennedy? You couldn't convict a chicken thief on the flimsy slap-together of surmise, half-fact and whole untruth in either book.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAstoneIF.htm

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=12116

Now that is the work of a disinformation agent.

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As the good man has said himself:

"The JFK assassination has engendered a kind of cult-like reaction, and ordinarily rational people act in what seem to me very strange ways."

Ain't it the truth, though?

____________________________________

Hell yes. Make me stay up all night sometime, even.

--Thomas

____________________________________

Edited by Thomas Graves
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I have a slightly different 'take' on Chomsky. I think he is good on what he is good on and has a 'blind-spot' on the 'rest'.

Like Peter Lemkin, I have read a good deal of Chomsky's work and attended one of his lectures. His best work speaks for itself, and he seems unafraid of any topic, save one: conspiracy. Peter calls this a "blind spot," which is both charitable and an overwhelming understatement.

As the good man has said himself:

"The JFK assassination has engendered a kind of cult-like reaction, and ordinarily rational people act in what seem to me very strange ways."

Ain't it the truth, though?

Now let me see. An ordinary person is "rational" until he or she begins to question our lying government. I too have read a fair amount of Chomsky, as well as attended a couple of his lectures and while I would not go so far as to call him a disinformation agent, I am most troubled by his "work" on this case. It goes way beyond a "blind spot". The man is far too intelligent to be that blind. And he has studied this case enough to have an opinion: the one opinion that someone with even a grain of intelligence quickly abandons. (He has even written a fair amount on this matter). John is correct in his analysis of Chomsky, up to a point, then I think we are dealing with something beyond adhering to one's status in the left. On this issue he is either irrational or a disinformationist, in my opinion. (If he truly cannot see that JFK CHANGED profoundly and thus became a threat to the very cold warriers that Chomsky has written so elequently about his thinking ability is in question, imho).

Dawn

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Perhaps the most telling flaw in Chomsky's approach to analysis of what happened in Dallas is his consistent refusal to consider evidence from a criminologist's perspective.

Or, if you will, to play the CSI game.

As we know, the basic medical, photographic, recorded audio, eyewitness, earwitness, and other forensic evidence in the agregate prove conspiracy beyond all doubt and to the degree of metaphysical certitude. I have every reason to believe that Chomsky, once he began to study that evidence, quickly would accept the truth of how JFK was killed.

But then what? On to the who and why of the crime?

Not likely. Chomsky has bigger fish to fry.

Or so he thinks.

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Thomas Buchanan, Joachim Joesten, Mark Lane, Bertrand Russell, Ralph Schoenman, did a very good job of suggesting that the “far right” had been involved in a conspiracy to kill JFK. Therefore, they needed left-wing journalist to counter this claim. Who better than I.F. Stone for this task?

This is what he wrote on the publication of the Warren Commission on 5th October, 1964:

All my adult life as a newspaperman I have been fighting, in defense of the Left and of a sane politics, against conspiracy theories of history, character assassination, guilt by association and demonology. ....

Now that is the work of a disinformation agent.

I am not convinced that Stone was a CONSCIOUS disinformation agent. Stone had been a voice of sanity during the Red Scare of the late 40's and fifties when the words "communist" and "conspiracy" were virtually synonymous. Early reports out of Dallas, inspired by DA Henry Wade, had encouraged people to suspect that the assassination was the work of a communist conspiracy, thus the Warren Commission conclusion of "No Conspiracy" was a relief for Stone and others on the left.

I suggest that Stone, as a loyal American concerned about his country's image (and self-image) felt that

"It was important to show the world that America is not a banana republic, where a government can be changed by conspiracy."

(John J. McCloy quoted by Epstein, "Inquest").

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There is no room in Chomsky's world for the X-Factor: the awakening of the spiritual impulse.

JFK exhibited just such a metamorphosis. Hence the need for the self-correcting system to act on its own behalf by removing and replacing a flawed part.

Was the Cold Warrior who signed off on the Bay of Pigs invasion the same man who, some 26 months later, reminded us that "we are all mortal"?

No, he wasn't. Valid point. That's why they couldn't take a risk with RFK, imo.

I'd like to see Noam explain that away.

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...

I suspect all three of these points have influenced people like Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn to develop an attitude of “indifference” to the JFK assassination.

I agree with Michael McMahon that it is ridiculous to then state Chomsky is a disinformation agent. For that to be true, he would have had to make detailed statements on the case. Instead, he has only shown indifference.

...

How is it even possible to attempt the "indifference" defense? Especially in light of the fact that Chomsky wrote a book on the subject of alleged "indifference" titled "Rethinking Camelot: Jfk, the Vietnam War, and U.S. Political Culture."

And given that I already reported that fact in post #12 in this thread, can you be unaware of that fact John? Or are you simply ignoring it like Chomsky ignores, or misrepresents, the existence of NSAM #263 along with the McNamara/Taylor report which ordered all US personnel out of Vietnam?

The premise of the Chomsky book is this:

"From Publishers Weekly

Veteran critic/activist Chomsky ( Deterring Democracy ) analyzes the issue most prominently posed in Oliver Stone's film JFK : was President Kennedy a secret dove whose assassination extinguished a chance to end the Vietnam War?...One of Kennedy's trusted, dovish advisors described the president in September 1963 as supporting the war, and Chomsky calls the record on this issue consistent."

http://www.amazon.com/Rethinking-Camelot-V...5364&sr=8-1

From an Amazon review:

" An succinct rebutal to the theory JFK was going to withdraw., September 19, 1998 By coolbunny.com (Norwood, NJ United States)

Although I do not always find Chomsky's political analyses persuasive, this book is a well-presented, sharp rebutal to the theory that JFK planned to pull the US out of Vietnam... At the very least Chomsky raises serious questions which must be answered by anyone claiming that John Kennedy had already decided to pull the US out of Vietnam, but was assassinated before being able to do so."

From another review:

"In a sharply argued, thoroughly researched book, Noam Chomsky shreds the notion that JFK was some kind of angel who would have ended the Vietnam War by bringing the US armed forces out of Vietnam, and letting the Vietnamese win. Rather, as Chomsky shows all too clearly, Kennedy was the criminal who escalated this war into outright aggression, and planned to withdraw - after victory. ..."

And finally, my personal favorite:

"Chomsky's pseudo-dissidence is revealed by, among many other lies found throughout his oeuvre, his repeated insistence upon the CIA's unwavering fidelity to successive Presidents. Where the evidence is contrary, he ignores it. Nowhere is the suppression more systematic than in Rethinking Camelot: JFK, the Vietnam War, and US Political Culture. Consider, in particular, his Stalinoid survey of the Vietnam coverage of the New York Times from October 3 to December 4, 1963 (in this paperback edition, pp.82-83). One omission, among many, will suffice.

...

Chomsky was, and remains, the creation and creature of the Central Intelligence Agency. Rethinking Camelot represented the cashing of the CIA's most important dissident chip in its unending war against both genuine dissent, and JFK's memory. It is a measure of the fear, corruption and cowardice prevalent in mainstream Anglo-American academia and media that Chomsky's imposture has gone unchallenged for so long."

Posted by Paul Rigby, October 1, 2005

Here's why the subject of President Kennedy's intentions with Vietnam matters so much.

"There can be no question, then, if we stick to the record, as Chomsky rightly insists we do, that Kennedy had decided and planned to pull out, had begun to implement those plans, and that Johnson subsequently reversed them."

http://educate-yourself.org/cn/morrisseych...etnam1993.shtml

"The point is crucial. If one manages to say, as Chomsky and others (Michael Albert in Z, Alexander Cockburn in The Nation) do, that in truth there was no change in policy, that in fact there never was a withdrawal policy but only a withdrawal policy conditional on victory (until after Tet), and that therefore Johnson and Nixon simply continued what Kennedy started, then the question of the relation of the policy change (since there wasn't one) to the assassination does not arise.

...

The reason is clear. Once you admit that there was a radical policy change in the months following the assassination, whether that change was a reaction to a (presumed) change in conditions or not, you must ask if the change was related to the assassination, unless you are a fool. Then, like it or not, you are into conspiracy theory--which is anathema to the leftist intellectual tradition that Chomsky represents."

[Emphasis mine.]

That is why, IMO, this subject is so important to Chomsky that, far from being "indifferent," he wrote a book on it. And that is why, IMO, Chomsky is such a valuable assett to the CIA. He is a human limited hangout. He may admit to US imperialism and corporate dominance, in general and vague terms. Not much going out on a limb there. But he will NOT admit that corporate backed gangsters took over the government in 1963. That is THE specific and detailed truth we are not to know. Because, as Michael Morrissey says so well:

"Chomsky admits that a "high-level conspiracy" theory makes sense if "coupled with the thesis that JFK was undertaking radical policy changes, or perceived to be by policy insiders." Rethinking Camelot is devoted to refuting this thesis."

It is critical to the conspirators still running the government that radical policy change not be tied to the aftermath of President Kennedy's murder. Because radical policy change is an obvious motive.

Chomsky helps the regime deny the obvious motive.

Edited by Myra Bronstein
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...

I suspect all three of these points have influenced people like Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn to develop an attitude of “indifference” to the JFK assassination.

I agree with Michael McMahon that it is ridiculous to then state Chomsky is a disinformation agent. For that to be true, he would have had to make detailed statements on the case. Instead, he has only shown indifference.

...

How is it even possible to attempt the "indifference" defense? Especially in light of the fact that Chomsky wrote a book on the subject of alleged "indifference" titled "Rethinking Camelot: Jfk, the Vietnam War, and U.S. Political Culture."

And given that I already reported that fact in post #12 in this thread, can you be unaware of that fact John? Or are you simply ignoring it like Chomsky ignores, or misrepresents, the existence of NSAM #263 along with the McNamara/Taylor report which ordered all US personnel out of Vietnam?

My comment about indifference concerned the possibility of a conspiracy to assassinate JFK not his policy in Vietnam.

I have posted many times on this forum that I believe JFK planned to pull out of Vietnam. Therefore, I disagree with Chomsky on this issue. However, this does not make Chomsky a “disinformation agent”. Historians are deeply divided about JFK’s Vietnam policy. The sources provide contradictory information. The same is true concerning his views on Cuba. JFK public statements suggested he was a hawk whereas it seems that he was involved in secret negotiations via Jean Daniel and Lisa Howard. As a result, historians disagree about him. Was he a dove or a cold war warrior?

The problem is that JFK was not a straightforward politician. In 1960 he sent Robert Kennedy down to the Deep South to tell senior figures in the Democratic Party that he did not intend to introduce any civil rights legislation. He also sent out letters to Texas politicians and business men that the “oil depletion allowance” was safe if he became president. Yet, in the final months he argued for civil rights legislation and oil depletion allowance reform. However, some historians argue that he was not really serious about these matters as he knew they would be defeated by Congress. After all, he had already sacked Harris Wofford, his civil rights advisor because he was “too passionate” about the subject.

Like Chomsky I was opposed to JFK’s policy on civil rights, Vietnam and Cuba during his presidency. To me he was a a right-wing cold war warrior. Like Chomsky I was not particularly interested in the subject of the JFK assassination as it seemed at the time to be a dispute between different factions within the political elite.

It is only in recent years, with the release of secret documents that has allowed historians on the left, to reassess JFK’s presidency. This has encouraged the view that JFK posed a serious threat to the status quo and that he might have been assassinated on the orders of powerful forces in the US.

People on the left like Chomsky and Zinn are not willing to reassess JFK. I suspect that the main reason is psychological. When you have spent so much energy attacking someone as a “cold war warrior” in the 1960s, it is hard to accept that he was really a secret “dove”. Especially, when they believed he came close to triggering a nuclear war in October 1962. These were indeed emotional times that marked people for ever.

The unwillingness of Chomsky to involve himself in the investigation of the assassination of JFK is not an example of him being a “disinformation agent”. We all have limited time available. Anyway, who would pay Chomsky to take this position? I would have thought it would be to the advantage of the ruling elite for Chomsky to become involved in arguing that there was a conspiracy to kill JFK. He could then be classified in the same way as Thomas Buchanan, Joachim Joesten, Mark Lane, Bertrand Russell, Ralph Schoenman, Carl Marzani, etc were in the 1960s, as part of a communist conspiracy to blame the far right for the killing of JFK.

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[...] JFK CHANGED profoundly [...]

_______________________________________

Maybe it was a result of the acid trip(s) he is alleged to have taken with Mary Pinchot Meyer.

--Thomas

_______________________________________

Edited by Thomas Graves
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[...] JFK CHANGED profoundly [...]

_______________________________________

Maybe it was a result of the acid trip(s) he is alleged to have taken with Mary Pinchot Meyer.

--Thomas

_______________________________________

Thomas,

I know you were jesting, but if he did take a trip with Mary Meyer (and I think he probably did), then it detracted from his performance as President not one bit.

He had successfully resolved the steel dispute, the Cuban missile crisis, the Berlin crisis, established a real time connection with the Soviet leadership, and signed off on the nuclear test ban treaty with them in August. World leaders were regarding him with increasing respect.

He had the support of the labor movement and was well ahead in the polls. The prospects for re-election were good.

Some might consider that a cautious experiment in expanding one's consciousness the natural recourse of an inquiring mind. Such an adventure would not be for everyone but as far as I can tell, it had no adverse effect on JFK's judgement.

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[...] JFK CHANGED profoundly [...]

_______________________________________

Maybe it was a result of the acid trip(s) he is alleged to have taken with Mary Pinchot Meyer.

--Thomas

_______________________________________

Thomas,

I know you were jesting, but if he did take a trip with Mary Meyer (and I think he probably did), then it detracted from his performance as President not one bit.

He had successfully resolved the steel dispute, the Cuban missile crisis, the Berlin crisis, established a real time connection with the Soviet leadership, and signed off on the nuclear test ban treaty with them in August. World leaders were regarding him with increasing respect.

He had the support of the labor movement and was well ahead in the polls. The prospects for re-election were good.

Some might consider that a cautious experiment in expanding one's consciousness the natural recourse of an inquiring mind. Such an adventure would not be for everyone but as far as I can tell, it had no adverse effect on JFK's judgement.

________________________________________

Mark,

No, I wasn't jesting. (And I agree with you, totally.)

--Thomas

________________________________________

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