America's Intellectual No-Fly Zone
From left to right, from Chomsky to Carlson, war-skeptical voices are being denounced at levels not seen since Iraq
In a 1979 essay called, “My Speech to the Graduates,” Woody Allen wrote:
More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.
Allen was satirizing the notion that there are always good choices in life. Often, there aren’t. Sometimes the fork in the road ahead asks you to choose between different routes to hell. The late, great Gilbert Gottfried once made the same point in a standup routine about stranded missionaries just slightly less subtle than Allen’s bit.
Indomitable public intellectual Noam Chomsky gave an interview to Current Affairs last week called, “How to Prevent World War III.” Regarding Ukraine, Chomsky revisited “My Speech to the Graduates”:
There are two options with regard to Ukraine. As we know, one option is a negotiated settlement, which will offer Putin an escape, an ugly settlement. Is it within reach? We don’t know; you can only find out by trying and we’re refusing to try. But that’s one option. The other option is to make it explicit and clear to Putin and the small circle of men around him that you have no escape, you’re going to go to a war crimes trial no matter what you do. Boris Johnson just reiterated this: sanctions will go on no matter what you do. What does that mean? It means go ahead and obliterate Ukraine and go on to lay the basis for a terminal war.
Those are the two options: and we’re picking the second and praising ourselves for heroism and doing it: fighting Russia to the last Ukrainian.
Immediate shrieking outrage of course ensued (why doesn’t Twitter have a special “torch” emoji for denunciatory mobs?). Chomsky was judged a genocide-enabling, America-hating Kremlin stooge. A tiny sample:
Zack Beauchamp @zackbeauchampReading that Current Affairs interview with Chomsky, and I see why everyone's mad about the Ukraine passages. But this from Chomsky is a hell of a factual error. https://t.co/yvfylLMJMg
I reached out to Chomsky about the brouhaha. The good professor was charmingly unaware he’d set off a social media meltdown, but commented in a general way.