Mar 28 2013

Two Justices for the “Haves” and “Have Nots”

(4 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Noam Chomsky Glenn Greenwald with Liberty and Justice For Some

Former constitutional rights lawyer Glenn Greenwald contends that the United States has a two-tiered judicial system, one for the “haves” and one for the “have-nots.” Mr. Greenwald presents his argument by tracing the evolution of judicial inequality, from President Richard Nixon’s pardon for the Watergate scandal to what the author deems were economic and political crimes committed during the George W. Bush administration. The author posits that both political parties and the media are culpable for creating an unequal judicial system. Glenn Greenwald presented his thoughts in conversation with political activist Noam Chomsky. They also responded to questions from members of the audience. This was a special event of the Harvard Book Store, held at the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

I’m including the article below by Glenn because the tactics that are employed by the powers that be and their adherents need to be exposed. Those of us who dissent from the CW are told to “sit down and shut up” because the president’s “got this.” Now, after Barack Obama has been reelected his true colors are really shining through with his appointments of torture advocates to even higher office and the revolving door of Wall St. and banking shills to protect the super wealthy. Much of what Glenn says about Noam Chomsky has also been applied to Glenn, himself, and many of us who expose the true agenda of this government. These are the tactics of the right wing used to silence the dissent during the Bush regime now being directed at those of us who have not been fooled by promise of change that will never come unless we expose it.

How Noam Chomsky is discussed

by Glenn Greenwald, The Guardian

The more one dissents from political orthodoxies, the more the attacks focus on personality, style and character

One very common tactic for enforcing political orthodoxies is to malign the character, “style” and even mental health of those who challenge them. The most extreme version of this was an old Soviet favorite: to declare political dissidents mentally ill and put them in hospitals. In the US, those who take even the tiniest steps outside of political convention are instantly decreed “crazy”, as happened to the 2002 anti-war version of Howard Dean and the current iteration of Ron Paul (in most cases, what is actually “crazy” are the political orthodoxies this tactic seeks to shield from challenge).

This method is applied with particular aggression to those who engage in any meaningful dissent against the society’s most powerful factions and their institutions. Nixon White House officials sought to steal the files from Daniel Ellsberg’s psychoanalyst’s office precisely because they knew they could best discredit his disclosures with irrelevant attacks on his psyche. Identically, the New York Times and partisan Obama supporters have led the way in depicting both Bradley Manning and Julian Assange as mentally unstable outcasts with serious personality deficiencies. The lesson is clear: only someone plagued by mental afflictions would take such extreme steps to subvert the power of the US government.

A subtler version of this technique is to attack the so-called “style” of the critic as a means of impugning, really avoiding, the substance of the critique. Although Paul Krugman is comfortably within mainstream political thought as a loyal Democrat and a New York Times columnist, his relentless attack against the austerity mindset is threatening to many. As a result, he is barraged with endless, substance-free complaints about his “tone”: he is too abrasive, he does not treat opponents with respect, he demonizes those who disagree with him, etc. The complaints are usually devoid of specifics to prevent meaningful refutation; one typical example: “[Krugman] often cloaks his claims in professional authority, overstates them, omits arguments that undermine his case, and is a bit of a bully.” All of that enables the substance of the critique to be avoided in lieu of alleged personality flaws.

Nobody has been subjected to these vapid discrediting techniques more than Noam Chomsky. [..]

Like any person with a significant political platform, Chomsky is fair game for all sorts of criticisms. Like anyone else, he should be subjected to intense critical and adversarial scrutiny. Even admirers should listen to his (and everyone else’s) pronouncements with a critical ear. Like anyone who makes prolific political arguments over the course of many years, he’s made mistakes.

But what is at play here is this destructive dynamic that the more one dissents from political orthodoxies, the more personalized, style-focused and substance-free the attacks become. That’s because once someone becomes sufficiently critical of establishment pieties, the goal is not merely to dispute their claims but to silence them. That’s accomplished by demonizing the person on personality and style grounds to the point where huge numbers of people decide that nothing they say should even be considered, let alone accepted. It’s a sorry and anti-intellectual tactic, to be sure, but a brutally effective one.

1 comment

  1. TMC

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