dimanche, décembre 11, 2005

Harold Pinter et Alan Dershowitz

Dans l'envoi de cette fin de semaine de Counterpunch, L'habituel édito d'Alexander Cockburn porte en partie sur le remarquable discours d'acceptation du Nobel 2005 de littérature par Harold Pinter
I refer to Indonesia, Greece, Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay, Haiti, Turkey, the Philippines, Guatemala, El Salvador, and, of course, Chile. [...] Hundreds of thousands of deaths took place throughout these countries. Did they take place? And are they in all cases attributable to US foreign policy? The answer is yes they did take place and they are attributable to American foreign policy. But you wouldn't know it.

It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn't happening. It didn't matter. It was of no interest. The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It's a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.

I put to you that the United States is without doubt the greatest show on the road.
Harold Pinter is by no means the first eloquent enemy of the American Empire to have got the Nobel Prize for literature. In 1967 for example, when revulsion was rising across the world at the U.S.­inflicted bloodbath in Vietnam, the committee picked the Guatemalan writer, Miguel Asturias, whose work was notable for its savage depictions of the US-backed destruction of democracy in Guetemala in 1954, at the instigation of the United Fruit Company. (Asked for its reaction to Asturias' selection, United Fruit's high command said stiffly that it had never heard of Asturias and would have no comment.)

I can't find the text of Asturias' acceptance speech, but I would guess that it didn't rival the intensity and fury of Pinter's depictions of the ravages of the American Empire since 1945. It was as though the works of Noam Chomsky had been compacted into one searing rhetorical lightening bolt. It will go into the history books, alongside such imperishable excoriations of empire as the speeches Thucidides put into the mouths of the Melians, and Tacitus into the mouth of Calgacus.

All the News That's Fit to Buy, Alexander Cockburn, 10 décembre 2005

Dans ce billet, indirectement celui-ci, je tentais de cerner le cas Dershowitz, dont la performance (échantillon tout autre à 49:55) contre Chomsky n'a pas étonné: 'comportement immature, scandaleux et mensonges flagrants', tiré du Counterpunch de ce mercredi.

Il était une fois...
Barsamian: But what about these attacks? How do you respond? How can you respond?

Chomsky: You really can't. There's no way to respond. Slinging mud always works. Again, it's partly institutional, but in this case partly personal, too. In the case of the Berkeley professors, the letter came out about six weeks after I was there, and it was a letter, remember, to bookstores, saying that they should not allow this stuff to be heard. I've also been told, although I'm not certain, that there was an attempt to get them to withdraw my books from the stores. I think that's very understandable and I appreciate it. These are people who know perfectly well that they don't like what I say. They know that they don't have either the competence or the knowledge to respond, so the only thing to do is to shut it up, prevent it from being heard because you can't respond to it. Therefore you say I supported the PLO, etc. Most of them probably don't know what I said about anything. But the author of the letter, Robert Alter, knows perfectly well that I condemned the PLO for those atrocities, probably more harshly, certainly more knowledgeably than he did. But that doesn't matter. Facts are irrelevant.

Turning to Dershowitz, there's partly the same story. Again, he knows that he can't respond to what I say. He doesn't have the knowledge or the competence to deal with the issues. Therefore, the idea is to try to shut it up by throwing as much slime as you can. There's a famous story attributed to Sam Ervin, a conservative Senator, who once said that as a young lawyer he had learned that if the law is against you, concentrate on the facts. If the facts are against you, concentrate on the law. And if both the facts and the law are against you, denounce your opposing counsel. Dershowitz is not very bright, but he understands that much. If you can't answer on the facts and if you can't answer on the principles, you better throw dirt. In his case there happens to also be a personal reason.

He's been on a personal jihad for the last twenty years, ever since I exposed him for lying outright in a vicious personal attack on a leading Israeli civil libertarian. Despite pretenses, he's strongly opposed to civil liberties. Using his position as a Harvard law professor, he referred to what the Israeli courts had determined. But he was just lying flat outright. This was in the Boston Globe (April 29, 1973). I wrote a short letter refuting it (May 17). He then came back (on May 25,) accusing everybody of lying and challenging me to quote from the court records. He never believed I had them, but of course I did. I quoted the court records in response (June 5). He then tried to brazen it out again. It finally ended up with my sending the transcript of the court records to the Globe ombudsman, who didn't know what to do any more with people just taking opposite positions. I translated them for him, and suggested that he pick his own expert to check the translations. The ombudsman finally told Dershowitz they wouldn't publish any more letters of his because he had been caught flat out lying about it.

Ever since then he's been trying to get even, so there's just one hysterical outburst after another. That's not surprising, either. He's basically a clown. In that case there's a personal issue overlaying the political issue, which is much more interesting. This personal stuff is not interesting. But if you look at the Anti-Defamation League or the Berkeley professors, and there are plenty of others, it's the Sam Ervin story. You know you can't deal with the material. Either you ignore it, or if you can't ignore it, then defame the speaker. That's the only way you can deal with it if you don't have the brains or the knowledge or you just know your position can't be defended. I think that's understandable, and in a sense you can appreciate it. That's just the hallmark of the commissar.

Noam Chomsky, Chronicles of Dissent

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