Chomsky, bin Laden and the struggle for a shining future
Translation by Małgorzata Koraszewska and Sarah Lawson
On Friday, May 6, a towering figure of the left, Noam Chomsky, published his comments on the tragic death of Osama bin Laden in the magazine Guernica. There the learned linguist expresses great doubt whether bin Laden’s statement about his own responsibility for the attack on the World Trade Center can be taken seriously. According to Chomsky, Obama was lying when he said, after the operation in which an unarmed man was killed, that the United States quickly learned that the attacks on the WTC were carried out by al Qaeda; after all, even “the head of the FBI, Robert Mueller, informed the press that after the most intensive investigation in history, the FBI could say no more than that it ‘believed’ that the plot was hatched in Afghanistan, though implemented in the UAE and Germany.”
In the same paragraph Chomsky reminds us that the Taliban offered to “extradite bin Laden if they were presented with evidence—which, as we soon learned, Washington didn’t have.” And does not have until today, whereas “bin Laden’s ‘confession,’ … is rather like my confession that I won the Boston Marathon”.
The rest of Chomsky’s arguments are easy to guess: travesty of justice, murder, “how we would be reacting if Iraqi commandos landed at George W. Bush’s compound, assassinated him, and dumped his body in the Atlantic,” etc.
On Tuesday, May 9, in Slate, Christopher Hitchens responded. Hitchens, who as a foreign correspondent knows the Middle East and has its number. It is no wonder that Chomsky’s deliberations reminded him of all those hundreds of times when he had heard that Americans or Jews themselves organized attacks on the WTC in order to get their hands on oil and satisfy their lust for harming Muslims. Certainly even in the West there is no shortage of similarly deranged people, and in a special place among them is a former British intelligence, agent David Shayler, who claims that no attacks took place at all, and to add to the wackiness announced his own divinity.
Hitchens reminds us that 10 years ago Chomsky did believe that Al-Qaeda organized the attack on the WTC but then he limited himself to minimizing the attack by claiming that the crimes of the West were much, much greater so there was nothing special about it.
Chomsky – Christopher Hitchens writes –still enjoys a good reputation among intellectuals. He claims incessantly that he is “turning to the facts.” However he does not show an elementary knowledge of facts presented in official investigations; it appears that he never read the transcripts of the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called “20th hijacker”, or followed the journalistic investigations of Lawrence Wright, Peter Bergen, or John Burns.
With the paranoid anti-war “left,” you never quite know where the emphasis is going to fall next. […] And America is an incarnation of the Third Reich that doesn’t even conceal its genocidal methods and aspirations. This is the sum total of what has been learned, by the guru of the left, in the last decade – concludes Hitchens.
It is astonishing sometimes to what a degree Chomsky and his ilk echo fanatical Muslim clerics. The same Friday when Chomsky published his article, in Al-Nour Mosque in Cairo people were praying for the death to America, for Paradise for bin Laden, and for death to Obama. Of course, just to round things up, they also chanted “Khaybar, Khaybar, oh Jews, the army of Muhammad will return”. (A clip with those prayers can be watched here.)
In Al-Aqsa Mosque the preacher extolling Osama bin Laden announced that Bush and Obama soon will be hanging on the gallows.
Today, the dogs of the West are rejoicing at the killing of one of the lions of Islam. Today, the West rejoices at the killing of one of the lions of Islam. We say to them, from the Al-Aqsa Mosque, from the heart of the Caliphate, which, Allah willing, is soon to come: Dogs should not rejoice at the killing of lions. A country of dogs will always remain a country of dogs, while a lion remains a lion even after it is killed.
This concurrence of opinion was still more visible in an address by Dr. Salah Al-Din Sultan, a member of International Union of Muslim Scholars, headed by Sheik Yousef Al-Qaradhawi. In an article posted on the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood website, he explained that while the U.S. committed terror in the service of hegemony, oppression and tyranny, bin Laden raised the banner of jihad for the sake of Allah and he served a lofty goal, even if he did it in a misguided way.
Bin Laden’s terrorism raised the banner of jihad for the sake of Allah after the Islamic countries had renounced it as part of their resistance to Zionism in Palestine, to communism in Afghanistan, and to Hinduism in Kashmir. [True], bin Laden may have rushed in to things without first consulting the clerics and preachers of the ummah. He exercised independent discretion in matters of religious law and erred in some of his deeds. But the terrorism of the U.S. [is much worse because it] is essentially hegemony over money and power aimed at humiliating the regimes and peoples, at stealing the good of their [lands], plundering their resources, and producing tyrants in our Arab and Islamic world.
It is not known who is pilfering from whom: Noam Chomsky from Islamic scholars or Islamic scholars from Noam Chomsky? Of course, Chomsky cannot use the Koran in a similarly beautiful way, and his Marxism reaches only the most sophisticated. Dr Sultan wrote:
Bin Laden’s terrorism started out under the slogan, ‘Strike terror into the hearts of the enemies of Allah and your enemies [Koran 8:60],’ while the terrorism of the U.S. was and still is [waged] under the slogan, ‘I am your Lord, the Highest [Koran 79:24],’ and, ‘I will cut off your hands and feet on opposite sides, and I will have you crucified on trunks of palm-trees: so shall ye know for certain, which of us can give the more severe and the more lasting punishment [Koran 20:71].’ [i]
Allegedly, CNN conducted a 20-minute interview with a former British lawyer currently living on social benefits, the unemployed Muslim Sheik Anjem Choudary and his followers. (The mysterious “allegedly” comes from the fact that the interview can be seen only on Choudary’s website, not on CNN’s.)
This well-known British unemployed lawyer believes that bin Laden is the first of a whole new generation that will be remembered for centuries. Al-Qaeda, created by him, spread jihad all over the Muslim world.
I do believe that Sheikh Osama bin Laden is the revivalist of this century. Allah tells us that every 100 years he will send someone to revive the religion of Islam, so I think he revived the concept of worshiping Allah alone; the concept of there are two camps in the world – the camp of believers and the camp of disbelievers – and the idea, the concept of jihad – to liberate Muslim land, to defend life, honor, and property, and to spread Islam all over the world. That is something which I think was in our divine text, but he brought it to the fore, and people talk about it now in normal conversations. So he is a very significant figure. I don’t think that any Muslim can say that, truthfully, he did not have an impact in their lives.
The proletariat is no more to raise the banner of the revolution and to overthrow capitalism in the name of a shining future, so now this can be done by the differently-excluded. The function of the proletariat can be taken over by unemployed lawyers from London, because if not they, then who?
One of the disciples of the unemployed lawyer from London, asked how he got to hear about bin Laden, answered:
I was introduced to the name Osama bin Laden shortly after the 9/11 attacks. Before that I didn’t really know who he was. But when 9/11 did occur it forced me to inquire about who this person was, what his message was about, and I realized this man – he was someone who stands up for the truth.
Noam Chomsky does not answer directly to questions of who Osama bin Laden was and still is for him. Only indirectly we can guess that for him bin Laden was a hero of the struggle against American capitalism, exploitation and imperialism—all that a true Marxist should struggle against.
He was also a herald of a better world, with sharia, four wives, subjugation of women, and a prospect of Paradise.
Such is Chomsky and he will probably remain the same. But it will be interesting to see if the number of people impressed by this Shining Light of the intellectual left will now decline or increase. There are periods in history when the demand for sick opinions grows regardless of income and the level of education.
[i] Ikwanonline.com, May 3, 2011., quote from MEMRI, Special Dispatch No. 3823