- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 4, 2004

Philosopher of hate

“Rock groups such as Rage Against the Machine and Pearl Jam promote [Noam] Chomsky at their concerts the way the Beatles once promoted the Guru Mahraraji, solemnly reading excerpts from his work in between sets and urging their followers to read him too. ‘Manufacturing Consent,’ a documentary adapted from a Chomsky book of the same title, has achieved the status of an underground classic in university film festivals. And at the climactic moment in the Academy Award-winning ‘Good Will Hunting,’ the genius-janitor played by Matt Damon vanquishes the incorrect thinking of a group of sophomoric college students with a fiery speech quoting Chomsky on the illicit nature of American power.

“The devotion of Chomsky’s followers is summarized by radio producer David Barsamian, who describes the master’s effulgence in openly religious terms: ‘He is for many of us our rabbi, our preacher, our rinpoche, our sensei.’ …

“His power comes not from his person, but from the fact that he, more than any other public intellectual, gives an authentic voice to the hatred of America that has been an enduring fact of our national scene since the mid-1960s.”

Peter Collier, from the new book, “The Anti-Chomsky Reader”

Paranoid difference

“The original [1962 film ‘The Manchurian Candidate’] was about a soldier who was captured during the Korean War and brainwashed by Communists to assassinate the presidential nominee. …

“But where the original ‘Candidate’ proved too on target with its over-the-top-ness, the new one is suffering from the opposite problem. As I filed out with other moviegoers on opening night, the most common complaint I overheard was that this movie wasn’t frightening enough. …

“Both movies are deeply paranoid projects, but they’re paranoid about different things, and not all paranoias are created equal. For the first film, remember, the country had a lot of things dangling over its head: Communist advances in Asia and Europe, trials and hearings about Communist infiltration of government agencies, the Cuban Missile Crisis. …

“The commercial problem for the new ‘Candidate’ is that, try as he might, director [Jonathan] Demme can’t make Americans fear corporations in the same way that they once did the Communists. The USSR invaded countries and fed people to the Gulags. Halliburton may occasionally overcharge for gasoline. See the difference?”

Jeremy Lott, writing from “Paranoia: Then and Now,” Tuesday in the American Spectator Online at www.spectator.org

Rights and wrongs

“How many people in America, in 2004, do not believe that women have a right to speak their minds? Or that women cannot be smart and well-informed? After all … one of the chief architects of and spokespersons for President Bush’s foreign policy is National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. Karen Hughes, the former White House communications director, is another strong and smart woman who is a part of the president’s inner circle. …

“There are many women in America today — liberal and conservative, Republican and Democrat — who have truly earned the right to be public figures, in the same way as men. This cannot be said of [Teresa] Heinz Kerry. …

“She defends women’s independence from a podium where she stands because of marrying into power.”

—Cathy Young, writing on “The Right To Be Opinionated,” Sunday in the Boston Globe

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