Friday, August 17, 2007

Good old Noam

Last night I started reading "language and responsability", a book by Noam Chomsky, published in 1979, based on several conversations of the author with french linguist Mitsou Ronat that took place in 1977. I admit that this book has caught my attention from the very beginning. Yet, I can't help to feel a bit uneasy about the inability of the society to move forward.

The first chapter focuses mainly on political issues, and how the average citizen should not take any information given by the media as 100% acurate. Always question everything. Chomsky uses the Vietnam war, from which the US had recently withdrawn, as the perfect example. Chomsky states that "it is notable that despite the extensive and well-known record of government lies during the period of the Vietnam war, the press, with fair consistency, remained remarkably obedient, and quite willing to accept the government's assumptions". Doesn't this sound a bit too familiar?. Again, this was written 30 years ago, soon after the last american troops left Vietnam for good, which left the country with mixed feelings. Yes we lost, but yes, we will do things differently from now on, and won't be making the same mistakes all over again, we learned the lesson. And you can feel this stream of optimism in Chomsky's words. He thought, along with the massive mayority of the population, that the country was shifting towards a new political era (the watergate scandal played an important role as well). He based this idea mostly on the student movement that stirred the world in the 60s. The students would not take it anymore. They refused to just play along the media's interests and wanted to be heard. The civil rights issue was finally being taken seriously.

It is a fact that the US has changed a lot during these 30 years. Segregation, witch hunt, political espionage, impeachments... they seem terms of the past. Or do they?.

Am I the only one that believes that essentially things are just the same way they used to be?. We have a person, who with absolutely no preparation, leadership, brains, or culture becomes arguably the most powerful man in the world. He lies to the US population, repeatedly, he is proven wrong, and still we don't hear/see/read anyone among the most important media that wants (or has the courage) to stand against him. Why wasn't this guy impeached for lying?, Why wasn't this guy put in jail for being the cause of killings of thousands of american soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqui civilians?. Why do we let him laugh about it?.

I've come across, quite often, this rather distressing and heady way of thinking: "it is not such a big deal, we will have to cope with him for 4, maximum 8, years and then he will be gone". I guess that this is the reason why we haven't had any major revolution since those late 60s, early 70s. Pure laziness, or maybe naivety!.

Personally, I recall November 2nd, 2004 as my saddest day in the US. Bush got reelected, definately due to a lack of courage from the mainstream media. I was so sure that the average citizen was going to be able to see through that. I guess it was I that was being naive.

1 comment:

Laurel G said...

You are absolutely right! Wow, I hadn't read Chomsky since college, but, boy, you would think we would have learned. This country is due for some BIG changes, and I'm glad to hear your generation demanding those changes. Ours screwed up big time.

Laurel G