*edit, May 9, 2017 – I added a link to my unfinished JFK project. I will also add in an image. And I may touch this up a bit more going forward.
My YouTube comments in response to James Corbett’s anti-Chomsky video follow:
I could just keeping commenting, but there’s too much baloney to respond to. This represents a big fail on James’s part.
JFK fundamentally changed the course of US politics?!! That’s crazy talk in my opinion.
Chomsky disagrees with James and James disagrees with Chomsky on what JFK thought of the CIA. I know that folks who want to buttress a certain narrative would like to establish as fact that JFK hated the CIA, but it is worth reviewing what Chomsky himself says about that. I’d have to do some digging in order to give you a link or a quote, but I’ve read the passages and remember their thrust clearly.
You needn’t guess about Peter Dale Scott. I read Peter’s book. Chomsky’s letter to me included: “Peter Dale Scott is a personal friend, and has done some interesting work. He certainly knows the details that might somehow relate to the Kennedy assassination very fully, but he presents no convincing case, in my opinion (and in fact hardly pretends to)…”
JFK didn’t want withdrawal without military victory. Apparently (and this I get from Hersh, not Chomsky), JFK did want to pull out the troops, but not until his re-election in ’64 and, according to Chomsky, not without military victory (although Chomsky notes that it wasn’t exactly military victory that the US wanted, but the destruction of Vietnam and the example of independence it set for other Asian countries). Part of the problem here, as far as I can tell, was that the doctrinal system had worked marvelously and millions of Americans would not support US troops fleeing from communists with their tails between their legs. As for principle, JFK didn’t do anything, including sacrificing American lives, that he didn’t think would help his re-election prospects, which Seymour Hersh (who, at other times, seems to lack the courage of his convictions) reports in his book “The Dark Side Of Camelot.” https://youtu.be/sBJuFaEL1JQ
There was no evidence that there was a conspiracy to assassinate JFK ‘for the reason that he was going in a different direction, policy-wise from others, like Johnson’? There’s a bit of a difference.
“no premises” to evaluate?!! Come on James! He wrote an entire book explaining his position. Sheesh!
I don’t care how many exaggerated expressions you use in talking about Chomsky’s view on JFK. I still agree with Chomsky. And there’s enough history – not mythology, which there is even more of – about JFK for anyone to know that, as Chomsky has said, there was no difference policy-wise or in any other way between JFK and Johnson or any of the rabid anti-communists of that era. Chomsky’s book, titled “Rethinking Camelot,” free to read online, about it: http://bit.ly/2pW4NoP. But it’s interesting how, with this subject, and with the subject of 9/11, Chomsky discourages others (by his example) from investigating. I don’t understand that. Chomsky tells people to pay attention – but not always. I can only speculate. James speculates eagerly… and comes to conclusions. I’m not prepared to follow him where he goes on Chomsky however. If Chomsky’s concern is to not get lost in a rabbit hole and if he’s trying to discourage others from doing that, then I have some sympathy, although I would say that if that’s his concern, then he should both state it clearly and state clearly that he has no problem with others looking into those subjects.
Readers: Corbett hammers on the idea of Chomsky worshippers. I’m not going to automatically agree with all that Chomsky’s critics say about Chomsky anymore than I’m going to automatically agree with all that Chomsky says. I worship God, period. I don’t agree with Chomsky on God, for starters. But he was respectful toward me, and other religionists, when he wrote me to respond to my letter to him, which covered many subjects. I don’t agree with Chomsky about Putin and Syria and that’s mainly a disagreement about his (big) failure to either know and say what’s going on there or to rely on others, who are up to no good, to inform him. I can understand it if he’s slowing down on research and relying on assistants and others. But I can’t afford assistants (or anything much) and that doesn’t lead me to not see what’s going on in Syria. True, It takes some work and an investment in time, which is harder to do when you’ve already got a full time, permanent (and poorly paid) job. But it can be done. I do note that Chomsky is keeping bad company. Perhaps he’s been friends of Amy Goodman for a long time. Okay. But does he have to betray his principles and victims of imperialism in Syria in order to stay friends with Amy, who thinks (actively if not passively) the White Helmets are just peachy? If he was up to speed on Syria (which might require a rethink of the ‘evil’ of the internet), and he cared about friends like Amy, then he could correct her. And he could do it publicly, which could accomplish so much.
I believe that Chomsky said he was okay with the Federal Reserve ‘while we have a capitalist system’ which I also heard him say it would be “good” to lose. So, He doesn’t ‘absolutely’ support the Federal Reserve system. Furthermore, What he says about deficts, debts and spending seemed reasonable to me. It’s what I’ve always known.
‘Building up your capital’? Don’t do good work?
Since I’ve been thinking about gatekeepers, with James’s definition I’ve now come across two definitions different than my own. I guess the universe can accommodate two or three definitions of gatekeeper. I don’t know, yet, why it couldn’t. Petra Liverani’s Off Guardian article, “Analysis Of The Sophistry Of Noam Chomsky” was that author’s attempt to smear Chomsky more than anything. She’s entitled to her opinion of the man, and her opinion of what a gatekeeper is, but reading her article and pondering her definition, I came to the conclusion that she failed, on her own terms, to make her case. Her definition includes the idea that a gatekeeper keeps certain views out of circulation. I take the position that one can’t accuse Chomsky of being censorious. No one is a more vigorous champion of free speech than Chomsky. That fact is not hard to know. ‘If’ Petra’s position is that Chomsky intimidates into silence those who might present a view that he disagrees with, then that is quite a different thing from actually hindering those views. It’s not Chomsky’s fault if others, with views he disagrees with, are intimidated by him into keeping silent.
James definition really goes narrow. He says that you have to be influential and highly placed in order to be a gatekeeper. I’m still watching the video, so I’ll know more fully what his definition is. But for now, I must say that that’s not my definition.
According to my definition, a gatekeeper can be appointed, or self-appointed (and if self-appointed, not necessarily conscious of their gatekeeper role). He (or…) can be anyone. He can be smart, stupid, homeless or rich, Left or Right. Gatekeepers don’t just seek to block messages they want blocked (in service to power). They hinder, in all ways, ranging between small and serious, those whose views they want blocked.
As my top, and last, YouTube comment notes, I stopped commenting before I had finished the entire YouTube video. I felt that I couldn’t just post a string of comments longer than the 14 I did (15 if you include the question I asked about my disappeared comments). I didn’t come across anything in the video after making my final comment that changed my mind about anything I had said in my comments (nine which I thought had been disappeared when I exited the website and then returned, but which then appeared after I clicked on ‘newest’). I would only say that James’s comments about the Federal Reserve question asked by an audience member and not answered by Chomsky seemed fair. The subject material is beyond my ability to fully grasp and so I will have to include myself among those in the audience who James notes didn’t catch the fact that Chomsky’s long answer to the question about whether the people should have the power enjoyed by the Federal Reserve to print money was not really answered. That doesn’t mean that I disagree with what Chomsky did say, but I’ll take James’s word for it that the question wasn’t properly answered.
I was quite tired when I typed up the draft for this post. I went to bed for a few hours and then returned to it upon waking. I then read more of the numerous, mostly rabid, comments about Chomsky by other viewers. I was listening to Corbett’s video again while doing so. Corbett repeatedly returns to passages of Chomsky’s that he wants us to interpret to mean that Chomsky is not interested in evidence that JFK was assassinated by a group of conspirators. But if you pay attention to Corbett’s own quotes, they support Chomsky’s position more than Corbett’s.
And Corbett tries to distract us from the central message of Chomsky, in “Rethinking Camelot,” with statements about Chomsky having done his work so early. That’s rather like a frame. It’s a ‘Look there!’ ploy. Corbett’s audience needn’t examine the evidence Chomsky provides because all of it was done when some documents that Chomsky could have had access to if he had written later, weren’t available to him. Talk about dismissing evidence! And then there’s Corbett’s statement, which he hopes his audience will apply to his straw man about Chomsky denying a conspiracy (rather than Chomsky’s denying that there’s no evidence for such a conspiracy being rooted in purported policy changes of JFK) that Chomsky has not given anyone any premises to analyze. (Chomsky could have spared a few words of criticism for the bogus Warren Commission report. I do see bias in that.) Meanwhile there’s Chomsky’s book, “Rethinking Camelot”!!! Corbett is, actually, complaining that Chomsky isn’t trying to prove what James wants him to prove, which is another thing altogether. That’s simply not fair. So, If you apply Corbett’s accusation about missing premises to Corbett’s misrepresentation of Chomsky’s focus, then you can make sense of it and agree. And if James thinks that ‘he’ has made the case that JFK was different from the scum around him and that his policy direction was different than the anti communist crowd around him, then boy is he delusional!
Chomsky writes, on pages 36 & 37 of “Rethinking Camelot,” which he intended to be a chapter in his other book, “Year 501 – The Conquest Continues,” the following:
Given the strong reactions that these issues have raised, perhaps it is worthwhile to make clear just what is and is not under consideration in what follows. This discussion addresses the question of the assassination only at the policy level: is there any reason to believe that JFK broke from the general pattern and intended to withdraw US forces from Vietnam even if that would lead to “impairment of the war effort” and undermine the “fundamental objective of victory”? Ancillary questions arise concerning further beliefs about impending policy changes. These questions are addressed below.
Also Corbett gives short shrift to Chomsky’s examination of JFK’s vow (purported?) to smash the CIA to bits. Had he any sense of fairness, he would have told his audience to examine Chomsky’s reasons for viewing animosity of the CIA toward JFK, as a reason to include them in any group plotting to assassinate him, as fantasy, which of course doesn’t mean that they weren’t involved in a plot to kill Kennedy. But, Let the man speak. Right? From pages 144 & 145 of “Rethinking Camelot,” the following:
Another common belief is that JFK was so incensed over the failure of the CIA at the Bay of Pigs that he vowed to smash it to bits, sowing the seeds for right-wing hatreds. Again, there are problems. As historians of the Agency have pointed out, it was Lyndon Johnson who treated the CIA “with contempt,” while JFK’s distress over the Bay of Pigs “in no way undermined his firm faith in the principle of covert operations, and the CIA’s mission to carry them out.” JFK promised to “redouble his efforts” and to “improve” covert operations. He fired the CIA’s harshest critic (Chester Bowles) and appointed as Director the respected John McCone, who “revitalized the intelligence process,” though persistent failures kept the Agency from returning to the “golden age.” Nevertheless, the CIA was “reestablished…in White House favor” and became a “significant voice in policy making” under Kennedy, particularly in 1963, “as covert actions multiplied in Cuba, Laos, Vietnam and Africa” (including new instructions in June 1963 to increase covert operations against Castro). Under JFK, the CIA Director became “a principal participant in the administration, on a par with the Secretary of State or of Defense.” The enthusiasm of the Kennedy brothers for counterinsurgency and covert operations is, of course, notorious.
Roger Hilsman, Director of State Department Intelligence under Kennedy, writes of the efforts of the Administration to streamline intelligence operations and make them more “effective and appropriate,” overcoming the incompetence of recent operations so that later ones would better serve US interests. The intent is well illustrated by Hilsman’s discussion of CIA Director Allen Dulles’s defense of the successful overthrow of the governments of Iran (Mossadegh) and Guatemala (Arbenz). “Dulles is fundamentally right,” Hilsman states. If the Communists remain “antagonistic” and use subversion, then we have a right “to protect and defend ourselves” – by overthrowing a conservative parliamentary regime or a reformist democratic capitalist government and imposing a murderous terror state.
Furthermore, as Robert Spears pointed out, those most incensed by JFK’s efforts to improve the efficiency of the CIA after the Bay of Pigs fiasco were not right-wing jingoists, but the “Bold Easterners,” a group not unlike the “action intellectuals” of the New Frontier. The “decline in the reputation and standing of the CIA” paralleled the “decline in the abundance and power of the Ivy Leaguers.” LBJ reduced their role in the decision-making process, and Nixon “consciously sought to exclude the CIA from power” because of his contempt for the “Ivy League liberals” who still dominated the Agency, he felt. The Nixon years were “the nadir for the CIA.”
Johnson and Nixon, then, should have been the targets for CIA resentment and plots, not JFK. There seems to be little promise here.
Corbett’s disingenuous reference (at 36:03 in the YouTube video) to JFK’s criminal father is shameful. With “And while JFK, I absolutely do not dispute came from a very shady background…” line, he implies that JFK was a great guy. I’m going to hazard a guess here. I would say that James Corbett has read Seymour Hersh’s “The Dark Side Of Camelot.” If he has, then he knows quite well what a slime ball the venereal disease-ridden JFK was. How many women did he give his disease to?, because there was a steady stream of them. Which means that James Corbett has sold his soul. You can’t tell these kinds of big lies without doing so. Note Chomsky’s reference to the Kennedy brothers’ love of counterinsurgency and covert ops. That means terrorism. This is a bad as Star Wars’s screwy scripts. Darth Vader can slaughter children and planets and his worshippers just want him back. “We forgive you terrorist and killer of children. Return to us!” JFK would sacrifice, without remorse, the lives of others, American and non American, to further his own ambitions. Here’s a clip of Hersh answering an audience member at Politics & Prose Bookstore, who asked him whether he though JFK was a good president:
If there is anyone who I would have wanted to take a close, critical look at Noam Chomsky, it was James Corbett. Well, He has done so and what a fail! It’s a free universe. I had no idea that James was infected with Camelotism. He’s clever enough to make some effort to shield himself from that accusation by acknowledging that Chomsky’s a smart guy and he’s had a big impact on politics and people’s consciousness. But he can’t hide his disease from those who are, ahem, paying attention. With this show, James Corbett has placed himself in the company of other fake friends of the people, like the Toronto Star, which Chomsky commented on when I wrote to him about Peter Dale Scott and other things. Consider:
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“Thanks for your interesting and thoughtful letter. I’m sorry, but not too surprised, to hear that you don’t get many responses, or at least useful ones…
On JFK, my own views might surprise you. I don’t find evidence for a conspiracy very convincing, and as for high-level conspiracy that might have any significant policy implications, the evidence is powerfully against it. In fact, it’s rare that historical evidence converges so on such a conclusion. I’ve explained my reasons in a recent book, Rethinking Camelot (South End/ Black Rose in Montreal), which I’ll bet was not one of the 2000 books reviewed in the Star, which you mentioned. Peter Dale Scott is a personal friend, and has done some interesting work. He certainly knows the details that might somehow relate to the Kennedy assassination very fully, but he presents no convincing case, in my opinion (and in fact hardly pretends to), and on the matter of Vietnam, he is just wildly wrong, so much so that he cannot even comprehend detailed factual analyses that depart from his premises (there’s a section in his book on me that illustrates that dramatically; I’ve rarely seen such extraordinary misreading and misunderstanding, even on trivial matters, completely without malice incidentally.)
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Interestingly, At one point in the video Corbett is quoting Chomsky saying something similar to what he says in the above quote ABOUT VIETNAM. In the video, he attributes the same kind of statement, by Chomsky, to the idea of a conspiracy to assassinate JFK. Hmmm.
See my previous post, “Gatekeepers.”
See my collection of excerpts titled “John F Kennedy And Robert F Kennedy Were Terrorists.”