Noam Chomsky, Kevin Barrett and Academic Freedom
The Kevin Barrett-Chomsky Dispute in Historical Perspective – Ninth part of the series titled “9/11 and the Zionist Question” – Read the eighth part here
Noam Chomsky has been much worse than hypocritical in the role he has chosen for himself in the study of 9/11. Chomsky treats the subject of 9/11 as if he’s some sort of master of analysis on the subject of what happened. He presents his conclusions without showing the due diligence of going through the relevant primary and secondary sources in a balanced and scholarly fashion. The primary sources Chomsky chooses to disregard include passenger lists, video and photographic evidence in the public domain, eyewitness accounts, original news coverage on the day of 9/11 and the like.
It seems that Noam Chomsky was well aware of Kevin Barrett’s case. Without naming either Barrett or the University of Wisconsin, Chomsky alludes to the matter in a video of an interview posted in 2011 on the You Tube channel of RPShredow. The item is entitled “Noam Chomsky Discusses 9/11 Conspiracy Theories.” The interviewer is Michael Albert. Chomsky’s comments begin with his observation that somewhere between a third and a half of all Americans ascribe to some version of the interpretations brought forward by the 9/11 Truth Movement. Chomsky then tries to alter a perceptual trend that he clearly does not like.
This very revealing and important video captures a low point in Professor Chomsky’s career. The manager of the You Tube channel on which the item appears has removed the comments section reporting that the eliminated responses were mostly from “the dumbest, annoyingest fucktards ever.” The unspoken message of this exorcism of dissenting voices is that it is acceptable to obliterate the remarks of those that dare criticize Chomsky’s position on 9/11.
The evidence of the specific nature of the detractors’ disagreements with Chomsky is eliminated, presumably by someone close to Chomsky, possibly even the unnamed interviewer himself. Much like those that throw up the “conspiracy theorist” label to evade the give-and-take of constructive dialogue, the self-appointed thought police in this case replace a critical exchange of ideas with a smear job calculated to demean and create hatred towards an identifiable group.
In the body of the video Chomsky exudes a remarkably aggressive outpouring of slander and vituperation against the broad array of individuals that have genuinely investigated the lies and crimes of 9/11. As part of this diatribe Chomsky refers to “some guy, who instead of teaching his courses taught about this stuff [9/11] and therefore wasn’t rehired, which is normal.” Chomsky’s prior knowledge of the details of the case to which he refers is well evidenced in a published E-Mail exchange he conducted with Dr. Barrett in 2008.
After introducing the Barrett case, a matter of which Chomsky knows much more than he lets on, the MIT professor then flips backwards in more ways than one. He reminisces that he himself “once taught courses on this kind of stuff but in my spare time.” Chomsky gives no explanation of the obvious contradiction between his blanket condemnations of those that study 9/11 and his recollection that he used to teach classes on similar subjects.
What courses did Chomsky teach in his spare time? What subjects did he decide to relegate to spare time studies? What is Chomsky’s rationale for decreeing that skeptical perspectives on the official narrative of 9/11 do not belong in the curriculum of courses other than those he would assign to spare time studies? Chomsky concludes this important segment on 9/11 and the role of universities by indicating that he himself would have been fired too had he acted like the unnamed “guy” he’s accusing. “You have some duties at the University,” implying Kevin Barrett did not perform them.
Chomsky badly misrepresents the Barrett case by indicating the university instructor in question— “some guy”— abandoned his responsibilities to teach the full curriculum. He accuses Barrett of devoting all his pedagogical energy to the sole subject of 9/11. As demonstrated by the outcome U of W’s internal investigation of this controversy, nothing of the sort happened. Dr. Barrett was found to be conscientious in integrating various perspectives on 9/11 into a much larger multi-faceted survey of Islam, both historically and in contemporary times. The senior academic thus smears the more junior academic, disregarding altogether the best documentary evidence of what happened in the classroom during the teaching of the course in question, namely Dr. Barrett’s offering of Islam: Religion and Culture.
By commenting as he did on a significant precedent-setting case, Dr. Chomsky aligns himself with those that intervened politically to cut short Dr. Barrett’s promising academic career. By acting as an opponent of the principle that the events of 9/11 present a vital subject for legitimate academic research and debate in our universities, Dr. Chomsky demonstrated he is no friend of academic freedom. He does not support the underlying principles that provided him with his own position of academic security from which to develop his oft contested ideas and theories.
The video’s content helps to reaffirm the significance of Barrie Zwicker’s seminal assessment of “Noam Chomsky’s Shame” in Towers of Deception in 2006. Moreover, it helps substantiate many of the allegations made by Kevin Barrett in his Left Forum presentation, “Why Chomsky Is Wrong on 9/11.” Chomsky’s frontal attack on the 9/11 Truth Movement should bring to the surface longstanding questions about the underlying motivations of America’s most highly publicized university professor.
You will read “Truth and Public Policy in the Digital Age” in the next part.
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