As you may have seen, Noam Chomsky was recently invited to speak to a class of cadets at West Point. For all our flaws, there aren’t many other countries that would allow such an unyielding critic of their foreign policy to speak to their officers-to-be. (In fact, in most places the people here listening seriously to Chomsky would have been hunting down and killing him.)
Moreover, it was broadcast nationwide on C-Span. It’s all such an embodiment of our best traditions it makes me a little verklempt.
Dennis Perrin describes it like this:
The real fun comes during the Q&A, and I hope these young officers were taking serious notes. If Noam could impress someone as gung-ho as Pat Tillman, then he can reach pretty much anyone in uniform. And that’s a good thing.
Notice, too, how much respect the cadets show Noam. Of course, part of this is their training, prefacing each question and comment with “sir.” But I get the impression that the kids kinda dug the old man, who easily and graciously handled every query thrown at him….
When I was in the Army, we didn’t get speakers like Noam. We had to sit through assholes like Woody Hayes, the now-late Ohio State football coach. Hayes blustered on about the glories of war, talking about how we really stuck it to the Japs in the Big One. In fact, ol’ Woody dropped the J-word several times, causing a couple of Japanese-American officers to walk out.
The rest of Dennis’ thoughts, plus links to the C-Span video, are here.