[Updated] Noam Chomsky on Afiuni: "extreme dishonesty" at The Guardian

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    Media Lens visitors welcome. Read this before you go on [6 July 2011]

    Readers of this site will remember my exchange with Noam Chomsky, when he co-signed a letter of some academics propagandists decrying a damaging report from Human Rights Watch about Venezuela. You could then imagine my surprise when I read in The Guardian "Noam Chomsky denounces old friend Hugo Chávez for 'assault' on democracy" Mind you, it doesn't get any more surreal than this. Chavez's cancer seems to have caused his apologists to start acting in rather strange ways, doesn't it?

    In any case, I sent an email to Chomsky. And surrealism could only grow when I read in his reply that The Guardian/Obverser, as he had anticipated, is quite deceptive! So that'll be a radical lefty taking two swipes in one go, one at Chavez and another at the Left's bible! Priceless!

    From: Alek Boyd alek.boyd@gmail.com
    Date: 3 July 2011 03:13:45 GMT+01:00
    To: Noam Chomsky chomsky@mit.edu
    Subject: Re Noam Chomsky denounces old friend Hugo Chávez for 'assault' on democracy | World news | The Observer

    Dear Professor Chomsky,

    Here's hope that this email finds you well.

    Further to your recent letter requesting an act of humanitarian compassion on behalf of Judge Maria Afiuni, published by The Guardian, I wanted to thank you for your renovated interest in human rights in my country, while I wanted to ask, why the sudden change of heart?

    I recall having had an exchange with you over a complaint letter that some academics addressed to Human Rights Watch on very similar human rights violations in Venezuela, a letter which you co-signed in support. I should be grateful if you could enlighten me on the reasons that have caused you to change your position vis-a-vis Hugo Chavez's regime.

    With best wishes,

    Alek Boyd

    From: "Noam Chomsky" chomsky@mit.edu
    Date: 3 July 2011 03:42:52 GMT+01:00
    To: "'Alek Boyd'" alek.boyd@gmail.com
    Subject: RE: Re Noam Chomsky denounces old friend Hugo Chávez for 'assault' on democracy | World news | The Observer
    Reply-To: chomsky@mit.edu

    There is no change of heart, sudden or otherwise.  The Guardian/Observer version, as I anticipated, is quite deceptive.  The report in the NY Times is considerably more honest.  Both however omit much of relevance that I stressed throughout, including the fact that criticisms from the US government or anyone who supports its actions can hardly be taken seriously, considering Washington’s far worse record without any of the real concerns that Venezuela faces, the Manning case for one, which is much worse than Judge Afiuni’s.  And much else.

    Update: my exchange with Chomsky continued, in his other reply he reiterated the "extreme dishonesty" of The Guardian. For once, I find myself in agreement with the famous linguist...

    From: Alek Boyd alek.boyd@gmail.com
    Date: 3 July 2011 03:54:24 GMT+01:00
    To: Noam Chomsky chomsky@mit.edu
    Subject: Re: Re Noam Chomsky denounces old friend Hugo Chávez for 'assault' on democracy | World news | The Observer

    Thanks for your reply Professor Chomsky. Why do you say that The Guardian/Observer's version is quite deceptive? Did they misquote / misinterpret you in any way?

    What is the relevance that you stressed throughout?

    And finally, if I may, can you contemplate either criticism or support of the Chavez regime, without having to take swipes at and thrust over the US government, but rather framing the issues solely within the Venezuelan context? After all, Judge Afiuni's illegal imprisonment has got nothing to do with US - Venezuela relations, it is an illegal and dictatorial decision of Hugo Chavez.

    With best wishes,

    PS: I agree with you on Manning.

    Alek Boyd

    From: "Noam Chomsky" chomsky@mit.edu
    Date: 3 July 2011 04:38:23 GMT+01:00
    To: "'Alek Boyd'" alek.boyd@gmail.com
    Subject: RE: Re Noam Chomsky denounces old friend Hugo Chávez for 'assault' on democracy | World news | The Observer
    Reply-To: chomsky@mit.edu

    Let’s begin with the headline: complete deception.  That continues throughout.  You can tell by simply comparing the actual quotes with their comments.  As I mentioned, and expected, the NY Times report of a similar interview is much more honest, again revealing the extreme dishonesty of the Guardian.

    I’m sure you would understand if an Iranian dissident who charged Israel with crimes would also bring up the fact that charges from Iran and its supporters cannot be taken seriously in the light of Iran’s far worse abuses.  If you don’t understand that, which I doubt, you really have some problems to think about.  If you do understand it, as I assume, the same is true.  That’s exactly why bringing up Manning (and much more) is highly relevant.

    NC

    UPDATE II: do not miss Eva Golinger word-by-word plagiarism of my email exchange with Chomsky here. Johann Hari would be proud!

    UPDATE III: encore from Noam Chomsky...

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