Outrage over Paris attacks mere hypocrisy*

These contradictions and double standards of the Western world illustrate a very general principle that is observed with impressive dedication and consistency: the more we can blame some crimes on enemies, the greater the outrage; the greater our responsibility for crimes – and hence the more we can do to end them – the less the concern, tending to oblivion or even denial, writes NOAM CHOMSKY.

 

Millions of people demonstrated in condemnation of the [January] atrocities [in Paris]. There were eloquent pronouncements of outrage, captured well by the head of Israel’s Labor Party and the main challenger for the upcoming elections, Isaac Herzog, who declared that “Terrorism is terrorism. There’s no two ways about it,” and that “All the nations that seek peace and freedom [face] an enormous challenge” from brutal violence.

The New York Times described the assault as a “clash of civilizations,” but was corrected by Times columnist Anand Giridharadas that it was “Not and never a war of civilizations… But a war FOR civilization against groups on the other side of that line.”

The scene in Paris was described vividly in the New York Times by veteran Europe correspondent Steven Erlanger: “…a day of sirens, helicopters in the air, frantic news bulletins; of police cordons and anxious crowds; of young children led away from schools to safety. It was a day, like the previous two, of blood and horror in and around Paris.”

There are many other events that call for no inquiry into western culture and history – for example, the worst single terrorist atrocity in Europe in recent years, in July 2011, when Anders Breivik, a Christian ultra-Zionist extremist and Islamophobe, slaughtered 77 people, mostly teenagers.

Also ignored in the “war against terrorism” is the most extreme terrorist campaign of modern times – Barack Obama’s global assassination campaign targeting people suspected of, perhaps, intending to harm us some day, and any unfortunates who happen to be nearby. Other unfortunates are also not lacking, such as the 50 civilians reportedly killed in a U.S.-led bombing raid in Syria in December, which was barely reported.

There are many other illustrations of the interesting category ‘living memory.’ One is provided by the Marine assault against Fallujah in November 2004, one of the worst crimes of the U.S.-UK invasion of Iraq.

The assault opened with occupation of Fallujah General Hospital, a major war crime quite apart from how it was carried out. The crime was reported prominently on the front page of the New York Times, accompanied with a photograph depicting how “Patients and hospital employees were rushed out of rooms by armed soldiers and ordered to sit or lie on the floor while troops tied their hands behind their backs.” The occupation of the hospital was considered meritorious and justified: it “shut down what officers said was a propaganda weapon for the militants: Fallujah General Hospital, with its stream of reports of civilian casualties.”

Evidently, this is no assault on free expression, and does not qualify for entry into “living memory.”

One would naturally ask how France upholds freedom of expression and the sacred principles of “fraternity, freedom, solidarity.”…By expelling miserable descendants of Holocaust survivors (Roma) to bitter persecution in Eastern Europe? By the deplorable treatment of North African immigrants in the banlieues of Paris where the Charlie Hebdo terrorists became Jihadis?

Anyone with eyes open will quickly notice other rather striking omissions. Thus, prominent among those who face an “enormous challenge” from brutal violence are Palestinians, once again during Israel’s vicious assault on Gaza in the summer of 2014, in which many journalists were murdered, sometimes in well-marked press cars, along with thousands of others, while the Israeli-run outdoor prison was again reduced to rubble.

It is not difficult to elaborate. These few examples illustrate a very general principle that is observed with impressive dedication and consistency: The more we can blame some crimes on enemies, the greater the outrage; the greater our responsibility for crimes – and hence the more we can do to end them – the less the concern, tending to oblivion or even denial.

Contrary to the eloquent pronouncements, it is not the case that “terrorism is terrorism. There’s no two ways about it.” There definitely are two ways about it: theirs versus ours.

And not just terrorism.

[Edited & Abridged: YmD]


 

Noam Chomsky is Institute Professor Emeritus in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His most recent book is “Masters of Mankind.” His web site is www.chomsky.info.

This article was originally published at CNN and then reproduced by Information Highway