Tag Archives: Vietnam

On Activism, Voting and Responsibility

(Revised and extended version of a talk delivered to Staten Island Peace Action on Sept. 29, 2018. Many thanks to Dan Falcone, Delfina Vannucci, and Richard Singer for inviting Brittany de Barros and me to address the group, and to the members of Peace Action for an excellent discussion.)

As most of us know, the history of left politics has had its share of sharp, even profound disagreements.

Sometimes these have been about the kind of society we want to achieve.  But often the arguments have been between allies who share the same goals but who are divided about strategy and tactics.  What follows will be in the latter category and I will issue a warning that I’m going to take a side and try to show why I believe the other side is wrong. I anticipate some pushback.  If I get it, that’s good thing in that people caring enough to argue is an indication (one of many) that the movement is reaching critical mass which I believe it is-something I’ll briefly discuss at the end.  It’s also a good thing because, the glib one liner aside, we usually get into arguments not because the stakes are low but because they’re high as they surely are in this instance.

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Chomsky Responds to Ken Burns

While I have no intention of watching the PBS Ken Burns Vietnam documentary, it is hard to avoid.  One indication is my school sponsoring viewings for our community, each segment introduced by faculty and guests who, it is assumed, will instruct today’s youth on the profound “ambiguities” and “complexities” of the conflict.  The unstated implication is that the oversimplified views of those  such as myself who regard our attack on Indochina as one of the great atrocities of the 20th century need to be challenged.

Along these lines, it was also hard to avoid Burns’s statement reported by the New York Times that the war “was begun in good faith, by decent people.”

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