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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Political > Distorted Morality (Noam Chomsky)

Noam Chomsky – Distorted Reality   America’s War On Terror?


Picture: C     Sound: C     Extras: C+     Main Program: B



Noam Chomsky, inarguably one of the smartest men in the world and a living legend in the humanities.  He helps found linguistics and is the epitome of the intellectual, i.e., an educated man who can think for himself and happens to be exceptionally well spoken.  Distorted Morality (2002) offers Chomsky’s take on world events after the confusion over the attacks of September 11th, 2001.  In an hour-long program taped at a major university, Chomsky argues that the problem with fighting a so-called war on terror is that everyone (especially the media) have suddenly forgotten the concept of state-sponsored terrorism.


Chomsky begins to address terrorism as the overgeneralization the media has oversimplistically made it out to be.  He peels away every unquestioned assumption slowly until the end of his lecture, particularly using examples of terrorism from 1985 and giving the benefit of the doubt to the U.S. government.  He does not even bring up the Iran-Contra Affair, surprisingly, sticking instead to the Middle East, past and present.  He also discusses how the media self-censures it reports, how the items rarely surface, and then only in marginalized ways.  He does not say the U.S. “asked for it”, as Right-Wing reactionaries would like to scream, but that governments have their own deadly activities that are just as terroristic as those launched by guerillas and less-powerful entities.  The twist with 9/11, which Chomsky does not go into, is that it looks like some nation-states were supporting Al Queda and had been doing so for years, not counting the way the U.S. used Bin Laden to do the Soviet Union in.


As brilliant a man as Chomsky is, there is one point were I strongly differ.  I was surprised how he misread the famous axiom that “terrorism is a strategy of the weak”.  He disagreed, saying it is of the strong, backing his examples of state-sponsored terror from the most powerful nations in the world.  This from a man who actually agrees that Iraq DID have “weapons of mass destruction”, even if not to the degree the George W. Bush administration claims.  The fact is, terrorism is still from the weak, even the weak side of the powerful.  It is what they do indirectly as a substitute for not doing things upfront.  You can cause fear, but that is a limited deterrent, so the phrase still stands, no matter the sponsor.  On this, I would personally debate Chomsky anytime, though he is certainly better read than I am on current political facts.  Oh, the sacrifices of the film fan.


The full screen image is in color and videotaped, both on the average side, but this is just a lecture, so that is expected.  The speech is clearly recorded for the most part, but WARNING:  the Epitaph logo is SO loud, you NEED to make sure you have your volume LOW when you start playing this DVD.  Extras include a Chomsky biography, bibliography, list of awards and honors, and a great section of extras questions answered, which you can choose from.


This also makes a fine companion to Power & Terror, another recent release featuring Chomsky’s thoughts on world events.  Even if you do not agree with everything he says (who can you name that you do, unless you are an idiot), programs like Distorted Morality challenge the audience to think for itself and not be intimidated by fear or brainwashed by idiocy.  Now, more than ever, people need to think for themselves, especially in a time when we are being told to shut-up, give-up, and forget about having a better life.  The individual power to say no to all this means saying yes to better times ahead.  You do not even need to be a Political Science genius, just yourself uninhibited.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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