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Open mouth, insert foot

Via Eugene Volokh and others, an interview with The Most Hated Professor in America, Nicholas De Genova. Extremely bizarre. A few observations:

  • He blames the entire incident on the media. Not for misquoting him, but just for quoting him at all. The only blame he accepts in the matter is for not realizing that a journalist might be there and might quote some of his more inflammatory comments.

  • He has an ego the size of France:
    and attacks against me are therefore attacks against the entire antiwar movement.
    Of course, many who support the war would agree with that; they'd like for him to represent the entire anti-war movement. But I think most who opposed the war would prefer to get as far away from De Genova as humanly possible.

  • This puzzling exchange is included:
    Q. Your comment about wishing for "a million Mogadishus" has attracted the most attention. I read your letter in the "Columbia Daily Spectator," which gave some more context, but I have to confess I don't see how the context changes the meaning of that statement.

    A. I was referring to what Mogadishu symbolizes politically. The U.S. invasion of Somalia was humiliated in an excruciating way by the Somali people. And Mogadishu was the premier symbol of that. What I was really emphasizing in the larger context of my comments was the question of Vietnam and that historical lesson. ... What I was intent to emphasize was that the importance of Vietnam is that it was a defeat for the U.S. war machine and a victory for the cause of human self-determination.

    Q. I'm a little hazy on the rhetorical connection between Mogadishu and Vietnam.

    A. The analogy between Mogadishu and Vietnam is that they were defeats for U.S. imperialism and U.S. military action against people in poor countries that had none of the sophisticated technology or weaponry that the U.S. was able to mobilize against them. The analogy between Mogadishu and Iraq is simply that there was an invasion of Somalia and there was an invasion of Iraq.

    Invasion of Somalia? It was a UN peacekeeping mission. What is he talking about? How exactly was it a defeat for US imperialism? A few US soldiers died, thousands of Somalis died directly, and how many tens or hundreds of thousands more died because the peacekeeping mission failed?

    Even better, though, is his claim that Vietnam was "a victory for the cause of human self-determination." Does the jackass know anything about Vietnam today, or does he just hate the US so much that he thinks anyplace we're not is a good place? From Human Rights Watch's most recent report:

    Despite promises by the general secretary of the Vietnamese Communist Party (VCP) to accelerate the process of reform and promote democracy, Vietnam's human rights record continued to deteriorate during 2002. National Assembly elections conducted in May continued Vietnam's tradition of single party rule, while proponents of multi-party democracy, human rights, and religious freedom were arrested or closely monitored.

    The government continued to stifle free expression and restrict the exercise of other basic human rights. Authorities destroyed thousands of banned publications, restricted press coverage of a key corruption scandal, increased the monitoring of the Internet, denied the general public access to international television programs broadcast by satellite, and arrested or detained dissidents who used the Internet or other public fora to publicize their ideas. The year saw the death of Vietnam's most well-known dissident, Tran Do, and the trial of Li Chi Quang, one of an emerging group of younger pro-democracy advocates in Vietnam.

    Officials continued to suppress and control the activities of religious groups, including ethnic minority Christians in the northern and central highlands, members of the banned Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam, and Hoa Hao Buddhists in the south. Authorities made a new round of arrests of indigenous minority church leaders and land rights activists in the Central Highlands, the site of widespread unrest in 2001.

    Yeah. Some big victory for self determination
Ultimately, what it comes down to is that, like so many on the left, he likes to stir debate, he likes dissent -- except when it's directed at him. Because debate shouldn't be "narrowed," unless, of course, it's "jingoistic, patriotic hysteria." The possibility that his position was just idiotic doesn't seem to have occurred to him.


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Comments (3)


You think Vietnam suppresses civil liberties? In America, we have John Ashcroft!!


Oh, good comment!


Do you notice how De Genova appears to be incapable of responding intelligently to a straightforward question? Rather he speaks in pseudo-intellectual jargon. Unfortunately, it appears that anti-Americanism is the only prerequisite for a teaching position at Columbia.


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