No Comment — February 17, 2010, 1:41 pm

A Convergence of Extremes

From Jonathan Schwarz:

This is Bruce Anderson, a conservative British columnist, explaining why he’s supported torture since before it was cool. You see, it’s our duty:

“Before 9/11, in front of some serious lawyers, I once argued that if there were a ticking bomb, the Government would not only have a right to use torture. It would have a duty to use torture…”

Speaking of duty, here’s Osama bin Laden’s 1996 fatwa declaring war on America:

”Terrorising you, while you are carrying arms on our land, is a legitimate and morally demanded duty. It is a legitimate right…”

But obviously Bruce Anderson and Osama bin Laden are completely different: Anderson listed brutality as a right first and a duty second, while with bin Laden it was the other way around.

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Nobody in academia had ever witnessed or even heard of a performance like this before. In just a few years, in the early 1950s, a University of Pennsylvania graduate student — a student, in his twenties — had taken over an entire field of study, linguistics, and stood it on its head and hardened it from a spongy so-called “social science” into a real science, a hard science, and put his name on it: Noam Chomsky.

At the time, Chomsky was still finishing his doctoral dissertation for Penn, where he had completed his graduate-school course work. But at bedtime and in his heart of hearts he was living in Boston as a junior member of Harvard’s Society of Fellows, and creating a Harvard-level name for himself.

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