14/ CHOMSKY REPLIES TO MORRIS, 1984
Wall Street Journal, 6 September 1984.
Stephen Morris's editorial page article ("The Left's Selective Moral Outrage", Aug. 15) is an intellectual and moral disaster, though of some minor sociological interest. I will illustrate with a few of his statements concerning "Mr. Chomsky's views".
According to Morris, I idealized the Indochinese Communists and portrayed them as "morally untarnished victims," specifically, Pol Pot, whom I defended from charges of atrocities while attempting to discredit reports based on refugee testimony. He is careful to avoid references, since he knows that I described the "record of atrocities" of the Pol Pot regime as "substantial and often gruesome," adding that "there is no difficulty in documenting major atrocities and repression, primarily from the reports of refugees." I cited the analyses by U.S. intelligence as probably the most reliable (his claim that I suspected CIA "connivance in fabricating many of these stories" is sheer fabrication), and I recommended Francois Ponchaud's study based on refugee testimony, praise which he acknowledges and reciprocates in the American edition of his book. I compared the Pol Pot atrocities to the near-genocidal Indonesian invasion of East Timor (supported by the U.S.). As Morris knows but conceals, I have always been a harsh critic of Leninist ideology and practice.
Morris could have cited favorable comments on Pol Pot, for example, by his colleague Douglas Pike, a government expert on Indochina who now heads the Berkeley Indochina archives, who described Pol Pot's DK regime as a "bloody but successful peasant revolution with a substantial residue of popular support" in which most peasants "did not experience much in the way of brutality". Morris could also have observed that the Cambodian resistance that he recently visited consists primarily of Khmer Rouge forces, and that the State Department has explained U.S. support for DK today on grounds of its "continuity" with the Pol Pot regime. The truth being inconvenient, Morris reverts to a mode that come more easily to him.
Noam Chomsky, Cambridge, Mass.
[The same issue of the WSJ had, in the same column, two letters against Morris, one from Joseph Short, Executive Director, Oxfam America, pointing at "several inaccuracies" introduced by Morris in his discussion of Cambodia, and another one by Bruce Zessar, dealing with Central America, and concluding: "Morris accuses many leftist academicians of deceit and betrayal, yet in the last analysis the finger points at him."]