In my column today, I have occasion to mention the late Professor Said, which allows me to quote something Paul Johnson once wrote about him: “this malevolent liar and propagandist, who has been responsible for more harm than any other intellectual of his generation.” A very good case, certainly, can be made.
Some days ago, I had a long talk with Eugene D. Genovese, the famed and excellent historian. You will find a write-up in the next issue of National Review. What a life he has led — damn useful, for one thing.
Anyway, I quoted to Genovese what Johnson said about Said. And I asked, “What other intellectuals have been responsible for great harm?” Genovese immediately mentioned Foucault. “But, you know, these Frenchmen, they come and they go.” Isn’t it true. Does the odor of Derrida linger on?
I then asked Genovese about Chomsky. He said, “I don’t understand him, because clearly God gave him a very good brain, and yet for decades he has written the most rigid and knee-jerk stuff.” Genovese also said that he once looked into Chomsky’s scholarly work, in linguistics. And he could see “a straight line between his scholarship and his politics.”
Anyway, stay tuned . . .