If, as Shakespeare once noted, even the devil can quote scripture, then it should come as no surprise that Osama bin Laden can cite Noam Chomsky. In his Sept. 6, 2007, video message, that’s exactly what he did.
In addition to naming Chomsky, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor and fierce critic of U.S. foreign policy, bin Laden also delivered a fairly simplistic version of the standard left-populist worldview. “The capitalist system,” bin Laden said, “seeks to turn the entire world into a fiefdom of the major corporations under the label of ‘globalization.’” American democracy is a sham because “Those with real power and influence are those with the most capital.” And “the life of all mankind [sic] is in danger because of the global warming resulting … from the emissions … of the major corporations.”
All pretty familiar stuff to any reader of this magazine. And we should take note of it. It is a humbling experience to hear your own ideas mouthed by a man who has, without remorse, ordered a fiery death for thousands of men, women, and children who had nothing whatsoever to do with his alleged causes. How good can those ideas be, we might wonder, if they can be twisted to such evil purposes?