Tuesday, June 03, 2003

That’s Better, Keith Windschuttle

[URL valid to ~ June 9 only]

[fuller version: http://www.newcriterion.com/archive/21/may03/chomsky.htm ]

Keith Windschuttle’s recent taking-on of Noam Chomsky has all the hallmarks of one of those “Aussie soap starlette makes it big in Hollywood” stories. At severe risk of becoming typecast as a single issue nitpicker on his Australian home turf, he has found an open range of archive-foraging opportunities in the US. And having landed in this new world of limitless possibilities, Keith has found his feet almost immediately. Gone is the old nitpicking Keith, in is the reinvented, suave … nitpicker.

But seriously, this is progress, because in taking on Chomsky – who as Windschuttle himself mentions, is a mean source [un]picker in his own right – the audience now has a internationally-flavoured soap in which to watch Keith do his stuff. No more endless talks at dingy suburban town halls (only to be ungraciously confronted by Indigenous basket-fabricators and their fellow travellers), no sirree – Keith is now on the top-tier A-list of global nitpickers.

So go for it, Keith. Noam probably needs some fresh meat, pulsating with live footnotes, to attack and slowly wear down through a death of a thousand quibbles. And my wild-guessing is that Noam may not have to dig far to pick at you, Keith, in places where you haven’t so far been picked. You’re an old Lefty, who jumped ship in the mid-eighties, conveniently following the Aussie dollar, and so much else, as it floated Rightwards.

Which all adds up to: Where were you in 1975?. I was at primary school, but I’ve since heard that ‘75 was not a good year for Lefties – as soon as the last US chopper left ‘Nam, so giving you an awesome victory, the Khmer Rouge decided, to put it mildly, to poop the party. Sometimes streamers, balloons, hope and dope are better camouflage nets over unpalatable facts than fatigued military intelligence.

Otherwise, I’m not taking sides in this forthcoming prize fight – it’s just going to be too good to sit back and watch the two of them slug it out in the King of the World (Nitpicker Division) title. No ten rounds here – mark my words, with both men getting on a bit, this will be a fight to the death. Roll up, roll up!

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