|January 11, 2002
I read your letter, and Mr. Junkermans, with much interest,
and appreciation -- naturally. As you may know, there is a film with
rather similar intention, but from about 10 years ago, produced by
Mark Achbar and Peter Wintonick, called "Manufacturing Consent."
It was shown quite widely around the world. Won prizes at international
film festivals, was shown on national TV in many countries, and has
sold quite a lot in video version, apparently. They had followed me
for several years, filming many talks and discussions around the world,
and included also interviews and critical commentary and much else.
Perhaps youve seen it. They decided to focus mostly on East
Timor and media, but other issues were brought in too.
I would be interested in principle. In practice it is not so easy.
Its a shame we were not in contact earlier. I have given quite
a few talks in the past several months, some at universities, most
elsewhere. A number of them were filmed. I dont know if that
would be of any use to you. Looking ahead, I see that the next talk
Im scheduled to give is at Town Hall New York, for FAIR (a media
critique organization), a fundraiser I think. Then there are talks
in Brazil and Turkey (where I have to go for a political trial; a
publisher is facing prison sentence for publishing a book that contains
a few sentences of mine on Turkeys repression of its Kurdish
population, considered treasonous in our democratic NATO ally). In
March there are several in California. Im sure there are also
several talks in this area, but dont have the details at hand.
Talks are usually filmed by independent film-makers, who distribute
them. There are dozens of these available, if you are interested.
Some I understand are technically of rather high quality; some digitalized.
But I dont know myself.
About interviews, thats difficult to arrange, but not impossible.
My schedule is extremely intense, planned in excruciating detail well
in advance. But its possible to work things in, though Im
afraid only at my office. Im so busy that I have no time to
go anywhere, even to a TV studio. Again, sometimes I can manage an
exception, but its not easy. The advance planning is really
Would be happy to pursue the possibility further. Its most intriguing.
Incidentally, what you read in the newspapers and intellectual journals
gives a very misleading impression of the state of public opinion
here, not just on college campuses. There is far more opposition to
the war than at comparable stages of any other military operation
I can think of, even though in this case, for the first time in 200
years, US national territory was attacked, viciously in fact. People
like me, who are available for speaking, are utterly deluged by invitations,
and cant possibly accept a fraction of them, and audiences are
typically unusually large -- often thousands -- and quite concerned
and supportive, largely. Its true that intellectual opinion
is extremely jingoistic and bitterly critical of any deviation, but
its worth remembering that that is almost always the case. It
was far more so during the Indochina wars, for many years, and in
fact even in the days when popular opposition peaked, principled opposition
to the war among intellectuals (I mean, opposition that went beyond
that of the business community: that it was a failure and too costly)
was virtually non-existent, a fact that is easily shown but consistently
misrepresented in commentary -- by intellectuals, who prefer a different
picture of themselves. Thats historically been the case. Just
to mention one example, when the US conquered the Philippines a century
ago, killing hundreds of thousands of civilians and carrying out horrifying
war crimes, there was some opposition among intellectuals, the most
notable case being Mark Twain, certainly well known. His sharp critical
essays on the war did reach a public audience -- 90 years later, in
1992. What you may be reading now in the intellectual journals, particularly
those in the left-liberal spectrum, is quite normal, and has little
to do with public opinion, except insofar as it is an attempt to mold