At the end of 2018, a conference-debate with Michel Collon should have taken place in Namur, as part of the « Saturday Conferences ». It was cancelled due to pressure on the organizers. The same thing happened at the end of 2019, in the same city, when the non-profit organization Carrefour des Cultures tried to organize a debate with Jean Bricmont, Michel Collon and representatives of the mainstream media; the withdrawal of these representatives had removed the meaning of the event. For the initiators of these debates, it is only a postponement. But they have a hard time convincing their partners (in the first case(1)) and the classic media actors (in the second).
As an example of the pressures mentioned, an e‑mail sent to one of the organizers’ partners (a bookstore) said, among other things, » I will destroy your commercial image . Added to this are the usual denigrations of the scheduled speakers, such as » conspiracy the orist », » friend of dictators « , etc.(2)
Here we find two of the main criticisms usually levelled at the researchers and activists in question, to justify the attempt to exclude them from the social debate. The accusation of anti-Semitism is usually added. Let us examine these reproaches.
PARODY OF CRITICISM
The accusation of anti-Semitism is particularly ridiculous, as it is based solely on the strong criticism of these researchers and activists of the Israeli government, in relation to its revolting policies towards the Palestinians. However, a series of personalities from families of Hebrew culture are or were just as radical in their criticism of this power: Noam Chomsky, Shlomo Sand, Michel Warschawski, Stéphane Hessel, Emmanuel Todd, etc.
It was not during public conferences that the leaders of the USA decided to overthrow or assassinate Allende, Lumumba, Arbenz, Mossadegh…
The reproach of conspiracy is absurd by nature, because history and current events offer many examples of real conspiracies. To take the USA (but we could have chosen many other powers): it was not during public conferences that the leaders of this country decided to destabilize a democratically elected socialist government, in Nicaragua, by financing paramilitary groups (intensively practicing murder and torture)(3)or decided to overthrow or assassinate the progressive and democratic Allende(4)Lumumba (with Belgium)(5), Arben(6)Mossadegh (with the United Kingdom)(7)etc.
The 3rd charge (defense of problematic governments) is the only one that can sometimes be justified. But, apart from the fact that this does not legitimize any exclusion from the debates, two very big caveats must be put to this criticism. One: its authors generally ignore superbly what may be the basis, in part, of the defenses of the governments in question. For if, on the one hand, these governments often harm their peoples (corruption, repression…) and frequently use Western imperialism as a means of self-legitimization, on the other hand, they are also often instruments by which the peoples in question try to keep control over their resources, to ensure social justice, etc. The situations are complex, and it is often difficult to judge to what extent one is in the former cases, to what extent in the latter.
However, in general, instead of taking this complexity into account, the dominant media limit themselves to denouncing the first types of situations (corruption, repression…), while ignoring the second dimension mentioned, resistance to imperialism. Worse: this imperialism is also very often ignored by these media, even disguised as humanitarian interventions. This is for example obvious in relation to Venezuela(8) and Syria(9) (this criticism is not addressed to all journalists in the mainstream media. On Syria for example, someone like François Janne d’Othée did a very good job).
The second major drawback to the reproach in question is that, since the mainstream media already inundate the Western public with one-sided criticisms of the powers mentioned, J. Bricmont and M. Collon have chosen to focus on the missing information. A choice that is as defensible as it is uncomfortable, given all the exclusions and defamations that result from it. The members of our « elites » who carry out these defamations, however, are in the comfortable position of those who swim with the current.
BHL AND MBN: YES. BRICMONT, CHOMSKY , COLLON : NO
In this sense, it is interesting to see that, in the same city of Namur, in 2016, a conference of Bernard-Henri Levy was not cancelled. This is someone who has often advocated criminal policies(10). The purpose here is not at all to contest anyone’s right of expression; on the contrary, it would be very interesting if such personalities dared to participate in debates with real opponents, like M. Collon or J. Bricmont.
These facts also remind us of another event, which should have provoked immense indignation. Also in 2016, Noam Chomsky was to receive a scientific award before the French national parliament. But the socialist group prevented the event(11). Let us remember that Chosmsky (who collaborated with Bricmont) is a great intellectual and humanist militant for international justice — the reason for the opposition of the French « socialists ». Indeed, these are too compromised in criminal geopolitics, which is evident, for example, from the award, the same year, by these same « socialists », of the Legion of Honor to the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed Ben Nayed(12)…
The authors of the pressures mentioned and the journalists who refused the debate should ask themselves this question: do they or do they not want to be part of the system’s hacks? Of this system that tends to prefer to deal with powers like the Saudis rather than pay tribute to people like Chomsky?
- Une alternative à l’événement annulé fin 2018 n’a toujours pas pu être organisée.
- Informations données par l’initiateur du 1er débat évoqué, qui a pu lui-même lire les mails concernés.
- «Comment la Cour de La Haye a condamné les Etats-Unis pour leurs actions en Amérique centrale», monde-diplomatique.fr
- «Putsch — Les sept gouvernements (officiellement) renversés par les Etats-Unis», lemonde.fr
- «Vénézuela, les répétitions font la vérité», Kairos n°37.
- «Syrie : quelles responsabilités de nos gouvernements ?», Kairos n°34.
- Voir p. ex. https://www.monde-diplomatique.fr/document/bhlnicaragua – qui montre justement que BHL était du côté des USA et des paramilitaires évoqués plus haut, au Nicaragua.
- «Noam Chomsky a obtenu l’asile au Centre Wallonie-Bruxelles à Paris», lalibre.be – comme cela ressort du titre, l’article évoque aussi un fait bien plus réjouissant, à l’égard de la Belgique, que ceux traités ici.
- «La France décore le prince héritier d’Arabie Saoudite», lemonde.fr