Moral equivalence

Noam Chomsky interviewed in February 2002:

QUESTION: But you seem to see this moral equivalence…
CHOMSKY: There’s no moral equivalence.
QUESTION: …between bin Laden and Bush, don’t you?
CHOMSKY: Moral equivalence is a term of propaganda that was invented to try to prevent us from looking at the acts for which we are responsible.
QUESTION: You say there are plenty of bin Ladens on both sides.
CHOMSKY: There are bin Ladens all over the world.
QUESTION: That’s moral equivalence. That’s a polemic, isn’t it?
CHOMSKY: That’s not moral equivalence. There is no such notion. There are many different dimensions and criteria. For example, there’s no moral equivalence between the bombing of the World Trade Center and the destruction of Nicaragua or of El Salvador, of Guatemala. The latter were far worse, by any criterion. So there’s no moral equivalence. Furthermore, they were done for different reasons and they were done in different ways. There’s all sorts of dimensions…
QUESTION: But why, when the US is considering what to do about this, do you always go back to past crimes?
CHOMSKY: Not past. Present.
QUESTION: You mentioned Nicaragua.
CHOMSKY: I mentioned that because it’s uncontroversial. Since there’s a World Court [decision], Security Council resolution…Since it’s uncontroversial, it’s a good example. I mention these cases…
QUESTION: Are you kicking the US when it’s down?
CHOMSKY: No. I’m asking that we accept the definition of “hypocrite” given in the Gospels. I think that’s correct. The hypocrite is the person who refuses to apply to himself the standards he applies to others. I don’t think we should be hypocrites.
QUESTION: To what aim do you do this? To what aim do you wish to point this out?

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