An Interview With Noam Chomsky
Up until December 1967, almost everybody had been a hawk. Starting in February 1968, everybody who was not a dove was saying they had been all along. If you look at the Kennedy-era intellectuals, they have two versions of what happened: the memoirs they wrote before the Tet Offensive and the books they wrote after it. These are radically different. Before Tet, there is no hint that anyone wanted to withdraw from Vietnam. The books after Tet are full of explanations about how Kennedy had plans to withdraw from Vietnam. The game was over by then, of course, and they wanted to cover their asses.
In fact, we’ve always been positive about having another child. We both imagine a daughter: Emma, a real fireball, definite in her opinions and politically precocious. I can even see the birth announcement. It says, “Announcing . . .” in bold type on the cover, then opens up to a color xerox of Eugène Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People — that painting of a woman who’s marching over the barricades, one breast bared, with a fearless young kid waving his pistols and a dying old man looking up at her in wonder. I know that sounds odd for a card introducing a newborn, but that’s what I see: woman warrior.
Time was when I knew the racists were the lunch-counter owners who refused to serve blacks, the warmongers were the generals who planned wars and ordered the killing of innocent people, and the polluters were the industrialists whose factories fouled the air, water, and land. I was a good guy, boycotting, marching, and sitting-in to protest the actions of the bad guys.
Derek was unfaithful Thursday. He told me today. It hurts. OK, they didn’t do it — just kissed. But he asked her to go to bed and she refused (because he was married). But still, it could have happened. In a sense, it did happen. Is it just a cultural constraint that makes me so bothered by it? Am I just the defective offspring of a defective culture?
I saw Bobby the day before he died. Propped up beneath a plastic oxygen tent, he begged for a cigarette. I went across the street to a newspaper stand and bought him a pack, even though I don’t smoke and don’t think anyone should. Closing the door to his room, I turned off the oxygen and lit one for him.
Later, when Sheldon stood up to leave, Anna saw the angel hovering right behind him, between him and the door. She wondered what would happen if Sheldon collided with her angel. Would the angel be shattered, smashed, burst into shards of light? Or would Sheldon emerge glowing, shining with a delicious softness?