Friday, September 24, 2004

The latest threat: Frail 87-year-olds

I'm still trying to work this out. According to Crooked Timber, the highly-respected 87 year old Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm has been deported from the United States. It seems like no one is quite aware yet what the reasoning is.

But the fact remains that Hobsbawm is a highly respected figure in the world of academia, and - just to emphasise the point - EIGHTY-SEVEN YEARS OLD. What danger can he pose? When I saw him give a lecture at Birkbeck College, London (of which he is President) a couple of years back, he was already looking frail. I doubt the intervening two years have improved his health to the extent he could be considered a threat to anyone.

Are his well-known opinions, which have been espoused in umpteen books stretching back five decades and disputed by umpteen others, really so subversive? And if they're getting rid of Hobsbawm, who mostly pronounces on the 19th century, how long until "subversive" views on more recent events start to be suppressed? How long until the Chomskies and Moores of this world find Uncle Sam come banging at their door?

Yes, Hobsbawm is an unapologetic communist, but I thought we'd stopped fighting those guys already? In fact, didn't we win that one? After the Cat Stevens business the other day, it's beginning to make me wonder if the US has finally forgotten that little thing called "The Constitution" of which they always seems so proud. I seem to recall it mentioning something about freedom of expression and stuff in there...

EDIT: D'oh! Colour me stupid. Fell for it hook, line and sinker. Crooked timber folks, you are bastards. Still, it wouldn't actually surprise me...

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