Born December 7th, 1928 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Noam Chomsky was a linguistics (the scientific study of language) professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1961 to 1976, and from the latter year he was appointed Institute professor. The guy has been teaching at MIT for over 50 years! In that time he has also written many books on the topics of: linguistics (obviously), U.S. foreign policy, and politics in general. Some many wonder where he’s gotten all the information that he’s used to write all the books that he has (especially on U.S. foreign policy and atrocities in third world countries). He states (in “Manufacturing consent: Noam Chomsky and the media”): “You can find out where I learned about them from looking at my footnotes. I learned about them from human rights reports, from church reports, from refugee studies, and extensively from the Australian press. Uh, there was nothing from the American press because it was silenced.” (The latter part is his commenting on how he learned about the atrocities and genocide in East Timor in the 1980’s.)
This is one guy who I believe is telling the truth wherever he can find an outlet for telling it, and I don’t believe he’s doing it for money or fame, but simply because he believes the truth should be known by all. If we are to truly end preventable human suffering, we must know what is causing that suffering, be it germs in the air, the weather, or other human beings. In the case of human beings causing the suffering, the absolute unequivocal truth should be spread to as many people as possible in order for those people to rise up and stop those who are causing that suffering; in larger cases, this can occur in the form of a revolution or an uprising (others might call it anarchy or rioting). But those fighting for human rights and human decency know that in this day and age you can’t simply ask someone to stop doing something and expect them to immediately comply; in contrast, it might cause them to do it even more. Fighting for what is good, right, and decent must sometimes be fought for using violence. Causing violence and harm against someone (or a group of people) who is intentionally bringing harm and suffering to others who have done no such thing to anyone else (we’ll call them ‘innocents’ for the time being) is sometimes the only way to cease the furthering of harm and suffering against said innocents – however, I am not pro-war in all cases. If a mad dictator is killing off thousands of innocents in his country and won’t stop doing it despite numerous warnings and statements from a wide variety of people all around the world, then something must be done to MAKE the dictator stop…but those are my views and not necessarily the views of Chomsky. I suggest you read some of his books (or biographies) to get a better idea of why he does what he does.
Chomsky is known as a libertarian socialist; he also believes strongly in the idea of democracy. Not the democracy that exists now (too limited), but a more involved democracy; one where the population votes on things like prescription drug bills, the draft and how much money should be donated to what cause. Instead, we have a certain number of people in government branches that do all that for us while we busy ourselves with our jobs, family, and entertainment. I think one of the driving forces behind Chomsky’s will to spill out the truth onto the floor of the world (much like one would kick over a barrel full of oil onto a carpet) is his belief in human rights, human freedoms, and working together to achieve a common goal for the goodwill of the people (peace, for example).
“The point is you have to work, that’s why the propaganda system is so successful. Very few people are going to have the time or the energy or the commitment to carry out the constant battle that’s required to get outside of…Dan Rather or somebody like that. The easy thing to do, y’know, you come home from work, you’re tired, you’ve just had a busy day, you’re not going to spend the evening carrying out a research project. So you turn on the tube, it’s six, or you look at the headlines in the paper and then you watch sports or something, and that’s basically how the system of indoctrination works. I’m sure the other stuff is there, but you’re gonna have to work to find it.” (Another quote from “Manufacturing consent: Noam Chomsky and the media”.)
The “other stuff” that he’s talking about is the truth of what’s going on elsewhere on the planet outside of the larger world of sports and entertainment (those two things are black holes in themselves). Once you’ve entered the portal of sports and/or entertainment, you’re overwhelmed with the massive amount of ‘information’ that these two topics hold, and that ‘information’ has no end. But back to the “other stuff”: for example (hypothetically), there MAY have been a small article or mention (read: a line or two) about the atrocity in East Timor in an article of The New York Times back in the ‘80’s, but the entire story would take up much more than a sentence. In fact, it could take up the entire paper. The people who manage and create the newspapers control how much of what story is put onto a page. Some words, some sentences, or entire paragraphs may be taken out in the context of space for other stories and in order to fit in ads. In my view, this is not real journalism.
On a side note: whenever you see a report on T.V. about the government releasing classified documents, do you ever wonder why some sentences are blacked out (‘redacted’, in other words)? If the documents are de-classified and accessible to the public, why are they not accessible in their full format? Why the censoring? What are they hiding? They will tell you that they blacked out some words in the interest of “national security.” What I think they’re actually doing is covering up the information that marks them as liars, murderers, and crooks. They’re erasing the evidence against them that would cause people to dig further and further into what’s really going on and discover the truth.
Some people may know Chomsky’s name from the Faurrison Affair, an affair in which Robert Faurisson (a French professor of Literature) wrote two letters to Le Monde (a French daily evening newspaper) and published a book called “Mémoire en defense”, in which he stated that the Holocaust was a hoax and that there was no evidence that the gas chambers existed. Faurrison was found guilty of defamation and incitement to racial hatred, given a suspended 3-month prison term and ordered to pay a 21,000 franc fine. Many accused Faurrison of being an anti-Semite and a neo-Nazi, and he was severely beaten for it in 1989. A total of five hundred people signed a petition denouncing the punishment given to Faurrison – Chomsky’s name being one of the five hundred. Chomsky also wrote an essay entitled, “Some elementary comments on the rights of freedom of expression”, in which he supported Faurrison’s right to freedom of speech (NOT Faurrison’s views that the Holocaust was a hoax). Many people, such as Pierre Vidal-Naquet, believed that Chomsky supported Faurrison in his views, even though CHOMSKY ONLY SUPPORTED HIS RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF SPEECH (one of the defining qualities of freedom of speech is that points of view that you don’t agree with are not censored but freely expressed). Chomsky has had to fight off many claims that he was an anti-Semite and that he supported Faurrison’s view…perhaps he still does to this day.
At the time of this article, Noam Chomsky is 78 years old, and will be 79 at the end of this year (2006). He won’t be around much longer, and no doubt that the information that he’s able to dispense will slow in the years leading up to his death. Check out the Wikipedia page on Chomsky and look at the bibliography at the bottom; you’ll see many books written almost one year after the other. Will anyone take over for him once he’s gone?
If you want contradicting accounts of what the media has told you about Nicaragua, Panama, the Gulf War, and the history leading up to 9/11, read what Chomsky has written on the subjects. If you want to think that Chomsky is simply an anarchist and a crazy man who’s trying to deceive people, it’s your right to think that. But if he’s not doing it for money or fame, then why is he doing it?
MIT Department of Linguistics – Noam Chomsky – web.mit.edu
Noam Chomsky – Z Space
chomsky.info – The Noam Chomsky Website