Manufacturing Dissent

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In 1977, Chomsky, and co-author Edward Herman, infamously dismissed charges of a Pol Pot-engineered genocide in Cambodia as a hoax suited for Western propaganda. “The ‘slaughter’ by the Khmer Rouge,” the pair announced in The Nation, “is a [Robert] Moss-New York Times creation.”

After the 1998 bombing of Sudan by the U.S., which confused a medicine factory for a weapons of mass destruction plant, Chomsky maintained that the attack resulted in “tens of thousands of immediate Sudanese victims.” Alas, the misguided strikes resulted in a handful of casualties. The medicine shortage highlighted by Chomsky simply escaped the notice of every credible aid organization. Pressed, Chomsky cited Human Rights Watch and the German embassy in Sudan as sources. The former denied making any such estimate and the latter never investigated the matter—instead making what the former ambassador termed as a “reasonable guess.”

“At this point,” Chomsky told a radio interviewer in the days following 9/11, “we are considering the possibility of a war that may destroy much of human civilization.” Repeatedly, the professor loosely charged that a war in Afghanistan would result in millions of deaths. One estimate of the expected carnage was as high as three to four million. As any good MIT student could have told Chomsky, his numbers were off by a factor of more than 100. As the NATO campaign in Afghanistan progressed, Chomsky observed: “Looks like what’s happening is some sort of silent genocide”—so silent, in fact, that even the Afganis haven’t heard about it.

One would think that Chomsky’s credibility would now be somewhere between Richard Heene in the wake of his “balloon boy” stunt and Geraldo Rivera’s after opening Al Capone’s vault. But if you shoot at the right target, frequent misses will not undermine your sharpshooter reputation. Fantastical charges against an unpopular target may actually increase one’s popularity.

Chomsky’s anti-U.S. broadsides have so inflated his reputation that more than three dozen institutions of higher learning have bestowed honorary degrees upon him. By one count the number of citations to his work in academic publications in the humanities stands higher than any other living source. As the UK’s Guardian noted in 2001, “Chomsky ranks with Marx, Shakespeare, and the Bible as one of the ten most quoted sources in the humanities—and is the only writer among them still alive.”

The namedroppers aren’t limited to academia. After Matt Damon’s “Will Hunting” touted Howard Zinn in the Academy Award-winning Good Will Hunting, Robin Williams, portraying the title character’s psychiatrist, played booster to Chomsky. And a foreign admirer remarked last year that “Noam Chomsky was correct when he compared the U.S. policies to those of the mafia.” The speaker? Osama bin Laden.

Daniel J. Flynn is the author of A Conservative History of the American Left (Crown Forum, 2008), Intellectual Morons (Crown Forum, 2004), and Why the Left Hates America (Prima Forum, 2002). He writes a Monday column for Human Events and blogs at

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  • Harold

    We all know Chomsky as well as any of us want to. The sad part is that professors who share his perverse outlook on the world teach all over this country at our colleges.

  • SpiritOf1683

    We knew how to deal with our Chomskys back in 1946, and he is the latter day equivalent of Lord Haw Haw. Lord Haw Haw was the Nazi's best friend, just like Chumpsky is the Jihadis best friend, and Lord Haw Haw got his just desserts.

  • Concerned American

    I don't think someone necessarily hates our country because they are critical of it's actions. Maybe they are lamenting the fact that their country, which they care about, does things that it should not do. Take the Iraq war for example. People in the Bush Pentagon were planning an invasion of Iraq four months before 09/11 and were discussing with the UK and Turkey how to divide the oil. (yes, I have proof). 9/11 provided the excuse they needed for war, even though there was no evidence of Iraq's involvement in 9/11. The Iraq war caused great loss of life and limb and was a catastrophe for the people there. Even now, Iraq Christians are being attacked and their churches destroyed by the Muslim majority and many Christians have left their homeland. Is is hatred for the U.S. when one laments this war? If one really cares about someone or something (like their country) they want it to see it improve. Maybe we should ask how the Iraq war came about and take steps to ensure things like that won't happen in the future.

    • stern

      Seems your major concern is to blame America. Let's take just a couple of your points. The war as a catastrophe for the people of Iraq? Really? More of a catastrophe than Saddam? Really? Christians are being attacked and their churches destroyed? And this is America's fault? Really? What about the same thing happening in Egypt? Also America's fault? Or perhaps, just maybe, the folks who are doing the destroying are to blame? Or would it be too politically incorrect to make that claim? Like Chomsky, you are dedicated to the half truth. "This is happening, therefore … America is to blame". Like Chomsky, you "turn to the facts", but then turn away when it suits you rather than when you've examined them all.

    • davarino

      Ya, so we went through all of this, and we do not have Iraq's oil. That worked out great.

      You got another one?

    • jacob


      If there is something I hate is to listen to or read braying, which I consider
      limited to donkeys and by the way, one of the reasons people do not send
      their donkeys to school is because nobody likes a smart ass…

      I've heard and read the braying that USA attacked IRAQ for its oil and you
      claim to have proof of this having been discussed in the Pentagon…perhaps
      in a pig's eye….

      Now, do you believe you are going to sell us the notion (as many other"
      geniuses" tried before), that IRAQ was going to give away its oil to the USA
      or even sell it to it at a discount ???

      Because if you do, perhaps you are more of a fool than me…

    • akbass

      "…..(yes, I have proof)." Sure, sure. You also have the same amnesia everyone else on the Left seems to suffer from. President Clinton's administration had a complete plan drawn up for invading Iraq and taking out Saddam as far back as 1992, long before Bush was on anyone's radar screen.

    • Bob

      Where is your "proof" and where did all of the oil go?

    • marat 1

      Ridiculous….what you write is TOTALLY ridiculous. Consider: One of the FIRST things that the U.S. did after toppling Saddam was to GO DIRECTLY to the U.N. to have the oil sanctions that had been placed on Iraq lifted in order to help the flow of funds for reconstruction. BOTH Britain and the U.S. have closely guarded the port which has been exporting oil for years now, albeit in small amounts as it is small and comparatively primitive compared to major oil exporters. WHERE WAS THE BIG " STEALING of the OIL???" There WAS NONE. ZERO. In fact just a few years back the U.S. Congress debated the issue of whether Iraq, which was making revenue after America's huge sacrifices in that nation should be paying X amount back to the U.S. for compensation–a VERY reasonable request. I do not believe that has happened. Sorry, your Conspiracy theory holds no truth. Funny–forensic anthropologists have been working in Iraq for years, uncovering mass graves, with estimates of some 100,000 victims slaughtered by Saddam's henchmen. Mass graves have been found with the bodies of young men, most often with rotting bandanas around where their eyes once were. Were mistakes made in Iraq? Of course. The sectarian violence is occurring outside of Iraq as well, with Muslims at war with each other. But the intentions of the U.S. were lofty and I believe history will bear this out.

  • PAthena

    Noam Chomsky is a would-be tyrant and tyrant worshipper. He also supports the extermination of all Jews, not only the destruction of Israel, since he supports Hezbollah, which he visited.

  • Steve Chavez

    "When the Wall fell, we cheered, our Communists cried! When the Twins fell, we cried, they cheered! When Osama died, we cheered, they cried!" Steve Chavez

    "When Fidel dies, we'll cheer, they cried! "When Cheney dies, we'll cry, they'll cheer!"

    CONNECT THE DOTS! ("Connect the Dots" is an Indymedia, a radlical Leftist TV program so I'm using their own words against them!)

  • waterwillows

    Is it not an odd ball thing that people who are clearly delusional, not a shred of doubt about it, hold down positions with titles like 'professor'?
    Make me wonder just who it is that enjoys the mentally ill being in charge of anything. Until his mind clears, if ever, he should be usefully employed as maybe a janitor. Cleaning things, might help to clean his mind.

  • FBastiat
  • tanstaafl

    A living argument against tenure.

  • g_jochnowitz

    Fascists are rightists. Today's anti-Semites are leftists. Extremes meet. Chomsky is both a leftist and a rightist.….

    • ziontruth

      Disagree. Liberalism (in the classical sense of the word) vs. Authoritarianism isn't a Left/Right thing. The former divide cuts across the latter.

      There used to be true liberals on the Left, but beginning with the 1960s the statist, authoritarian branch of the Left, better known as Marxism, took over. Chomsky is a prominent manifestation of that takeover.

  • tagalog

    Can Mr. Chomsky please define the "elementary norms of international law" that have been violated on the issue of hunting down Osama bin Laden, raiding his home, and killing him on sight?

    I always thought Winston Churchill had those elementary norms pegged about right when he held that if the leader of Germany, Adolf Hitler, fighting a declared war against (among others) the United Kingdom, were captured by a British squad, it would be lawful to put him up against a wall and summarily shoot him to death.

    So what are elementary international norms for dealing with a person who is not a national leader and who fights as an irregular and who claims that he's at war with you when he kills thousands of your people? International norms seem to classify this person as a guerilla and long-standing international principles of law permit him to be killed upon capture. Is there some development in international law that would require a different result?

    Or is Noam Chomsky just (still) an idiot?

    • Ben

      Perhaps your country should start recognising the ICC and then you'll realise what the 'elementary norms of international law' are.The world has changed a lot since WWII you know.
      Churchill was a political idiot anyways, a great war-time man but for a humaniterean he was bonkers.

      • tagalog

        As one who is obviously far ahead of me on knowledge of the ICC, could you tell me what are the international norms of law on the issue of capturing and killing irregulars/guerillas? It seems as if it must be a simple set of principles, if both you and Noam Chomsky agree on what they are. So please, enlighten me. I only know what Bertrand Russell and the U.S. prosecutor at Nuremburg, Telford Taylor, have had to say.

  • BS77

    Chomsky…what a steaming pile.

  • Jim_C

    “elementary norms of international law.” What do you mean, Mr. Chomsky?

    One cannot say Chomsky doesn't do his homework. He does approach his screeding with a certain amount of rigor and…I don't know that I'd call it "intellectual honesty" but it is consistent.

    But one can say he consistently reaches the wrong conclusions almost every time. The article is right to call his anti-Americanism "reflexive."

    The only thing worth reading by him are his comments on the media in this country; I think conservatives, always complaining about the state of the media, might actually find points of agreement, there.

    • stern

      Chomsky always claims to "turn to the facts" – which I guess is what you mean by doing his homework. Trouble is, he only turns to the facts that suit his argument and ignores all the others. In fact, I've found that if you research anything Chomsky says, you'll find that it's factually correct – but only as far is it goes. If you keep researching, you'll quickly find additional facts that completely contradict the conclusion Chomsky has reached.

  • StephenD

    “Noam Chomsky was correct when he compared the U.S. policies to those of the mafia.” The speaker? Osama bin Laden.They're both off. The Mafia got their behavior from the Muslims. Think about it. In the mob you are either "one of them” (or join a crew to be made one) in which case you're relatively safe, or you pay protection money (acknowledging your continued obligation and subjugation to them), or you die.With Islam, you are either “one of them” (or convert to be one) in which case you’re relatively safe, or you pay protection money (The Jisya Tax ~ acknowledging your subjugation to them as superiors), or you die.I don’t wonder where the ideas came from. Corrupted thinking and lies have the same father.

    • Raymond in DC

      "The Mafia got their behavior from the Muslims." Well, Sicily was for a while under Muslim Ottoman rule…

  • steven l

    The best way to treat him is to ignore him. He belongs to the bin of irrelevancy. He is lucky to live in democratic countries otherwise he would have spend his time in the gulag of Russia, China or as a dhimmi.
    Chomsky talks in absolute concepts that do not apply to humans. We all can do that or at least think that way. It gives him and us good conscience?

  • Questions

    Noam Chomsky is one of those Brilliant Intellectuals who underscore why the smartest people aren't necessarily the soundest. Every assertion on their part, however unsupported (and unsupportable), becomes fact. Intensity becomes accomplishment. Whatever talent this guy once had as a linguist, he pissed it away ages ago.

  • Duke of cambridge

    That's why the only "Linguists" I respect work in the field of adult entertainment.
    Giants like Ms. Jameson, and the one of Chucy Sheez's goddesses.
    Mister Chum cannot hold a candle to them… even though there was one movie with a chimp that held a candle and… well I digress.

  • MHL

    Noam Chomsky is as predictable as the seasons- In fact he can be used as a political barometer in the following manner:
    Whenever Chomsky is harshly critical of any American action be it military, political, social,
    etc. you must realize and be certain that America has done something good and noble.
    If on the other hand, if Chomsky has anything positive to say about American-which I very much doubt has ever occurred in practice, -then you can be sure America has done something terrible.
    You can't expect anything better from Chomsky; his brain works in a manner contrary to normal reasoning and analysis.
    And if he were less of a hypocrite and truly believed his arguments have validity, he should have given up his American citizenship and fled to Cuba or North Korea years ago.

  • 080

    Whether the raid violates norms of international law or not depends on which version of the same that you read. George W. Bush was assured that his version of international law of "prevention and pre-emption was within; the bounds of "international law" then Obama's version of "pre-emption and prevention" looks very similar.

    • stern

      Similar? So George Bush going after the Taliban and the Iraqi army is the same as Osama bin Laden going after accountants, stock brokers, chefs, waiters and waitresses, clerks, secretaries and others doing their daily business? You really think that? if you do, you come from a very strange and perverted world.

      • Sashland

        ummmmmm, stern, read again.
        OBama, not OSama…

        you might want to retract that rant.

        080: They are indeed quite similar exercises of sovereign rights of self-defense.

        • stern23

          Sorry! Sashland, thanks for pointing out my error. 080, my apologies to you too. Of course, you are quite right.

  • libertywolf

    If I didn't know the man was of sane and sound mind I would think he was senile and had psychotic "features". I mean, this guy is off his rocker. The question I have is why would someone who has been privileged with so many blessings from America, hate it so much? And, there is no doubt he hates America. And, his animus toward Israel is also off-the-wall. What is strange however is not that someone like Chomsky exists, but that so many listen to him as though he actually made sense. That's the truly strange and sad part.

    • Ben

      His sentiment is one that is shared by many Europeans. If you guys listened to people like Noam a little more, then maybe you wouldn't be as hated throughout the world.

  • PAthena

    See the Anti-Chomsky Reader.

    • BS77

      Chomsky is the Madoff of the intellectual milieu………He's really totally bourgeoise………He should move to Zimbabwe or North Korea and be the big leftist "expert" over there. What a movie that would make. Probably interest about 14 people.

  • Ghostwriter

    Unbelievable! We have a fool (Noam Chomsky) crying over the death of a monster (Usama Bin Laden). I can't imagine a more pathetic spectacle.

  • Ben

    Apart from not selling petroleum to you guys, how exactly is Chavez 'uncultured'? He's just the U.S whipping boy because he won't do as you say…like a Mr. Fidel Castro was/is I might add.

  • BS77

    CHomsky is an old fashioned traitor…but now days traitors are given tenure at big universities and treated like "great men" by the leftist bugs in the media.

  • Terry

    Chumpsky hates America, Israel, civilised values.

    However, his walter mitty revolution isn't something we in the Jewish and civilised worlds have missed.

    *itler was once a joke figure, just like chumpsky. And if ever chumpsky gets us to the fighting stage of his revolution, he'll end up like his mate *itler did. That would be natural and elementary justice. And I imagine there are more than a few people who would be happy to administer it to a traitor.

  • Avis de consommateur

    Liked this article.. Chomsky…

  • Mac Truk

    I really don't know what to think about all this..