Some things you can count on: death, taxes, and Noam Chomsky having an unkind word to say about his country. The assassination of Osama bin Laden is the most recent occasion for the MIT professor emeritus to partake in a presumably cathartic two-minute hate.
“We might ask ourselves how we would be reacting if Iraqi commandos landed at George W. Bush’s compound, assassinated him, and dumped his body in the Atlantic,” Chomsky suggested in the online journal Guernica. “Uncontroversially, his crimes vastly exceed bin Laden’s, and he is not a ‘suspect’ but uncontroversially the ‘decider’ who gave the orders to commit the ‘supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole’ (quoting the Nuremberg Tribunal) for which Nazi criminals were hanged: the hundreds of thousands of deaths, millions of refugees, destruction of much of the country, the bitter sectarian conflict that has now spread to the rest of the region.”
Within a few lines, the bestselling author managed to compare George W. Bush to Osama bin Laden and Adolf Hitler. Was Genghis Khan’s name unavailable?
Chomsky contends that the raid violated “elementary norms of international law.” He writes, “There appears to have been no attempt to apprehend the unarmed victim.” When not calling the mass murderer a “victim,” the octogenarian academic refers to bin Laden as a “suspect” that deserved a fair trial. But Chomsky shows he is agnostic on the question of the suspect/victim’s involvement in the 9/11 terrorist attacks: “There is much talk of bin Laden’s ‘confession,’ but that is rather like my confession that I won the Boston Marathon. He boasted of what he regarded as a great achievement.”
The professor’s anti-Americanism has become so reflexive that hyperbolic comparisons of Bush to Hitler and flirtations with 9/11 Trutherism appear as almost obligatory expressions in his writings and interviews. Far from making Chomsky a marginalized character, the venomous language has increased the linguist’s popularity as a political commentator—particularly within academia. The conditioned anti-Americanism endears him to like-minded audiences. It doesn’t endear him to the truth.
For several decades, Noam Chomsky’s tic has led to a series of easily rebuttable factual claims.