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June 29, 2015 10:44 am

Drexel Sends the Wrong Message in Honoring Noam Chomsky

avatar by Abraham H. Miller

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Drexel University presented an honorary degree to Noam Chomsky. Photo: Marcello Casal Jr.

Drexel University presented an honorary degree to Noam Chomsky. Photo: Marcello Casal Jr.

Drexel University presented an honorary degree to Noam Chomsky — and a lot of people saw the decision as an affirmation of hate.

Chomsky’s intellectual credentials are beyond dispute. He is, perhaps, the leading scholar of linguistics of his generation. His academic achievements and honors would require pages to adequately describe.

But there is Chomsky the scholar and Chomsky the political activist, and for those familiar with who he is, the two are inextricably bound.

During America’s wars in Indochina, Chomsky made a reputation for himself as a fierce opponent to those wars and an advocate for social justice. Chomsky’s intellectual credentials gave status to his politics.

But then something seemed to change. Chomsky seemed to be wedded to ideas of moral equivalence, which the steel trap of his syllogisms ensnared America with some of the most brutal regimes to ever desecrate the meaning of human decency.

There was a moral equivalence for Chomsky between the genocidal, fanatical regime of Pol Pot and the Indonesian invasion of East Timor. To Chomsky, America was to be indicted for selective outrage at Pol Pot but not at Indonesia, which was an ally.

That America had nothing to do with the invasion of East Timor seemed to escape Chomsky. And Chomsky’s strained exercise in moral equivalency led a number of those who previously embraced his politics to question whether Chomsky was providing a veiled justification for Pol Pot, a charge Chomsky vehemently denied. But that denial rang hollow in the face of Chomsky’s repeated attempts to downplay the extent of Pol Pot’s butchery.

Some saw it as a larger problem. Chomsky had embraced a far left view of the world, and he was reluctant to condemn leftist insurgents, whether it was the butchery of Pol Pot or the incoherent and inconsistent brutalities of Mao Tse Tung.

Solidarity with a leftist worldview superseded any concern for ethics — unless they were to be applied to America and later Israel.

A Jew, born to a Yiddish-speaking household in Philadelphia, Chomsky chose to muster his formidable intellectual skills to justify, in the name of free speech, Robert Faurisson’s publication of a Holocaust-denying screed.

Chomsky’s defense of Faurisson was, of course, manipulated to justify the content of the book. How could it not be when Chomsky’s entire essay was published as a preface to the 1980 edition?

Chomsky was accused of being a Holocaust denier, which he is not; nonetheless, he has provided legitimacy to Holocaust denial.

When the tragedy of 9/11 fell upon America, and while the nation was still consumed with shock and grief, Chomsky once again found a lesson for America in moral equivalence. Ever playing the role of the dispassionate intellectual, Chomsky made a frigid comparison of 9/11 to President Bill Clinton’s cynical bombing of a civilian pharmaceutical factory in Khartoum in August 1988.

Without an iota of proof that the Al Shifa factory was producing nerve gas and ignoring objections within his own intelligence community, Clinton bombed the pharmaceutical factory to redirect attention from the Lewinsky Affair.

It was an act that was as morally reprehensible as it was cynical. It was in keeping with Clinton’s quest for power at all costs, and the costs were massive, for the bombing deprived Africans of inexpensive life-saving drugs.

But Chomsky should have known that justifying the deaths of some 6,000 of his countrymen did not provide moral clarity; it was an abrogation of moral responsibility. It was saying that two wrongs now made a right. Chomsky is the denier of Pol Pot’s genocide, the exalter of the brutal psychopath Mao Tse Tung and the defender of Slobodan Milosevic, the butcher of Serbia.

Chomsky claimed Osama bin Laden as the embodiment of Islam’s historical grievances. Chomsky has seldom missed an opportunity to author a screed against Israel. In 1992, he saw the PLO as the embodiment of peace and ignored its wanton killings of innocent passengers in airline terminals.

He condemns the Jewish hatred of Arabs that he encountered among individual Jews, but the institutionalized hatred of Jews that is woven into the minds of Palestinian children escapes both his notice and the point of his quill.

Chomsky’s far leftist world view does not permit facts to get in the way. His positions sound remarkably like those of other leftist Jews, who, given a choice between their political ideology and their Jewish heritage, eagerly lacerate their heritage to embrace their politics.

Chomsky claims the brutal Hezbollah as a moderate force for peace, just as he showcases the Palestine Liberation Organization, ignoring their glorification of terror against innocent Israelis, their saturation of their people with propaganda that justifies the killing of innocents, and their corruption that prevents the creation of an economically viable and decent society.

The moral Chomsky of the anti-war years has long passed from us. The Jewish hater of Jews and America remains.

Drexel was free to honor whom they chose.  They embraced the man who lent his pen and his rhetorical skills to excuse some of the worst acts of butchery in the history of civilization.

The public now knows what Drexel stands for, and the same freedom that Drexel exercises, Drexel’s donors are also free to exercise by voting with their pocketbooks.

Abraham H. Miller is an emeritus professor of political science, University of Cincinnati, and a senior fellow with the Salomon Center for American Jewish Thought.

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  • Genghis Cohen

    Noam Chomsky has never faulted a commie bureaucrat who corrupted the finances of Soviet production of essential staples, even at the cost of food shortages stunting the growth of Russian children. Who, but Noam Chomsky, could have failed to see that Joe Stalin created North Korea, and all of IndoChina’s socialist experiments culminating in the Cambodian love-fest of Pol Pot? Noam Chomsky is a scholar of the trivial! Linguistics is not a science and there is no certain scholarship there.
    America fed the millions and inspired economic creation in Europe and the Orient, all the while Chomsky smirked and subverted Israel. ISRAEL IS A POSITIVE FORCE FOR HUMANITY WHICH MUST NEVER BE VANQUISHED.

  • Ashpool

    I guess you won’t be getting any degrees from drexel, prof miller. It’s sad that jews must regurgitate the pro israel propaganda or be labeled self hating and then ostracized. Why even bother with east timor when ur mao when ur obvious goal is to demonize Chomsky’s stance on israel (not jews). Thanks partially to noam, stephen hawkin is now a supporter of the BDS movement.

  • Carlos Decourcy Lascoutx

    whose lackey are you?

  • Bradley Asztalos

    Completely absurd article. Chomsky has never attacked Jews qua Jew. In this regard he has only ever criticized the instrumental policies of the Israeli state. The author by conflating the two issues shows his stripe. And further by insinuating that donations should be withheld from Drexel University, for honoring Chomsky, he discredits the very concept of the university as a forum for open debate. When “Jewish heritage” is equated with Israeli politics look out someone is pulling a fast one on you.

  • Andrew

    I think the point Chomsky is trying to make is that

    a. We can’t control other peoples behavior but we can control our own.
    b. It is hypocritical to criticize other atrocities when we commit them ourselves and support regimes that do as well.
    c. We need to understand that it is our own behavior that leads to attacks against us. This doesn’t justify the killing of civilians but we should change our behavior in order to prevent future attacks against us.

    Being critical of the United States doesn’t mean he is defending our enemies. He is just saying we tend to create enemies unnecessarily. And comparing American crimes to others crimes is not an attempt to defend those crimes but to show how horrible our own crimes are.

    Furthermore, while I believe Hitler was the most terrible murderer of the 20th century I too would defend someones right to deny the holocaust. I would also defend someones right to say the earth is flat. That doesn’t mean I believe it or support that persons mindless drivel only that I support their right to free speech.

  • Regula

    The author of this article is clearly a Jew and a Zionist as such.

    Seldom has any political activist based all his analyses on as many facts as Chomsky. Miller is apparently envious of the vast knowledge and lived experience politically of Chomsky. There is not one article written by Chomsky that isn’t thoroughly based on facts and logic based in human rights and fairness.

    In contrast, Miller only recites the usual false accusations and propaganda of the Zionist Jews and Israeli government. According to Miller whoever looks at Israel without Jewish prejudice is an anti-Semite and therefore wrong to the core. That is propaganda, not intellect.

    Bravo to Drexel for awarding Chomsky an honorary doctorate. And surely, there will be enough unbiased donors not to condemn Drexel for its choice – a genuinely good and true choice.

    Shame on you, Mr. Miller for such a lousy article, based on nothing but vilifying an intellectually superior man, and Israeli Zionist propaganda. This isn’t factual, it isn’t academic, it is downright spiteful and hateful smear propaganda.

  • Joe

    Who provided the weapons to the Indonesian Army? Where did you get the 6,000 number?

  • Micah

    What an idiotic article!

  • rbockman

    Doesn’t much matter at this point, Chomsky has had a long, prosperous life hating himself and us.

  • You Sir are clearly an idiot, first of all PROFESSOR Chomsky has consistently and vehemently criticised leftist main steam politics, I every interview I have seen to date including the pro Moa tse sung Parisian leftist intellectual movement.
    Of course Hezbollah and the PLO would adopt the same tactic as the IRA have done in pursuing a political peace settlement given the opportunity.
    My analysis of comments on Holocaust denial and Jewish self hate is that u are part of the Israeli aparthi denial which seeks to feed on the fear of anti Semitism and Fundamentalist Islam and a return to the dark terrifying past history of the Jewish tribe, enslaved, starved, humiliated and exterminated.
    The Jewish mind will overcome the Palestinian tunnel building problem, the greatest technological country on earth undone by medieval tunnel warfare, this sums up the hopeless reverse Gobbles model.
    Mr Chomsky is the bulwark of humanist positivity, if he does not focus on the Pol pots it is because the crimes and despotism are clear for all to see, it is the crimes against humanity that are perpetrated by the Pilgrims Society and the US that the public are blind to as they watch the X factor on T v in summary I quote the late Saudi king Abdul “do not concern yourself with things you don’t understand because the lie is behind you and the grave is in front of you”

  • Bobby

    Disagreeing with Professor Chomsky’s political philosophy is one thing, but thinking that you can disprove it all with one short opinion piece is beyond delusional. And using the word “hate” to make up for your lack of factual evidence is cowardly and pathetic.

  • gerrit

    quit crying

  • Lux Interior

    You clearly have no idea what you’re talking about. First, the U.S. provided Indonesia with a vast armory for the invasion of East Timor, and Kissinger even met with Suharto the day before the invasion to secure their alliance amidst the Vietnam War. As far as Chomsky’s denial of Pol Pot’s atrocities, the specific controversy you’re referencing is from 1977, which was based entirely around the lack of verifiable information coming out of the entire region. Chomsky fully acknowledged the crimes of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge in 1993 in has book Manufacturing Consent. Second, Chomsky’s defense of Faurisson was about his right to free speech. The essay in the forward was used without Chomsky’s permission, and he has never denied the Holocaust. Arguing for free speech does not give credence to the ideas of those you defend, just to their humanity. Third, Chomsky’s comparison of 9/11 to the bombing of Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory was in the context of the humanitarian crisis created from the loss of medicine and pharmaceutical supplies, drawing a comparison of the human toll and marking both as acts of terrorism. He never once justifies 9/11 or defends it. Fourth, you overlook Israel’s entire role in the region surrounding it and how the groups at war with it are a reaction to its own brutal policies and the only innocent parties are the civilians on both sides.

  • Steven S

    The article writes that America had “nothing to do with the invasion of East Timor.” Actually, the US provided 80 percent of the arms fort he invasion over three decades. The US blocked security resoltuions attempting to condemn Indonesia for it. Provided financial aid and training tot he Indonesian armed forces. Finally, Gerald Ford gave the blessing for the invasion the night before it started during a visit to Jakarta.

    This one fabrication, now exposed, is among the many littering the article. A pathetic attempt at journalism and apologies for American crimes.