(Peter Collier's and David Horowitz's The Anti-Chomsky Reader is available in the Frontpage Bookstore for a special offer of $11.95 - The Editors).
Peter Collier and David Horowitz have done the impossible. They've made it possible to feel sorry for Noam Chomsky. It's sad to see someone so publicly dismantled, fact by damning fact. But after reading "The Anti-Chomsky Reader" (Encounter Books, 260 pages, $17.95), a new collection of essays edited by Messrs. Collier and Horowitz, perhaps the dominant emotion is confusion.
One is not only stupefied by the disingenuousness of the linguistics professor from MIT, but unsure as to what exactly he is. Socialist? Nazi sympathizer? Language scholar who abuses words to serve an agenda? How about all of the above. The assembled writers seemed to have chased down every possible escape hatch for Chomsky defenders - and they are legion - and slam them shut.
Steven Morris microwaves Mr. Chomsky's defense of totalitarian regimes like the Khmer Rouge, whose genocide of over a million people Chomsky called "the result of localized peasant revenge and the acts of undisciplined troops." Thomas M. Nichols notes in "Chomsky and the Cold War" that Mr. Chomsky called communist Vietnam "a miracle of reconciliation and restraint" and Maoist China "quite admirable." Chomsky has also attacked Israel as illegitimate and defended PLO terrorists, as Paul Bogdanor observes; perhaps more infamously, he has collaborated with neo-Nazis, as shown in Werner Cohn's "Chomsky and Holocaust Denial."
For me the most satisfying part of the book is that two writers - David Horowitz and Ronald Radosh - finally take on what is perhaps the most annoying thing about Chomsky: the way he speaks. It is language spoken with a constant sigh. Words seem to slide out of the man's mouth like olive oil over water. He never raises his voice, and his slow, steady, and cocksure delivery is filled with a spuriously sad resignation: I don't make up these horrible things about the United States, and I really hate even to bring them up because it makes me so depressed. But here are the facts.
On October 18, 2001, when America began its response to 9/11 by going into Afghanistan, Mr. Chomsky claimed that America was trying to starve Afghanies by stopping food-supply trucks. At a lecture, he said, "Looks like what's happening is some sort of silent genocide." Spoken with the Chomsky slither, this can sink into listeners without them even thinking about it. "The casual tone and the faux professorial caution in formulating the claim," write Messrs. Horowitz and Radosh, "are meant to disarm his listeners as they absorb the charge - which is actually quite lurid and also quite lunatic."
Here is Chomsky on September 12, 2001: "The terrorist attacks were major atrocities. In scale they may not reach the level of many others, for example, Clinton's bombing of the Sudan with not credible pretext." Mr. Horowitz: "Observe the syntax: The opening reference to the actual attacks is clipped and bloodless, a kind of rhetorical throat clearing for Chomsky to get out of the way so he can announce the real subject of his concern: America's evil. The accusation against Clinton is slipped into the text, weasel fashion, as though it were a modifier, when it is actually the theme itself."
If there were any sense in this world, "The Anti-Chomsky Reader" would be distributed to college freshman along with the free condoms.