"What is needed in the U. S. today  ... is a kind of denazification." "Washington is the torture and political murder capital of the world." (1979) "This [9/11] is certainly a turning point: for the first time in history the victims are returning the blow to the motherland." "What's happening [in Afghanistan in late 2001] is some sort of silent genocide...we [the U.S.] are in the midst of apparently trying to murder 3 or 4 million people."
This equation between America and Nazi Germany and the concomitant depiction of America as the center of the world's evil will no doubt remind many readers of Ward Churchill, the Colorado professor whose allusion to the 3000 people massacred in the World Trade Center on 9/11 as "little Eichmanns" deserving their fate landed him in a great deal of trouble. In fact, however, these (equally obscene) remarks were made by Noam Chomsky, who will be honored on April 20 as an University of Washington Danz Lecturer. (The Jessie and John Danz bequest to UW was intended to fund a series of lectures on "the impact of science and philosophy on man's perception of a rational universe." But the lectureship--following the usual academic pattern--has frequently been hijacked by tenured left-wing guerrillas to serve their political purposes, which rarely conduce to "a rational universe.")
Chomsky is, of course, something more than a Ward Churchill with a brain, indeed a very formidable brain that revolutionized the field of linguistics (albeit with a kind of "creationism" that makes many uneasy). His great distinction as a political polemicist has been to demonstrate the truth of the French saying that “les extremes se touchent” (extremes meet). He is among the few writers trumpeted by the leftist Nation magazine and the neo-Nazi Journal of Historical Review, by Alexander Cockburn and David Duke (who praised Chomsky in 1998 for "daring to expose the truth about Zionism and Jewish supremacism"), by anti-Semitic Holocaust deniers like Robert Faurisson and David Irving and by leftwing anti-Semitism-deniers, who habitually label the murder of Jews in Buenos Aires, the burning of synagogues in France, the Arab lynchings and suicide bombings of Intifada II, and the boycott of Israeli scholars and researchers "criticism of Israeli policy." Indeed, Chomsky has himself produced the classic utterance of anti-Semitism-denial: "Anti-Semitism," he declared in 2002, "is no longer a problem, fortunately. It's raised, but it's raised because privileged people want to make sure they have total control, not just 98 percent control. That's why anti-Semitism is becoming an issue." As this charming remark indicates, the line between anti-Semitism-denial and anti-Semitism (the thing itself) is a fine one.
It used to be said that Chomsky, in simultaneously appealing to the crackpot right and the crackpot left, was like "a bigamist who must constantly strain to keep one of his families secret from the other." This referred mainly to Chomsky's eager collaboration with La Vieille Taupe (The Old Mole), a French neo-Nazi organization that seeks to vindicate the original Nazis by denying that they murdered the Jews of Europe. When Chomsky's fellow leftist Pierre Vidal-Naquet learned, in 1979, that Chomsky was writing a preface to the aforementioned Faurisson's book of Holocaust-denial, he warned Chomsky that Faurisson was a long-time, well-known neo-Nazi anti-Semite. Undaunted, Chomsky proceeded with his preface and even affixed to Faurisson the inane label: "a sort of apolitical liberal." When taken to task for his sycophantic allusion to Faurisson's "findings," Chomsky had the gall to claim that Frenchmen with imperfect English failed to understand that "findings" means "conclusions" and not "discoveries." Vidal-Naquet then "concluded" that Chomsky's zeal on behalf of this previously secret family would not cool until the French republic passed a law requiring that Faurisson's squalid tract be read in public schools and sold at the entrances to synagogues.
But the concealment is no longer necessary because Chomsky's two families have now become one. The current resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe is largely the work not just of Muslim fundamentalists but of liberals, leftists, strugglers against "racism"--and haters of America. Virtually no Parisian demonstration against America is without placards reading "Mort aux Juifs" (death to the Jews). Chomsky's two pet hatreds-- America and Israel--have become linked in Europe (where his popularity is greatest) and in those scattered American outposts of European sentiment and ideology: our universities.
Edward Alexander is a professor emeritus of English at the University of Wisconsin.