Noam Chomsky

Apsken at Apsken at
Sat Oct 24 17:29:59 PDT 1998

Since Louis has posted my private communication, written casually rather than with scholarly care, I owe it to Noam Chomsky's admirers on this list to provide documentation for what I wrote about him.

The Journal of Historical Review was, until a split a few years ago, the principal organ of the neo-Nazi political offensive to deny the Holocaust, founded by Willis Carto in 1979. Holocaust denial went hand-in-glove with the Ku Klux Klan resurgence in Mississippi in the late 1970s, and thus posed a serious threat that required vigorous refutation. That has been one of my political duties ever since.

It was with some dismay that we learned of Noam Chomsky's defense of Robert Faurisson in France. Under fire from the left, Chomsky claimed that his essay defending the rights of Holocaust deniers had been published without his permission, and that his sole involvement was in defense of free speech.

However, after Gitta Sereny's article "The Men Who Whitewash Hitler" about these so-called "revisionists" appeared in the November 2 1979 New Statesman, Faurisson sent a reply letter in the usual Holocaust-denier style. I don't recall whether the New Statesman published that letter, but The Journal of Historical Review did (volume 1, number 2, page 157).

The shocker was this passage: "Noam Chomsky, the famous professor (of Jewish origin) at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is aware of the research work I do on what Revisionist Historians term 'the gas chamber and genocide hoax.' He informed me that Gitta Sereny had mentioned my name in the above article, and stated that I had been referred to 'in an extraordinarily unfair way.' "

Knowing the propensity of Nazis to lie, I wrote to Chomsky asking his version of the event, hoping an acceptable answer would be forthcoming. Instead, I received a hostile polemic, neither denying nor explaining his evident political (as opposed to civil-libertarian) assistance to Faurisson, but attacking me for raising the question, and likening this to his support of Henry Kissinger's and other war criminals' right to teach, which he had defended against antiwar protesters.

Unfortunately I do not at present have access to my letter and Chomsky's reply, so I cannot provide the text of our exchange.

In a similarly disheartening experience earlier, as I reported to Chomsky, the ACLU, defending the KKK's right to rally at a recently desegregated Mississippi high school in 1977, told the court that "the Ku Klux Klan does not promote violence to effectuate social change."

Ken Lawrence

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