Chomsky's position on this matter has been clear to fair-minded observers from the beginning: as he has said, he thought the matter had been decided in the Enlightenment -- "I disapprove of what you say but will defend to the death your right to say it." The difficulty seems to come from people who hate Chomsky for his exposure of the lies and crimes of Israel. Unwilling or unable to attack him directly, they pretend that his anarchist defense of free speech (and condemnation of the law under which Faurisson was prosecuted for "falsifying history") necessarily puts him in the camp of holocaust deniers, where he manifestly doesn't belong. (See Christopher Hitchens, "The Chorus and Cassandra" <wwwdsp.ucd.ie/~daragh/reviews/r_cassandra.html>.)
Some people seem to believe that the Nazi persecution of Jews justifies oppression and exploitation by Israel (v. Norman Finkelstein's recent article on the Goldhagen book) -- and therefore somehow those like Chomsky who dare to condemn the latter must not believe in the former. Is it simply an error in logic or a corrupt psychological equation?
--C. G. Estabrook
On Sat, 24 Oct 1998 Apsken at aol.com wrote:
> 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