Noam Chomsky and Holocaust Denial

Is Noam Chomsky a Holocaust denier? I’ve done some Googling, but mainly I get white supremacist websites championing him as a defender of revisionism. So, what’s the Straight Dope?

Where have you heard that he is? I’ve never heard anything like that.

Do a web search for “Chomsky Holocaust” and you’re guaranteed to get a plethora of revisionist sites calling him a defender of revisionism.

Who is Noam Chomsky?


Well, where do they say they get it from? I’ve read some Chomsky–both his political stuff and his linguistic stuff–and I haven’t seen anything that would suggest him to be a Holocaust denier.

Noam Chomsky.

He’s a linguist, professor, and political writer.

Here’s a white power/revisionist site that has an article on him:

Quote, “He is an honoured patron of the revisionist movement on both sides of the Atlantic.”

Furthermore, Chomsky apparently defended French revisionist Robert Faurisson in a court trial.

From an interview:

Seems at least suggestive that Chomsky acknowledges the reality of the Holocaust. Let me do some more digging…

From Daoloth’s webpage:

Well, this may be a matter for GD. I think I see where Chomsky is coming from, though I don’t know enough about Faurisson to say whether Chomsky makes an accurate assessment of his motives. Basically, Chomsky is saying that, at base, questioning the accuracy of popularly-known historical fact is ostensibly apolitical–one can wonder whether the United States had a hand in sinking the Maine, for example, without necessarily being anti-American. So he’s right that there’s nothing per se anti-Semitic about questioning the particular reality of the Holocaust. Given the amount of evidence against you, you’d certainly be stupid to do so, but you wouldn’t necessarily be doing so out of an antipathy toward Jewish people. Does that make any sense?

Certainly, I think revisionists have taken Chomsky’s words and run with them in a direction that wasn’t originally intended.

Here’s an interesting take on the subject. I have to say, Chomsky sometimes reminds me very much of our own The Ryan, although I’m sure the latter might be pained by the comparison.

Grr…stupid thread ate my post. Let’s try a shorter version: check out Chomsky’s own description of the whole shebang.

Some relevant passages, for the clicking-impaired:

**In the fall of 1979, I was asked by Serge Thion, a libertarian socialist scholar with a record of opposition to all forms of totalitarianism, to sign a petition calling on authorities to insure Robert Faurisson’s “safety and the free exercise of his legal rights.”

Thion then asked me to write a brief statement on the purely civil libertarian aspects of this affair.

Faurisson’s conclusions are diametrically opposed to views I hold and have frequently expressed in print (for example, in my book Peace in the Middle East?, where I describe the holocaust as “the most fantastic outburst of collective insanity in human history”). But it is elementary that freedom of expression (including academic freedom) is not to be restricted to views of which one approves, and that it is precisely in the case of views that are almost universally despised and condemned that this right must be most vigorously defended.

Many writers find it scandalous that I should support the right of free expression for Faurisson without carefully analyzing his work, a strange doctrine which, if adopted, would effectively block defense of civil rights for unpopular views.

It seems to me something of a scandal that it is even necessary to debate these issues two centuries after Voltaire defended the right of free expression for views he detested. It is a poor service to the memory of the victims of the holocaust to adopt a central doctrine of their murderers. **

A couple of points are necessary:
-This isn’t the first time that Chomsky’s views have been distorted.
-You’re looking for the straight dope about someone, and you turn to Holocaust denier Web sites? Could you lean a little closer to the monitor, so I can reach through and thump you on the forehead?

The full article is sometimes an interesting read; mostly, though, it’s a story of dishonest academic infighting. I think Chomsky, in his willingness to point out those intellectual opponents of his who debate honestly, acquits himself quite well.


Thanks, Daniel.

A favorite tactic of Holocaust Deniers is to misqoute or quote out of contact, even reversing the meaning of the original quote. Also they like to quote from each others’ wprks to create an illusion of scholarship.

Chomsky’s wrong on this one: denying the Holocaust happened means claiming that there’s a massive international conspiracy that created and perpetuated the hoax. Its logically possible for this conspiracy not to involve “The Jews” but then it has no meaning.

Is Chomsky still an apologist for the Khmer Rouge?

<< Given the amount of evidence against you, you’d certainly be stupid to do so, but you wouldn’t necessarily be doing so out of an antipathy toward Jewish people. >>

Umhmmm. Right.

And you could argue a “purely biological” scientific evidence that blacks are mentally inferior to whites, but this wouldn’t necessarily be done out of racism.

And you could argue that women are too emotional and unstable to be in politics, but this wouldn’t necessarily be done out of sexism.

And you could argue that homosexuality is a crime against nature, but this wouldn’t necessarily be done out of “antipathy” towards gays.


If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck (with or without echo), then dammit it’s a duck. Replace “duck” with racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, whatever.

I think that, not seeing the Chomsky quote in question, it’s hard to evaluate it.

There’s pretty strong evidence that Chomsky is neither anti-Semitic nor a Holocaust denier: plenty of his other writings make these points perfectly clear. So why would he say that one can deny the Holocaust without being antisemitic?

My guess is that one of two things is going on:
-He’s being a pedant supreme; or
-He’s being misquoted.

But again, without seeing the passage in context, it’s hard to know. What is certain is that he wouldn’t say such a thing in order to give credence to Holocaust deniers.

And Nicky, wanna throw out a cite for Chomsky being an apologist for the Khmer Rouge? That’s a bizarre claim.


Here’s a cite that indicates this was an unfair accusation to be levelled at Chomsky:]Available as a Google cache.

Oops, should have disabled smilies.

fixed link - DrMatrix

Oh well. The SMDB URL parser can’t cope with that URL.

But “scientists” have argued this in the (more distant) past. And not out of race hate, but out of lack of information, misinformation, bad or non-existent research, and the genuinely stupid but quite innocent belief that there was something different about non-white people.

It would be a sexist attitude, but not necessarily misogyny. Anti-semitism strikes me as being hatred against Jewish people - therefore more the equivalent to misogyny - not merely the view that Jewish beliefs are wrong or inferior.

Some christians are totally against homosexuality as a practice but still sympathetic to those who do it. They might see what they do as a “sin”, but they don’t hate those that do it as individuals, nor would they discriminate against them.

I can see exactly what Chomsky’s getting at, both from the freedom of speech angle, and the fact that holding a belief generally held by a certain group does not necessarily make you of that group/school of thought.

It might be stupid to want to question the historical accuracy of something so well-documented as the holocaust. It might even be likely that the person wanting to disprove it is motivated by anti-semitism. But it is in no way definite that they are.

And as for the person defending such a person on the grounds of free speech and benefit of the doubt, I utterly fail to see why they should face condemnation.

The other day I was browsing in a junk shop and found a copy of a Mother Jones from 1979.

Various writers were commenting on Cambodia and the Vietnamese invasion, and Chomsky - among others - seemed to be downplaying the brutality of Pol Pot’s regime.

I may be being unfair to Chomsky, as I only scanned it, and I could be confusing his comments with some of the other writers - but the general consensus of the writers seemed to be that the invasion was Bad.

Anyway, i’ll try to buy it this weekend and i’ll post any interesting quotes!