The Washington Gadfly
Norman Lear's Stocking Stuffer

Deck the halls with . . . Noam Chomsky?

The notorious MIT professor, who traffics in anti-Israel and anti-American invective and even Holocaust denial, hardly seems the ideal person to bring Christmas good cheer. But People for the American Way, the high-profile liberal lobbying group founded by All in the Family creator Norman Lear, apparently feels otherwise.

Its just completed annual Christmas eBay auction/fundraiser featured two autographed Chomsky books along with many other items donated by celebrities, such as Sara Jessica Parker who gave PFAW one of the dresses she wore on the hit show Sex in the City. PFAW constituents who had no use for the dress or the autographed copy of James Taylor's greatest hits CD and similar such fare could compete to win two slender volumes autographed by Chomsky, 9-11 and Pirates and Emperors.

Alas, Robert Faurisson's book which claimed the Holocaust was a hoax and included a preface by Noam Chomsky was not put up for bid. But there was plenty of agitprop for the whole family; in Pirates and Emperor, which was sold to the highest bidder (identified only with an eBay screen name) for $81, Chomsky likens the United States to a child molester in cahoots with--who else?--Israel.

Yeah, yeah, Chomsky, born and raised in Philadelphia, should be allowed to compete in the market place of ideas. But PFAW goes further and gushes all over him. The description of Chomsky posted with his writings explains that he has been a crucial voice of an alternative way at looking at the actions of the Military-Industrial Complex that drives all the American policies."

It does? Is that the official view of PFAW? Seems that way. How then can the group claim to be mainstream if it so casually places the hard left's favorite catch phrase, "Military-Industrial complex," at the locus of U.S. policy?

In any event, Chomsky certainly does offer an "alternative voice."

After all, it's not everyday that Shimon Peres and Ronald Reagan are likened to terrorist commanders. Or that Israel is likened to the the client of an "emperor" [i.e, the United States] who molests the world. Or that somebody writes that Leon Klinghoffer really didn't have it so bad. Yes, he was "murdered by terrorists. But he was not first subjected to brutal torture, mutilation, rape, and the other standard practices of the terrorists trained and supported by the U.S. and its clients ..."

All these assertions are taken from Chomsky's book, Pirates and Emperors, Old and New, first published in 1991 and revised in 2002.

The other Chomsky book on the auction block, 9/11, (winning bid $100.00) is a collection of interviews with the good professor, who did his undergraduate and graduate work at the University of Pennsylvania. In one interview he argues that America pretty much got what it asked for on that fateful day. After all, the U.S, is a leading terrorist state and we can think of the United States as an 'innocent victim' only if we adopt the conventional path of ignoring the record of its actions and those of its allies, which are, after all, hardly a secret.

Sound familar?

PFAW, of course, scored a big public relations when it denounced Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson for saying more or less the same thing in 2001. But Chomsky, brimming with hatred far more pernicious than the righteous indignation of Robertson and Falwell,not only gets a free pass, he's glorified.

In a written statement forthe auction, PFAW president Ralph Neas describes Chomsky and all the donors (which also included the Dixie Chicks and, curiously, Kobe Bryant's signed official Lakers jersey) as free speech devotees.

The selection of the Chomsky books, however goofy, especially when hawked onthe same listing as Trent Reznor's guitar,not only played live by Trent, but smashed onstage!) speak legions to PFAW's sensibility. Namely, its unwillingness or inability to make the crucial moral distinction between legitimate dissident voices and the stuff of just plain anti-Israel and anti-American bigots, such as Chomsky.

When PFAW nonchalantly heralds Noam Chomsky for some of the same stuff it excoriates Christian preachers it invites very legitimate criticism for grotesque double standards, perhaps even anti-religious bigotry. And, more generally, playing footsie with Chomsky manifests an indulgence of the very retrograde liberalism which the American people have repeatedly rejected at the ballot booth.

The auction, inadvertently, shows PFAW's real colors.

Many folks, especially those at the intersection of religion and politics in the public square, should thank Norman Lear for this unintentional Christmas present.

   Evan Gahr EvanGahr@aol.com, a former press critic for the late New York Post editorial page editor Eric Breindel, recently broke the story of a race discrimination lawsuit against the Washington Post. He has written for almost every major conservative publication.