Term Paper: Noam Chomsky 9-11

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Chomsky's 911

Noam Chomsky's Book 911 and his view of Past, Present, and Future Impacts of American and other Terrorism

The well-known American libertarian sociolinguist Noam Chomsky ((Noam Chomsky, June 26, 2007) is the author of the bestselling book 911 (October 2001). Chomsky's 911 consists of interviews between various journalists, worldwide, and Chomsky himself about the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on American soil, the World Trade Center and Pentagon; and on America's military response to those. Chomsky sees these terrorist attacks on America, and the events leading up to and then away from them, as being indicative, in combination with the attacks themselves, of wider and deeper implications springing from America's undeniable historical and present military aggression (Chomsky, 911, 2001).

Chomsky's 911, which essentially argues that all planned and orchestrated aggression against groups, politically; religiously, or ideologically different is terrorism (2001) is clearly [and in this reader's opinion, more than a cut above] typically more 'mainstream' (indignantly or defensively pro-American; therefore anti-Middle East and/or Islam) literary works that have emerged from the West subsequent to the 911 attacks. This is especially true in the sense that Chomsky also sharply criticizes American-based aggression abroad; and not just the aggressions of Muslim or other religious or ideological extremists, as terrorism. Therefore, in Chomsky's view, America, yesterday and today, is equally if not more guilty of terrorism, and is in fact much more successful at terrorism than any of the various foreign groups it calls "terrorist" (911) equally if not more so due to America's greater size and military strength. Therefore, in order to interrupt the continuing terrorist dialectic in today's world, America must become less militarily aggressive and imperialistic, and also more tolerant of non-American world views. Only then will what Americans call terrorism (never including itself as a terrorist entity) lose its core incentive: to terrorize U.S. interests here and worldwide.

Author Biography

The world-renown, politically leftward-leaning sociolinguist Noam Chomsky, who as of 2007 has now taught steadily at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for 52 years (Noam Chomsky, June 26, 2007), was born Avram Noam Chomsky on December 7, 1928, making him 78 years old today (Noam Chomsky, June 26, 2007). Chomsky received his Ph.D. In linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania in 1955. That same year he began teaching at MIT, and gained tenure in MIT's Modern Languages and Linguistics department (now called the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy) (Noam Chomsky) in 1961, at age 32. Chomsky remains today the Institute Professor Emeritus of linguistics at MIT (Noam Chomsky; Barsky 1997). Since 1949, Noam Chomsky has been married to a fellow linguist, Carol Schatz (Barsky). Chomsky's wife (of now almost 60 years) also comes from a similar Russian Jewish background. The two have known one another, their families having been friends in Philadelphia, nearly all their lives (Barsky). The Chomskys have three children, "two daughters, Aviva (b. 1957) and Diane (b. 1960), and a son, Harry (b. 1967)" (Noam Chomsky).

Noam Chomsky's intellectual and theoretical genius is most famously recognized based on his ground-breaking theory of generative grammar, which holds that grammar must be studied as "a body of knowledge possessed by language users" (Noam Chomsky, June 26, 2007). As the article Noam Chomsky also suggests: "His naturalistic approach to the study of language has also affected the philosophy of language and mind is also credited with the establishment of the Chomsky hierarchy, a classification of formal languages in terms of their generative power." But Chomsky is known also (and likely more well-known today, generally) as a left-liberalist philosopher; human rights activist; lecturer, and author of numerous books; articles; essays, speeches, and other writings and communications about myriad, eclectic subjects inside and outside linguistics (Barsky, 1997), but especially world politics.

Noam Chomsky, who would one day also become (and still is) the most quoted scholar in the world (Noam Chomsky, June 26, 2007) was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to brilliant Jewish intellectual parents, both of whose respective influences on him, intellectually and as a future humanist, were enormous (Barsky, 1997). Chomsky's father, William (Zev) Chomsky, a Russian immigrant, was in his own time a distinguished professor and renowned scholar of grammatical structures of the Hebrew language (Noam Chomsky). Chomsky's mother, Elsie Simonofsky Chomsky, also came from a Russian Jewish family that had immigrated to the United States, although Chomsky's mother herself was born in America and grew up in New York (Noam Chomsky, June 26, 2007).

Noam Chomsky's MIT biographer, Robert Barsky (Noam Chomsky: A life of dissent, 1997) suggests that, while Noam Chomsky was very influenced in childhood by his mother's liberal attitudes and strong social conscience, and inherited her shyness and self-containment; it was actually his father who more directly influenced his future academic and professional career as a linguist. Noam Chomsky has only one sibling, a younger brother, David. David Chomsky became a medical doctor, and in fact still practices medicine in Philadelphia today (Noam Chomsky, June 26, 2007).

Both of Chomsky's parents were well-respected members of Philadelphia's Jewish community, and both were also known for the liberal and tolerant world view they shared. Barsky (1997) notes: "The entire Chomsky family was actively involved in Jewish cultural activities and Jewish issues, particularly the revival of the Hebrew language and Zionism" (Noam Chomsky: A life of dissent, p. 21). In addition, "According to the Arts and Humanities Citation Index in 1992, Chomsky was cited as a source more often than any other living scholar during the 1980-1992 time period, and was the eighth most cited scholar in any time period (Noam Chomsky). Nowadays Chomsky is perhaps best known for being an outspoken critic of American foreign policy abroad, the subject, in a more narrow sense, of his 2003 book on world terrorism as reflected by the terrorist attacks on American soil on September 11, 2001. Chomsky's outspoken political activism has also increasingly made him a controversial figure and a lecturer in continuously high demand (Barsky; Noam Chomsky)

Summary

The book 911 (Chomsky, October 2001) is a series of interviews with Chomsky, although it reads more like one extended interview with Chomsky about 911; terrorism (American and foreign); and American military aggression and might as the real provocateur of terrorism, worldwide. In terms of its tone, the book has a bit of the "conspiracy theory" aspect to it, that is, of America itself as the world's top bad guy, with all other bad things springing from America's (historical as well as current) hegemonic bullying. The book was first published, very soon (just one month, actually) after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks of the World Trade Center and Pentagon, to mixed but then-mostly unenthusiastic reviews since it is sharply critical of the United States' military aggression abroad, and foreign policy generally.

The series of one-on-one interviews, of which Chomsky's 911 consists, were conducted by journalists worldwide, and then compiled and published. Within 911 the well-known linguist and his interviewers discuss together various topics germane to the now going on five-year-old terrorist attacks on United States soil, including, as Chomsky sees it, what the word "terrorism" really means: generally and objectively, that is, and not just from a biased United States post-911 perspective.

In 911, Chomsky observes that super-powers (of which the United States is clearly a prime example) typically endeavor to re-shape the rest of the world in a way that both protects and furthers those super-powers' own hegemonic political; financial; and cultural interests. Among these, economic interests are by far the most compelling. Superpowers' efforts to reshape the rest of the world to their own advantage, even very destructively, if necessary, are manifested both militarily (through invasions; "interventions, and wars) and economically (by dominating the global economy). It is such hegemonic priorities and goals that drive, more than any others a super-power's political goals and therefore its aggressive military actions.

The latter, according to Chomsky, are as much acts of terrorism (that is, organized attacks on a group or groups ideologically; politically; religiously or otherwise distinct from the attacking group). Before as well as after the 911 terrorist attacks; American economic dominance has been and continues to be the United States' true objective.

Essay

In his politically and culturally controversial book 911 (October 2001), Noam Chomsky defines terrorism (using the U.S. Army's own definition of it (see Noam Chomsky, June 26, 2007) as being any organized aggression on the part of one or more groups, aimed at committing acts of violence against another group or groups, based on ideological; political; and/or religious differences. In this sense, Chomsky suggests that if entities like Al Qaeda are terrorist, so, too, is the American military. If Al Qaeda's political organization contributes to terrorism; so, too, Chomsky holds, does that of America's government.

According to the New Yorker, on Chomsky's 911:

9-11' was practically the only counter-narrative out there at a time when questions tended to be drowned out by a chorus, led by the entire United

States Congress, of 'God Bless America.' It was one [sic] of the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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