Journalist Nate Thayer conducts a rousing take-down of linguist Noam Chomsky’s astoundingly long-standing denial of Khmer Rouge atrocities. Chomsky, as of 2011, still refuses to join the leftist Khmer Rouge apologists of the 1970’s in taking back his earlier works.
No, he still believe the Khmer Rouge atrocities were a mass fabrication, and he still believes that a vast media – and refugee? – conspiracy came together to unfairly demonize the Khmer Rouge. Also, it’s all America’s fault. Someone get this guy on Nuon Chea’s defense team.
I have not bothered to read any of Chomsky’s work previously, and judging from Thayer’s description of his opinions, I doubt I will do so in the future. (Maybe for sheer comedy value, or if I am in the mood to feel extremely angry, and sometimes, I am.
What I find most repellant about Chomsky’s stance is his belief that the accounts of refugees – which most journalists writing on the Khmer Rouge have heavily replied upon – are intrinisically untrustworthy.
This is because refugees, presumably addled, desperate, and “unusually” opposed to the ruling regime will tell Western reporters whatever they want to hear to demonize their “enemies” and perhaps secure some measure of fame or safety for themselves.
For someone who purports to be an enemy of imperalism and an advocate for the third world, this is the absolute worst kind of patronizing twaddle. I imagine there are thousands of Khmer Rouge survivors out there who would beg to argue differently. (But perhaps they are just biased and addled too).
And as Thayer points out: if thousands upon thousands of Cambodian refugees have somehow managed to orchestrate a collective lie about the extent of Khmer Rouge atrocities—well, that massive lie would surely register as humanity’s most impressive conspiracy to date.
But, no, Chomsky holds strong in the face of overwhelming evidence:
“I am very pleased that there has been such a hysterical reaction to these writings. They’ve been analyzed with a fine tooth comb to try to find some error, and to my knowledge, the end result is that not even a misplaced comma has been found.
True, a lot of errors have been found in fabricated material attributed to me, but that’s a sign of the desperation of the apologists for state violence. If you know of an exception, I’d appreciate it if you’d inform me. I haven’t yet seen one.”
Yes, Noam. You are smarter, a better source, and a more reliable arbiter of justice than the entire Cambodian people. I am truly sorry I ever doubted you.