Noam Chomsky: Hopes and Anxieties in the Age of Trump

For over half a century, Noam Chomsky, celebrated linguist and current Laureate Professor of Linguistics and Agnese Nelms Haury Chair at the University of Arizona, has provided intellectual and moral leadership to critics of American foreign policy. In the interview below, conducted in his office at the University of Arizona on August 7, 2018, Chomsky discusses the American obsession with Iran, and why the Trump administration seems ready for a confrontation. He also addresses the disappointing trends in two Latin American nations, Venezuela and Nicaragua. Above all, Chomsky expresses his concerns over nuclear weapons, especially in the unpredictable hands of Donald Trump. Reprinted below is the entire text of the interview.
Saul Isaacson: In the larger sense, do you believe that there is still a reservoir of untapped anti-Semitism in the United States?
Noam Chomsky: It’s not even untapped. Take the strongest supporters of Israel, the Christian evangelicals. That’s the most anti-Semitic group in history. I mean, even Hitler didn’t say that all Jews should go to eternal perdition. Can you be any more anti-Semitic than that?
But what about mainstream American society? Less so?
I mean, it was true up until, I’d say, about mid-1950s. So, I was a student at Harvard in the 1950s. I mean, you could cut the anti-Semitism with a knife. It wasn’t — one of the reasons MIT became a great institution is because people like Norbert Wiener couldn’t get jobs at Harvard, literally. Paul Samuelson, Bob Solow, so they came down to the engineering school down the street. Didn’t care. But, so there was plenty of it. But it’s pretty much — I mean, it could easily — it could be an upsurge. These things are always right below the surface. But right now, I think there isn’t much, except for groups like Christian evangelicals or white nationalists, you know, they don’t like anybody.
Can you see Democrats taking a less pugnacious stance toward Iran in 2020? It seems that they’re showing a little bit less sympathy for Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. Perhaps that will be replicated in other places in the Middle East, like Iran. Is there any hope for that?

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