If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.
– Noam Chomsky
Long before WikiLeaks or Julian Assange, Chomsky knew well that merely stating the facts would have you labeled as a ‘radical’.Coming from an academic background, Chomsky was not accustomed to being silenced. In the academic setting, many of us fear refutation more than we fear anything else.
Yet Chomsky is far from your mainstream academic. In fact, at academic lectures, one of the first things you notice about him is his distaste for pedantry and fancy dialogue. You get the clear impression that his only irrational prejudice is against academics. Yet if asked to defend his prejudice, one notices that it’s not a prejudice at all. He has good reasons for thinking that academics tend to deviate from the truth because they’re blinded by pseud-intellectual pursuits and the hunger for recognition.
His hatred of unjust government does not go undefended either. Chomsky has devoted his life to defending justice, and he does this through what has been popularly termed in recent day as “scientific journalism”. Simply put, scientific journalism is something you’re practicing when you back up your opinions with facts, and your facts with evidence. Noam Chomsky has mastered this process, though it is arguable that he was born a master of the art. In his younger years, he entered into debate with Michel Foucault himself, and to say that Chomsky ‘held his own’ is a severe understatement.
No one knows history and the media like Chomsky does. And no one has, to my knowledge, better articulated the justification for an open and transparent government. He is not a follower, and although he is now a WikiLeaks ally, he too was skeptical at first. And rightly so. If we believe in truth and justice, we must ask questions and never follow blindly. The minset that brought us where we are today, living in fear of the repercussions of merely speaking our minds or exposing the truth, springs directly from this same disease of ‘faith’ as opposed to reason. It is the same disease that had Galileo publicly renounce his views, though true, to avoid torture, death and imprisonment. His life was spared but he was sentenced to life under house arrest for advocating ‘radical’ views like that the earth is not at the center of the solar system. Indeed the earth does move, as Galileo well knew. No trial would change that. In fact, it is rumored that as he walked away after barely escaping a death sentence, just as his verdict and sentence had been delivered, he muttered under his breath, “e pur si muove”: And yet it moves.
I won’t get into the case of Giordano Bruno, who was burned alive for proudly exposing the truth, because that was discussed in a past article.
Knowledge is power, but the sad truth is that in oppressive regimes, power defines what people come to know as knowledge. To be more accurate, powerful forces come together to tell the public what is true and what is false, despite the evidence. Despite the facts. Facts are concealed and even destroyed. The people come to accept as fact what they are told is fact. Yes, this enslaves us, but what’s more tragic than being enslaved is the consequence that censorship takes away our ability to think. Without that, we are nothing. We become lower animals, and with every year that passes, we are losing more of our humanity.
This, then, is why Noam Chomsky supports Julian Assange. He is one of the few remaining outspoken free thinkers in the world, and he knows it. To stand by and allow history to keep repeating itself is the greatest tragedy our species can know.
This fact is not lost on filmmaker Michael Moore, who has done more to raise awareness of government and corporate corruption than any journalist ever has. Until now, perhaps. These 3 men are brothers in arms.
Let me leave you, then, with 2 reasons to have hope that we will prevail.
The first is that despite all that has been taken from us, at the very least, we still have our instinct for survival. The second is that people like Julian Assange, Michael Moore and Noam Chomsky still exist. Don’t let this breed die. Our humanity depends on it.