Chomsky lies: The sequel

When Chomsky's lies about Camdodia became an embarrassment, he denied his past words.

In the New York Times, June 23, 1997, Anthony Lewis briefly and in passing mentioned Chomsky's pre 1979 position on Cambodia.

In reponse, Chomsky wrote a letter to the editor denying that he had ever held that position.

This letter was not published in the New York Times, perhaps because it was largely irrelevant to the major points of Anthony Lewis's article, but was published by Chomsky at After I repeatedly assailed him on this new lie, he pulled it off the web site, but it can still be accessed by the wayback machine:

Anthony Lewis in the New York times, June 23 1997, very briefly in passing excused Chomsky as follows:

A few Western intellectuals, notably Prof. Noam Chomsky, refused to believe what was going on in Cambodia. At first, at least, they put the reports of killing down to a conspiratorial effort by American politicians and press to destroy the Cambodian revolution.

That phenomenon or something like it -- explaining away reports of human rights violations as a Western way of interfering in other societies -- has recurred. When Idi Amin seized power in Uganda and began his massacres, I heard an American specialist on Africa dismiss the accounts.

Implying that Chomsky was merely mistaken, rather than untruthful or deluded, and failing to mention that Chomsky was one of those western experts that dismissed the crimes of Idi Amin.

In response to this brief, gentle and euphemistic admonition Chomsky wrote an outraged letter to the editor as follows:

Dear Editor:

Anthony Lewis writes (June 23) that I "refused to believe what was going on in Cambodia," and "put the reports of killing down to a conspiratorial effort by American politicians and press to destroy the Cambodian revolution." The second charge is an invention. The first is his rendition of my suggestion that in dealing with horrendous crimes, one should try to keep to the truth, whoever the agent: for Cambodia, that means during both halves of the "decade of genocide," as the years 1969-79 are described in the one governmental inquiry (Finland). At the time I reviewed these and many other cases, including the "grisly" record of Khmer Rouge "barbarity."

More interesting than the invented charges is what Lewis omits: my comparison of two huge crimes of 1975-1978, Cambodia and East Timor. The cases are not identical. There was no constructive proposal as to how to end or even mitigate Pol Pot's crimes (as a check of Lewis's columns will illustrate). In contrast, there were easy ways to respond to the crimes in Timor, apparently the worst slaughter relative to population since the Holocaust: by withdrawing the decisive US military and diplomatic support for them. The reaction to the two cases is instructive, as is Lewis's conclusion that by describing Khmer Rouge crimes as comparable to those in Timor I was denying these crimes.

Noam Chomsky

In fact of course, he did not at first describe the Khmer Rouge crimes as comparable to those in Timor. In his 1977 article [1] he compared them to the french resistance against the Nazis and never mentioned Timor. In his 1979 book [11x] he compared them to the US occupation of Japan, and ridiculed the suggestion that they were comparable to the Indonesian occupation of East Timor.