Noam Chomsky has made a shocking discovery:
In the West, fortunately, [anti-Semitism] scarcely exists now, though it did in the past. There is, of course, what the Anti-Defamation League calls “the real anti-Semitism”, more dangerous than the old-fashioned kind: criticism of policies of the state of Israel and US support for them, opposition to a vast US military budget, etc. In contrast, anti-Arab racism is rampant. The manifestations are shocking, in elite intellectual circles as well, but arouse little concern because they are considered legitimate: the most extreme form of racism.
Pejman Yousefzadeh points out several examples of anti-Semitism, mainly in Europe. Ian at Inoperable Terran makes fun of Chomsky’s name and implies he wears buttocks headgear. Meryl Yourish has yet to comment, but I suspect she would disagree with Chomsky as well.
Now, while I find Chomsky to be amazingly irritating, he’s no idiot. He’s also a Jew. So how could he say such a thing? Well, for one thing, he’s 74. He thus has vague personal memories of the Holocaust and his family surely experienced massive anti-Semitism in the Philadelphia if that era. It may simply be that he’s using a much higher threshhold definition. He may mean that there’s not much real anti-Semitism anymore in the sense that Dinesh D’Souza meant that we’ve experienced The End of Racism. (Interesting aside: Dean Esmay is the first reviewer on the Amazon listing.) If that’s what he’s saying, he’s probably right. We certainly don’t have the same degree and type of anti-Semitism as we had in the 1950s and before.
The other explanation–and they’re not mutually exclusive–is that Chomsky is a highly successful intellectual living in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This means that he has spent the preponderance of the past half century or so among the people who are among the least likely to be anti-Semitic. And, indeed, he has thrived in a profession where Jews have long been prominent even if, as Alan Dershowitz has noted, they weren’t supposed to “act Jewish.” (“Dress British, think Yiddish.” )
Still, I find the rather offhanded way he deals with the subject puzzling. As a guy who “revolutionised the study of language,” he should have realized that his statement would have created an uproar. One would think he’d have at least elaborated a bit.