Noam Chomsky on Civil Rights

Political Activist


Our grandmothers were hopelessly oppressed & didn't know it

Take a case like the women's movement. A lot of you are old enough to remember how that happened. It began with very small consciousness-raising groups--groups of women getting together and talking to each other and coming to identify and comprehend that, first of all there is oppression, and that a better way is possible where we don't have to accept oppression. If you had asked my grandmother if she was oppressed, she wouldn't have known what you were talking about. Of course, she was hopelessly oppressed, but identifying it is not always easy, especially if no one talks about it. So just getting to understand that you don't have to accept oppression, that you can be a free and independent person, is a big step. The women's movement took that step and kept going. There was bitter resistance. And there still is, and there's a backlash. But you just keep struggling for it.
Source: Occupied Media, by Noam Chomsky, p. 99-100 , May 1, 2012

9-11 won't lead to any long-term restrictions of rights

Q: Everybody agrees that nothing will be the same after 9-11, from a restriction of rights in daily life up to global strategy with new alliances and new enemies. What is your opinion about this?

A: I do not think it will lead to a long-term restriction of rights internally in any serious way. The cultural and institutional barriers to that are too firmly rooted, I believe. If the US chooses to respond by escalating the cycle of violence, which is most likely what bin Laden and his associates hope for, then the consequences could be awesome. There are, of course, other ways, lawful and constructive ones. And there are ample precedents for them. An aroused public within the more free and democratic societies can direct policies towards a much more humane and honorable course.

Source: 9-11, by Noam Chomsky, p. 35-36 , Nov 1, 2001

US censors Afghanistan coverage, except Al-Jazeera

Q: The free flow of information is one of the first casualties of any war. Is the present situation in any way an exception?

A: Impediments to free flow of information in countries like the US are rarely traceable to government, rather, to self-censorship of the familiar kind. The current situation is not exceptional--considerably better than the norm, in my opinion. There are, however, some startling examples of US government efforts to restrict free flow of information abroad. Al-Jazeera is "the only international news organization to maintain reporters in the Taliban-controlled part of Afghanistan." Al-Jazeera is, naturally, despised and feared by the dictatorship of the region, particularly because of its frank exposures of their human rights records. The US has joined their ranks. The emir of Qatar confirmed that "Washington has asked Qatar to rein in the influential and editorially independent Arabic Al-Jazeera television station."

Source: 9-11, by Noam Chomsky, p.112-115 , Nov 1, 2001

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Page last updated: Oct 28, 2021