Left-wingers attacked radical leftist intellectual Noam Chomsky on Tuesday after he co-signed a statement in Harper’s criticizing cancel culture — several days after President Donald Trump did the same in his Mount Rushmore speech.
Several “verified” blue-checkmark users on Twitter were outraged that Chomsky, 91, should agree with Trump, albeit indirectly, or that he would push back against left-wing efforts to deny platforms to those who dispute its orthodoxies.
The Harper’s statement, titled “A Letter on Justice and Open Debate,” included Chomsky, J.K. Rowling, and others.
A statement signed by 150 people incl. Bill T. Jones, Wynton Marsalis, Jennifer Finney Boylan, Noam Chomsky, J.K. Rowling, Margaret Atwood, and Salman Rushdie expresses concern over the illiberal trend intensified by our national reckoning.https://t.co/4zPjuPNXBu
— Harper's Magazine (@Harpers) July 7, 2020
While attacking President Donald Trump as “a real threat to democracy,” the statement warned that “it is now all too common to hear calls for swift and severe retribution in response to perceived transgressions of speech and thought.” The result, they warned, was that the fight for left-wing causes was being undermined.
Many on the left were irritated at Chomsky:
Friendship ended with NOAM CHOMSKY, now NO GODS, NO MASTERS is my best friend.
— Carlos Maza (@gaywonk) July 7, 2020
Noam Chomsky helped my thinking develop a lot. I love his books. He’s also a big baby
— naomi (@lachancenaomi) July 7, 2020
Not surprised to see aging wankers like Martin Amis on something like this, or thin-skinned right-wing attention hogs like Bari Weiss and David Frum, but it's kind of sad to see people like Jeet Heer and Noam Chomsky putting their names on such a vague, fear-mongering statement https://t.co/rxY2NkgPNa
— Mathew Ingram (@mathewi) July 7, 2020
Isn't a bunch of thought celebrities signing onto a letter against thought-policing just a meta form of thought policing? I like to read Noam Chomsky, but he doesn't get to tell me if he thinks my ass looks fat in these jeans.
— Michael Salamone (@MichaelSalamone) July 7, 2020
Noam Chomsky more like Noam not reading that whiny Harper's op-ed.
— Max Burns (@themaxburns) July 7, 2020
Prepare to be disappointed by Noam Chomsky (among others), PJ. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. Look for the Harper’s letter hashtags.
— Julie Carpenter, Ph.D. (@jgcarpenter) July 7, 2020
Some, however, pushed back:
Anyone on the left now pretending to have moral and intellectual superiority to Noam Chomsky is hilarious. I love that he signed that letter. If you think Chomsky should shut up because he doesn't agree with you, I love how stupid you are and how you missed the whole point.
— Cenk Uygur (@cenkuygur) July 7, 2020
In his speech, Trump attacked the left’s “cancel culture”: “One of their political weapons is ‘Cancel Culture’ — driving people from their jobs, shaming dissenters, and demanding total submission from anyone who disagrees. This is the very definition of totalitarianism, and it is completely alien to our culture and our values, and it has absolutely no place in the United States of America.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, is available for pre-order. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.