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Anti-Chomsky fictions

By Ulli Diemer


Letter to the Editor, NOW Magazine:

Phil Paine and Mark M. Tyrrell seem as happy to contradict each other as they are to invent slanders about Noam Chomsky.

Paine claimed (NOW April 25) that "Chomsky actively supported the genocide in Pol Pot's Cambodian dictatorship." This having been exposed as an outrageous lie in my letter of May 2, Tyrrell (NOW May 9) tries his luck by admitting the allegation was false, then quickly concocting a new and different fiction, that Chomsky denies the Khmer Rouge atrocities ever happened.

On the first page of the chapter on Cambodia in After the Cataclysm, the book which Tyrrell refers to but prudently refrains from quoting, Chomsky and co-author Edward S. Herman write: "in the case of Cambodia, there is no difficulty in documenting major atrocities and oppression, primarily from the reports of refugees" (P. 135). They say, "The record of atrocities in Cambodia is substantial and often gruesome" (P. 136).
In Manufacturing Consent, in a section headed "The decade of the genocide", they write: "From April 1975 through 1978 Cambodia was subjected to the murderous rule of the Khmer Rouge" (P. 260).

In The Culture of Terrorism, Chomsky says: "In assessing the crimes of Pol Pot, we rightly count not only those killed outright, but also the victims of disease, malnutrition, and harsh conditions of labor" (P. 46).

There are many such passages. Is this what Tyrrell calls denying that the Khmer Rouge atrocities ever happened?
Chomsky's real "crime", of course, in the eyes of those who vilify him, is that he has repeatedly made the following points:

1) The Cambodian "decade of genocide" began not in 1975 but in 1969, with the U.S. bombing of Cambodia, a war crime resulting in the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of people, comparable in scale to the atrocities perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge. The Western media systematically ignored and suppressed information about what the U.S. was doing.

2) By contrast, massive publicity was focused on the actions of the Khmer Rouge, who were an "official enemy". Real evidence of their crimes was supplemented by fraud and fabrication on a large scale.

3) During the same period the Khmer Rouge were committing their crimes to a chorus of Western condemnation, Indonesia, a U.S. client state, was killing hundreds of thousands of East Timorese. The Western media remained utterly silent.

Ulli Diemer
13 May, 1996


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