In an interview in the fall 2005 issue of Thought & Action, the National Education Association's journal, Noam Chomsky discusses the post-9/11 intellectual climate in the United States. He argues that political harassment on the nation's campuses "is massive" but, contrary to general opinion, it is directed against dissidents like him who question U.S. Middle East policy: "there has been extreme discrimination on campus, and very serious harassment, but it's of anyone who questions the orthodoxy, not against conservatives." As proof, he gives the examples of Edward Said and himself: "He had to have police protection at his office, at his home. He had to have a buzzer in his home so he could call the police station. That went on all the time. I've been under police protection when I gave a talk on college campuses about the Middle East." Chomsky then goes on to blame the powers-that-be: "The nation's intellectual leaders are intimidated. Did you ever hear of any protest because someone who raised questions about the dominant orthodox position on the Middle East had to be given police protection when they were giving talks on campus? I don't recall any protests about that."
Comment: One has to admire the daring, if not the accuracy, of the single most favorite speaker on American campuses claiming the mantle of persecution for himself. My research finds no instances of Chomsky's campus talks having been the subject of demonstrations and heckling, of his having personal bodyguards the entire time he visits a campus, of his needing a hundred police to control potential protests, of his having to speak in a lock-downed gymnasium, of his speech being preceded by deans warning the audience against disruption, or his having suffered the indignity of having pies thrown at him. All but the last of these, by the way, have happened to me. (December 22, 2005)