Talk:Noam Chomsky

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Former featured articleNoam Chomsky is a former featured article. Please see the links under Article milestones below for its original nomination page (for older articles, check the nomination archive) and why it was removed.
Good articleNoam Chomsky has been listed as one of the Philosophy and religion good articles under the good article criteria. If you can improve it further, please do so. If it no longer meets these criteria, you can reassess it.
Main Page trophyThis article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page as Today's featured article on December 13, 2004.
On this day... Article milestones
September 9, 2004Featured article candidatePromoted
January 15, 2006Featured article reviewDemoted
October 27, 2007Featured article candidateNot promoted
August 27, 2019Good article nomineeListed
April 17, 2023Peer reviewReviewed
On this day... Facts from this article were featured on Wikipedia's Main Page in the "On this day..." column on December 7, 2019, and December 7, 2023.
Current status: Former featured article, current good article

Road to FA, pt. II[edit]

Some remaining tasks to take this article to featured status, with some imported from the recent peer review:

  • Review all citations for text–source integrity
  • Replace primary sources with best-in-class sources
  • Replace sources
  • Bundle citations with {{sfnm}} where feasible
  • Rewrite the parts that rely on "Brain from Top to Bottom"
  • Rewrite the beginning of § Universal grammar and add a paragraph break
  • Define "rationalism" as parallel to definition of "empiricism"
  • Get a better source for Saudi Arabia political views; try McGilvray
  • Get a better source for views on partition of Palestine
  • Reduce hagiography in § In politics: remove quotes, pare second paragraph, expand on Srebrenica massacre remarks, consider page number for Rabbani 2012, consider paring re: Horowitz, Kay, ADL, Dershowitz
  • Address history of controversial statements on genocide in the political beliefs section doi:10.5038/1911-9933.14.1.1738
  • Turn the achievements laundry list into readable prose
  • Confirm with sourced prose or remove the flatlist items from the infobox
  • Add commas after "in year X" clauses
  • Consider whether to expand on his views on the Russian invasion of Ukraine
  • Incorporate noteworthy anti-Chomsky critique into the Political views section so the final section can focus on Influence/Legacy
  • Invite reviewers to the FA nom

czar 04:21, 17 April 2023 (UTC)[reply]



WP:DUE: "Neutral Point of View says that the article should fairly represent all significant viewpoints that have been published by a verifiable source, and should do so in proportion to the prominence of each."

Seems there is a misunderstanding on what WP:DUE says; it does not say that we have to weigh the prominency of a viewpoint to determine on its inclusion, but rather that differing viewpoints have to be reported on in proportion to their prominency. This is crystal clear from the quote cited above.

Chomsky has called Israel an apartheid state worse than the one that existed in South Africa, that is his viewpoint; did he give other viewpoints that made you determine citing this was "undue"? No he didn't, and the same goes for his other comments which you removed indiscriminately. I very carefully wrote the prose, ensuring that each of his comments were added in quotes, so there is no valid POV claim. WP:NOTNEWS in not valid since Middle East Monitor and DemocracyNow are not primary sources. COATRACK is an essay.

Please provide valid Wikipedia-based counterarguments or restore the sourced content you have removed. Makeandtoss (talk) 18:57, 15 December 2023 (UTC)[reply]

I'm sorry you think I do not understand NPOV, but I have tens of thousands of edits in the most contentious articles on this site and I am confident in my understanding of NPOV and the finer points of how it can be misrepresented and mistreated. Since you don't accept my view, you are welcome to start an RfC and see whether you can convince the community. You would need to convince everyone that - in Chomsky's nearly century-long life story - his views on Israel and Zionism suddenly became much much more important and central to his biography, justifying your additions. I think it's a long shot, but have a try, if you wish. SPECIFICO talk 19:42, 15 December 2023 (UTC)[reply]
@SPECIFICO: Then as an experienced editor, with good faith, supposedly, you are certainly aware of WP:RFCBEFORE: “RfCs are time consuming, and editor time is valuable. Editors should try to resolve their issues before starting an RfC.” I have already brunt the WP:BURDEN and demonstrated verifiability by providing reliable secondary citations. Your refusal to even discuss the issue and elaborate on your opposition to the addition of this reliably sourced material without guideline-backed reasons is quite telling. Makeandtoss (talk) 20:10, 15 December 2023 (UTC)[reply]
First off: if you wish to disparage or threaten me, that should be done on my user talk page, not here. Second, please slow down and consider the reason I gave to explain why this content should not be added. Third, please review WP:ONUS. SPECIFICO talk▪︎
@SPECIFICO: WP:ONUS links to WP:CONSENSUS which says: “Decision making and reaching consensus involve an effort to incorporate all editors' legitimate concerns, while respecting Wikipedia's policies and guidelines.” You have not made any legitimate concerns other than throwing random non-fitting Wikipedia guidelines and making false accusations of alleged disparaging and threats. It’s your responsibility to articulate your concerns, and if there’s an inability/unwillingness to do so, then that’s frankly speaking not my problem. Makeandtoss (talk) 06:50, 16 December 2023 (UTC)[reply]
As I said above, the ONUS is on you to demonstrate consensus for the content you believe should be added. That may take more time than you would prefer, but that is the standard we follow. I have given my resoning against this addition several times already, above and in my edit summary. SPECIFICO talk 17:53, 16 December 2023 (UTC)[reply]
@SPECIFICO: There is no such thing as "demonstrating consensus"; consensus will be reached when you provide counterarguments based on WP guideline. The burden is on you to engage and express your positions. Makeandtoss (talk) 20:57, 16 December 2023 (UTC)[reply]
This is a fundamental misunderstanding of ONUS, CONSENSUS, and seeveral behavioral guidelines. I have repeatedly stated my position and the reasons for it. Perhaps ask an Admin for help if you doubt my statement that you are misunderstanding policy. The reason I suggested an RfC is because that would be one way to demonstrate consensus. I recall you've initiated at least one RfC in the past (ignoring RFCBEFORE, as you know) so I thought you would find that suggestion constructive here. SPECIFICO talk 21:43, 16 December 2023 (UTC)[reply]
@SPECIFICO: Please stop throwing false accusations that I have started RfCs having ignored RFCBEFORE. Consensus is a group effort, it is not a individual "demonstration". A group effort that starts by you explaining clearly what you object to, because you indiscriminately reverted all of my edits. Makeandtoss (talk) 22:06, 16 December 2023 (UTC)[reply]
I was thinking of the one that I removed and got you blocked. I don't know and didn't say about any other time, but that's off topic. I don't look at who made an edit when I read it. I do not indiscriminately revert anything due to which editor contributed it. If you wish to make further personal remarks please use my user talk page. SPECIFICO talk 22:16, 16 December 2023 (UTC)[reply]
@SPECIFICO: What an absurd statement, no one gets blocked for putting an RFC. Please abide by your own statements, and make further personal remarks on my talk page. Now you are welcome begin to elaborate your opposition in a clear manner to each and every edit, since you reverted everything. Makeandtoss (talk) 22:24, 16 December 2023 (UTC)[reply]
Chomsky's views on Israel have been a matter of public record for decades, in 1975 Edward Said wrote Chomsky and the Question of Palestine. He wrote the introduction to The New Intifada: Resisting Israel’s Apartheid, and along with Ilan Pappé wrote On Palestine and Gaza in Crisis: Reflections on the US-Israeli War Against the Palestinians. The current material drastically undersells his views on this topic and the weight it is given in coverage of him. nableezy - 04:37, 17 December 2023 (UTC)[reply]
@Nableezy: Agreed although undersells is an understatement given that the current content just claims he was "raising awareness", with no mention of his actual views: anti-Zionism; his apartheid analogy; and other comments. Makeandtoss (talk) 10:07, 17 December 2023 (UTC)[reply]

I reviewed all the material that was reverted that had been added about Chomsky's views on Israel, which I would broadly characterize as quite nuanced and varied, but include, strong opposition to the Israeli settlers in the West Bank, he's a non-Zionist or anti-Zionist left-socialist, almost communist, anarchist Jewish intellectual. He grew up a Left or Labor Zionist. He later turned to antiwar activism. He definitely did say all the stuff about Israeli apartheid, the reference to the famous Leibowitz Judeo-Nazi quote, which he didn't full-throatedly agree with, he acknowledged it was quite a loaded and controversial statement, so much as say he thought there were tendencies that were starting to develop in Israeli society. I do agree that that particular interview isn't necessary, it is cherrypicking somewhat. Also, I thought we were gathering evidence to get i24 deprecated. You can make the point in a better way. The book sources are probably better, but I couldn't check them for some reason. I'm sure, though, there's a wealth of material describing Chomsky's view in fullness on Israel. For example, he definitely said that he believed that the right to exist is a fiction and we already mention his 1983 book which is entirely about this topic. He's also talked in depth about people such as Nahum Goldmann who didn't want to exploit the Holocaust to oppress others. He's talked about how the two-state solution is the only solution because a one-state solution would be a pie in the sky solution. He's called Gaza a prison. Etc. So, there's plenty that can be said about Chomsky's criticism of Israel and anti-Zionistic views as a socialist Labor Jewish anti-Zionist, his father was a Hebrew scholar, he's a dying breed but such people were once common in the world. I'm sure you can cite the higher quality material such as the books, and the JSTOR and other journal articles, and leave out some of the lighter weight TV interviews where he's just rambling on about things and you're kind of cherrypicking specific quotes that aren't too important in the scheme of understanding his views. Andre🚐 10:34, 17 December 2023 (UTC)[reply]

@Andrevan: Well for a start, refreshing specific commentary on what is actually potentially problematic, and not just the throwing of random WP guidelines and ad hominem. While I agree with most of your points, I disagree on the cherry picking part: cherry picking refers to when you are taking something out of context, while avoiding contradictory evidence. Cherry picking therefore doesn't apply to these statements, this is merely picking, as there are no contradictory statements in which he says for example that Gaza is a utopia, or in which he says Israel is genuinely a liberal democracy. Chomsky said that the Judeo-Nazi claim was a loaded statement in Israel, he did agree with it, and even said that these Judeo-Nazi tendencies in Israel are growing stronger. I24news is definitely unreliable, however, we could simply offset that problem by attribution; furthermore, there are plenty of other instances where he mentioned this, including in his 1999 Fateful Triangle book, and is widely referenced in the media. Makeandtoss (talk) 11:53, 17 December 2023 (UTC)[reply]
We cannot negate our sourcing and NPOV policies by attribution. That is not how we use attribution. As nableezy concefes, Chomsky's view has been widely know for 50 years. This content did not suddenly become DUE for this mature and widely followed article. SPECIFICO talk 17:23, 17 December 2023 (UTC)[reply]
It was always due, the idea that things were not covered so they should not be covered has zero grounding in policy or logic. Wikipedia is after all famously not finished. This material is due and I’ll be adding material with the sources I have found and will keep looking at. Chomskys views on Israel are not presented here, and they form a significant amount of his public advocacy. And of coverage of him. You can try to stand in the way if you want but nobody has to seek your permission for anything here, and if you want to edit war things out then that can be dealt with in the usual manner. nableezy - 17:28, 17 December 2023 (UTC)[reply]
I hope that what you mean to say is that you will be presenting your sources and policy-based rationales for whatever edit you propose and pursuing consensus for your suggestion on talk. SPECIFICO talk 19:38, 17 December 2023 (UTC)[reply]
No, I meant I will be editing the article. Nobody needs your permission to edit here. nableezy - 19:46, 17 December 2023 (UTC)[reply]
let's get back on track here. You're right, he didn't say Gaza was a utopia. He's anti all states, and if you read a fuller context you understand he's operating on a higher level of criticism, so it's a little out of context to just grab all the slightly anti-Israel comments he's made that have the effect to imply he wants to dismantle settler colonialism in Israel. He doesn't want to dismantle anything, he's an advocate for a policy of peace. He's on the Israeli left. He's from an older mode of left wing thinkers along the same lines of the kibbutzniks and so on, and he's fiercely critical of the West Bank settlers who are encroaching into Palestinian territory in violation of international law. He considers that Hamas favors a 2-state solution (is that still true, I wonder). As does the late Edward Said in his article about Chomsky which acknowledges their limits and gaps, they're actually quite critical of the US. Chomsky's been quite critical of the BDS movement as well. Chomsky is very unkind to the PLO, he says they're self-destructive and suicidal, he says the Arab regimes are not decent and not popular either.[1][2][3][4][5][6] Andre🚐 00:19, 18 December 2023 (UTC)[reply]
Include all that then. nableezy - 02:25, 18 December 2023 (UTC)[reply]
as someone who has read chomsky closely for 55 years, the absurdly abrupt section on his views regarding the ip conflict looks rigorously like hushing.THe man happens to be the most authoritative historical voice on that conflict, deeply influential, and therefore the expansion, even if it needs some rewriting, is almost obligatory.Nishidani (talk) 07:38, 18 December 2023 (UTC)[reply]
Nish, it's not considered cool to revert war content under discussion on the talk page. And "farcical" is hardly the level of scrutiny and justification we will need to make whatever decisions ultimatly find consensus. It would be best if you'd self-revert while the discussion continues. Also, as you are surely aware, as an "historian" Chomsky is rich in opinions (some valid and thought-provoking) but lacking in rigor and academic standing. SPECIFICO talk 16:43, 21 December 2023 (UTC)[reply]
Historians are of several kinds, archival, descriptivists, generalists, comparativists etc. I have seen desultory challenges to Chomsky as an historian for a decade and a half, and invariably the contention is generic, that he is not professionally qualified as such. Neither was Walter Laqueur. Lacking in rigour and academic standing? That argument has been applied to any number of professional historians of this area, beginning with Efraim Karsh and Ilan Pappé, but are not taken as invalidating their use, even if the bias on wiki is to aim these critiques at historians seen to be pro-Palestinian, in a field which is overwhelmingly dominated by scholars of an Israeli or Zionist or diasporic background. I don't get the impression Chomsky is 'rich in opinions'. What he does is annotate day by day what was said by whom and when, in what context, all the material that disappears down the memory hole or gets lost in telescoping retroactive studies. It parallels what Morris does in the archives. The latter dredges up the hidden field reportage (in those Israeli sources that are accessible) on history as it unfolded, the former tells you what was publicly reported as history unfolded (the kind of historical narrative Martin Gilbert excelled in), and then was forgotten. But this is not material to the point here.
This is Chomsky's wiki bio, which must cover all relevant parts of his life and oeuvre. Since writing on the I/P conflict has engaged his critical scrutiny extensively for several decades, finding expression in major, influential studies like The Fateful Triangle, the decidedly elliptical coverage of his positions before the edit now contested on the conflict struck me as odd. It now strikes me as fairly due. I've done a ce, because some of the language was pointy. I'm not happy with the description 'anti-Zionist' which is a question-begging reductionist simplification of his position as a pre-Biltmore Zionist who has stayed faithful to that ever since.Nishidani (talk) 23:53, 21 December 2023 (UTC)[reply]

The quote boxes here violate MOS:PULLQUOTE and need to be edited out. In context use is better, as is in text attribution where appropriate, or putting information in encyclopedic summary. Alanscottwalker (talk) 15:57, 19 December 2023 (UTC)[reply]

  • I would like to point out that although Chomsky's views on Israel are discussed at length, they are not his primary subject area. He is primarily a linguist and secondarily a political philosopher. He is not an expert on the Middle East. He's written extensively on his views on the topic, and he's also received quite a bit of criticism on it. Even though nowadays he gets more attention for his politics, he's most notably a linguist. Andre🚐 16:17, 19 December 2023 (UTC)[reply]
    That they are discussed at length in sources is reason to discuss them at length in our article. WEIGHT is determined on the coverage in reliable sources, not what somebody's profession is. nableezy - 16:29, 19 December 2023 (UTC)[reply]
    Agreed, but we should focus on high quality biographical sources first and foremost. I'm not keen on all the rambly interviews being heavily relied on. For that, there is a Political positions of Noam Chomsky article. Andre🚐 16:32, 19 December 2023 (UTC)[reply]
    Im getting a copy of "Noam Chomsky on Israel" by N. Gordon Levin, Jr, part of Noam Chomsky: Critical Assessments to draw on, along with a few other sources. nableezy - 16:54, 19 December 2023 (UTC)[reply]
    That'd be good. The Lions' Den is another one I was eying. Andre🚐 17:01, 19 December 2023 (UTC)[reply]
    I believe that the Routledge book relates to his actual area of expertise, linguistics rather than his views on history and politics. SPECIFICO talk 16:46, 21 December 2023 (UTC)[reply]
    Well I have the chapter, and having read it no it is about his views on Israel. It is a bit dated though, so will use it for some things while using new sources along with it. nableezy - 20:02, 21 December 2023 (UTC)[reply]

Semi-protected edit request on 19 January 2024[edit]

Fix thesis link in sidebar. Currently 404. 2601:281:D17E:89A0:3C85:86E6:FD20:9CD0 (talk) 20:19, 19 January 2024 (UTC)[reply]

 Done M.Bitton (talk) 00:01, 20 January 2024 (UTC)[reply]

Bosnian Genocide Denial[edit]

Given Chomsky's lengthy record of public comments downplaying or outright denying the severity of the 1990s Bosnian Genocide, it is concerning that it's not covered more in-depth in this article. More content regarding these comments would be much appreciated. Royz-vi Tsibele (talk) 00:10, 12 February 2024 (UTC)[reply]

I disagree per WP:DUE. I read a number of Chomsky's works and listened to his interviews, and I have never heard it mentioned even once. This is a gross exaggeration. However, the issue is mentioned in the WP:BODY. --David Tornheim (talk) 01:23, 12 February 2024 (UTC)[reply]
In particular, Royz-vi Tsibele's recent reverted edit confuses three different statements, namely:
  1. Chomsky has denied the Bosnian Genocide (i.e. claiming it never took place; a claim about reality)
  2. Chomsky has denied that what happened constituted genocide (i.e. claiming it doesn't meet the definition of genocide; a claim at least partly about the meaning of words)
  3. Chomsky has questioned whether what happened constituted genocide
The two references provided in that edit clearly show 3; they do not show 2, let alone 1.
So if anything regarding this is added to the article, it would have to be a statement to the effect that Chomsky is known for considering the term genocide overused, and for having used the murders in Bosnia as a possible example. Rp (talk) 18:21, 16 February 2024 (UTC)[reply]
@Rp Denial of the Bosnian Genocide's status as a genocide still constitutes the definition of Genocide Denial. A lot of genocide denial, both anonymously online and by public figures, comes in the form of questioning a genocide's status as a genocide. The Bosnian Genocide was an organized extermination campaign against Bosniaks and Bosnian Croats by the Army of Republika Srpska for the purpose of ethnically cleansing territory for Serbian control. This was a genocide, plain and simple.
Chomsky's claims go against the findings of both the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Chomsky has gone on record saying that some media displaying the Bosnian Genocide is fabricated, and that Bosniak citizens could have avoided their deadly fate by just "going along" with Serbian nationalist plans of mass deportation. These comments and others are utterly atrocious, and should be pointed out more prominently in Chomsky's Wikipedia article.
I think calling Chomsky a genocide denial wouldn't violate WP:NPOV; after all, Pol Pot is called a dictator on his Wikipedia article. Although I have a feeling Chomsky would disagree with that position as well, given his comments on the Cambodian Genocide. It's almost as if Chomsky can't accept the fact that regimes he's sympathetic towards can commit genocide. Royz-vi Tsibele (talk) 13:05, 17 February 2024 (UTC)[reply]
You're going to need to provide some more substantial sourcing for these characterizations if you want to establish a consensus that the topic needs more coverage in the article. As it stands, your attempted edit improperly synthesizes claims in your source. Remsense 05:11, 18 February 2024 (UTC)[reply]
You're right about that, apologies. Will try to find better sourcing in the future. Royz-vi Tsibele (talk) 00:35, 19 February 2024 (UTC)[reply]
All of this garbage has been gone through umpteen times before. Chomsky has never downplayed or denied anything in Bosnia; he simply believes the word "genocide" should be restricted to its original meaning, i.e. to describe something like the Holocaust or Rwanda. That's not genocide denial, because nothing in the Yugoslav wars meets that standard. Cambodia: I just cannot be bothered going through it yet again. You're not the slightest bit interested in the facts; you just want to add some tired smears to the article. BowlAndSpoon (talk) 22:43, 17 February 2024 (UTC)[reply]
You don't need to go through it again. Please refrain from personal attacks It's not as if you're the only person holding this position here. Remsense 05:07, 18 February 2024 (UTC)[reply]
@BowlAndSpoon As @Remsense had mentioned, please refrain from directing personal attacks against me. We are both perfectly capable of discussing this topic without delving into purposefully aggressive language and tone.
As defined by Raphael Lemkin and other critical scholars who worked on the United Nations Genocide Convention, a genocide is a series of "acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group." In the Bosnian War, the Army of Republika Srpska sought to eliminate ethnic Bosniaks from territories they considered to be "rightfully Serbian;" such a goal is clearly in line with the definition set out by the United Nations and other accredited organizations. Furthermore, the Cambodian Genocide targeted ethnic minorities within the country, such as Chams, Chinese Cambodians, and Vietnamese Cambodians; once again, such a goal is clearly in line with the definition stated above.
Although the term genocide was created to specifically refer to the Holocaust, the definition laid out by the United Nations (and the literal creator of the term genocide himself) clearly includes other crimes against humanity throughout recent history, such as the Bosnian and Cambodian Genocides. To limit the classification of genocide to just the Holocaust and Rwanda Genocide risks feeding into the final stage of genocide: denial. Denial is what Chomsky is doing here, and it is a shame that the wider Wikipedia community does not recognize that, according to the users on this page at least. Royz-vi Tsibele (talk) 00:53, 19 February 2024 (UTC)[reply]