Larissa MacFarquhar at The Dubliner:
Noam Chomsky has spent no more than a month in Ireland, but he is one of the most influential thinkers in this country. An articulate critic of American Foreign Policy, Chomsky is regularly described – by sources as disparate as the Irish Times and the Socialist Workers Party – as a modern-day saint. Indeed, such is the blanket reverence for Chomsky that you will never read a bad word about him in Ireland. But Noam Chomsky is unique for other reasons too. Some of them aren’t so cute.
On Thursday evenings, Noam Chomsky, one of the greatest minds of the twentieth century and one of the most reviled, teaches a class about politics. There are nearly two hundred students and not enough chairs, so latecomers sit or lie down on the floor. On a recent evening, the students came to hear Chomsky speak about Iraq. He sat with his arms folded, a little hunched over on his stool, and began to talk into a microphone. He was wearing what he usually wears: shirt, sweater, jeans, trainers. His hair curled toward the middle of his neck and looked as though he didn’t pay it much attention. He spoke in a quiet monotone.
“When I look at the arguments for this war, I don’t see anything I could even laugh at,” he said. “You don’t undertake violence on the grounds that maybe by some miracle something good will come out of it. Yes, sometimes violence does lead to good things. The Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor led to many very good things. If you follow the trail, it led to kicking Europeans out of Asia – that saved tens of millions of lives in India alone. Do we celebrate that every year?”