A Message About Noam Chomsky: An Update

No doubt like many other people around the world, we have been surprised and increasingly concerned that Noam Chomsky has not commented publicly on current events for around one year; in particular, on the Israeli genocide of Palestinians.

The most recent major interview we could find was this from 5 June 2023 with Piers Morgan.

As mentioned in a message we posted on our Facebook page last Friday, we had just seen messages on Reddit, a public forum social network, one of the most visited internet sites in the world, from Bev Stohl, Noam’s longtime assistant at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for 24 years until he moved to the University of Arizona in 2017.

Stohl’s first message in a series titled, ‘Updates on Noam’s Health from his long-time MIT assistant, Bev Stohl’, was posted on 5 February 2024:

Hi Fellow Redditors,

I’ve been replying to questions on other people’s posts about why Noam Chomsky hasn’t been returning emails, or interviewing. I’m grateful for the few of you who suggested that I create my own post. So, here it is.

I’m in contact with a close family member, and we know the basics, and hope to know more in the near future. In a nutshell, Noam is 95 years old and suffered a medical event in June. As many have noticed, he has not been writing, corresponding, or interviewing, as his health situation has taken the majority of his time and energy. He is still with us, now watching the news (he doesn’t look happy about what he’s watching). I will answer basic questions and give you updates as the family member I’m in touch with feels comfortable.

Meanwhile, keep doing your good work.

Best,

Bev Stohl

On 23 April, Stohl added:

‘Noam has not made significant progress, I’m sorry to say. I doubt he will be able to return to the public eye, as he is not communicating much if at all.’

As we said in our Facebook message, it was upsetting to learn about Noam’s health. We felt it was important to share this information as the comments from Noam’s former assistant were already in the public domain, but were not well known or widely disseminated. We had direct confirmation from another reliable source who has known Noam very well for decades that he had suffered a stroke last year.

Obviously, Noam has contributed an incredible amount to the world in his 95 years, almost beyond compare. His vital insights and in-depth knowledge of US politics and the Middle East have been terribly missed during Israel’s onslaught on Gaza. And Noam’s silence, amazingly, has been barely remarked upon in news reports, if at all, or on the internet. That changed after our Facebook post and tweet linking to it went viral.

Peter Cronau, the Australian investigative journalist, responded:

‘Noam #Chomsky’s contribution is insurmountable. His inspiration is a force for change. His analysis is a pathway to understanding.

‘Noam is ill, so send your thoughts and live an exemplar life, and bring the change he inspires.

‘As relevant today as when written with Ed Herman, “The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism: The Political Economy of Human Rights” contains the gem of the weaknesses of imperialism and how it must be dismantled.

‘For many journalists of a generation, “Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media” [also co-written with Ed Herman], provides the breakdown of how the news media are so powerfully able to set the misleading narratives that sabotage democracy.

‘The honour and pleasure of supporting him during his first visit to Australia, helping edit and publish his book of that tour, “Powers and Prospects”, remains.

‘Intelligent beyond belief, but understanding and tolerant of those willing to learn, Noam has persuasively and persistently given us the understanding of this modern world, and the knowledge we need to be able to get on with the project of changing it for the benefit of all.

‘Viva Noam Chomsky!’

Former MSNBC and Al Jazeera journalist, Mehdi Hasan, founder of a new media organisation called Zeteo, said:

‘Sending prayers Noam’s way. There has been no one else like him in our lifetime.’

Aaron Maté of The Grayzone thanked Chomsky ‘for a lifetime of immeasurable service to humanity.’

Matt Kennard, co-founder of Declassified UK, wrote:

‘One of the most beautiful minds and souls there’s ever been.

‘We send our love to you, Noam.’

Time magazine and the Independent both followed up on our post with news stories.

Associated Press (AP) has now reported that Noam is currently hospitalised in Brazil, the home country of his wife, Valeria. She took him to a Sao Paulo hospital for specialist treatment, once he could more easily travel from the United States following his stroke. She confirmed to AP the details of a piece in the Brazilian newspaper Folha de S.Paulo which noted that Noam has difficulty speaking and the right side of his body is affected. He is visited daily by a neurologist, speech therapist and lung specialist.

Valeria told the newspaper that:

‘her husband follows the news and when he sees images of the war in Gaza, he raises his left arm in a gesture of lament and anger.’

The newspaper added the heartening news that:

‘His condition has improved significantly. He [has] left the ICU [intensive care unit] and is now in a regular room.’

Media Lens owes a huge debt of gratitude to Noam Chomsky. The example he sets as a rational, decent, tirelessly committed individual motivated by compassion for human suffering was a key inspiration, not just for the creation of Media Lens, but for our involvement in political activism at all.

We send our very best wishes to Noam and his family at this challenging time.

DC & DE