Noam Chomsky, the American linguist, activist, and political writer, is one of the most famous and harshest critics of American foreign policy. His critiques of Presidential Administrations from Nixon to Obama, and the stridency of his views—comparing 9/11 to Bill Clinton’s bombing of a factory in Khartoum, for example—have made him the target of much ire, as well as a hero of the global left. “Chomsky always refuses to talk about motives in politics,” Larissa MacFarquhar wrote in her Profile of him for The New Yorker, in 2003. “Like many theorists of universal humanness, he often seems baffled, even repelled, by the thought of actual people and their psychologies.”
When I called Chomsky, who is ninety-one, last month for a long-scheduled interview, I had meant to discuss his career and life, and his latest book, “Climate Crisis and the Global Green New Deal,” written with Robert Pollin and C. J. Polychroniou—but he spent most of the hour-long session railing against the Trump Administration with a vehemence that slightly surprised me.
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