Sociology professor Lawrence Eppard hosted Chomsky in a Zoom video conference, where students asked the 91-year-old social critic and linguistics professor about political topics. These topics ranged from the United State’s response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the recent suspension of Sen. Sanders’ presidential campaign and the dangers of impending climate change.
Chomsky explained that Chinese scientists had identified the virus and sent the information they had on it by Jan. 7. While some, such as Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore reacted quickly, others did not. Chomsky praised New Zealand’s response in particular.
“New Zealand is maybe the champion, they went into total lockdown for a month and seem to have virtually eliminated [the virus],” Chompsky said.
In terms of the United States response to the coronavirus pandemic, Chomsky described the Trump administration’s response as “scandalous” citing the administration’s defunding of the health-related components of the government, such as the CDC, throughout his term. Specifically, in October last year, Trump defunded the U.S. Aid Project which identified viruses in many countries, including China.
“Meanwhile he’s been making every possible statement you can imagine, one day it’s the common cold forget about it. The next day it’s a serious epidemic, but I have it all in-hand. The next day go back to work, and then the next day closure,” Chompsky said. “Finally, when it became impossible to deny, he said ‘yeah terribly serious crisis I’m the first person in the world to identify it as a pandemic and I’ve done amazing things to keep it under control.”
Chomsky avidly supports Bernie Sanders, and even when Sanders dropped out of the race, Chomsky called the campaign a “major success” in shifting “the range of questions and topics that are being thought about and pursued.”
Chomsky elaborated by describing the coalition joined together in the Vermont senator’s second run for president, including Black Lives Matter, Occupy Wall Street and others which helped mobilize Sanders’ campaign.
With the general election only months away now, Chomsky went on to describe the danger of another four years of Donald Trump in office, citing the potential disaster of climate change and nuclear war.
Chomsky, alluding to Trump’s policy changes, described the administration as “defiantly and enthusiastically leading the race to the abyss.”
He further elaborated by saying civilization can pick itself back up from the coronavirus but, there will not be any improvement for our global environment. “We’re not going to recover from that. That’s finished,” Chomsky said.
Chomsky also referred to Trump’s withdrawal from the Intermediate Range Nuclear Force Treaty, or INF, that had been signed into place by Soviet Union General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev and U.S. President Ronald Reagan, a president Chomsky has widely criticized among all post WWII presidents.
“Donald Trump is systematically tearing to shreds the arms control system which has saved us from nuclear destruction for decades.”
Chomsky celebrated the efforts of young climate activist Greta Thunberg and mentioned the importance of passing the Green New Deal, legislation aimed to attack the climate crisis and economic inequality.
Chomsky left listeners by explaining the drastic social progress that occurred between the 1960s and now. “It didn’t happen by some gift from above, it happened from the activism of young, very courageous people.”