In my anti-Chomsky article in the November issue of Prospect, I argued that you cannot make sense of Chomsky's political writings without understanding the centrality of his notion that the US is comparable to Nazi Germany. Here is what Chomsky says in response, in the January issue of the magazine:
To demonstrate my "central" doctrine, Kamm misquotes my statement that, "We have to ask ourselves whether what is needed in the US is dissent—or denazification." The context, which he omits, is a 1968 report in the New York Times of a protest against an exhibit at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry where children could "enter a helicopter for simulating firing of a machine gun at targets" in Vietnam, with a light flashing when a hit was scored on a hut. This was a year after the warning by the highly respected military historian and Vietnam specialist Bernard Fall that "Vietnam as a cultural and historic entity… is threatened with extinction… [as]… the countryside literally dies under the blows of the largest military machine ever unleashed on an area of this size."
Apart from misquoting and omitting the crucial context, Kamm also fails to tell us how one should react to this performance, aside from his own standard tacit acquiescence to horrendous crimes and his dedicated efforts, failing with impressive consistency, to find something to criticise in the efforts to terminate state crimes for which he and I share responsibility, particularly as in a free society, we cannot plead fear as an excuse for silent complicity.
Misquoting and omitting crucial context are serious charges; they are, after all, what I accuse Chomsky of doing, which is doubtless why as a diversionary tactic he turns them back at me. Chomsky's problem is that my accusations are right, whereas his are wrong.
The “denazification” passage appears in American Power and the New Mandarins, 1969. Chomsky refers to the things he mentions in his Prospect article, but the notion that these are a "crucial context" whose omission affects the meaning of what he says is bluster. He claims that the US is in need of "denazification"; that statement is clear, and means the same with or without the "crucial context". It is consistent with the message of his writings on Vietnam and ever since, for he frequently cites supposed analogies between the US and Nazi Germany, and without the "crucial context" of a museum exhibit. For example, also in American Power, p. 279 he states:
[O]ne must applaud the insistence of the Secretary of State on the importance of historical analogies, the Munich analogy, for example. As Munich showed, a powerful and aggressive nation with a fanatic belief in its manifest destiny will regard each victory, each extension of its power and authority, as a prelude to the next step.
The only respect in which Chomsky's complaint about lack of context might make sense would be if he were presenting the "denazification" requirement as a serious hypothesis about the United States, and wished to to present evidence for that judgement. That of course is my point, not his complaint: the US-Nazi analogy is a central and recurring feature of his writings. And that conceit may be speedily dealt with (as in this long post I wrote on Chomsky's early polemics on the Vietnam War). However coarse you consider US popular culture, and however great the injustices and evils of US society and foreign policy - which at the time Chomsky wrote included a long history of racial segregation, the incarceration only 30 years previously of its Japanese-American population, and a brutal war fought in Vietnam - the notion that America is a society comparable to Nazi Germany was, and is, pernicious and frivolous.
UPDATE: Re: my observation that "the US-Nazi analogy is a central and recurring feature of his writings". See my (long) post here on Chomsky's writings on the Vietnam war for further examples. None of these depends on the museum exhibit that Chomsky claims is "crucial context". All unambiguously compare the US or its government to Nazi Germany. This is, as I said in my Prospect article, a notion that is central to Chomsky's political output.