As President Trump prepares to mark 100 days in office, 'Democracy Now!' spends an hour with the world-renowned linguist and dissident Noam Chomsky. Amy Goodman spoke to him on Monday night at the First Parish Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The conversation addressed climate change, nuclear weapons, North Korea, Iran, the war in Syria and the Trump administration’s threat to prosecute WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Amy Goodman began by asking him about the Republican Party.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask you about this comment that you made that the Republican Party, you said, is the most dangerous organization in world history. Can you explain?
NOAM CHOMSKY: I also said that it’s an extremely outrageous statement. But the question is whether it’s true. I mean, has there ever been an organization in human history that is dedicated, with such commitment, to the destruction of organized human life on Earth? Not that I’m aware of. Is the Republican organization—I hesitate to call it a party—committed to that? Overwhelmingly. There isn’t even any question about it.
Take a look at the last primary campaign—plenty of publicity, very little comment on the most significant fact. Every single candidate either denied that what is happening is happening—namely, serious move towards environmental catastrophe—or there were a couple of moderates, so-called—Jeb Bush, who said, "Maybe it’s happening. We really don’t know. But it doesn’t matter, because fracking is working fine, so we can get more fossil fuels." Then there was the guy who was called the adult in the room, John Kasich, the one person who said, "Yes, it’s true. Global warming’s going on. But it doesn’t matter."
He’s the governor of Ohio. "In Ohio, we’re going to go on using coal for energy, and we’re not going to apologize for it." So that’s 100 percent commitment to racing towards disaster.
Then take a look at what’s happened since. The—November 8th was the election. There was, as most of you know, I’m sure, a very important conference underway in Morocco, Marrakesh, Morocco. Almost roughly 200 countries at the United Nations-sponsored conference, which was—the goal of which was to put some specific commitments into the verbal agreements that were reached at Paris in December 2015, the preceding international conference on global warming. The Paris conference did intend to reach a verifiable treaty, but they couldn’t, because of the most dangerous organization in human history. The Republican Congress would not accept any commitments, so therefore the world was left with verbal promises, but no commitments. Well, last November 8th, they were going to try to carry that forward. On November 8th, in fact, there was a report by the World Meteorological Organization, a very dire analysis of the state of the environment and the likely prospects, also pointed out that we’re coming perilously close to the tipping point, where—which was the goal of the—the goal of the Paris negotiations was to keep things below that—coming very close to it, and other ominous predictions. At that point, the conference pretty much stopped, because the news came in about the election.
And it turns out that the most powerful country in human history, the richest, most powerful, most influential, the leader of the free world, has just decided not only not to support the efforts, but actively to undermine them. So there’s the whole world on one side, literally, at least trying to do something or other, not enough maybe, although some places are going pretty far, like Denmark, couple of others; and on the other side, in splendid isolation, is the country led by the most dangerous organization in human history, which is saying, "We’re not part of this. In fact, we’re going to try to undermine it."
We’re going to maximize the use of fossil fuels—could carry us past the tipping point. We’re not going to provide funding for—as committed in Paris, to developing countries that are trying to do something about the climate problems. We’re going to dismantle regulations that retard the impact, the devastating impact, of production of carbon dioxide and, in fact, other dangerous gases—methane, others.
OK. So the conference kind of pretty much came to a halt. The question—it continued, but the question was: Can we salvage something from this wreckage? And pretty amazingly, the countries of the world were looking for salvation to a different country: China. Here we have a world looking for salvation to China, of all places, when the United States is the wrecking machine that’s threatening destruction, in—with all three branches of government in the hands of the most dangerous organization in human history.
And I don’t have to go through what’s happened since, but the—in general, the Cabinet appointments are designed to—assigned to people whose commitment and beliefs are that it’s necessary to destroy everything in their department that could be of any use to human beings and wouldn’t just increase profits and power. And they’re doing it very systematically, one after another. EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, has been very sharply cut. Actually, the main department that’s concerned with environmental issues is the Department of Energy, which also had very sharp cuts, particularly in the environment-related programs. In fact, there’s even a ban on posting and publishing information and material about this.
And this is not just at the national level. The Republican Party, whatever you want to call it, has been doing this at every level. So, in North Carolina, a couple of years ago, where the Legislature, mostly thanks to gerrymandering, is in the hands of the Republicans, there was a study. They called for a study on the effect of sea level rise—on what sea level rise might be on the North Carolina coast. And there was a serious scientific study, which predicted, in not—I forget how many years—not a long time, about roughly a meter rise in sea level, which could be devastating to eastern North Carolina. And the Legislature did react, namely, by passing legislation to ban any actions or even discussion that might have to do with climate change. Actually, the best comment of this—I wish I could quote it verbatim—was by Stephen Colbert, who said, "If you have a serious problem, the way to deal with it is to legislate that it doesn’t exist. Problem solved."