Noam Chomsky’s Teeth
One day the great brain went to the dentist for a check up after several years of neglect. During the examination, the tooth doctor noticed extreme wear on the enamel of Chomsky’s molars.
“Noam, do grind your teeth?”
“Not that I know of.”
“Well, the enamel is taking a real pounding. Perhaps you’re doing it at night. Can you ask your wife if she’s observed anything?”
Chomsky goes home Lexington, near the MIT campus and tells his wife Carol about his encounter with the dentist. That night and the next, Carol stays up after Noam has fallen asleep, keeping a close watch for any nocturnal grinding but notices no unusual dental machinations.
However, Carol did observe a furious gnashing each morning at the breakfast table as Noam read his way through the New York Times.
Chomsky taught two generations how to read the paper of record, how to detect the warps in its stories, the subtle biases and false constructions, the decisive elisions of context, and servility toward elite power. What Chomsky could do not was to teach us how to stop reading the New York Times.
As a result, thousands of activists around the globe reach for the Times (or the Guardian or the Washington Post) each morning, with red pens in hand, begin marking it up and grinding the enamel off their teeth.