Noam Chomsky makes comments about people who refuse to be vaccinated against COVID-19

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World-renowned linguist and political commentator Noam Chomsky received significant media attention following his comments about people who refuse the COVID-19 vaccine.

Chomsky claimed that voluntary isolation should be expected of people who refuse to be vaccinated, as they pose a potential harm to society. He was hesitant to claim enforcement would be necessary but acknowledged that if steps were not taken voluntarily then state intervention may come into play. 

Many people respect Chomsky’s political commentary, but I cannot say I share their admiration.

He is an intellectual who engages with subjects beyond his specialization, but he is still lauded as an expert in any field he writes on.

Chomsky’s comments follow a string of bad judgements, namely, finding moral equivalence in U.S. foreign policy and the attacks of Sept. 11. So, when I heard Chomsky had made comments about those who have refused the vaccine, I was not holding my breath for thoughtful commentary. 

In the interview he gave with the Primo Radical YouTube channel, he claimed that unvaccinated people should be informed that they should voluntarily isolate themselves from society because they are a danger to public safety, and that those with moral capacity will do so.

I find it incomprehensible that Chomsky opines on moral capacity, while he ignores the moral consequences of state intervention. 

If a state chooses to move people into isolation based on a personal medical decision, then that state borders on tyranny. Vaccines should be encouraged. The state should not forcibly remove people who refuse. Both positions can be held simultaneously. 

Chomsky’s most inflammatory comment came when he was asked how this isolated class would receive food.

He remarked that this was a problem for the unvaccinated. The solution then, according to Chomsky, is to appeal to moral capacity and then claim that those who do not understand should live in an isolated existence with food uncertainty. 

There are those who claimed that Chomsky was simply getting tough on COVID. People have been getting tough on COVID since last March, and those who are unvaccinated still hold the same views. This strategy has run its course. 

The constant temptation to dichotomize society has become worse during the COVID-19 pandemic. Essential versus non-essential workers. Vaccinated vs. unvaccinated. Mask-supporters and anti-maskers.

This dichotomization comes with the price that we find within us the ability to completely devalue another human being.

We regard them with contempt rather than compassion. This is the trap Chomsky has fallen into, as he is unconcerned with food insecurity in his new isolated segment of society. 

The answer has always been, and always will be, education on these topics. State intervention means you have failed to make a good moral case or have failed to try.

Chomsky’s comments do nothing but anger people who already feel they are being isolated. His words should not be taken as a unifying prescription for our already divided society.

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