"Language is a process of free creation; its laws and principles are fixed, but the manner in which the principles of generation are used is free and infinitely varied. Even the interpretation and use of words involves a process of free creation."
"If the Nuremberg laws were applied, then every post-war American president would have been hanged."
"Propaganda is to democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state."
William (Zev) Chomsky fled Russia in 1913 to avoid being drafted. Elsie Simonofsky emigrated as well, though in her case from Lithuania. William began in the sweatshops of Baltimore, but self educated in Russia, he soon gravitated to teaching at Baltimore's Hebrew elementary schools while working his way through Johns Hopkins. He graduated with a PhD, specializing in the Hebrew language, about which he wrote and taught for most of his life.
He met and married Elsie, who also taught Hebrew, and after his graduation they moved to Philadelphia where they taught at the Mikveh Israel congregation religious school. On December 7, 1928, Elsie gave birth to the first of their two sons, Avram Noam Chomsky.
In the words of his New York Times obituary, "William became one of the world's foremost Hebrew grammarians." His was a warm and outgoing personality, influential in his field of expertise, and he drew Noam into his love of intellectual matters, academia and language. When he was only 12, Noam was already reviewing one of his father's five books. Late in life, William said his life's major objective had been "the education of individuals who are well integrated, free and independent in their thinking, concerned about improving and enhancing the world, and eager to participate in making life more meaningful and worthwhile for all." It is a telling description of both his aspirations and his effect upon Noam.
Chomsky's mother matched William as an intellectual and teacher. More austere, she was also more outwardly political and leftist in her thinking. Noam was shaped by a family life centered on active involvement in Jewish issues, including the revival of Hebrew, Zionism and Jewish cultural activities. In the end, Chomsky was a product of both parents. His interest in language, and his warmth and humor came from his father. His lifelong left wing anarchist/libertarian and socialist political orientation came from his mother, and both parents contributed to his intellectual talent and willingness to speak out openly and vigorously in support of his academic and political views....