On Monday, over 2,000 people packed into the historic Riverside Church here in Manhattan to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Democracy Now! Democracy Now! first went on the air on the eve of the 1996 New Hampshire primary. The date was February 19, 1996. The show began as a radio show on a handful of stations. Today, over 5,000 episodes later, Democracy Now! airs on over 1,400 TV and radio stations across the globe. Among those who spoke at Monday night’s celebration was Noam Chomsky, world-renowned political dissident, linguist and author, who spoke about Donald Trump’s election.
AMY GOODMAN: On Monday night, over 2,300 people packed into the historic Riverside Church here in Manhattan to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Democracy Now! Democracy Now! first went on the air on the eve of the 1996 New Hampshire primary. The date was February 19, 1996. The show began as a radio show on a handful of stations. Today, over 5,000 episodes later, Democracy Now! airs on over 1,400 public television and radio stations across the globe.
Well, today we spend the hour airing highlights from last night’s celebration. We begin with Noam Chomsky, world-renowned political dissident, linguist, author, institute professor emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he’s taught for more than 50 years.
NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, I’d just like to begin by saying a word about what a privilege and honor it is to be able to participate in the celebration of the remarkable success of Democracy Now! for these many years and, in particular, the quite astonishing achievements of Amy Goodman, Juan González, their colleagues, in showing us how we might aspire to achieve democracy now. It will be a long struggle. And again, it’s an enormous pleasure to be able to share this occasion with people like Harry Belafonte, who has been such an inspiration and being in the forefront of this endless struggle for many hard years.
And for the young people among you, a special word: You’ll be facing problems that have never arisen in the 200,000 years of human history—hard, demanding problems. It’s a burden that you can’t ignore. And we’ll all—you, in particular, and all the rest of us—will have to be in there struggling hard to save the human species from a pretty grim fate.
Well, my wife and I happened to be in Europe on November 8th, that fateful day, in fact, in Barcelona, where we watched the results come in. Now, that had special personal resonance for me. The first article I wrote, or at least that I can remember, was in February 1939 at the—it was about the fall of Barcelona to Franco’s fascist forces. And the article, which I’m sure it was not very memorable, was about the apparently inexorable spread of fascism over Europe and maybe the whole world. I’m old enough to have been able to listen to Hitler’s speeches, the Nuremberg rallies, not understanding the words, but the tone and the reaction of the crowd was enough to leave indelible memories. And watching those results come in did arouse some pretty unpleasant memories, along with what is happening in Europe now, which, in many ways, is pretty frightening, as well.
Well, the reaction to November 8th in Europe was disbelief, shock, horror. It was captured pretty eloquently in the—on the front cover of the major German weekly, Der Spiegel. It depicted a caricature of Donald Trump presented as a meteor hurtling towards Earth, mouth open, ready to swallow it up. And the top headline read ”Das Ende Der Welt!” “The End of the World.” Small letters below, “as we have known it.” There might be some truth to that concern, even if not exactly in the manner in which the artist, the authors, the others who echoed that conception, had in mind.
It had to do with other events that were taking place right at the same time, November 8th, events that I think were a lot more important than the ones that have captured the attention of the world in such an astonishing fashion, events that were taking place in Morocco, Marrakech, Morocco. There was a conference there of 200 countries, the so-called COP 22. Their goal at this conference was to implement the rather vague promises and commitments of the preceding international conference on global warming, COP 21 in Paris in December 2015, which had in fact been left vague for reasons not unrelated to what happened on November 8th here.