Norm Finkelstein: “If I can’t laugh, I don’t want your Revolution.”
Posted by Morrissey on January 29, 2023, 6:03 pm
.... the book is an anguished cri de coeur against pervasive cultural, political, and intellectual rot—an unapologetic defense and exegesis of the heavily maligned “Western canon” (John Stuart Mill, Karl Marx, Bertrand Russell, Kant, DuBois, Frederick Douglass, and the like), a sustained lamentation over how far the left has fallen, a furious denunciation of rampant philistinism and pusillanimous groupthink (quoting Mill: “That so few now dare to be eccentric marks the chief danger of the time”), and a proudly unfashionable celebration of such quaint notions as Truth, Reason, and Justice (which Finkelstein capitalizes, in a consciously anti-postmodernist flourish). The book’s kaleidoscopic nature and intimidating length might bewilder the reader, so in this review I propose to summarize and comment on several of its main arguments, to facilitate their diffusion.
Before doing so, however, I can’t resist quoting a few Finkelsteinian zingers, to preface the following heavy discussion with a bit of levity. On MSNBC’s Joy Reid: “living proof that not all yentas are Jewish and not all bovines are cows.” On Angela Davis: “Once upon a time she was on the F.B.I.’s Ten Most Wanted List. Now she’s on Martha’s Vineyard’s Five Most Coveted List.” On Henry Louis Gates: “a virtuoso at crawling on the ground while typing on his keyboard.” On Amy Goodman (whom he doesn’t name): “Goddess of Wokeness…a woke machine, churning out insipid clichés as her mental faculty degenerates to mush.” On Ibram X. Kendi: “mallet-wielding grifter…preposterous poseur…[whose] ‘definitive history of racist ideas in America’ reduces to a compendium of prepubescent binary name-calling.” On Robin DiAngelo’s morbid obsession with diagnosing “racism”: “She is the monomaniacal Captain Ahab in pursuit of the White Whale. She is little Jackie Paper out to slay Puff the Racist Dragon. Her palette comprises two colors—white and black… What an unremitting, remorseless, insufferable bore!” On the widespread fascination with transgender people: “the first day of a graduate seminar, students used to describe their intellectual interests. Nowadays, it’s de rigueur to declare your sexual orientation. It’s only a matter of time before a student announces, ‘I’m she/her and I’m packing a thick, juicy nine-incher.'”
In an adaptation of Emma Goldman’s “If I can’t dance, I don’t want your Revolution,” Finkelstein declares: “If I can’t laugh, I don’t want your Revolution.” Political conservatives, too, have complained about the humorlessness of the woke crowd, but if you’re alienating even die-hard leftists, maybe it’s time to rethink your messaging.
Been trying to find a Finkelstein clip for ages...one of his tutorials with about 7 0r 8 students....he is a great teacher, very funny too, not something I associated with Norman until I saw the vid...what a guy!
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