Friday, August 08, 2003

I like Norman

Norman Geras is a recent addition to the blogosphere, but quickly a highly popular one. He got ringing endorsements from Andrew Sullivan, Roger Simon, Michael Totten, etc. and has gained a quick and large following. And he deserves it. He is a proud Marxist, a Professor in the Department of Government at the University of Manchester and a strong and eloquent opponent of the anti-war left.

Today, he had a lovely piece critiquing an article by Simon Tisdall of the Guardian. In the article, Tisdall, while bashing Bush and Sharon, seemed to make some kind of concession when he described suicide bombings by Hamas as 'utterly wrong'. Norm took what may have slipped in as a nuanced view and made it blindingly obvious why such a glib characterization is dangerous and wrong. Some of the money quotes:
"Well, these things are very much a matter of judgement, but to me 'utterly wrong' is something you might say when someone had gratuitously insulted a sensitive friend and so hurt their feelings; or, moving along the appropriate range, when they had stolen the most cherished possession of this same friend after a long spell enjoying the hospitality of his or home... I would even accept that you can bump up the wrongness-content a good way here, to get much worse acts than these, and 'utterly wrong' might still be apt. But blowing up a bus full of, say, children on their way to school, people off out to the shops or to visit a friend; or blowing up a cafe or restaurant full of, say, people celebrating a wedding or a birthday, or just meeting friends to eat; and killing many of these people, and leaving others with broken bodies, shattered limbs, lives much worse, forever, from that day on, 'utterly wrong' to my ear doesn't seem to meet the case... For we can certainly say that, whether or not it is apt to describe suicide bombings as 'utterly wrong', they are acts of murder as well. (Scroll back: 'Bob, it was utterly wrong of you to kill that dentist.' Hmmm.) And, being acts of murder planned as a matter of policy by organized political groupings, and directed systematically against a civilian population, they represent a campaign of mass murder, and are crimes against humanity...Genocide and massacre are not a legitimate part of war, and the mass murder of civilians is not a legitimate mode of resistance to occupation or to anything else...Simon Tisdall's simplifications have been worth noticing at this length because they have become standard with an appreciable sector of left and liberal opinion."
My partial highlighting does not do it justice. Read the whole thing.

Also, just noticed this post dissecting Edward Said. I like Noman a lot!

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