Norman and his abominations

My friend Hellyer alerted me to the existence of the charming thing below, a post by Norman Finkelstein in which he attacks me, slurs Human Rights Watch’s Heba Morayef and suggests that we would deserve horrible things to happen to us, should they happen to us. He is also adamant – and expresses this conviction with a barely concealed tone of joy – that Heba and I will be locked up in a jail cell with the MB in a year’s time, if we are “not tweeting and blogging from the US”.

It is difficult to tell from Norman’s confusing blog when this post was written but it was posted on his Facebook page in December 2013, so that gives Heba and me 10 months to get our white tracksuits ready.

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Norman’s blog also doesn’t allow comments so I emailed him requesting that he clarify which of my “statements” provoked this vitriol.

He wrote back with this, written in a similarly cunty tone.

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Let us examine this missive one point at a time.

“The article of yours to which I referred was the one that you posted closest to this date 25 July 2013.  It should not be difficult for you to track down insofar as my references are quite specific.  You express such surprise that one might think you don’t read what you write.”

I assume he means this, in which I talk about how the regime mobilised the media as part of its crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, and in which I state that I don’t think that the Brotherhood is a terrorist organisation and questioned the popular narrative that the Brotherhood were responsible for all the acts of violence attributed to them during the Rab3a and Nahda sit-ins.  I then condemn the planned violent breakup of these sit-ins (that happened just over two weeks later).

The reason I did not recognise what fucking article he was talking about is that he summarised it out of all recognition. Perhaps it is Norman who needs to actually read what he writes about before posting catty little remarks on his blog. He seems to have missed the fundamental point that in referring to the supportive mood of the general public for the crackdown I am describing, rather than endorsing, this.

He also doesn’t seem to get that this article was about tracing the gradual vilification of the Muslim Brotherhood, and to what extent they contributed to their own downfall with their stupidity and hubris and thirst for power. But god forbid nuance should come into anything. This may be news to Norman and others from that coterie of shrill myopic observers who fail to get it, but one can be opposed to the army’s removal of Mohamed Morsi in July (and I was and still am) while AT THE SAME TIME be highly critical of the Morsi administration and its various fuck ups. IS THIS SO FUCKING HARD. This article was about examining what the MB did and didn’t do and ultimately concluded that the war on terror launched against them is politically driven and dodgy. It wasn’t in my opinion necessary to specifically mention that the army has arrested hundreds of MB members in the context of a post that is criticising this war on terror. If there is any reader who read this article and concluded that a state led war on terror targeting the Brotherhood means anything other than Brotherhood members being royally fucked then I won’t wait for the 10 months to pass and will just take myself outside now and shoot myself in the head.

“Be so kind (dare I also say humble?) as not to lecture me on web protocol. In general I consider internet an abomination.  I am an old-fashioned believer in books and documents.  I also don’t post every (empty) thought that passes through my head.  I don’t have comments on my web site because I spend approximately five hours each morning answering email.”

If you are a bore who considers the Internet an abomination then eff off and don’t use it. Stick to your “books and documents”. I find it remarkable that an academic finds it acceptable to reproduce part of a letter in which he badmouths people and spouts off maledictions against them like a gossiping housewife without any context or explanation. I mean the least he could have pissing done if he can’t bring himself to insert a hyperlink to my cunting article is provide my full bastard name so that people could search for my “statements” i.e. article and judge for themselves whether I deserve to be locked up and/or tortured.

Five hours of emails every morning? He is indeed a very important public personage. However when he posted a link to this post on his Facebook page (which has 8,778 fans) he was inundated by a deluge of comments totalling three (3), one of which was mine, another of which supported his assertions and a third which repeated “Norman Finkelstein has shit fer brains” eight times. The author of this comment liked his own comment for good measure. Perhaps Norman’s blog readers are more energetic than his Facebook fans and if he threw caution to the wind and opened up comments on his blog his legions of fans and critics would subject him to a storm of comments and he would expire at his laptop answering them all and have no time to come up with new gems to post on the World Wide Abomination. And if he did have comments open I could have commented there, provided a link to his readers to add a bit of balance to his post and defend myself and then we could have all moved on.

As for his cheap little slur against Heba Morayef, I’ll let her respond to that should she choose to. The only point I want to make is that one can have crap politics and still be a good human rights monitor, just as one can have good politics and be a crap human being. A human rights monitor’s job is to monitor, as objectively and as neutrally as possible, regardless of his or her political views, and if Norman Finkelstein believe that Heba Morayef failed to do this, and if he is unaware that she is one of the few high profile Egyptians to have retained their professionalism, neutrality and humanity while the rest of the country went mad then he knows even less about Egypt and what happens here than I feared.

Speaking for myself I won’t be tweeting and blogging about Egypt from the US any time soon – I’ll leave that to Norman.

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6 Responses to Norman and his abominations

  1. Sherifa Zuhur says:

    Sarah, I haven’t agreed with some things you’ve written (while supporters of/admirers of/mercenaries of MB are also responsible for many acts of violence, still incitement plays a role). But you are right to point out that Finklestein is rude as hell here & wrong not to take you (and Heba) seriously. Sherifa Z

  2. KHALED says:

    Finkelstein’s criticism of Heba is well founded not only on her statement to DN but she made similar statements and regularly expressed sentiments that clearly emphasised Mursi’s errors and or crimes implying that June 30 was a product of his failed policies (which was true to some extent)and always neglecting to state for a fact that the military’s interference and eventual coup was a criminal act. The military gave the president of the republic a deadline and an ultimatum! And she didn’t want Mursi to talk about legitimacy.

    “So the question is: why have we got to a moment where 14 million people turn out in opposition to President Morsi’s rule and what has he done in the last year to bring us to this moment? Now there are those at this point who would welcome the military in with other open arms. There are others who have deep reservations about a military – a return of the military to power. But I think the question is not purely one of legitimacy versus a coup. And in a sense, President Morsi’s speech has framed it in that way. His speech last night spoke only of the legitimacy of his rule and addressed no concessions to the millions of Egyptians who are deeply, deeply dissatisfied with his rule.”

    “So I would not reduce this to mere support for the military at the expense of democratic rule.”

    The coup was made possible because of people like her. Those who were supposed to be the voice of reason failed miserably and made such idiotic comments. Her stance was not in any way neutral as you put it. She was clearly taking sides.

  3. H.A. Hellyer says:

    Note to Khaled: Finklestein’s comment vis-a-vis Heba Morayef was not just ill-founded, but characterised her and her stances in a way that bears precious little resemblance to reality. The quote you indicate certainly does not justify his piece in the slightest, and it is rather poor, I might say, of anyone to reduce even that one interview of Heba’s to “The coup was made possible because of people like her.” Anyone who watches the full interview, or even just skims the transcript, can see exceedingly clearly that she was remarkably balanced. That is only reinforced by her very well documented stance before June 30 and after it until now. It’s truly a shame to see Morsi’s supporters try to find ghouls and goblins with pretty much anyone who didn’t back the Muslim Brotherhood, even when it is clear they weren’t supportive of the military’s path either. But, alas, that seems to be where we are.

    • KHALED says:

      Oh, I hope you were referring to me with your “It’s truly a shame to see Morsi’s supporters try to find ghouls and goblins ” cause that would be quite funny.

      Well I watched the entire interview and many others. She and any reasonable human being with an ounce of intelligence and integrity should have stated unequivocally that Mursi was in fact the legitimate president and the military’s involvement was unacceptable and amounted to a crime against the people.
      We may not have solutions and the situation was and still quite complex but some simple truths can not and should not be pushed aside and must absolutely be voiced and loudly. Otherwise we would be party to the crime.

  4. Pingback: If Cows Could Fly, If Bovines Could Blog | Norman G. Finkelstein

  5. I have spent 50 years trying to understand Egypt (Omm addunya). I see many grays and a few whites and blacks in Egyptian society. It is easy to declare the MB is all evil or all good, such is a travesty on reality. For I do know MB members who are evil people, but I also know MB members who are good people. I am less interested in what they say or believe for I am much more interested in what they do and what are the consequences of their behavior. I would appreciate concerned Egyptians to read chapter 12
    Islam, Democracy and the Good Life” in my book Field of Reeds: Social, Economic and Political Change in Rural Egypt: In Search of Civil Society and Good Governance and tell where I am wrong. I dream of an Egypt characterized as A Field of Reeds.

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