First, my original entry does something that I really don’t like to see from bloggers, whether it’s directed at me or at others, and Norm rightfully objects strenuously to it as well. Namely, argue that a blogger ought to be writing about something other than what he writes about. If there’s anything about this format of publication that’s important, it’s that we write about what we write about, when we want to write about it. When someone complains to me that because I’ve written about one issue, I’m required to issue a statement about some other issue, my basic response is, “I’m not your trained monkey”. So my apologies to Norm: I don’t like this kind of thing, and I’m regretful that I indulged in it.
Second, I think Norm is right to say that there’s just too many targets bouncing around in my original post, that I’m talking about something he said about Tony Judt and the Euston Manifesto and the people in favor of the Iraq War all at once, and often in ways that are vague or contradictory. (Several comments here pointed this out as well.) My original post really needs more focus. If I’m going to talk about someone specific, I should stay on the specifics. If I’m going to talk in generalities, I shouldn’t use Norm as a stand-in for the generality, particularly given that he is quite a bit more engaged in various ways with his critics, as he observed.
In part, this is because I was trying to deal with the nature of Norm’s response to Judt, which is that Judt is wrong to level the charge of “binarism” against pro-war liberals because it fails to discriminate between different intellectuals with different programs. I’m still frustrated by Norm’s response, because he turns around and says, “Well, Tony Judt is just the same as the Hizbolleft, really.” In fact, to some extent, I do think Norm does to Judt what he complains that I did to him, which is both to lump him in with a diverse bunch of people and complain that he shouldn’t be writing about what he writes about, but about what Norm thinks he ought to be writing about. I do think there’s a problem somewhere in there, but it would be better to try and untangle it than reproduce it, as I did.
Explananda does a much better job thinking through the issues I was trying to address, for which I’m thankful.