Glenn Loury
The Glenn Show
Norman Finkelstein – The "Triple Scam" of Wokeness

Norman Finkelstein – The "Triple Scam" of Wokeness


My guest this week is the political scientist and wildly prolific author Norman Finkelstein. If you know Norman’s work and history, you’ll know that some view him as a controversial figure. His criticisms of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, the cultural legacy of the Holocaust, the Democratic Party, and any number of other hot-button topics have made him virtually persona non grata in mainstream circles. I’ve even received emails from viewers asking me not to post this conversation, despite the fact that, until now, no one except Norman, me, and my team knew what was said in it. Perhaps you think his ideas are so toxic that he should be silenced. Clearly, I don’t think he should be.

Trying to capture this expansive conversation in a neat summary is impossible. Norman doesn’t hold back, and we range from his public disputes with Alan Dershowitz, personal heroes of his like Paul Robeson and Noam Chomsky, the shallowness of progressive wokeness, and the comparative merits of past Democratic presidents. Norman identifies as a communist (with a small-C), and so I expected we would have some fairly sharp disagreements. No doubt we do when it comes to economic matters. But I was surprised how often I found myself nodding in agreement with his sharp-tongued critiques. What can it mean that this perhaps idiosyncratic but doubtlessly committed man of the left and I agree on so much?

I expect you’ll all have a lot to say about this one. I await your comments with bated breath!

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Featured Content from the Manhattan Institute

Carolyn Gorman on how to build a mental-health system that saves people like Jordan Neely.

0:00 Has Norman been shut out of mainstream political debates?

7:54 Norman’s conflict with Alan Dershowitz

16:50 Is Israel an apartheid state?

19:25 Identifying with Paul Robeson

33:08 Norman’s new book, I’ll Burn That Bridge When I Get to It!

44:42 Norman: Wokeness is a “triple scam”

53:28 What’s become of Angela Davis?

1:00:05 Cornel West's chosen path

1:09:01 Obama’s self-proclaimed “neat trick”

1:24:38 The political intelligence of Carter, Clinton, and Obama

1:38:10 South Carolina 2020: a case study in identity politics

1:47:24 Would Bernie have won in 2016?

Recorded April 19, 2023

Links and Readings

Norman’s new book, I’ll Burn That Bridge When I Get to It!: Heretical Thoughts on Identity Politics, Cancel Culture, and Academic Freedom

Norman’s book, The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering

Norman’s book, Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History

Norman’s book, Gaza: An Inquest into Its Martyrdom

Norman’s book, A Nation on Trial: The Goldhagen Thesis and Historical Truth

Norman’s book, What Ghandi Says: On Nonviolence, Resistance, and Courage

Norman’s book, “This Time We Went Too Far”: Truth and Consequences on the Gaza Invasion

Norman’s book, Knowing Too Much: Why the American Jewish Romance with Israel is Coming to an End

Norman’s book, The Rise and Fall of Palestine: A Personal Account of the Intifada Years

Joan Peters’s book, From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict over Palestine

Alan Dershowitz’s book, The Case for Israel

Alan Dershowitz and Norman’s debate on Democracy Now

Michael Barnett, Nathan Brown, Marc Lynch, and Shibley Telhami’s Foreign Affairs piece, “Israel’s One-State Reality”

Paul Robeson singing “The Four Insurgent Generals”

The Letters of Rosa Luxembourg

Mark Doss performing “Ol’ Man River”

Paul Robeson’s autobiography, Here I Stand

W.E.B. Du Bois’s book, The Philadelphia Negro

W.E.B. DuBois’s book, Black Reconstruction in America, 1860-1880

Tom Wolfe’s New York Magazine essay, “Radical Chic: That Party at Lenny’s”

Angela Davis’s 2022 appearance at the University of South Carolina

Barack Obama’s memoir, A Promised Land

Bill Clinton’s memoir, My Life

Jimmy Carter’s memoir, Keeping Faith

David Axelrod’s memoir, Believer: My Forty Years in Politics

Frederick Douglass’s third autobiography, Life and Times of Frederick Douglass


Glenn Loury
The Glenn Show
Race, inequality, and economics in the US and throughout the world from Glenn Loury, Professor of Economics at Brown University and Paulson Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute