Adios Hitchens

John M Cox coxj at
Thu Sep 26 05:31:46 MDT 2002

Any of us could heap great abuse on the bibulous and arrogant Christopher
Hitchens, who once upon a time wrote some good articles (but I'm not going
to get nostalgic about the guy, as alot of people have).
But let's allow
Hitchens to describe in his own words his abandonment not only of
"leftism" but of elementary decency; this is from an article by Adam Shatz
("The Left and 9/11") from the Sept. 5 Nation:

Hitchens's enthusiasm for the war on terror has led him to adopt some
strange positions. You would think that, as a longstanding champion of
Palestinian rights, he would be disturbed by Rumsfeld's cavalier talk of
the "so-called occupied territories" and Bush's crude ultimatum to the
Palestinians to either vote out Arafat or continue living under
occupation. But Hitchens told me that while he objects to "that whole tone
of voice," he prefers Bush's "tough love" to the "patronization" of
Clinton's peace negotiators. Nor is he troubled by the mounting civilian
toll exacted by America's crusade in Afghanistan. "I don't think the war
in Afghanistan was ruthlessly enough waged," he says. What about the use
of cluster bombs?

If you're actually certain that you're hitting only a concentration of
enemy troops...then it's pretty good because those steel pellets will go
straight through somebody and out the other side and through somebody
else. And if they're bearing a Koran over their heart, it'll go straight
through that, too. So they won't be able to say, 'Ah, I was bearing a
Koran over my heart and guess what, the missile stopped halfway through.'
No way, 'cause it'll go straight through that as well. They'll be dead, in
other words.

"It pains me to hear that," says Edward Said, a friend of many years.
"He's gone back to nineteenth-century gunboat diplomacy--go hit the wogs."

This article - "Christopher Hitchens and the Uses of Demagoguery" -
was just posted to a few days ago:

by Edward Herman
September 22, 2002

In his latest phase as flack for the war party, Christopher Hitchens has
taken on some of the qualities of his leader George W. Bush. A notable
similarity is in his demagogic statement of the issues "we" face since
9/11--in W's words, an "evil" enemy who hates our freedom, so "you are
either with us or against us" in this new and open-ended war of good
versus evil. For Hitchens, we face a "demented" enemy (bin Laden) who has
made "a sort of promise" to destroy the United States of America, so that
"It involves no exaggeration to say that everything depends, and has
depended, on proving bin Laden wrong." Thus we now have a "direct
confrontation, unmistakable confrontation between everything I loved and
everything I hated. On one side the ethics of the multicultural, the
secular, and the cosmopolitan...On the other, the arid monochrome of dull
and vicious theocratic fascism." Further, "Only a complete moral idiot can
believe for an instant that we are fightin

One trick employed by both demagogues is the Manichean use of "they" and
"we," with "they" being bin Laden and al Qaeda and theocratic fascists,
and "we" the enlightened multiculturalists. Understandably, Hitchens is
reluctant to name the leading multiculturalists in his new army, such as
Bush II, John Ashcroft, Richard and Lynne Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, William
Bennett, Joseph Lieberman and a host of others, assisted multinationally
by Ariel Sharon, Vladimir Putin, Pervez Musharaff, Islam Karimov, John
Howard, Tony Blair and the lot. The victims of "our" war include vast
numbers of Palestinians, Afghans, Iraqis, and other people who may be
"scum of the earth" for Hitchens and his allies, but perhaps not for
genuine "cosmopolitans" (I return to this later).

A related trick of Bush, Hitchens & Co. is to pretend that the aim of the
war is simply to destroy bin Laden, al Qaeda, terrorism, and "theocratic
fascism." On this point Bush and his associates are more honest than
Hitchens, as they admit to larger aims such as "regime change" in Iraq,
which has nothing to do with bin Laden and theocratic fascism, and the
preemptive removal of threats of "weapons of mass destruction" anywhere on
the globe, except where those weapons are actually known to exist (in the
hands of the United States, Israel, Russia, China, Britain, France, India
and Pakistan).

It is laughable to see Hitchens pretend that the Bush administration--the
decision-making arm of "we"--has no agenda beyond "proving Osama bin Laden
wrong." No revenge motive in attacking Afghanistan; no taking advantage of
9/11 and the ensuing (and continuously cultivated) patriotic orgy to
project power and advance oil industry interests abroad, and to pursue a
regressive business and Christian right agenda at home. There is no
suggestion by Hitchens that the pro-Israel lobby within the administration
might use 9/11 to help Sharon's theocratic state accelerate its ethnic
cleansing and repression.... for complete article

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