I find myself rather in the minority in my fondness for Christoper Hitchens. It has been said, with very real credibility, that he is an opportunist who chooses his stance at any given moment based on currently popular opinion. The accusation has evidence to back it up. He certainly is a pompous ass who could care less about being polite while making his arguments. Actually, he is not all that bad, assuming his correspondent is at least passably competent. One needs to see him in debate with assorted Theists to appreciate his respect for a competent debate. Or to see him slap Hannity right across the face to see his contempt for inept demagoguery.
Hitchens especially infuriates liberals in being the most competent proponent of the invasion of Iraq. He does rather manage to keep his arguments to actualy pertinent points, even though he can be painfully disingenuous at times. Like conflating “terrorists” like Abu Nidal with bin Laden. Additionally, he rather enjoys denigrating Tenet as inept, but I have yet to hear him mention the Aug 8 memo.
All that and more, set it aside and look at his reaction to Palin. Now, one could say that he saw the writing on the wall, the certainty of Obama’s election, and from that chose to repeatedly call Palin a joke and an insult, to say that McCain had lost his respect, that when Hitchens thinks “what do you take me for?”, the battle is decided. He now has a column lambasting Palin and her latest follies; now that there is less of the advantage to be gained by swimming with the electoral tide, perhaps his motives will be less suspect. I rather enjoyed the attached column, in which Hitchens ties Palin directly to one of the most horrific of Jew Haters to graduate from The Nixon University of Moral Cowardice.
I commend this to you as a good read: http://www.slate.com/id/2237638/
Oh, for those who would dismiss Hitchens as a drunk, I offer his own response: Oliver Burkeman writes, “Since the parting of ways on Iraq […] Hitchens claims to have detected a new, personalised nastiness in the attacks on him, especially over his fabled consumption of alcohol. He welcomes being attacked as a drinker ‘because I always think it’s a sign of victory when they move on to the ad hominem.’
Thanks for your article and the link to Hitchen’s article about Ms. Palin. No doubt that Hitchens has an “acid” tongue when he doesn’t like something. It is refreshing to find someone who does not subscribe to the political correctness of the MSM who fawn over Ms. Mooseburger…must be those MILF high heels!
But wait long enough and Hitchens will insult everyone! He just seems to have the knack. I love to hear him get on a roll though!
Hey Kevin. Good posts here. I totally disagree with you on Hitchens. Yes he is an intellect but he’s wrong a lot and he was wrong on Iraq, wrong on Palin and wrong on Obama.
Hi, I don’t know you. I agree he is wrong on many things.
Perhaps you can explain how he is wrong about Palin and Obama?
I mean, if you have an opinion, perhaps you could make it clear, if that is not too much to ask.
I believe thinking of Hitchens in terms of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ is based on a misunderstanding of his work and, in particular his method. I need to find the time to explain what I mean sometime, unfortunately I’m really busy at the moment.
I can wait.
Although I frequently find myself disagreeing with Hitchens, there is no doubt in my mind that he’s a serious intellect, and for this reason he’s worth listening to.
I don’t think for one moment that he’s an opportunist (although he’s definitely media savy). His thinking is based on some solid foundations which, once understood, make his thinking fairly predictable in most cases.
There’s lots more that I could say about Hitchens as I’ve followed some of his work quite closely, but perhaps I’ll save this for another time.
Oh, I’d love to read your thoughts. I have definitely become addicted to him.
He is about the smartest person commenting these days. He really pisses liberals off for having a competent (if inadequate) argument to invade Iraq.
I have actually caught him in pure Straussian mode, saying so what if BushCo lied us into war, the means justify the ends.
I have nothing but contempt for that attitude.
I started to write my thoughts down, but it becomes quite complicated and requires a lot of explaining. I’m really busy at the moment, but when I get the chance I’ll write down what I think, because I think he’s a really interesting thinker and is misunderstood by a lot of people.
No kidding complicated.
The man actually understands culture and philosophy, and how it relates to politics.
Superficial, he is not.
I saw Christopher Hitchens at a lecture here in Montana a couple of years ago. Wow, what an interesting guy.
I’m a bigger follower of Richard Dawkins, myself.
They make a great team. One a scientist, the other a philosopher/writer.
Nah, if he’s an opportunist, it’s being contrarian. You can’t quite pin him down. I think he’s got integrity. And serious intellect. And I enjoyed his treatment of religion far more than absolutist Dawkins (though Hitchens makes some contradictory remarks). As long as you believe what you believe and leave me alone… I agree, the trouble is…
Still, his attitude I can’t get over. I’m a bit of a curmudgeon and surly myself, but lord, he’s just contemptuously mean sometimes. I am a hypocrite though. I remember that Palin article, and saw him taking on Joe Scarborough. It was gold. But when he was unnecessarily hostile to Jon Stewart, I didn’t get that.
He was hostile toward Stewart? I missed that.
He does not suffer fools gladly, to be sure.
I used to read Hitchens years ago in the Nation. I admired him a great deal back then. I haven’t followed him in recent years, except to hear the occasional story about his various antics — something in Beirut during the past year involving booze? I have a link here to an article by George Packer who talks about Hitchens’ transformation, when he dropped his Nation column and jumped on the Iraq bandwagon.
(The Hitchens part is under the heading “The Romantic.”)
Reading kesarm’s comment about Hitchens’ earlier column, I do seriously question his judgment. I knew there was something wrong with Palin after the first five minutes.
You know what started Hitchens away from the Left? (He is still a Marxist)
It was the unbelievably weak assed response of the West to the fatwa against Salman Rushdie.
Hitchens has been anti-theist for decades, so when deranged religious extremists put a bounty on the head of a citizen of a democracy, he took exception, rather.
That had more to do with internal politics than religion. I don’t know if he mentions that. Certainly the basis was found in extreme interpretations, and cynically played to Muslims, but it was more domestic. Khomeini actually didn’t give a crap about the book.
K7, I couldn’t get the link to work, but did google Hitchens and Palin and got the Slate article…or rather a couple of Slate articles. The most recent one, which is, I think the one you cite, was strongly anti-Palin.
The earlier one, you would think was written by a different person, although it’s only from a little over a year ago. It’s almost a Palin defense. He says:
“However, as often as I have forwarded some alarming e-mail about her from a beavering comrade, I have afterward found myself having the sensation of putting my foot where the last stair ought to have been and wasn’t. Was she in the Alaska Independence Party? Not really. Did she campaign for Pat Buchanan in 2000? The AP report from 1999 appears to be contradicted by her endorsement of Steve Forbes. (Not great, I agree, but not Buchanan, either.)”
Later, he scolds Dems for objecting to the trailer park drama of Palin’s personal life (which he assures us, would be unlikely to continue after she gained the White House), while winking at the hill-billy antics of Clinton who continued to be a bad boy, even after he was elected. He wraps the article up by saying that Palin’s Christianity is wacky, but at least sincere…while Obama’s and Biden’s religion is “almost certainly hypocrisy.”
This above is all from the 09/08 edition of Slate.
It would be nice if he’d make up my mind.
Huh. Look at the date. She had only just been introduced.
That was early in the Palin saga, before she started talking about “Real America”, before her creepyness was clear.
He sure slams the hell out of her in this latest column.
I think most of us had Palin figured out immediately–as in September, 08. I and many others saw NOTHING of what Hitchens apparently saw in Palin back then. The minute she opened her mouth you could see she was totally out of her league. I have to question his judgement.
Even now, he finds anti-Semitism to be offensive, which it certainly is. But, anti-Christianity, especially anti-Catholicism? A whole different story.
Sorry. I respect your right to admire whomever, but this guy is too inconsistent and emotion-based (as opposed to rational) for my taste.
Have to head off to bed now, since it’s back to work tomorrow, so I’ll catch y’all later, I hope!
I hate to pile on, but a quick review of the Anchorge Daily News the day she was announced pretty much gave us the story on Palin. Any commentator who didn’t do that easy bit of due diligence wasn’t even trying.
And yet it took weeks for her image to crash and burn.
But it sure was quick.
Comparing Jews to Catholics is apples and oranges. “Jews” is as analogous to “Blacks” as it is to “Christians.
Hitchens is not anti-Christian, not even remotely. He is anti-theist. There is no organized religion that he does not want to see go away.
The Rome even today has a Cardinal who conspired to cover up child abuse. There is a guy in Rome that US prosecutors would like to interview. And Rome refuses.
Hitchens and Stephen Fry just participated in a debate, the Catholic Church is not a Force for Good in the World. The other side really could not deliver the goods.
Just a little time this a.m. before I have to start getting things done and then head in to work.
On the Hitchen’s youtube debate, I think most people who’ve been on the site for less than a couple weeks could probably review the earlier, archived debate on the same subject about ten days ago here, and it might be tedious for other members to go through it all over again on this article.
As far as comparing Jews to Catholics, I think it might be small consolation for the Jews of the world to hear the implied message from Hitchens, namely: “Love y’all, but my sincere hope is that Judaism vanishes from the face of the earth forever.”
Hitchens seems, like Palin and Coulter, often to use the issue of religion as a sort of rhetorical barricade, from behind which it’s possible to hurl snark-bombs with relative impunity. That’s dismaying to sincere atheists and to religious people as well. And, like them, he seems to be a relentless attention-seeker, even if it takes a toll on his own credibility. He was wrong on Palin and wrong on Iraq. How many chances do we have to give him?
As for his alcoholism: I can only say that if I attempted to do my job/research while under the influence of booze and/or a hangover, I wouldn’t call anyone who happened to notice the fact an unfair ad hominem attacker. Maybe just observant would be more accurate. BWI (blogging while under the influence) isn’t always a great idea.
That was just the “sign of victory” talking.
I believe you are right, sir!