October 21, 2002
Or, as Geoffrey Wheatcroft wrote in the Times of London about Hitchens and his friend Martin Amis (quoted in the New York Times by Alan Cowell):
Their cockiness and conceit were hard to take many years ago, and now they’re worse, what with their self-important pomposity, with their pub bore’s buttonholing manner and with their assumption that we are all as obsessed with them as they are with themselves.So when I saw that “Hitch” (as we pundits call him) had a new peroration in the Washington Post, I suddenly realized I had an urgent appointment to read something else. Jeanne D’Arc, though, is made of sterner stuff. She read the whole thing and manages to both nail the execrable and find the nugget of truth:
I always have a problem reading Hitchens, although I don’t dismiss him as easily as most leftists do. And this essay is not just typical Hitchens, it’s Hitchens ratcheted up several levels beyond his day to day obnoxiousness. As always, his point is overwhelmed by ad hominem attacks, the refusal to comprehend any position but his own, lying about other people’s ideas, and his godawful self-congratulatory tone. Now that he’s left the Nation, and doesn’t see himself as communicating with the left at all anymore, the negatives have only gotten worse. The lies about the left have reached pathological levels. Ramsey Clark is the center of the anti-war movement in the United States? Leftists see Saddam Hussein as a victim and bin Laden as a “slightly misguided imperialist?” Has Hitchens left the planet entirely? Statements like that are either the ravings of a lunatic, or deliberate lies intended to court and pander to a new, right-wing audience.Later, Jeanne says everything that needs to be said about Hitchens’ support for the Administration’s war plans:
But the reason I’ve never been able to dismiss Hitchens is that he often buries some point that has to be made—and that no one else on the left is making quite as forcefully (if at all)—deep in the crap. And that’s true here too: There’s a glimmer of sanity in Hitchens’ ravings. In his brief moment of lucidity, he argues that the left should not be supporting an oppressive status quo—whether in Iraq or any other country where human rights violations are routine—in the name of keeping the peace, and he’s absolutely right about that. Peace, as Dr. King reminded us, is not the absence of conflict, but the presence of justice. That doesn’t mean the left “supports” Saddam Hussein. It means that just saying “Of course we recognize that Saddam Hussein is an evil man but there’s nothing we can do” is not an answer that people who believe in the importance of human rights ought to wrap themselves comfortably in while they settle down for a long nap.
Hitchens doesn’t seem to realize that his laudable desire to get people out from under the yoke of Saddam (and after that the other tyrants in the region) is not in any way, shape or form Bush’s goal.Or, to put it another way, just because you’re on their side doesn’t mean they’re on your side. [01:58 PM]