Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Christopher Hitchens: A Champion of Reason Or A NeoCon Toady?


On the excellent Infidel753 blog, I recently noticed that the site owner was paying tribute to Christopher Hitchens with a YouTube video that praises the man and his work.

Personally, I believe Hitchens' work on atheism and other topics is commendable--but outweighed by his despicable support for the Iraq War and his shameful propagandizing on behalf of Bush/Cheney and the rest of the NeoCons who have the blood of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis on their hands.

The comment thread below, which originally appeared on the Infidel753 blog, sums up my thoughts about this. I'd be curious to know: do readers of this blog agree or disagree? Does Hitchens' fine and intelligent body of work outweigh his support for the Iraq War? Or does Hitchens' parroting of Bush/Cheney lies damage his integrity and his reputation for intellectual honesty?

The comment thread, from Nov. 13, 2011:

I like this blog and you have a lot of good content. But frankly, I must disagree with all this praise for Christopher Hitchens.

Personally, I will always despise Hitchens for his outspoken support for the Iraq War. That horrific gang-rape of the Iraqi people was probably the world's greatest tragedy since Vietnam.

And every step of the way, Hitchens had his nose firmly up Bush's ass and loudly supported that fiasco.

I consider what Hitchens did to be even more reprehensible that the war-mongering coverage at "news" networks like Fox.

Hitchens' cheerleading for the war was actually more sickening than the likes of Limbaugh. After all, to any sensible, informed person, Limbaugh is a clown and his words carry little weight.

But many Americans (even the well-informed) bizarrely seem to believe that anyone who speaks with a British accent is somehow more intelligent than the rest of us.

As Hitchens is regarded as an "intellectual", his words on Iraq were far more influential to reasonable, intelligent opinion-makers than the likes of Fox News.

What's worse, is that Hitchens downright LIED about Iraq on many occasions. It's one thing to support this evil war. But to lie through his teeth about it was just downright evil. Memo to Hitchens: there was NO CONNECTION between Al Qaeda and Saddam--despite what you and Bush claimed otherwise on many occasions.

Hitchens may have done some good in his philosophical writing. But these were far outweighed, in my opinion, by his support for the evil that was the Iraq War.

A message to the many middle-class people in this video, sitting in their cushy, comfortable homes sipping scotch: please, spare a thought for the hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqi civilians---all senselessly slaughtered in a war of lies that Hitchens passionately supported.

A response from site owner, "Infidel753":

MM: I consider Hitchens a great intellectual because of his writings and speeches against religion, not because of his accent. Yes, he was wrong about Iraq, but there is no one out there who has never been wrong about something.

To me, his contribution to the central struggle -- the struggle against religion -- far outweighs his errors on Iraq.

My response:

>>Yes, he was wrong about Iraq,
>>but there is no one out there
>>who has never been wrong about

Yes, I agree with you here. However, eight long years after the invasion of Iraq, it'd be nice to finally hear Hitchens say, "OK, I was wrong on this issue."

I don't expect to ever hear that from the likes of Bush, Cheney or Rumsfeld. But it'd be nice to hear Hitchens say it after all this time. It'd be nice to also hear an apology for the vicious attacks he made on the likes of Michael Moore, Cindy Sheehan, and other anti-war figures.

Having said that, I did read Hitchens' God is Not Great some time back and I do admit, it was a very good book.

BTW, sorry about the tone of my previous comment. I do tend to get blinded by rage over all matters, re: Iraq War. Rather than "despising" Hitchens, I guess the more accurate term would be that I'm disappointed in him, at least on this issue.


Lotus said...

Some time ago, I described Hitchens as someone who was increasingly unable to string two coherent sentences together unless he had something or someone to hate. I have found no reason in the interim to change that assessment.

Marc McDonald said...

Hi Larry, thanks for your comment. Yes, your description sums Hitchens up very well. He is indeed a hateful person.

I recall Hitchens' appearance on Bill Maher's show a few years ago. He was babbling on about why the Iraq War was a good thing and telling his usual lies about how Saddam and Al Qaeda were supposedly connected. (His "evidence" having long been debunked by the likes of real experts like Juan Cole).

The audience got fed up with this and there were a few boos. In response, Hitchens raised his middle finger to the audience.

What's interesting is that we know know that the audience that night was right and Hitchens was wrong.

It's sickening to me to see Hitchens hailed by his fans as this rational, intellectually honest Great Thinker. After all, the man played a role in perpetuating the most notorious Great Lie of our era when he propagandized for the Iraq War.

One might say that we ought to cut Hitchens some slack, since he is terminally ill. (It's a shame that these same people never spare a thought for the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis slaughtered in a war of lies that Hitchens strongly supported).

The bottom line is that Hitchens is a goddamn liar. He is no better than the likes of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld.

Anonymous said...

I see it a little differently, perhaps because I haven't followed Hitchens' "position statements" as closely as you have.

It seems to me that people can be right about some important things while simultaneously being dead wrong about others.

Perhaps it makes sense to agree with him about some things without proclaiming him to be a Messiah of Truth.

And BTW, this post seems like a commendable step in that direction, so perhaps we don't see it that differently at all.

Marc McDonald said...

Hi CunningRunt, thanks for your comment:
>>And BTW, this post seems like a
>>commendable step in that
>>direction, so perhaps we don't
>>see it that differently at all.

Thanks for your kind words. I agree with you "that people can be right about some important things while simultaneously being dead wrong about others."

BTW, a while back, I did read Hitchens' "God is Not Great" book and I have to admit, it was well-done.