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The cold dead hand of Christopher Hitchens will reach beyond the grave and get you

Hitchens’ own publisher, Verso, apparently commissioned a hatchet job on him, hiring a Marxist-Leninist ideologue to write (using that word loosely) a tell-all called Unhitched to expose Hitch as a plagiarist and heretic and fame-grubbing careerist.

Now I utterly detested Hitchens’ politics; I think he saw the world in binary terms and backed the wrong side in the battle against ignorance because he couldn’t see any other position than GW Bush’s and the fanatical Islamist horde’s. But he was passionate and sincere (not that that excuses anything) in his ideals, and absolutely heroic in his writing and speaking ability. There is room to criticize Hitchens on the facts, and I think a book that looked at the man critically and honestly would both provide an interesting appraisal and honor his talents.

According to the review, this book did neither. The author chose to attack Hitchens by denying his undeniable strengths, and the publisher hired someone who “nature did not intend” to write. The professional calumnist who wants to attack Hitchens post mortem faces a formidable obstacle: the man was a great writer, and every slander is going to look paltry and unimaginative next to Hitchens’ most casual jibe.

Comments

  1. =8)-DX says

    “plagiarist”
    —>
    “Sir! Sir, if you will excuse me sir!” (followed by total evisceration of the accuser).

  2. Brian E says

    Jacques, a great critique, however this sticks in the craw

    Likewise, Hitchens never had a satisfactory answer as to how religion could be designated as the worst phenomenon to befall humanity when the two most murderous ideologies of the 20th century—Nazism and Soviet communism—were resolutely anti-religious.

    I believe one of those murderous ideologies was quite religious, Gott mit uns, and such….

  3. Don Quijote says

    “My critics increasingly use the ad hominem in reply to me, and I regard that as a small moral victory.” [Hitch]

  4. says

    Hitchens infuriated me to no end for exactly the reasons PZ gives (and we can add to that his blazing misogyny). But to go after him as a writer and an intellect is sheer folly.

  5. Brian E says

    But to go after him as a writer and an intellect is sheer folly.

    Worth requoting.

  6. jamessweet says

    Slandering the dead. Classy.

    Heh, you do know that Hitchens wrote an entire book attacking Mother Theresa after her death, right?

    The aliveness (or not) of the subject is not the point, it’s the accuracy of the critiques.

  7. Jacob Schmidt says

    The aliveness (or not) of the subject is not the point, it’s the accuracy of the critiques.

    The problem is lying about the dead, not saying mean things about them. Really, the problem is lying in general. It’s just extra crass to lie about someone who can’t defend themselves.

    I’ll always fondly remember the debate Hitchens had with William Dembski. It was organized by a religious group (I think AIG Australia, but I’m not sure), and the organization invited school children to watch the debate. I’m sure you all see the mistake: they placed William Dembski’s vacuous bullshit next to Hitchens, and invited people to watch. Despite having heard before most of what Hitchens was saying, it was genuinely entertaining to watch.

    Someone should definitely write a book and skewer Hitchens on all the stuff he got wrong (the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, his mysogyny, etc.). But it’s asinine to pretend the man was a poor writer and rhetorician.

  8. jackiepaper says

    James, he wrote the truth about a horrible person who had conned most of the world into seeing her as a hero. He didn’t lie. That’s a very different situation.

  9. john says

    “[If Richard] Seymour represents the predominant strain of left-wing thinking today, then it is hard to fault Hitchens for waving goodbye.”

  10. davenash says

    @9 The Missionary Position (available at fine bookstores everywhere… or at least Amazon) was published in 1995 while Mother Theresa was still very much alive and plying her trade.

  11. erichoug says

    I think a lot of people do not understand Hitchens ideas and how they caused a lot of his political opinions. The one thing I liked about Hitch was that he was always willing to fight for other peoples rights and freedoms even when those people didn’t want those rights and freedoms.I know that a lot of people didn’t approve of his support of the Iraq war but Hitchens believed that the people of Iraq were being oppressed by Saddam Hussein and that removing him from power was the best possible option for the people of Iraq.

    He was not willing to make excuses or allow the rights of others to be denied because it was an imposition on him. He did not say “Yes, the people of Iraq deserve to be free and to be accorded the same rights and freedoms that anyone in any other country in the world enjoys, but….”

  12. Ing:Intellectual Terrorist "Starting Tonight, People will Whine" says

    @erichoung

    That’s pure unadulterated bullshit and blatant hero worship.

  13. Ing:Intellectual Terrorist "Starting Tonight, People will Whine" says

    btw finish the quote

    “But….bombing them won’t help”

    That shit is why Hitch was a dishonest dick many times

    Also remember when he defended torture? Yeah your analysis of him is shit

  14. Jacob Schmidt says

    Didn’t Hitchens recant on torture being a good thing? I remember and interview with him after he allowed himself to be water-boarded, where he back-peddles on his position after having experienced it.

  15. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    I’ve read Seymour’s book. While it’s not very well written, and in places OTT, it does make a pretty strong case for Hitchens’ opportunism, and tendency to plagirise. Seymour’s defence of Hitchens’ support for both the Falklands War and the Iraq invasion is absurd: there was no “left-wing case” for either.

  16. Jacob Schmidt says

    He was not willing to make excuses or allow the rights of others to be denied because it was an imposition on him.

    The Iraq war was not an imposition on him. It was an imposition on Iraq’s civilians. The problem with Hitchens, in this case, is that he placed his own narrow values over the good of the people he wanted to help. He let ideology get in the way of good-will.

  17. Ing:Intellectual Terrorist "Starting Tonight, People will Whine" says

    @Jacob

    Yes so he recanted after being tortured with a technique everyone with expertise said was torture. That isn’t brave and honest that’s ideologue and stuborn. that is epic level denialism for the ideology of excusing torture and cheerleading imperialistic abuse of brown people.

    And skeptics are framing that as a brave hero moment *sarcastic slow clap*

    Or to plagerize “he was a sex change and melanin injection away from being a decent person”

    And don’t frame the Iraq war as a pillar of compassion either. JAmie Ian Swiss reports he flat out asked Hitch if he could give ANY examples of situations like that suffering and he said “no….but nevr the lss” and kept on defending it. That shit would be torn apart by so called skeptics if a Christian did it but for our tribe it’s an example of strong convictions. It makes me sick.

  18. Ing:Intellectual Terrorist "Starting Tonight, People will Whine" says

    also I find it funny anyone would deny the opportunism and showmanship accusations. Even if you like him it’s blatantly obvious that Hitch had an iconoclast streak and went for big splashy topics. Whether that’s worth criticising is another topic

  19. vaiyt says

    The one thing I liked about Hitch was that he was always willing to fight for other peoples rights and freedoms even when those people didn’t want those rights and freedoms.

    Assuming the Iraq and Afghanistan wars had anything to do with freedom was his mistake.

  20. Ing:Intellectual Terrorist "Starting Tonight, People will Whine" says

    IMO Hitch failed to live to the standards he strictly held others to.

  21. Jacob Schmidt says

    Yes so he recanted after being tortured with a technique everyone with expertise said was torture. That isn’t brave and honest that’s ideologue and stuborn.

    I’m not saying Hitchens deserves brownie points for saying torture is torture. Really, comment 18 was thoughtless. I shouldn’t have posted it.

    And don’t frame the Iraq war as a pillar of compassion either.

    Is this aimed at me? ‘Cause I definitely didn’t do that. Hitchen’s support of the Iraq war was asinine, through and through.

  22. doublereed says

    As far as the torture thing, that seems like a case of hyperskepticism, where he didn’t think waterboarding was actually torture. I’m not saying that’s not ideological and stubborn, but the fact that he did change his mind with evidence is in his favor. I’m not exactly sure how you can say that’s “epic level denialism” when he changed his mind. That’s what it would have been if he DIDN’T change his mind…

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought he was in favor of the Iraq war as a matter of sovereignty and human rights, just like you’re saying. So that wouldn’t defend any of the execution of the war and all the problems with reconstruction, only the war itself. Right?

  23. Ing:Intellectual Terrorist "Starting Tonight, People will Whine" says

    @Jacob

    Sorry that last part was directed upthread

  24. andrewarensburger says

    to expose Hitch as a plagiarist and heretic and fame-grubbing careerist.

    “Expose” implies that not everyone knew that Hitchens was a heretic. I doubt that anyone, including himself, would hesitate in applying that label to him.

  25. Dunc says

    Without actually having read the book, how can you be sure that it’s not the review that’s the hatchet job? You have no idea whether it’s a fair assessment of its content or not. The Spectator is not a hugely reputable source – in fact, I’d tend to describe it as a right wing propaganda rag – and it’s certainly not impartial in this matter, having been the very establishment which published much of the material in question in the first place.

    (Full disclosure: I haven’t read it either.)

  26. Jacob Schmidt says

    I’m not exactly sure how you can say that’s “epic level denialism” when he changed his mind.

    It literally took torturing him to prove that torture is torture.

    Look at what he was advocating:

    A-> Water-boarding isn’t torture
    B-> Water-boarding will somehow force terrorists to give up their secrets without being torture

    Yeah, that’s epic level denial. Even complete delusions can be broken by reality if reality is being used to fake your own drowning.

  27. Ing:Intellectual Terrorist "Starting Tonight, People will Whine" says

    @doublereed

    No it is not in your favor that the only way you change your mind is being torture. Ffs

    your assessment of the war issue is childish. Its like saying you supported starting a fire because campfires are good but ignoring that it was an arsonist and saying you disagreed with the property damage and deaths.

    I’m greatly amused at how you defend “let’s kill a bunch of people indiscriminately and throw their infrastructure into ruin and dismantle their government….for their sovereignty” you have to make a damn good case that the alternatives are worse a case that wasn’t there because no one in the pro side was giving a realistic assessment of reconstruction or a proper accounting for lives hanging in balance.

    HItch fanned Teresa for not favoring poor but favoring poverty, well imo he didn’t care about Iraqi life but only the ideological value they represented. He did the same thing she did, sacrificing real people and causing real suffering on an alter.

  28. Ing:Intellectual Terrorist "Starting Tonight, People will Whine" says

    Damned not fanned. Fucking Autocorrect

    Sorry for run ons. On phone

  29. says

    Here is Richard Seymour’s reply to the critique linked to at # 2:When neoconservative heroes perish

    Ah. Thanks for that link.

    I’ve read Seymour’s book. While it’s not very well written, and in places OTT, it does make a pretty strong case for Hitchens’ opportunism, and tendency to plagirise.

    The responses in the reviews to the cases of plagiarism Seymour raises sounded bizarre and unconvincing even before I read his rejoinder (he’s accused in one case of making allegations which are contradicted in the endnotes, but it appeared even from their own presentation that what Seymour was saying was that in that case after being called out on the plagiarism Hitchens credited the original source in the next edition, which it turns out is in fact what Seymour was saying). I haven’t read the book, so I son’t know how solid the evidence of plagiarism is in this or the other cases (though I’ll take Nick’s word for it), but that presentation in the reviews struck me as dishonest.

    Honestly, I don’t know which is a worse interpretation: that he was an opportunist or a sincere imperialist wingnut. I guess the former, since you do as much damage and don’t even have the excuse of real convictions. But I’m confused: One of the reviews seems to suggest that Seymour argues that Hitchens had long displayed rightwing sympathies. Is Seymour’s claim that Hitchens’ earlier identification with the left was opportunistic?

  30. Dunc says

    HItch [damned] Teresa for not favoring poor but favoring poverty, well imo he didn’t care about Iraqi life but only the ideological value they represented. He did the same thing she did, sacrificing real people and causing real suffering on an [altar].

    That’s a bloody brilliant way of putting it Ing! And exactly right – he was far too concerned with his abstract ideas about what he thought the Iraqis should want* to spend time worrying about what they actually did want, or even whether they lived or died.

    *Plus his own stupid, egotistical desire to imagine himself on the right side of an epoch-defining conflict. Hmm, where else have I seen that impulse? Oh yeah – pro-lifers, anti-gay fundies, slimepitters…

  31. garlic says

    Dude, that link is from the Spectator – an ultra-conservative publication that makes the Torygraph look like the Socialist Worker. And certainly no friends of atheists, new or old, either.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Spectator

    I would take whatever they write about Hitchens, “the Left” and (supposed) “marxists” with a boulder of salt. Or three.

  32. erichoug says

    @Ing,

    I am not saying that Hitchens was a perfect individual but I will say that he was a lot more consistent in his opinions and beliefs than a lot of people that you could name. Also, he understood that while very little in this world black and white, there absolutely were some things that were. Free speech, freedom both of and from religion, equal rights and equal treatment before the law. I don’t think PZ is right that Hitch saw things purely in a simple binary arrangement. But I think he believed that some things were absolute and were not subject to being denied based on the situation or other items

    I totally disagreed with his stance on the Iraq war but I understand with why he took that stance and can at least appreciate it.

  33. Ing:Intellectual Terrorist "Starting Tonight, People will Whine" says

    @erichoung

    Ah yes consistency, that value we praise in Hitch and curse in Robertson

    I can’t appriciate being wrong and stubornly awfully aroggantly wrong.

    But I’m glad you, who was sooooooooo inflicted and harmed by what he promoted can appriciate him.

    Grow a damn spine

  34. Ing:Intellectual Terrorist "Starting Tonight, People will Whine" says

    and I’m not saying someone has to be perfect, I’d settle for not awful and pigheaded. Or even for living to the standards they hold others.

  35. Don Quijote says

    Perhaps the Kurds and the Marsh Arabs may have a different take on whether Hitchens was right or wrong.

  36. erichoug says

    @Ing, Oh, I get it, someone who takes a different political position than you is just stubborn and a bad person. And as far as being a hypocrite, you will have to enlighten me on that one. From what I have seen Hitch more than once put himself in real danger to support his ideas and opinions.

  37. Jacob Schmidt says

    I am not saying that Hitchens was a perfect individual but I will say that he was a lot more consistent in his opinions and beliefs than a lot of people that you could name.

    He was also more inconsistent than many people I could name. That mealy-mouthed praise is worthless.

    But I think he believed that some things were absolute and were not subject to being denied based on the situation or other items

    The problem was that those absolutes were not constrained to reality. He advocated for the Iraq war to help the civilians, despite the disastrous effect that war had on the very same. He fought for abstract ideals, divorced from the contexts and problems those ideals are meant to address.

    He was, at times, an irrational idealogue.

  38. erichoug says

    @Ing, I don’t give a fuck about Pat Robertson being consistently a bigoted little asshole. But I do appreciate Hitchens being consistently a loud and vocal supporter of my rights and my freedoms and a consistent opponent of the fascists and the fuck sticks of this world.

    Your primary opposition to him seems to be that he was a supporter of President Bush. You may want to consider that there were several areas in which he was a vocal opponent of Mr. Bush. But, I suppose that doesn’t line up with you simple allegory.

  39. Jacob Schmidt says

    Oh, I get it, someone who takes a different political position than you is just stubborn and a bad person.

    No, someone who advocates for a senseless war in the name of the civilians (you know, the ones the war is killing) is stubborn and a bad person.

    From what I have seen Hitch more than once put himself in real danger to support his ideas and opinions.

    Yes. He then turns around and, in blatant disregard for any sort of rationality (a key virtue for him), advocates for several wars based on ridiculous premises. In other words, he was, at times, a hypocrite.

  40. erichoug says

    @ Jacob Schmidt

    He was also more inconsistent than many people I could name.

    Really, any chance of an actual example or do you want to just keep throwing stuff out.

    Hey Jacob Schmidt says a lot of stupid shit that is all wrong and he knows that he is lying about it. I’m not going to say what, I’ll just assert it without any sort of actual example. Works for me.

    As I said previously, I didn’t agree with his stance on the Iraq war but I understood why he took it. He believed that Saddam was a repressive tyrant and that the people of Iraq and the world in general was better off without him. And that the sacrifice was worth it to get rid of him. Again, if you disagree with him on that then you agree with me in that regards.

  41. Ing:Intellectual Terrorist "Starting Tonight, People will Whine" says

    @Eric

    You mad bro?

    I sincerely apologize for holding Hitch to the values he promoted

  42. erichoug says

    @Jacob Schmidt.

    I get it, you no likey war. War is always bad and you have not problem with any and all depredations that a tyrant can inflict on you and your family as long as it doesn’t come to a war.

    Also, I don’t think you understand what Rationality means. Hitch for his entire career fought against the irrational. Against the religious fanatic, against the political fascist, against those that would seek to silence him and more importantly against those that would seek to silence others.

  43. Jacob Schmidt says

    Wait, I need to provide examples, but you don’t?

    How about the other of this blog? PZ seems to be more consistent then Hitchens. So do most of the regulars around here. Hell, most people I know don’t throw rational thinking out the window in order to justify wars. I know many, many people do, but it takes more than being “better than most” to be worthy of praise. I’m a better programmer than most, I’m still a really shitty programmer.

  44. Matt Penfold says

    I get it, you no likey war. War is always bad and you have not problem with any and all depredations that a tyrant can inflict on you and your family as long as it doesn’t come to a war.

    That Saddam was a tyrant was not the reason given by Bush for going to war. In supporting Bush Hitchins was also supporting the reason Bush gave. A reason that has been shown to have been based on deceit by Bush.

  45. Ing:Intellectual Terrorist "Starting Tonight, People will Whine" says

    @erichoung

    How many voices where silenced permently by his favored war?

    How is “I see your point Jamie but chose to just ignore it because I’m right” rational?

    And most importantly why is it so important that you have to believe he was a hero and bold crusader? You sound like his critics in response to Momma T.

  46. Ing:Intellectual Terrorist "Starting Tonight, People will Whine" says

    i like how you misconstrue my stance on war. HItch would be proud

  47. Owlglass says

    Hitchens, as everybody who lived an almost full life, was wrong. Somewhere. It tells us more about the critics who seem to look for somebody to glorify, a messiah that tells them how and what to think and who are then indignant when their idol espouses views they can’t endorse. They feel betrayal. Hitchens views weren’t abstractions either. As a journalist, he got around and saw situations unfold with his very own eyes. It is easy to sit here, in the warmth, a calm and snowy landscape outside, and think he was wrong on his political views. Maybe he wasn’t. As much as I disagree, I imagine that I might have a different view when I talked to people on the streets, see their suffering and genuinely think they are better off once gotten rid of their dictator.

  48. erichoug says

    @ing, I’m not mis-construing you stance on war. I am making fun of you inability to consider any other position than your own.

  49. erichoug says

    How many voices where silenced [sic]permently by his favored war?

    Seriously? That’s fucking pathetic. Why not talk about the Kurds that Saddam gassed or the millions of Iraqi’s that he marched to their deaths against the Iranians or even in the first gulf war.

    You know, I really did disagree with Hitch on the Iraq war but Y’all are making me start to see his point.

    And, I don’t see him as a crusader, I see him as a street brawler who is willing to fight and die for what we ALL should be willing to fight and die for.

  50. Ing:Intellectual Terrorist "Starting Tonight, People will Whine" says

    @erichoung

    *eye roll*

    the irony

  51. Ing:Intellectual Terrorist "Starting Tonight, People will Whine" says

    I respectfully decline from engaging in your hypocritical hysterical tantrum

  52. erichoug says

    @Ing,

    WOW! I must really be kicking ass if I actually got Ing the Great and Powerful to shut his pie hole.

  53. Ing:Intellectual Terrorist "Starting Tonight, People will Whine" says

    If you ever care to actually engage me I’ll be glad to do so. Today I lack the time and patience to engage in your tantrum

  54. Matt Penfold says

    WOW! I must really be kicking ass if I actually got Ing the Great and Powerful to shut his pie hole.

    No you ain’t!

  55. erichoug says

    @Ing

    HAHA, See you can’t even stick to your own words. Also, you were the one that walked off in a huff so who’s the one throwing a tantrum. But, by all means I don’t want to take up your valuable time Especially as you always make such succinct and interesting points. Don’t let me stop you from taking your ball and going home.

  56. Goodbye Enemy Janine says

    Seriously? That’s fucking pathetic. Why not talk about the Kurds that Saddam gassed or the millions of Iraqi’s that he marched to their deaths against the Iranians or even in the first gulf war.

    Why not talk about the US that helped to set up Saddam Hussein as dictator to act as a counter balance to revolution racked Iran? And armed Iraq during it’s war with Iran.

  57. erichoug says

    @Matt Pennfold

    I don’t believe I was speaking to you, pudding. Perhaps you would like to weigh in on the larger conversation. Or do you, like Ing and so many others here completely dismiss Hitchens based solely on the idea that he was once of the same opinion as Mr. Bush?

    Perhaps the Baby shouldn’t go out with the bathwater, hmmm?

  58. erichoug says

    @Goodbye Enemy Janine,

    Actually Hitch did speak about all of that. But, again that doesn’t jibe with all of y’all’s easy part line idea of Hitchens.

  59. Matt Penfold says

    I don’t believe I was speaking to you, pudding. Perhaps you would like to weigh in on the larger conversation. Or do you, like Ing and so many others here completely dismiss Hitchens based solely on the idea that he was once of the same opinion as Mr. Bush?

    Actually you were, since this is a public forum. Do you want to explain why you are not aware of this very simple fact ?

    I remember you from past encounters. You do not seem to have improved your intellect in meantime.

  60. Goodbye Enemy Janine says

    Sorry. Never had much use for Hitchens. But, please, try to explain to me what my party line is. I seem to have lost the plot.

  61. erichoug says

    @Matt Penfold

    You do not seem to have improved your intellect in meantime

    If by that you mean, as I’m sure you do, that I do not always agree with you or the other regulars on these forums then you are correct. I am just as dumb as I ever was.

    I do notice an interesting tendency on these forums. If you are in agreement and/or heap fawning praise on the regulars than you are intelligent and let us say “Right Thinking”. If, on the other hand, you dare to challenge the thinking of the collective you are “Wrong Thinking”.

    Since it is a public forum, perhaps you read the rest of my above post where I asked if you wanted to weigh in on the actual issue to hand. Or are you just here to enforce the orthodoxy?

  62. erichoug says

    @Goodbye Enemy Janine

    Sorry, dear I wouldn’t want you to go through the trouble of actually listening to one of Mr. Hitchens public debates or lectures, or, god forbid, having you read one of his books. Please just continue to hate him because he one time sided with Mr. Bush. Otherwise you might have to actually reason and consider. That’s way too much work.

  63. Matt Penfold says

    If by that you mean, as I’m sure you do, that I do not always agree with you or the other regulars on these forums then you are correct. I am just as dumb as I ever was.

    Nope, that was not what I meant. What I meant was you are still as ignorant and stupid as before. The stupidity part is is true might have been hard to fix, but there is no excuse for still be as ignorant as you.

    Now do you want to explain you stupidity in not realising this is a public forum ? Only I asked you to, and you didn’t. Either you could not understand the question or it was beyond your ability to answer I suspect. Do you have anything to say as to why we should not take your failure to reply as admission you were too stupid to do so ?

    You failure to address your dishonesty in the reason given for the Iraq War has also been noted. Not doing very well are you ?

  64. Goodbye Enemy Janine says

    I must apologize to erichoug for not considering what Christopher Hitchens had to say on the topic of “freedom” when I initially rejected all of the Bushite lies for war over a decade ago.

    Please explain to me how this fits into the “easy party line” that you claim is here.

  65. Anthony K says

    If by that you mean, as I’m sure you do, that I do not always agree with you or the other regulars on these forums then you are correct.

    It’s entirely possible that he’s referring to such events as the time in which you demonstrated that you have no fucking clue as to how statistics work.

  66. erichoug says

    Now do you want to explain you stupidity in not realising this is a public forum ?

    Yes, I’m the one who’s dumb.

  67. Matt Penfold says

    It’s entirely possible that he’s referring to such events as the time in which you demonstrated that you have no fucking clue as to how statistics work.

    Actually I had forgotten about that. I had in mind the time he proudly told us he kept a loaded firearm unsecured in his house.

  68. Goodbye Enemy Janine says

    Thank you for #66, erichoug. Now I know you are just a condescending assclam.

    Once more, I am so sorry that I did not consult with Christopher fucking Hitchens when I rejected the idea of the neo-com concept of a preventative and imperialist war.

    And I am so fucking sorry that Hitchens never meant much of anything for me.

  69. erichoug says

    Hi Anthony,

    Want to talk about Hitchens? Or should we get back into the whole gun debate.

    Frankly I disagreed with him on Iraq but I can understand why he took the position he did. But., you have to admire someone who is so willing to fight for what he believes in. I mean he was a fairly complicated guy and to be honest my only point is that it is wrong to dismiss him so easily. Especially when most of the people that are so against him on this blog would probably agree with the vast majority of what he said and did.

  70. erichoug says

    @Goodbye Enemy Janine

    Would you like to borrow my copy of “God is Not Great”? I will be willing to ship it to you for free. I am, again, not saying that Hitch was right about Iraq. But, I am saying that he was absolutely right about a good many other things and that it is definitely worth actually listening to the man before you dismiss him out of hand.

  71. erichoug says

    @Matt,

    Texas is a dangerous place, as you well know. And no, it isn’t unsecured.

    Oh, I did have a good round at sporting clays last weekend. 38/50. Not bad.

  72. Goodbye Enemy Janine says

    But., you have to admire someone who is so willing to fight for what he believes in.

    Um, no. Lots of people are willing to fight for causes that they believe in, causes that harm and kill lots of other people. I do not have to admire them them. And I refuse to do so.

  73. Anthony K says

    Want to talk about Hitchens? Or should we get back into the whole gun debate.

    I’m fine with correcting the dogmatic assertion you made in the statement I quoted, as I did.

    Other than that, I see little value in conversing with you at all.

  74. rr says

    …completely dismiss Hitchens based solely on the idea that he was once of the same opinion as Mr. Bush?

    It wasn’t an opinion, it was lie after lie, cynically crafted in the effort to gain control of Iraq’s oil. Tens if not hundreds of thousands of people died. You didn’t have to be a rocket scientist to spot the lies. Hitchens threw his integrity out the window.

  75. Anthony K says

    Oh, I did have a good round at sporting clays last weekend. 38/50. Not bad.

    See what I mean? Little value.

    If you want head pats, go tell your parents about your expert marksmanship.

  76. erichoug says

    @Goodbye Enemy Janine

    Really, so you don’t admire people that fight for YOUR right to freedom of speech? You don’t admire people that fight for YOUR right to be free from religious and political oppression? You don’t admire people that fight for YOUR right to live a good and prosperous life and to have your human rights and human dignity respected by the your government and other organizations?

    I absolutely understand you not admiring people like Pat Robertson who believe they have to fight for their right to make the world a little worse. But Hitchens was not Pat Robertson. And the offer to send the book still stands.

  77. Goodbye Enemy Janine says

    It wasn’t an opinion, it was lie after lie, cynically crafted in the effort to gain control of Iraq’s oil. Tens if not hundreds of thousands of people died. You didn’t have to be a rocket scientist to spot the lies. Hitchens threw his integrity out the window.

    But it was out of love of freedom for the Iraqi people. And Hitchens was willing to fight for it.

    So fucking admire him!

  78. Ze Madmax says

    erichoug @ #73

    But., you have to admire someone who is so willing to fight for what he believes in

    Why? And what makes being willing to fight for one’s beliefs a point of admiration in Hitchens, but something to be reviled in say, Timothy McVeigh*?


    *Assuming McVeigh’s actions are to be reviled of course. If the standard is simply “you have to admire those who are so willing to fight for what they believe in,” then you wouldn’t necessarily revile McVeigh.

  79. erichoug says

    @Anthony K

    Really? You think I am posting my sporting clays score here for head pats……

    Seriously?

  80. Goodbye Enemy Janine says

    Right, erichoug. So I am to admire Trent Lott, Pat Robertson, Anita Bryant, Strom Thurmond, Ronald Reagan and every other person who fought against every person that I admire and have respect for.

    Fuck you. And fuck Christopher Hitchings.

  81. throwaway, extra beefy super queasy says

    But, I am saying that he was absolutely right about a good many other things and that it is definitely worth actually listening to the man before you dismiss him out of hand.

    Is that what actually happened?

    And I am so fucking sorry that Hitchens never meant much of anything for me.

    Reading for comprehension I’d say no.

    Really? You think I am posting my sporting clays score here for head pats……

    Then the truth is you think there is some natural revulsion at the mere mention of using guns for any purpose which is not meant for maiming/killing/murdering people/animals. So you were just trolling.

  82. erichoug says

    OK, As usual I will have to scurry off. Though this time it is due to a 1PM meeting so please don’t feel like you’re driving me off, or do if it gives you a warm glow. Do feel free to insert your comments below.

    Enemy Janine is welcome to send me a shipping address for “God is Not Great” and the rest of you are also welcome to send me e-mail or sign me up for Nigerian emails at [email protected].

    And Anthony, my offer still stands any time you want to hit the range. I’ll buy the beers afterwards, though I don’t drink so I will play designated driver.

  83. Goodbye Enemy Janine says

    You are a fucking ass, erichoug. If I wanted a copy of God Is Not Great, I could have done it years ago. Why do I need to read the book of a man I had no use for to justify my atheism?

    Just so you know, I was an atheist years before I ever heard of Hitchens.

    Now you are just grandstanding.

  84. truthspeaker says

    Jacob Schmidt

    14 March 2013 at 11:31 am (UTC -5)

    The problem was that those absolutes were not constrained to reality. He advocated for the Iraq war to help the civilians, despite the disastrous effect that war had on the very same.

    And despite the fact that it was obvious that a successful invasion would not result in free speech or equal rights for Iraqis. Only someone completely ignorant of history, George Bush’s team’s track record, and Iraqi society would have thought otherwise.

  85. thumper1990 says

    Matt Penfold #48

    That Saddam was a tyrant was not the reason given by Bush for going to war. In supporting Bush Hitchins was also supporting the reason Bush gave.

    War is a horrendous thing and should always, always be a last resort. However it is sad fact of life that it can sometimes be a necessity under very extreme circumstances (e.g. WW2, if you will forgive the Godwin. I did say extreme circumstances). The question which our leaders must ask whenever they contemplate any armed conflict is “Will the suffering which will inevitably be caused by the conflict be outweighed by the long term good accomplished by the conflict?”. If the answer is yes, go to war. If no, don’t. This for me is the only logical basis for war there can be.

    At the start of the Iraq war, I was a supporter. Ditto the Afghanistan war. I did not support them for the stated reasons of our Governments, I couldn’t have cared less about them and quite frankly thought the excuses for both were so much bullshit. I supported them because I thought that the removal of a man as evil as Saddam and an organisation as evil as the Taliban could bring nothing but good for the people of those countries. I thought that the lives of the countries inhabitants would be improved by the removal of those entities to such an extent as to justify the misery caused by the invasions necessary to secure their removal. I was still a teenager when both those wars were started, and in my naivety I failed to take into account various factors that have since made me seriously doubt that we have accomplished anything more than a period of temporarily escalated misery for those people, before we leave and allow them to return to mere every-day misery. Possibly even a level of misery slightly elevated as compared to the level before the war. Hindsight’s twenty/twenty and all that.

    I don’t know enough about Hitchens’ stated reasons for supporting the two wars to comment on them, as I said I was quite young when they started (the clue is in my ‘nym); but supporting the wars does not necessarily mean he supported the stated reasons for those wars. He may have supported them for some percieved benefit totally unrelated to the actual aims of the conflict, like I did.

  86. Beatrice (looking for a happy thought) says

    I read God Is Not Great, I have it on the shelf right beside my computer. Should I feel ashamed that it’s stacked with books from other authors, and there are no candles lit around it, with a photo of Hitchens looking down benevolently on my little display of worship?

  87. Anthony K says

    @Anthony K

    Really? You think I am posting my sporting clays score here for head pats……

    Seriously?

    Of course not. You’re posting them here as part of your “Fuck you, I do what I want” childish mentality.

    The only non-passive aggressive reason for posting them would be to share them with others of like values and interests, which, as you’ve already noted, is not here. So go tell Mommy, if you’re that proud.

    This is why conversing with you is pointless. I understand you better than you do yourself.

  88. Ing:Intellectual Terrorist "Starting Tonight, People will Whine" says

    @thumper

    I’d like to think a older man with world and political experience would not have the excuse of a dumb teenager

  89. Anthony K says

    Ah, throwaway called it before I.

    Erichoug, you’re just not that interesting as a person.

  90. Jacob Schmidt says

    Really, so you don’t admire people that fight for YOUR right to freedom of speech? You don’t admire people that fight for YOUR right to be free from religious and political oppression? You don’t admire people that fight for YOUR right to live a good and prosperous life and to have your human rights and human dignity respected by the your government and other organizations?

    Jesus fuck, I leave for a bit to go break some lab equipment and come back to this shit.

    Yes, Hitchens had some admirable qualities. He also had some downright disgusting ones, misogyny and advocating for a senseless war among them. He deserves to be criticized for those qualities.

    Look at my very first post in this thread. I like Hitchens when he gets it right.

    But he got it wrong, in a huge way. He set aside his ability to think rationally and argued in favour of a war that killed many civilians; a war that the civilians themselves were entirely against; a war that has left the region in shambles. All of those outcomes were perfectly predictable. Some wars are justified. This one was not. Hitchens should have known that. He argued for years, defiant of all reason, for his error. Everyone fucks up, but he apparently made little effort to correct this one. He deserves to be judged for it.

    Owlglass

    It tells us more about the critics who seem to look for somebody to glorify, a messiah that tells them how and what to think and who are then indignant when their idol espouses views they can’t endorse. They feel betrayal.

    This seems to be addressed to his critics in this thread. I do not feel betrayed by Hitchens. I want no messiahs. I am perfectly able of recognizing that my idols will sometimes fall short of what I’ve come to expect from them. Do no characterize what I or others think.

    Hitchens views weren’t abstractions either. As a journalist, he got around and saw situations unfold with his very own eyes.

    Having experience does not preclude thinking in abstracts. He argued for ideals, and dismissed realities.

    As much as I disagree, I imagine that I might have a different view when I talked to people on the streets, see their suffering and genuinely think they are better off once gotten rid of their dictator.

    They certainly would have been. That doesn’t justify forcing a war on them they don’t want. Particularly when that war was clearly being fought on false pretenses.

  91. thumper1990 says

    @erichoug

    … my only point is that it is wrong to dismiss him so easily. Especially when most of the people that are so against him on this blog would probably agree with the vast majority of what he said and did.

    Yes, and we recognise that. I don’t think anyone dismisses him in his entirety, simply his views on the Iraq war and on torture. I for example fundementally disagree with his stance on torture (I became aware of him rather too late to have an opinion on his views on Iraq) and think he veered dangerously close to Islamophobia on many occasions. However, I admire his honesty, his absolute defence of freedom of speech and his clear, fearless and outspoken condemnation of religion. The world is not black and white, the fact that we lambast certain veiws of his does not mean that we disagree with all of his views. I haven’t seen anyone on here other than you imply that it does.

    Seriousy, every post you have made since #56 has been vacuous, childish and normally insulting. And the ones before that weren’t a lot better.

  92. truthspeaker says

    The last time anyone fought for my rights was in 1945, and that was only one of the reasons they fought. They also fought to defend my country’s trade empire.

  93. thumper1990 says

    @Ing

    Dumb’s a little harsh. I was just idealistic, with the naivety of any teenager.

    My point is simply that it is unfair to say he supported Bush’s reasons for going to war simply because he supported the war. The naivety of his actual reasons doesn’t affect that point.

  94. Ing:Intellectual Terrorist "Starting Tonight, People will Whine" says

    his reasons don’t mean jack.

  95. Goodbye Enemy Janine says

    Truthspeaker, I am assuming that you are British. If that is the case, that trade empire did not last long after that war. If anything, fight two wars to defend that empire is what ended that empire.

  96. Goodbye Enemy Janine says

    Looks at the trillions of dollars that are still to be spent on the US current wars.

  97. truthspeaker says

    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    14 March 2013 at 1:27 pm (UTC -5) Link to this comment

    Truthspeaker, I am assuming that you are British. If that is the case, that trade empire did not last long after that war. If anything, fight two wars to defend that empire is what ended that empire.

    Nope, American. WWII allowed us to not only protect our empire, but expand it.

  98. truthspeaker says

    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    14 March 2013 at 1:28 pm (UTC -5)

    Looks at the trillions of dollars that are still to be spent on the US current wars.

    Hey, no problem, we can just cut Medicare and Social Security to make up the difference! That’s fiscal “conservatism” for you. Same spending, different priorities, lower taxes for the richest.

  99. thumper1990 says

    @Ing

    Of course they do, at least from a moral standpoint. Or would you contend that someone going to war out of a firm belief that the war will improve lives in the long term is no better than someone starting a war for the cynical reason of controlling the world’s oil supply?

    Of course it could be argued that controlling the world’s oil supply would almost certainly improve the quality of life of the citizens of the country controlling the supplies, but seeing as it’s likely to lower the quality of life of everyone else on the planet, or at least not affect it, while significantly lowering the quality of life for the civilians of the previously controlling countries, I think the second reason would certainly result in a net increase in misery.

    But hypotheticals and moral quanderies aside, in the context of the harm caused by these two wars, no, they don’t. In the context of the comment posted by Matt and my reply to him, they do since that is what the comments address. I was making an admittedly tangential point that isn’t related to the conversation you and that idiot erichoug are having.

    Anyway, it’s half six, I’m going home. Have a good night all.

  100. rr says

    The naivety of his actual reasons doesn’t affect that point.

    I find it hard to believe he was so naive that he actually believed the obvious lies of the Bush administration. It seems more likely that Hitchens saw an opportunity for self-promotion, and the media was happy to give him plenty of airtime.

  101. truthspeaker says

    thumper1990

    14 March 2013 at 1:38 pm (UTC -5) Link to this comment

    @Ing

    Of course they do, at least from a moral standpoint. Or would you contend that someone going to war out of a firm belief that the war will improve lives in the long term is no better than someone starting a war for the cynical reason of controlling the world’s oil supply?

    I would, because the person going to war for the former reason would have to be both naive and ignorant.

    I can understand this naivete and ignorance in a teenager, especially one who was educated in American publish schools, where the idea of using military force to improve the lives of people in the invaded country is taught as not just a reasonable idea, but a laudable one. But in adult, especially one with Hitchens’ education and experience, it’s inexcusable.

  102. Jacob Schmidt says

    Of course they do, at least from a moral standpoint. Or would you contend that someone going to war out of a firm belief that the war will improve lives in the long term is no better than someone starting a war for the cynical reason of controlling the world’s oil supply?

    Well that depends. Is one actually putting effort into considering the situation, or is one taking an intellectual shortcut? One is worth praise, the other is dangerous and leads to senseless death. If you fail to consider the reality, you’re just as selfish as someone going to war for oil. If you fail to consider reality, you’re going to war for your own personal beliefs. That’s not commendable.

  103. erichoug says

    Sorry, meeting got cancelled.

    Thumper, @#95 It is surprising to me that you see my posts as vacuous and insulting and yet the replies from the others here are not seen that way. I willingly admit that some of my responses were snide and I did use profanity, which is something I try to avoid. But, did you read through any of the replies to me? I don’t think I even came close to the level of vacuous, sophomoric, insults that were hurled at me.

    Despite what people here seem to think, I have never posted here in an attempt to “troll” as I am often accused of doing. I am always wanting to discuss the issue and be challenged on my opinions. I rarely get that here. It is usually either complete agreement or absolute exile. But, I know that there are a lot of smart people here and I look forward to the one that is willing to engage me.

    AS far as Hitchens, He was not Islamophobic though it is ironic that you use the term as he warned, nearly a decade ago, that the word would shortly be used to stifle criticism of Islam and it was sure used to attempt to stifle his opinions.

    I am interested to see more about Hitchens support of Torture as I knew he had himself water-boarded to demonstrate that it was indeed torture in contravention of the Bush administration’s position. But, I would be interested to see what people are referring to.

    Also, I do not believe that he was mysoginistic as one of his biggest criticism’s of Islam was it’s treatment of women. But, again, I would be interested in seeing what is being referred to .

    Finally, I think several of my detractors are right that I do indeed admire Mr. Hitchens. Perhaps more than I should. But, I have read and seen a lot of things both by and on him so I am not forming my opinion in a vacuum. As I said above I think he was a street brawler, always looking for a fight and, in my own opinion, fighting for our rights and freedoms. And I for one miss his opinions.

  104. Goodbye Enemy Janine says

    Please explain to me how reading a book that has been out for years, especially when I have been an atheist for three decades, will convince me that he had a point about about a war?

    Yeah, I am still calling you a condescending ass.

  105. Goodbye Enemy Janine says

    AS far as Hitchens, He was not Islamophobic though it is ironic that you use the term as he warned, nearly a decade ago, that the word would shortly be used to stifle criticism of Islam and it was sure used to attempt to stifle his opinions.

    Why would his opinions have been stifled? They dovetailed into the neo-con case for going to war.

  106. Anthony K says

    Despite what people here seem to think, I have never posted here in an attempt to “troll” as I am often accused of doing.

    Then explain, as honestly as you are capable, the intent behind:

    “Oh, I did have a good round at sporting clays last weekend. 38/50. Not bad.”

    AS far as Hitchens, He was not Islamophobic though it is ironic that you use the term as he warned, nearly a decade ago, that the word would shortly be used to stifle criticism of Islam and it was sure used to attempt to stifle his opinions.

    See? That’s exactly the kind of stupidity you’re famous for.

    You know that bolded bit? That’s the kind of claim you’re supposed to present evidence for, rather than simply assert it.

    Fuck, everything is something you just shoot at to you, isn’t it?

  107. Jacob Schmidt says

    He was not Islamophobic though it is ironic that you use the term as he warned, nearly a decade ago, that the word would shortly be used to stifle criticism of Islam and it was sure used to attempt to stifle his opinions.

    What opinions, exactly, have been stifled?

    Also, I do not believe that he was mysoginistic as one of his biggest criticism’s of Islam was it’s treatment of women.

    Taking offense at extreme islamists ideas about women is a very, very low bar. For one, despite his valiant and noble realization that islam is sexist, he still said this:

    “Anyone who has ever seen a sonogram or has spent even an hour with a textbook on embryology knows” that pro-life women are on to something when they recoil at the idea of the “disposable fetus.”

    All those women, the decades of feminist activism, the experiences of pregnant teens? The just need to look at a medical textbook for an hour. They mustn’t have actually considered the “prolife” position properly.

  108. erichoug says

    @Goodbye Enemy Janine

    AS I said before, I did not agree with Hitchens on his position on the war.But, I also know that we all very rarely agree with one another on everything. I thought the war was a waste of US and Iraqi lives an US resources for a country that was absolutely no Threat to us. Hitchens saw the war as an opportunity to spread freedom and secular democracy and to liberate the people of Iraq from a true tyrant. Which indeed did dovetail into the neocon beliefs about the war, both of which I believe were extremely naive. It is worth noting though that Hitchens saw the end result as the liberation of the people of Iraq and a furtherance of secular democracy in the ME. Whereas many of the neocons saw it as a way of furthering us global hegemony and oil interests. A subtle but important distinction. And his ideas were not stifled in the US or anywhere else either. He was indeed a difficult man to silence. What I meant was that several religious groups and figures attempted to stifle him by accusing him of Islamophobia when what he was really doing was calling them out on their theocratic bullshit.

    As far as his book, I don’t believe it anywhere mentions the war. But, it is an excellent read and presents many ideas on secularism, human rights and other Freethough issues in a great format. Really it is just agood read. But, I can respect that you dislike Hitchens. So, please accept my apologies if I offended.

  109. Jacob Schmidt says

    It is worth noting though that Hitchens saw the end result as the liberation of the people of Iraq and a furtherance of secular democracy in the ME. Whereas many of the neocons saw it as a way of furthering us global hegemony and oil interests. A subtle but important distinction.

    It’s also worth noting that Hitchens ignored the reality of the war in support his own ideals. Much like the neocons he proudly stood beside. It’s a distinction without difference.

  110. erichoug says

    @ Anthony K

    Would it be acceptable to you if I were to amend my hastily written comment to read as follows:

    “AS far as Hitchens, I do not believe that he was Islamophobic though it is ironic that you use the term as he warned, nearly a decade ago, that the word would shortly be used to stifle criticism of Islam and it was sure used to attempt to stifle his opinions.”

    Hitchens regularly described himself as an anti-theist so by definition he hated all religions. A point that he made on a regular basis.

    The point of my poorly worded comment was that he warned of people using the phrase to stifle criticism of Islam and then ran into that very issue himself.

    A better way to say it was that Islamophobic is not a good word for what Hitchens believed as he was not bigoted against Muslims because of ignorance or an unfounded fear or hatred.

    Also, I thought we were old buddies and you could handle a little gentle tweaking of your sensibilities. But, as I have clearly offended you please accept my apologies and I will reserve comments on my clays score in the future.

  111. erichoug says

    @Jacob Schmidt.

    As I said, I found it to be a remarkably naive position. Frankly I think that had the Iraq war not happened, the Arab spring would have happened about 5 years before it did.

    It may very well be a case where Hitchens spoiling for a fight lead him to fail to consider alternatives that may have been preferable. I think the US could have easily leveraged the 9/11 attacks to FINALLY crack down on wealthy Saudi’s and other Wahabi in the region that used their oil wealth to bankroll internation religious fanaticism, terrorism and jihad.

  112. erichoug says

    @ Jacob Schmidt

    I was interested to read your comments on Hitchens position on abortion. As I said I did not have a lot of information regarding this topic so the information helped. I would like to read his original article if you have link. There is one in the article you liked to but it appears to dead end.

    Thanks.

  113. Anthony K says

    Would it be acceptable to you if I were to amend my hastily written comment to read as follows:

    It would read less stupidly, yes, but that’s something you should have figured out first.

    The point of my poorly worded comment was that he warned of people using the phrase to stifle criticism of Islam and then ran into that very issue himself.

    Yes, we fucking know. Did you think your question-begging was not abundantly transparent?

    A better way to say it was that Islamophobic is not a good word for what Hitchens believed as he was not bigoted against Muslims because of ignorance or an unfounded fear or hatred.

    Now you’re getting stupid again. If you’re pulling the old “-phobia means an irrational fear”, then fuck right off with that tired old shit. If your claim is that he was right to fear Muslims because his fears were founded, or well-informed, then that’s just more question-begging.

    You have no idea how any of this works at all, do you?

  114. Goodbye Enemy Janine says

    So, please accept my apologies if I offended.

    That is not an apology. You are assuming that I am some naive waif who is following a party line anti-Hitchens stand. Which is fucking fucking because while many of us here had no use for him, other’s here were very public about their admiration for him and how he faced his death. So where is the fucking party line.

    And you are the one who offered me the book. I did not bring it up.

    Also, his contention that democracy would spread when an outside power would invade and dethrone a tyranny is one of the most silly things a supposedly educated and historically minded person could espouse. In fact, I will go farther, that is magical thinking. Yes, I am saying that Hitchens’ magical thinking made him a willing dupe of dubya’s dupes.

    I am so sorry that I am unable to admire a person for fighting for what they believe in. Especially when what they believed in cause so much harm.

  115. Jacob Schmidt says

    A better way to say it was that Islamophobic is not a good word for what Hitchens believed as he was not bigoted against Muslims because of ignorance or an unfounded fear or hatred.

    Islamophobic is the perfect word to describe him. He let his distaste for Islam in particular to ruin his sensibilities. It was part of his justification to go to war; to over throw the islamic regime. Even if his ideas of islam are entirely accurate (I am not convinced of this) his reaction to islam was peculiar. He didn’t hate islam like he hated the Vatican, despite the Vatican’s death toll being far greater than islams. He did not try to justify a military invasion and overthrowing of the Vatican to overturn it’s assets. His hatred of religion in general was not comparable to his hatred of islam. He was bigoted. Period.

    As I said, I found it to be a remarkably naive position.

    I don’t take issue for your characterization of the war. I take issue with your statement that Hitchens somehow deserves praise in advocating for the death of civilians.

  116. Goodbye Enemy Janine says

    I think the US could have easily leveraged the 9/11 attacks to FINALLY crack down on wealthy Saudi’s and other Wahabi in the region that used their oil wealth to bankroll internation religious fanaticism, terrorism and jihad.

    Funny. During the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, it was only the wealthy Saudis who were allowed in the air over the US to get home to Saudi Arabia.

  117. erichoug says

    @Anthony K

    At no point did I state that he had an irrational fear or hatred of Muslims. My point is that Islamophobia is not the correct word for Hitchens position. If had to say anything it would be that Hitchens had no problem with Muslims, well most of them anyway, but that he hated Islam. Especially the theocratic, Taliban asswhipes and Wahabi bastards that he had absolutely no respect for.

    Why is it that when I am civil and attempt to have a reasonable discussion, you don’t feel the need to at least meet me halfway? I can handle the name calling and childish insults but why is it we cannot meet in the middle and both go away better informed. If nothing else than one of us being better informed of the others position and/or ignorance?

  118. erichoug says

    @Janine,

    At no point did I consider you either Naive or a waif. I was offering a good book to someone I thought might enjoy it.

    The apology was indeed sincere and I am sorry again that you can’t see fit to accept it.

  119. erichoug says

    @Jacob

    I like reading Hitchens stuff and I would be interested to see it if you ever come across. But, I did find enough on the web to find that Hitchens does indeed appear to have been prolife. Kind of disappointing to be sure. But then no-one is entirely 1 or 0.

  120. Goodbye Enemy Janine says

    So, you offered to book to me because you thought I would enjoy it after accusing me of following a party line against Hitchens.

    Please try to explain that.

  121. Owlglass says

    94, Jacob Schmidt wrote in reply to me: This seems to be addressed to his critics in this thread. [...] Do no characterize what I or others think.

    And now you may want to go back to what you wrote regarding how you think Hitchens thought, or what the Iraqi people wanted, or who you think I meant and maybe dare another attempt.

  122. erichoug says

    @Jacob Schmidt

    I have to disagree with you when you say that Hitchens was bigoted. I think he hated Islam, Hated the religious fanaticism of the Taliban and the theocratic bastards that so inhabit Islam today but I don’t think he hated Islam any more or less than he did any other religion. I think it might be an argument more towards the idea that Islam has been more successful in oppressing the lives of people that are under it;s influences that Christianity has been. He was also a vocal opponent of several Israeli policies dealing with religion but I don’t think he was actually anti-semitic.

  123. Anthony K says

    Why is it that when I am civil and attempt to have a reasonable discussion, you don’t feel the need to at least meet me halfway?

    Simple, you said it yourself: because I don’t feel that need.

    I can handle the name calling and childish insults but why is it we cannot meet in the middle and both go away better informed.

    For you to inform me, you’d have to communicate information to me that I don’t already have.

    Anyway, I’m willing to fight with you for what I believe in. Why does that not garner your respect?

  124. Goodbye Enemy Janine says

    No! You do not get it!

    First, you accuse me of following the nonexistent party line against Hitchens. And then you offer me a copy of a book that has been widely available for years.

    I am afraid I am not subtle enough of mind to understand what you mean.

  125. says

    For people talking about Hitchens’ idealism, here’s a post I linked to here shortly after his death. And here’s a quote from the follow-up:

    Second, the problem isn’t just that Hitchens was wrong on Iraq and the war on terror; it’s how he was wrong. As I showed in my previous post, Hitchens’s words betrayed—actually, since he made no secret of it, displayed seems the more appropriate word—a cruelty and bloodlust, a thrill for violence and apocalyptic confrontation, an almost sociopathic indifference to the victims of that violence and confrontation, that are disturbing and frightening. What’s more, he included these feelings among his reasons for wanting to fight the war on terror.

    Some might consider such confessions honest and brave. They are not. What’s honest and brave is to acknowledge these feelings in oneself and to seek to curb their influence on one’s reasoning. Not celebrating them, in the vein of politicians and propagandists in 1914 who sent men to die in vain. Hitchens’s is not the voice of the Enlightenment; it’s the voice of the men who brought that dream to an end, when they welcomed the bloodbath of the First World War as a relief from the tedium and boredom they had evidently been suffering from throughout the long nineteenth century.

  126. erichoug says

    Anyway, I’m willing to fight with you for what I believe in. Why does that not garner your respect?

    Anthony, I both respect and fear you.

  127. Lord Elmo Bringer Of Death says

    Now I utterly detested Hitchens’ politics; I think he saw the world in binary terms and backed the wrong side in the battle against ignorance because he couldn’t see any other position than GW Bush’s and the fanatical Islamist horde’s.

    PZ at his most hypocritical. Just as you ridicule the religous for uninformed criticisim of subjects in which they are evidently ignorant, you claim to detest Hitchens’ politics when it is clear you have never taken the time understand them . I shouldn’t speak on his behalf, but to anybody who has read his writing as he evolved from being against the first gulf war to an advocate of the removal of Saddam Hussain and ensurement of autonomy of the Kurdish population of northern Iraq, it is quite obvious that not only did he not advocate Bush’s position (he had a clear position of his own and only supported him due to lack of alternatives and occasionally defended him against the mindless critisicms and cliches that are all too common from today’s left) but it is also ridiculous to say that he saw the world in a binary view.

  128. Anthony K says

    Anthony, I both respect and fear you.

    Yoicks, that’s terrible. You shouldn’t fear me.

    I’d better work on that.

  129. erichoug says

    @Anthony

    HAHA, if you ever get to town, we can skip the range and just do the beer and argument.

  130. Anthony K says

    HAHA, if you ever get to town, we can skip the range and just do the beer and argument.

    That’s probably for the best. I’m much more easy going once I get a pint in me.

  131. zibble says

    I’m of a similar mind as Erichoug. I never agreed with Hitchens on the war. I can also recognize that he was coherent and sincere, and his arguments for the Iraq war oughtn’t be pathologized.

    Calling Hitchens Islamophobic or bloodthirsty is a cheap smear. Yes, I hear a desire for vengeance when he talks about 9/11. He also presented real arguments for American intervention on behalf of the Iraqi people. People accused him of ignoring the victims of the American attacks and he accused them of ignoring the victims of Saddam.

    What chafes liberals and what chafed me as that he presented real and challenging arguments for why pacifism was NOT a morally perfect philosophy. Pacifist platitudes are popular among the left because they sound perfectly inoffensive, but they’re dishonest. I find Hitchens’ honesty about the occasional necessity of violence really refreshing. I think he failed to account for the regressive effects of war on every culture it touches and in doing so promoted horrible policies which oughtn’t be excused, but I don’t really need to invent smears to demonstrate that fact.

  132. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    you claim to detest Hitchens’ politics when it is clear you have never taken the time understand them

    Unsupported assertions, *floosh* dismissed per Hitchens. It isn’t that hard to understand his politics. Sincerity in his beliefs does not equal anything, as everything should be questioned.

  133. Muz says

    An interesting dimension to Hitchens is that he remained, more or less, an old school lefty right until the end. Old school as in Eric Blair going off to fight in the Spanish civil war old school. He was very disappointed in the Western Left for not wanting to go adventuring and stop tyranny all over the place any more, but he was still in the number ultimately. I think it was something he soft pedaled a little bit thanks to the strange bed fellows his support landed him with. And it’d be something that would horrify a lot of his recent supporters who may only know him because of his supporting the war(s).

    People saying he supported the war for ideological reasons have covered that I guess. The specifics of those ideological reasons might surprise people who thought he ‘came to his senses’ or whatever. Still, for a guy who was famous for his intellectual integrity on many matters, it seems as though he should have spoken very harshly on the way the war was generally bungled at every turn. But it really doesn’t seem like he did. He was never shy about criticising or acknowledging flaws in things he ostensibly agreed with elsewhere. But on this matter he seemed to couch everything in supportive tones, straying into end justifies the means territory (I haven’t ready every little thing though)
    tis a pity we haven’t got him to grill about it anymore.

  134. says

    So many people didn’t like Hitchens because he could be classified easily. Anybody trained with a binary worldview would just explode when hearing him use genuine reason on regular basis. I agreed with him a lot, and I disagreed with him a lot. Regardless, he argued effectively. I miss that.

  135. Ing:Intellectual Terrorist "Starting Tonight, People will Whine" says

    he argued effectively

    So did Gish

  136. Ing:Intellectual Terrorist "Starting Tonight, People will Whine" says

    aLao don’t tell me why I don’t like him asshol I know damn well why I don’t

  137. theoreticalgrrrl says

    I don’t see “Islamophobia” coming from Hitchens. He opposed all religion, especially the Abrahamic faiths, which includes Islam. He saw the way men were trained from childhood to be willing to die for Allah. Would-be martyrs are told they’d be given a special place in heaven, according to Islamic beliefs, for killing infidels and blowing themselves up for Allah. That is a dangerous philosophy/religion.

    “God Is Not Great” is an excellent book. It was my first introduction to Hitchens. Hitchens’ take-down of religion in debates were always absolutely brilliant.

    I do disagree with his stance on the war in Iraq, but I could understand why he believed Saddam Hussein needed to be overthrown. He was a horrific dictator. It just seemed a little naive for Hitchen’s to believe war could be that simple.

    @erichoug “I think he was a street brawler, always looking for a fight and, in my own opinion, fighting for our rights and freedoms.”
    How did Hitchens fight for our rights and freedom? Would Christopher have been as willing to send his own son or daughter to fight on the front lines in Iraq? Or take up arms himself to fight in that war?
    I’m guessing no.

  138. Lord Elmo Bringer Of Death says

    @Nerd of Redhead

    Unsupported? Did you read the rest of the paragraph or do I need to spell it out to you as if you were a child? PZ stated he believed he had a binary view.

    …because he couldn’t see any other position than GW Bush’s and the fanatical Islamist horde’s

    Not only is this sleazy in that it implies Hitchens’ was persuaded by the Bush Administration when in reality he was for regime change since the early nineties, but it was also clearly false as his position stemmed from an alliance with the Kurds and Iraqi secular left.

    Try living up to your username, usually Nerd implies some form of intelligence.

    And I just realized yet another underlying assumption of PZ’s comment above that highlights even more of his ignorance on the topic. His fascinating expose on the psyche of Christopher Hitchens assumes that militant Islam, being one side of the opposing worldviews, is itself a monolith.

  139. zibble says

    @147

    Not only is this sleazy in that it implies Hitchens’ was persuaded by the Bush Administration when in reality he was for regime change since the early nineties, but it was also clearly false as his position stemmed from an alliance with the Kurds and Iraqi secular left.

    Hitchens said himself he saw it as binary. Regarding both 9/11 and the Fatwa against Salman Rushdie, he said he recognized as true a battle of good and evil as there ever could be, on one side everything beautiful about life under assault from a regime of ignorant, blood-thirsty barbarians.

    I don’t think he was totally wrong about that, but I think there were other aspects of the conflict that were relevant. I remember seeing him on Maher and the Daily Show and seeming to not really comprehend that there were people against the Iraq War other than that piece of shit George Galloway.

  140. Goodbye Enemy Janine says

    I get it, you are unhappy that I offered you a book.

    No, you do not get it. But maybe we can meet for drinks, go to the shooting range and shoot your copy of the book.

  141. vaiyt says

    What chafes liberals and what chafed me as that he presented real and challenging arguments for why pacifism was NOT a morally perfect philosophy. Pacifist platitudes are popular among the left because they sound perfectly inoffensive, but they’re dishonest. I find Hitchens’ honesty about the occasional necessity of violence really refreshing. I think he failed to account for the regressive effects of war on every culture it touches and in doing so promoted horrible policies which oughtn’t be excused, but I don’t really need to invent smears to demonstrate that fact.

    You know what else is dishonest? Strawmen.

  142. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Did you read the rest of the paragraph or do I need to spell it out to you as if you were a child?

    I’m sixty plus. I understand context, unlike certain whippersnappers who need to get off my lawn….

  143. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    I get the feeling I’m the only one who’s actually read Seymour’s book. It’s not very well written, and lacks an index, so finding points I think I remember in it is not easy.

    As far as plagiarism goes, Seymour claims (pp.xxiii-xxv and notes thereto):
    1) Hitchens plagiarised (he doesn’t say who) in his Thomas Paine’s Rights of Man, citing a review by John Barrell, London Review of Books November 2006.
    2) Noel Malcolm claims Hitchens plagiarised William St Clair in The Parthenon Marbles (Hitchens denied it).
    3) Most of the research for The Missionary Position was done by an unnamed Indian author, and the original hardback also failed to credit several colleagues.
    4) With some short quotes, that Hitchens plagiarised Chomsky and Hernan’s The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism in his essay Kissinger’s War Crimes in Indochina.
    5) That much of Hitchens’ work on Bill Clinton’s betrayal over health care was plagiarised from Sam Husseini’s journalism.

    I’m confused: One of the reviews seems to suggest that Seymour argues that Hitchens had long displayed rightwing sympathies. Is Seymour’s claim that Hitchens’ earlier identification with the left was opportunistic? – SC

    Seymour’s overall view is that Hitchens was “a recognisable type: a left-wing defector with a soft spot for empire”, and that this was foreshadowed quite early on, although he largely concealed it from his then mainly International Socialist* associates. Seymour quotes Hitchens himself as saying, in Hitch-22, that in 1979 he secretly wanted Thatcher to win the UK general election – but everything he published at the time said the opposite. In 1982 he supported the British war against Argentina to recover the Falklands. Seymour also thinks Hitchens was drawn to power and “dynamism, to the forces that are actually shaping the world” (the actual quote is from Adam Shatz) wherever he found them, and when he no longer found them on the left, was attracted to the neocons – and he undoubtedly did cosy up to the vile Paul Wolfowitz and Ahmed Chalabi, for example; that he liked to espouse paradoxical and unexpected positions; but that as he became rich and successful, he also found it expedient to retrain his rhetoric away from the right in general towards religious extremism, particularly in its Muslim form. So opportunism is only part of the picture he draws, but a significant part.

    There are some (if accurate) telling and rather horrifying quotes from Hitchens after his shift, e.g., recalling his feelings after 9-11, reported in Frontpage in 2003 [p.85, ellipsis in Seymour]:

    with civilians incinerated on the planes and in the buildings, I felt something that I couldn’t analyse at first and didn’t fully grasp… I am only slightly embarrassed to tell you that this was a feeling of exhilaration. Here we are then, I was thinking, in a war to the finish between everything I love and everything I hate. Fine. We will win and they will lose. A pity that we let them pick the time and place of the challenge, but we can and we will make up for that.

    Or this, to Adam Shatz in The Nation [p.ix, ellipsis in Seymour]:

    If you’re absolutely certain that you’re hitting only a concentration of troops [with cluster bombs]… then it’s pretty good because those pellets will go straight through somebody and out the other side and through somebody else. And if they’re wearing a Koran over their heart, it’ll go straight through that too. So they won’t be able to say, ‘Ah, I was beariung 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.

    Overall, and recognising that Seymour has his own political motives for rubbishing Hitchens, I think he makes a strong case against him.

    *Forerunner of the Trotskyite Socialist Workers Party in the UK (but IS was initially more “Luxembourgist”). I don’t know what the equivalent US party would be, if any. Seymour has just left the SWP over a scandal in which an accusation of rape made by a young woman in the party against a senior member was “dealt with” by an internal tribunal which acquitted him.

  144. Cyranothe2nd, ladyporn afficianado says

    The problem I have with Hitchens is his misogyny, such as this:

    He called feminism “possessive individualism.”
    He claimed that women couldn’t be funny.
    He claimed that women’s main purpose was reproduction, and indulged in a whole lot of biological reductionism in the same article where he said women can’t be funny.
    He called the Dixie Chicks “fat slags.”
    He called Wanda Sykes a “black dyke.”
    He wrote glowingly about the “romantic” relationship between Hubert Humphrey and Lolita. He describes Hubert’s relationship this way, “when Humbert’s stepdaughter is still within his power (and he is even more in hers)”…

    He was gross when it came to women, sex and a lot of social justice issues. Its troubling to see people like EricHoug claim to be big fans of his and then express disbelief about stuff like this. It’s ALMOST LIKE THEY DON’T KNOW WHAT THEY’RE TALKING ABOUT.

  145. Goodbye Enemy Janine says

    I have to point out a slight mistake, Cyranothe2nd. The main character from Lolita was Humbert Humbert, not Hubert Humphrey. Otherwise, fine post.

  146. zibble says

    @150

    You know what else is dishonest? Strawmen.

    I did say I was talking partly about my own errors in judgment, which are one of the few things I can know to have described sincerely. “Projection”, then, is at least an accusation with a chance at accuracy.

    Or, maybe, instead of the self-assured one liners, you could specify your point of contention so I’d at least have a chance to clarify.

  147. zibble says

    @153 Nick Gotts

    There are some (if accurate) telling and rather horrifying quotes from Hitchens after his shift, e.g., recalling his feelings after 9-11, reported in Frontpage in 2003 [p.85, ellipsis in Seymour]:

    I think that’s cheap and disgusting. Most people take for granted the inviolable nature of their inner sanctum. To relinquish this barrier and express ones’ ugliness is an act of courage that helps all humanity better understand each other and it’s not particularly noble to take advantage of it while you maintain your own mental privacy. It’d be trivially easy for him to make up something better and I’m impressed he didn’t. Frankly, he’s got enough to answer for without you going into his thought crimes.

  148. Cyranothe2nd, ladyporn afficianado says

    @ 155

    *facepalm* Shit. I mean Nabokov’s pedo, not the former Johnson VP.

  149. Cyranothe2nd, ladyporn afficianado says

    Zibble–that’s not just an emotional response of Hitchens’. That exemplifies his worldview quite well–us vs them, war for modernity, etc.

    Also, its ridiculous to call it cheap to use his “inner sanctum” and his “thoughts” (“thought crime”, really?) against him WHEN HE PUBLISHED THEM HIMSELF. Its not like someone got hold of his diaries after his death–he volunteered this info. He put it out there. He controlled that narrative. Its appropriate to judge him based upon his own words, especially when they dovetail so nicely into his actual views.

  150. zibble says

    @159

    (“thought crime”, really?)

    Yes, really. Every single person has moments of darkness in them, a product of evolving from violent, competitive primates. In no way is it reasonable to use these moments, shared in good faith, against a person. ESPECIALLY because human personality is composed of a spectrum of feelings, and this cherry picks a single, uncontrolled feeling in a moment of extreme emotion completely out of the context of his impulses in emotional sobriety.

    HE PUBLISHED THEM HIMSELF.

    Yes, and this is a noble thing that you shouldn’t discourage by taking advantage of it. I’ve had issues with depression, and I, and everyone else with mental health issues knows this is something you have to be guarded about because it WILL be used by particularly nauseating slimeballs as an excuse to invalidate you. The extent that Hitchens revealed himself in his memoirs was really, really impressive – his admission of things like his queer experimentation and his having prostituted himself to other boys in school was something I never would have expected from such a macho bloke. To use that as a weapon really does make me sick.

    Its appropriate to judge him based upon his own words, especially when they dovetail so nicely into his actual views.

    It’s not appropriate, it’s ad hominem. Hitchens had the coherency to base his views on actual arguments, criticize those. To make a case against his decency, his actual ACTIONS are sufficient evidence.

  151. Goodbye Enemy Janine says

    Yes, and this is a noble thing that you shouldn’t discourage by taking advantage of it. I’ve had issues with depression, and I, and everyone else with mental health issues knows this is something you have to be guarded about because it WILL be used by particularly nauseating slimeballs as an excuse to invalidate you. The extent that Hitchens revealed himself in his memoirs was really, really impressive – his admission of things like his queer experimentation and his having prostituted himself to other boys in school was something I never would have expected from such a macho bloke. To use that as a weapon really does make me sick.

    You are shitting me. His calling Wanda Sykes a “black dyke”, the Dixie Chicks “fat slags” (What. The great fucking Christopher Fucking Hitchens could not bother to defend Natalie Maines right of free speech? He had a war and neo-con war mongers to defend.) and saying that a photo of a fetus lend support to an anti-abortion position were “moments of weakness”.

    How would one tell if a written and published work should be taken seriously or just be ignored. Is this like the bible , taken literally unless it is to be taken figuratively.

  152. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    zibble,

    I don’t think this was a “moment of darkness”. I think it’s important to understand what motivated Hitchens, and his words are highly relevant to that. They fit with Seymour’s picture of him as someone who gloried in conflict and (as the second quote indicates) violent death. I had more than a moment of “Well this serves the fucking Americans right – at least they’ll know now they are not invulnerable” on 9-11. Which was fully as shameful a thing to feel as Hitchens. You’re right – a lot of us, if not all, have these moments. It’s what we do about them that matters: Hitchens took his as the occasion to finally switch his political allegiance, in all that matters, to neocon imperialism. Everything he did subsequently was completely consonant with that moment of feeling.

  153. says

    I find it interesting that of the original “4 Hosrmen” who did more to popularize atheism than any who came before or since really, 3 of them turn out to have some rather putrid views on racism and sexism. Harris thinks preemptively nuking Islamic countries should be an option, Hitchens advocated for the invasion of Iraq, Dawkins with “dear muslima” and now this clusterfuck of tweets about abortion…

    Is Dan Dennett the only one left standing with any integrity at all? This is the problem with hero worship and why I tend not to engage in it. The minute you elevate some one as a paragon of wisdom you commit yourself to defending even their most grotesque statements and points of view.

  154. zibble says

    @161

    You are shitting me. His calling Wanda Sykes a “black dyke”, the Dixie Chicks “fat slags” (What. The great fucking Christopher Fucking Hitchens could not bother to defend Natalie Maines right of free speech? He had a war and neo-con war mongers to defend.) and saying that a photo of a fetus lend support to an anti-abortion position were “moments of weakness”.

    I didn’t say that and I wouldn’t say that. I happen to think @154 is a list of legitimate points – in fact, I think that’s understatement. @154 is a list of not excusable facts about Hitchens, and it’s not even all of them. I don’t know how much of it ended up in this book, I’m guessing very few if any – “White Man Says Sexist Shit” lacks the market appeal of simply “Laugh At This Atheist”.

    I also didn’t say “moment of weakness”, I said darkness. The distinction between feeling and action is fucking obvious. Our call as higher animals is to repress the violent chimp in us, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. To attack someone else for having chimp impulses (or, chimpulses) is to make yourself a hypocrite. Moreover, it’s an unnecessary distraction from what’s ACTUALLY pertinent to legitimate criticism, which are his faulty arguments and his wrongness in fact.

  155. zibble says

    @163

    Harris thinks preemptively nuking Islamic countries should be an option,

    Actually, no, that’s just a popular lie. In one of his books he mentions that nuking nations preemptively IS an option (as in, it’s something the US is factually capable of doing) and uses this fact as the basis for why secular morality is necessary, by arguing its opposition to this option.

    This section was very deceptively quoted by… I think at first a few slimeball HuffPo Religion writers, and it caught on because it appeals to peoples’ prejudices. Obviously, misinterpreting a text to advance an agenda before a credulous audience is the point of a theologist.

    Unfortunately, Harris DOES argue for racial profiling and a few other despicable ideas despite their objective uselessness, which means he’s violating the very idea of secular morality he advocates. It’s not really a matter of integrity so much as common blindness.

  156. theoreticalgrrrl says

    “To attack someone else for having chimp impulses (or, chimpulses) is to make yourself a hypocrite.”

    So was it wrong of Hitchens to attack all the people he attacked during his writing career? Where are the excuses for their ‘chimpulses’?

  157. Ing:Intellectual Terrorist "Starting Tonight, People will Whine" says

    i willl say this of Hitch, he was a fine preacher

  158. Ing:Intellectual Terrorist "Starting Tonight, People will Whine" says

    yes zibbs we all have moments of darkness, you know what we call people who embrace those moments and feed into them? Evil

  159. zibble says

    @166

    So was it wrong of Hitchens to attack all the people he attacked during his writing career?

    No. Nor is it wrong for people to attack Hitchens.

    There is a distinction between having emotions and acting on them. The latter is a choice, the former is not. The former is universal, the latter is not. I unambiguously condemn Hitchens for his actions, not his inner thoughts.

    I have a lot of ancillary points, but they need you to at LEAST understand this much.

    @169
    I’m really trying to restrain my irritation here, but: is this particular nuance really this fucking difficult? I am honestly fucking flabbergasted at this tedious obtuseness. Can you attempt to understand that this is an issue which is distinct from “HITCHENS BAD”? (a statement that, a few reservations aside, I mostly agree with) Can you accept that a post in which I call Hitchens inexcusable (something it has in common with the ones before it) is not attempting to excuse him? Can you appreciate that this particular issue of mine is a matter of principle to which Hitchens is not even wholly relevant?

    I’m sorry to vent at you, but Jesus fucking Christ. If you’re desiring to convince me of something by telling me things I already know in a condescending tone, it’s not effective.

  160. Ing:Intellectual Terrorist "Starting Tonight, People will Whine" says

    Im sorry it’s hard not to be condescending to someone who claims using what someone says and does as evidence of their character is an ad hom.

    I repeat myself, these defenses of Hitch sound so much like what Billy Gram or the Pope got. The sheer idolizing of the asshole.

  161. theoreticalgrrrl says

    @zibble

    I actually don’t believe in remembering the worst a person has done after they die. I think we can cut people a break if they said something ignorant or assholish on occasion while they were alive. And it’s not very fair because they’re not able to defend themselves. I don’t agree with Hitchens’ views on a lot of things, but do I admire him as a writer and speaker and anti-theist.

    But Hitchens obviously had no problem dissing dead people. I recently saw his documentary on Diana Spencer and it was painfully embarrassing to watch. He really had to stretch and twist things around to make her look bad. It was a very unflattering side to him. I think people are just holding him to his own standard.

    I also think you’re being too hard on chimps.

  162. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    Moreover, it’s an unnecessary distraction from what’s ACTUALLY pertinent to legitimate criticism, which are his faulty arguments and his wrongness in fact. – zibble

    Stone me, how stupid can you get? A lot of the argument about Hitchens is about why he supported the Iraq invasion, when it was so patently obvious that Bush, Bliar and cronies were lying through their teeth about their motivation, and that it was likely to kill vast numbers of innocent people – as it did. The quotes I gave go direct to that question of motivation, out of the man’s own mouth.

  163. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    I don’t know how much of it ended up in this book, I’m guessing very few if any – “White Man Says Sexist Shit” lacks the market appeal of simply “Laugh At This Atheist”. – zibble

    More stupidity. True, the book doesn’t discuss Hitchens’ sexism, possibly because its focus is on his shift from youthful Trotskyism to neocon imperialism (and he was a sexist both before and after this shift), possibly because the author just isn’t as interested in that as he should be, but he is, as PZ says, a “Marxist-Leninist ideologue”, and hence an atheist.

  164. David Marjanović says

    “Expose” implies that not everyone knew that Hitchens was a heretic. I doubt that anyone, including himself, would hesitate in applying that label to him.

    I wouldn’t just hesitate, I completely refuse to apply that label to him. He didn’t believe in another flavor of Christianity, he didn’t believe at all.

    but I will say that he was a lot more consistent in his opinions and beliefs than a lot of people that you could name.

    You know who else stayed the course all the way to the cliff? Dubya.

    I’m a scientist. Being consistent in your opinions and beliefs is bad. Indeed, having beliefs is bad (if you’re not using the word broadly enough to include all opinions). Being able and fully willing to change your opinions at a whim of the evidencethat is good.

    Flip-flopping for the right reasons is good. Staying the course no matter what is evil.

    Perhaps the Kurds and the Marsh Arabs may have a different take on whether Hitchens was right or wrong.

    They were living in no-fly zones for the most part.

    Why not talk about the Kurds that Saddam gassed or the millions of Iraqi’s that he marched to their deaths against the Iranians or even in the first gulf war.

    Why not wage war on him right then and there? Why wait 20, 30 years?

    Because he was Our Son Of A Bitch at that time, and not an obstacle sitting on top of oil traded in US$.

    But., you have to admire someone who is so willing to fight for what he believes in.

    Uh, what? No. Absolutely not! What Janine said.

    Especially when most of the people that are so against him on this blog would probably agree with the vast majority of what he said and did.

    [...] I am, again, not saying that Hitch was right about Iraq. But, I am saying that he was absolutely right about a good many other things and that it is definitely worth actually listening to the man before you dismiss him out of hand.

    Uh… ~:-| What is “the man” you speak of? He’s not some kind of monolith that can only be accepted or rejected as a unit. We’re taking his opinions one by one and agree or disagree with them individually.

    Is that such a hard concept? ~:-|

    Really, so you don’t admire people that fight for YOUR right to freedom of speech? You don’t admire people that fight for YOUR right to be free from religious and political oppression? You don’t admire people that fight for YOUR right to live a good and prosperous life and to have your human rights and human dignity respected by the your government and other organizations?

    1) The Busheviki don’t count among those, just for the record.
    2) I admire their reasoning that led them to recognizing those causes as right. I don’t admire a willingness to fight for a cause.

    This is why conversing with you is pointless. I understand you better than you do yourself.

    Sad, but true.

    What chafes liberals and what chafed me as that he presented real and challenging arguments for why pacifism was NOT a morally perfect philosophy. Pacifist platitudes are popular among the left because they sound perfectly inoffensive, but they’re dishonest. I find Hitchens’ honesty about the occasional necessity of violence really refreshing. I think he failed to account for the regressive effects of war on every culture it touches and in doing so promoted horrible policies which oughtn’t be excused, but I don’t really need to invent smears to demonstrate that fact.

    What is it with this need to classify people that some people seem to have?

    I, for one, never was that kind of absolute pacifist, and I definitely wasn’t when the war started. If you had read the rest of the thread before adding to it, you’d know that several other people have described themselves this way. We’re disagreeing with Hitchens on whether that particular war was justifiable.

    And besides, not being an American or living over there, I never was “a liberal”. There’s plenty of overlap, but it’s not a useful description.

    I think that’s cheap and disgusting. Most people take for granted the inviolable nature of their inner sanctum. To relinquish this barrier and express ones’ ugliness is an act of courage

    …in the case of people who actually understand that it is “darkness” and “ugliness”. Hitchens, as quoted above, was “only slightly embarrassed”.

    I am quite embarrassed that I had to constantly remind myself “this is not cinema, this is not an impressive special-effects scene, it’s real, I’m actually watching lots and lots of people die live on camera, right now”.

  165. zibble says

    @173 Nick Gotts

    The quotes I gave go direct to that question of motivation, out of the man’s own mouth.

    You are in a position to make a psychological profile of a man when you are a trained psychologist interested in an unbiased analysis. Your Psych 101 reading of a selective excerpt of what a man decides to reveal about himself is bullshit.

    It seems to me also a misreading. Hitchens reported on a lot of armed conflicts in the world, and he saw first hand groups like al Qaeda terrorizing the innocents, while then-isolationist US stood by and do nothing. This is the more honest interpretation of his excitement – that, FINALLY, America would feel compelled to DO something about global religious terrorism.

    But none of that matters, because what he proposed us doing DIDN’T WORK – the effects of these policies, unlike their motivations, are something which we can observe and discuss objectively. It’s a subject on which we can claim actual knowledge, unlike your layman’s psychology crap. I don’t think this is something, obtuseness aside, that you’re incapable of comprehending.

  166. Ichthyic says

    You know who else stayed the course all the way to the cliff? Dubya.

    while true for the war, I have to say even W caved on global warming.

  167. Ichthyic says

    It’s a shame that as he got older he started to sound more like he was debating on this show.

    there’s a famous saying relating the idea that the best way to tell if something someone’s written when in their 30s or 40s is worth reading, is if they repudiate it when in their 50s or 60s.

    can’t recall the direct quote now.

  168. zibble says

    @172 theoreticalgrrrl

    But Hitchens obviously had no problem dissing dead people.

    I’ve made very clear this is not the problem I have.

    I think people are just holding him to his own standard.

    Hitchens never said he was anything more than a poorly evolved primate. I find it disgraceful that, even among liberal atheists, there is a desire to use that admission as evidence of inferiority. Hitchen’s criticism of the dead didn’t require a psych analysis of their motivations – even when Mother Theresa’s diaries revealed how she couldn’t even believe in the religion she was harming others to spread, I remember that softening Hitchen’s criticism of her. He seemed slightly impressed that she was even aware of her own failings.

    I also think you’re being too hard on chimps.

    After seeing videos of chimpanzees ritualistically eating the bodies of baby chimps they’ve killed in acts of war, I can’t really agree. I think the contrast between chimps and bonobos shows something close to the two sides of primate behavior, something close to Good and Evil, which found compromise in human beings – if we were purely chimp, we would be too barbaric to progress, and those who were purely bonobos were murdered and subjugated by the half-chimps.

  169. Ichthyic says

    I find it disgraceful that, even among liberal atheists, there is a desire to use that admission as evidence of inferiority

    your use of the word “inferiority” there is suggestive.

    nobody else used it but you, which says you view this whole thing as a judgement on Hitch’s abilities, rather than specific things he has said or done.

    you’re still not getting what is happening here.

    you’re arguing against a strawman, to put it very simply.

    . I think the contrast between chimps and bonobos shows something close to the two sides of primate behavior, something close to Good and Evil, which found compromise in human beings

    I wouldn’t judge you based on this one piece of absolute inanity, but that’s what it is, inanity, and you deserve to be called on it.

  170. zibble says

    @176 David

    What is it with this need to classify people that some people seem to have?

    It’s not really about “people”, it’s about culture. Different cultures privilege different viewpoints, and raise people with different sets of assumptions they haven’t analysed.

    I can say with confidence that at the very least *I* was raised in a culture (ie a liberal Christian one) in which pacifism was assumed as an unambiguous good, and this was the basis on which I opposed the Iraq war. I recognize that now as a mistake, and I recognize other people making that same mistake, and so I feel justified in pointing it out.

    We’re disagreeing with Hitchens on whether that particular war was justifiable.

    That sounds nice, but frankly, very few people here or anywhere in the US know fuck-all about this particular war and are talking purely about ideological justifications, which need to be analysed for consistency. Were we justified in fighting Hitler and not Saddam? If you think so (and I’m not even saying otherwise) then I want to know why, and it’s a problem when asking that gets you the kind of moralistic evasion you expect of a conservative preacher asked a problematic question of theology.

    There are other nuances too, like whether Hitchens ought to shoulder an increased blame for the war in Iraq than the majority of American citizens who supported it (personally, I think they’re all despicable, but that view isn’t popular). Consistency in our principles is a necessary defense against having our principles fluctuate to fit our prejudices.

  171. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Yawn, heroworshipper still can’t acknowledge his hero had feet of clay. Pitiful display of ignoring the evidence.

  172. zibble says

    @182 Ichthyic

    your use of the word “inferiority” there is suggestive. nobody else used it but you…

    Yes, they seem to lack the self-awareness.

    Hitchens felt a certain emotion in reaction to a horrific event, as well as its implication – that this would lead to the destruction of people whose crimes he had personally witnessed. I don’t really know what people citing this fact imply they would feel in his shoes – I find it despicable that people without any comprehension of these factors feel fit to judge others for it.

    It’s fucking rich accusing me of making a strawman when I have over and fucking over again had to explain that I am not arguing for the thing I’m unambiguously arguing against, when you yourself come in to TELL ME what I’m trying to say as I expressly say the opposite.

    I wouldn’t judge you based on this one piece of absolute inanity, but that’s what it is, inanity, and you deserve to be called on it.

    Dismissals without argument are dismissed as easily.

    @171 Ing

    I repeat myself, these defenses of Hitch sound so much like what Billy Gram or the Pope got. The sheer idolizing of the asshole.

    Because you’re incapable of nuance, apparently.

    It’s universally a mistake to attempt an overarching theory of a person’s essence. It’s the mistake that Billy Graham’s defenders make (“look at how much good he did for people!”) and it’s certainly a mistake people can and do make in defense of Hitchens. I have made every effort to avoid this error – I don’t even think it’s useful to define a person as “Good” or “Bad” except as an imprecise shorthand for more specific criticism (as I do myself in a previous post).

    Human beings are a composite of separately acting mental organs; they are a mass of contradictions. I don’t need to minimize the genuinely bad things Hitchens did to appreciate the good things. We agree that Hitchens was a sexist prick. If you want to call Hitchens overall “Bad”, (which I take to mean he has done enough evil as to have earned the stigma) then I agree.

    The only issue on which we seem to disagree is that using a person’s inner feelings, cherry picked from their own descriptions offered voluntarily, in a prejudicial and self-serving manner is not a particularly noble or honest practice, despite its obvious emotional appeal. You could not tread further into definitive ad hominem.

  173. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Because you’re incapable of nuance, apparently.

    No, that’s you. Anything against your hero is handwaved away. We know better.

  174. cm's changeable moniker says

    After seeing videos of chimpanzees ritualistically eating the bodies of baby chimps they’ve killed in acts of war

    Citation? Link?

    I’ll give you https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1bLhv-aQ5YY but that’s eating a different species’ babies.

    I think the contrast between chimps and bonobos shows something close to the two sides of primate behavior, something close to Good and Evil, which found compromise in human beings

    Do not, under any circumstance, make me post the Bonobo Loving video. I will, you know, I will. *wild staring eyes*

  175. Ichthyic says

    Yes, they seem to lack the self-awareness.

    project much?

    It’s fucking rich accusing me of making a strawman when I have over and fucking over again had to explain that I am not arguing for the thing I’m unambiguously arguing against, when you yourself come in to TELL ME what I’m trying to say as I expressly say the opposite.

    because you apparently are the one who is lacking awareness of what they are saying.

    your argument that you can apply a sense of moral evil and good to chimps is indeed fucking inane.

    it doesn’t NEED detail to elaborate why.

    seriously.

    it’s like saying you think hyenas are more evil than lions because they take longer to kill a zebra.

    it’s pathetically ignorant of even what the meaning of good and evil is in our own society, let alone how inane that is to apply to any other species.

    you’re a fuckwit.

    it’s pretty obvious.

    waste of time to even engage you. Hitch would be disappointed you tried to play fanboy.

  176. Ichthyic says

    It’s universally a mistake to attempt an overarching theory of a person’s essence

    …but you’re gonna do it for us anyway….

    get lost, wanker.

  177. Ulysses says

    zibble @183

    I can say with confidence that at the very least *I* was raised in a culture (ie a liberal Christian one) in which pacifism was assumed as an unambiguous good, and this was the basis on which I opposed the Iraq war. I recognize that now as a mistake, and I recognize other people making that same mistake, and so I feel justified in pointing it out.

    My chief objection to the Iraqi War was the sheer pointlessness of it. Dubya kept changing the excuse du jour until he finally settled on “Saddam is a big meanie who needs to be deposed.” Kim Jung-Il was a bigger meanie but Bush never expressed the urge to depose him. I felt (and still feel) that American prestige, treasure and lives were wasted so Bush could pound his chest and feel manly. I know large numbers of other people had similar complaints about that specific war. Notice there’s not a single mention of pacifism in my harangue.

  178. zibble says

    @187 cm’s changeable moniker
    Re:citation, a quick search found this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uU1zUzXkTtw

    Re: bonobo love, I don’t really like watching primates doin’ it, but I consider it admirable. I also wouldn’t suggest bonobos represent moral perfection, more something beautiful which was lost in our hominid ancestors.

  179. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Ah, non-sequiturs from hero-worshippers. Not forwarding their argument or authority one iota.

  180. zibble says

    @190 Ulysses

    I didn’t intend to exhaustively summarize ALL opposition to the Iraq war, just point out popular fallacies.

    I agree with everything you said in this post, they’re all things that I said in 2003 and I still say now. You really think Hitchens ought to have noticed that his coalition against the forces of ignorance (as he described it) was led by a pair of religious sociopaths in Bush and Blair. The fact that Blair went on from being a corrupt, narcissistic, lying, thieving, murderous piece of shit to founding the “Tony Blair Faith Foundation” is the kind of joke you couldn’t write.

    Actually, there’s one thing I disagree with, which is the idea that Iraq was Bush’s decision. Dick Cheney was a part of the Project for the New American Century, a think-tank that proposed invading Iraq WAAAAY before 9/11, or either of them were even elected. Bush was clearly just a figurehead propped up to appeal to dumb voters while the Cheneys of the White House set actual policy. Relatively minor, pedantic contention, sure.

    Beyond that, it is a fact that Saddam WAS a big meanie, and when the hawks asked “what are we going to do about this?” the overwhelming response I saw was from the left (and repeated myself) was “nothing, it’s not our problem”. Hitchens argued that isolationism for an industrial superpower was morally deficient, and I think in at least that nuance he had a significant point, one that went against popular liberal thought.

    For the record, I place myself lefter-than-left, so I’m not doing the conservative thing of throwing around an unintelligible smear when I talk about “liberals”. It’s just that after 2008, now that we have a fucking DEMOCRAT behind wars and drones and secret prisons and all that horrid shit, we can’t push everything that’s wrong with this country onto conservatives like was so easy during the Bush years. Torture now has a bipartisan consensus for fuck’s sake.

  181. vaiyt says

    I can say with confidence that at the very least *I* was raised in a culture (ie a liberal Christian one) in which pacifism was assumed as an unambiguous good, and this was the basis on which I opposed the Iraq war. I recognize that now as a mistake, and I recognize other people making that same mistake, and so I feel justified in pointing it out.

    That’s not an argument anyone made here, though, so your insistence in responding to it is starting to look like a deliberate strawman.

  182. zibble says

    @186 Redhead

    If you refuse to even listen when I say WHAT I believe, I have no reason to think you’ll listen to WHY I believe.

    I advise you to rethink this habit, for your sake much more than mine.

  183. zibble says

    @194 vaiyt

    That’s not an argument anyone made here…

    I didn’t say it was, as long as we’re talking about strawmen.

    My “insistence” is in clarifying a statement, among others, people seem driven to misreading.

  184. vaiyt says

    Beyond that, it is a fact that Saddam WAS a big meanie,

    Come the fuck on. The world is full of big meanies and everyone with half a brain could see there was no reason to single out Saddam.

    and when the hawks asked “what are we going to do about this?” the overwhelming response I saw was from the left (and repeated myself) was “nothing, it’s not our problem”.

    If America’s intention was to help Iraq, not causing further harm to the Iraqis is the least America could do. That the hawks were completely ignoring this little factor was the main point of contention.

    By the way, they were right.

    Hitchens argued that isolationism for an industrial superpower was morally deficient, and I think in at least that nuance he had a significant point, one that went against popular liberal thought.

    Of course Hitchens thought interventionism was morally correct for a superpower. Being a privileged member of that same superpower, he was infected with the all-too-common disease of thinking he knows what’s best for everyone else.

    By the way, isolationism isn’t the same as non-interventionism, or neutralism, or pacifism. If Hitchens characterized the position of “hey, we shouldn’t invade and bombard other countries for our own benefit” as isolationist, he was also engaging in a strawman.

  185. zibble says

    @197

    Come the fuck on. The world is full of big meanies and everyone with half a brain could see there was no reason to single out Saddam.

    I agree.

    I’m hearing inconsistent things in this thread; some people are telling me that they’re only talking about the merits of THIS WAR and not this war in relation to others. Are you in disagreement with that?

    If America’s intention was to help Iraq, not causing further harm to the Iraqis is the least America could do. That the hawks were completely ignoring this little factor was the main point of contention.

    I agree. Worse than that, it’s not just the comparative death tolls (the Iraq death tolls for us and the Iraqis is well over what it would have been with Saddam). It’s also the fact that war itself regresses cultures, including ours! Torture, drones, and secret prisons have become mainstream American values. For Hitchens, claiming to advocate the enlightenment of society, this policy completely reversed that enlightenment even at home, where the bombs weren’t falling.

    This is one of the reasons I’m even against American involvement in WWII – it did irreparable damage to our culture, it birthed the modern American machismo and homophobia, it’s the beginning of the cold war, McCarthyism, etc.

    Of course Hitchens thought interventionism was morally correct for a superpower. Being a privileged member of that same superpower, he was infected with the all-too-common disease of thinking he knows what’s best for everyone else.

    I agree.

    If you think I’m in any way in favor of the Iraq war, you’re mistaken. I just think it’s possible to be right for the wrong reasons, and those reasons are very important if you’re going to learn anything from the event.

    What I was pointing out with Hitchens is that during the Bush years, the Bush administration was so morally bankrupt and conservative ideology so plainly, shamelessly stupid that it led to a sense of self-assuredness among the left that is never appropriate. Hitchens, being one of the incredibly rare voices of any principle or intelligence behind the Iraq war, saw where we were oversimplifying or speaking in ignorance. I don’t agree with his stance and I don’t excuse it, but he brought attention to my own oversights and the oversights of others.

    tl;dr : Nuance is important.