hitchens does sontag, page-3

  1. 4,788 Posts.
    re: hitchens does tou4u (hitch has got you down to a tee, false prophet, note his definition of courage)

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    FP: You label the enemy in our current war as Ôjihadist nihilism.Õ Could you kindly define this term please? Are we fighting fanatic Muslims who are waging war for Allah but who, deep down, donÕt believe in anything at all? I am kidding of course but please give us a workable definition.

    Hitchens: Osama bin Laden is a kind of pseudo-intellectual, with a rough theory of history and a highly reactionary desire to restore a lost empire. But he negates even this doomed, pseudo-Utopian project by his hysterical Puritanism, which bans even music and which of course would deny society the talents of women as well as driving out anyone with any culture or education. Thus, any society run by him or people like him would keep on going bankrupt and starving itself to death, with no ready explanation of why this kept happening. The repeated failure would inevitably be blamed on Zionist-Crusader conspiracies, and the violence and repression would then be projected outward, which is why we have a right to concern ourselves with the "internal affairs" of the Islamic world.

    Below even the bin Laden level, however, there are those who insist that they prefer death to life, and who really mean it. Suicide is not so much their tactic as their rationale: they represent a cult of death and they are wedded to destruction. It's amazing how many people refuse to see this. They persist in saying that it's a protest against something, or a reaction to some injustice. They are right to an extent: as long as there is a non-Salafist Muslim anywhere, or a Jew or Christian or rationalist, or an unveiled woman or a profane work of art, the grievance can never be appeased. Of course this does have something in common with fascism - "Death to the intellect! Long live Death!" was a favorite slogan of some Francoists: I think it was coined by General Quiepo de Llano - but even fascism could build an autobahn or design a rocket, while these primitives only want to steal enough technology to wreak devastation. So far, they have mainly brought down their own house (as in Afghanistan and now in Iraq) but we can't allow ourselves take too much comfort from that. However, there is some encouragement to be derived. The 1990s Islamist insurgency in Algeria, for example, was crushed partly because the GIA (which now seems to have gone out of existence) had no political demands and had more or less excommunicated all other Algerians as heretics. This same dead-end for jihad is perhaps being reached in Palestine and will be reached, if we stay intransigent, in Iraq also. What I keep saying is: they wish to be martyrs and we must help them to achieve martyrdom by every method at our disposal.

    FP: Words of wisdom Mr. Hitchens, thank you.

    You include in your essay collection what I thought was one of your best masterpieces: ÔUnfahrenheit 9/11: The Lies of Michael Moore.Õ In it you note that to describe his film Ôas dishonest and demagogic would almost be to promote those terms to the level of respectability.Õ To be sure, as you demonstrate, Fahrenheit 9/11 is a work of shameless lies and deceit. I think it serves as a perfect reflection of the psyche of the contemporary Left. Hating Bush and America has become an obsessive priority and everything else Ð including truth Ð has become expendable.

    Tell us a few of your thoughts on Moore and his film and in what ways you think both reflect the psychology of the contemporary Left (if you think they do).

    Hitchens: I have to say that I love it when you say "one of my best masterpieces".

    Actually, the review of Moore's mendacious film involved me in very little mental effort: it was more like an exercise in logical and moral hygiene. The movie was so idiotic and so sinister that it more or less condemned itself: a tiny shove is all it took.

    As to the psyche that it represents: There is a widespread view that the war against jihadism and totalitarianism involves only differences of emphasis. In other words, one might object to the intervention in Iraq on the grounds that it drew resources away from Afghanistan - you know the argument. It's important to understand that this apparent agreement does not cover or include everybody. A very large element of the Left and of the isolationist Right is openly sympathetic to the other side in this war, and wants it to win. This was made very plain by the leadership of the "anti-war" movement, and also by Michael Moore when he shamefully compared the Iraqi fascist "insurgency" to the American Founding Fathers. To many of these people, any "anti-globalization" movement is better than none.

    With the Right-wingers it's easier to diagnose: they are still Lindberghians in essence and they think war is a Jewish-sponsored racket. With the Left, which is supposed to care about secularism and humanism, it's a bit harder to explain an alliance with woman-stoning, gay-burning, Jew-hating medieval theocrats. However, it can be done, once you assume that American imperialism is the main enemy. Even for those who won't go quite that far, the admission that the US Marine Corps might be doing the right thing is a little further than they are prepared to go - because what would then be left of their opposition credentials, which are so dear to them?

    FP: Mr. Hitchens, these leftists who are now allied with, as you call them, Ôwomen-stoning, gay-burning and Jew-hating medieval theocrats,Õ are your former comrades. This pathological alliance they have nurtured in the terror war is the reason you broke ranks with them. And you should be commended for the courage and nobility that it took to make that step. How are you faring lately since you have left the family? Can you give us a glimpse into what it is like to have become a non-person amongst your former community? Do you miss anything? Have you considered offering a mea culpa to get back in? On a more serious note (from the last question): are you at all embarrassed that you were once part of the Left? If it is so deranged, surely 9/11 wasnÕt a starting point for the derangement. Tell us a bit, looking back at your on your intellectual journey, where you think you may have been mistaken in associating your self with this crowd and with the progressive faith.

    Hitchens: No courage was involved, though it's kind of you to say so. Courage is what is shown by the election workers in Iraq, for instance, and by the volunteer soldiers who protect them.

    There is a small but useful pro-regime change "Left" in the United States and it has its counterparts in Europe (and of course, most importantly, in Iraq and Afghanistan and Iran and elsewhere). I keep in touch with these comrades, but I don't really consider myself to have any political or party allegiance any more. The last time that I wrote anything that was couched in specifically "Left" terms was my book on Clinton, where I tried to persuade people that he was a reactionary as well as a thug and a coward and a crook. I rather lost that battle (though not that argument!) and Move.On.org was born originally as a group formed to defend a President's right to perjury.

    Reflecting on where the rot set it, I have come to the temporary conclusion that much of the "Left" was forced by events to adopt a status-quo position. Thus, it neither really opposed nor welcomed (with some exceptions in both cases) the historic anti-Communist revolution of 1989. It sat on its hands during the Balkan conflict. It could find no voice in which to discuss the urgent challenge of holy war. When it came to Iraq, you could even hear leftists saying that an intervention might "destabilize" the region: a suggestive choice of term from supposed radicals, suddenly sounding like Kissinger Associates.

    Much the same has become true on other fronts, with people essentially saying, on things like Social Security; just leave it the way it is. Even the environmental movement seems to resent modernity and be nostalgic for agrarianism. I'm perhaps over-speculating here, but another trope of "anti-Americanism" could be one that resents the United States as the country par excellence of disturbing change and innovation and, via regime-change, of revolution. The Right often makes a version of this mistake, as with stem-cell research and Buchanan-type isolationism and nativism. But the Left is really doomed if all it wants is a quiet life.

    FP: You call Bill Clinton Ôa thug and a coward and a crook.Õ I wish that you would stop trying to sugar coat everything and tell us how you really feel about him. On a serious note though, could you kindly give us a little text for each word? For each label give us a few sentences of why you think that term applies to yours truly.

    Hitchens: Well, I understate matters a little, perhaps.

    In my book on the man, No One Left To Lie To, I have a chapter on rape. It contains the evidence of three women, all of them socially "upscale," all political supporters of Clinton (or at least supporters at the time they first knew him) and all unknown to each other when they told their stories. They offer appallingly similar accounts of being forced to submit, and of being forced by the same M.O.

    I would only be wearying you if I said that the official feminist movement showed no interest in this evidence. And it is not true that "boys will be boys" in this instance. Only thuggish and cowardly boys go in for this kind of thing.

    As for crookery, I think you will find if you look at the Congressional reports on campaign finance, and at the findings of the Center for Public Integrity, that they unearthed more evidence on revolving-door contributions and shakedowns than for any campaign even since Nixon's CREEP. "Nice to see you again, Mr. President," as Roger Tamraz says on a tape of a meeting in the White House. I think he was still wanted in Beirut at the time. Many other inquiries can't be completed because of the number of donor/witnesses who fled the country. It's all there on the record.

    Cowardice is not just a private vice, by the way. When he was running against Bush Senior, Clinton said that the atrocities of the Bosnian war were reminiscent of the Final Solution. That may have been an exaggeration, but you can't employ a phrase like that and then run away from it. When elected, Clinton backed away for almost three years before he did anything about Bosnia, and a lot of people died there because they had believed him and kept on resisting. Much the same with Iraq and the Taliban: he kept saying that something would have to be done about Saddam Hussein but never did it, which meant that a much more scarred and bankrupt Iraq became somebody else's legacy. His lack of effort in Afghanistan needs no further comment from me.

    It's true that much of the GOP was weak on this as well, at the time, but it's also true that when Clinton did finally act he could count on some tough-minded Republican support, even from people who privately or publicly thought that he deserved impeachment and might even be "wagging the dog." That by the way is the conspicuous difference between then and now, when even people who were co-responsible for the Clinton policy (like Al Gore and Madeleine Albright) suddenly claim that they don't know what the President is talking about when he mentions the Ba'ath Party's long record of tyranny and aggression and deception.


 
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