Sunday, September 25, 2005

Weekend Wanker: Christopher Hitchens

The pleasures that come from watching total wingnuts are somewhat different than those that come from watching the much rarer birds, the tortured, conflicted souls who must somehow live with the dissonance that comes when authoritarian knee-jerkings inhabit a body that somehow also retains logic receptors.

The unadulterated whacko offers amusement, but the game becomes tiresome; taking on the occasional Alan Keyes or Pat Robertson is intellectual junk food because they offer no substance.

Watching the more intelligent conservatives try to reconcile thinking with supporting the War on Terrah and its leading practitioner is far more nutritous.

Andrew Sullivan usually entertains in his doomed quest for the spot in the Republican Party where intelligent openly gay men are accepted. And so amid his potpourri of other positions, some of which make perfect sense, you get well-argued nonsense like Sullivan’s passionate defense of the flypaper theory, or his foam-at-the-mouth reaction to Noam Chomsky on Real Time last year.

I had not spent a lot of time exposed to Hitchens’ ranting, so I was surprised to see from his appearance on Real Time that he was cut from similar cloth.

As with Sullivan, he offered a number of reasonable views and criticisms of Bush here and there. But his blind spot, as with Sully, is his absolute adherence to Bush’s insane approach to radical Islam.

Where Hitch went off the deep end was his justification for wholesale slaughter of thousands of Muslims by reference to 18th- century Muslim pirates who, according to Hitch, justified enslaving the white sailors from the ships they captured by reference to the Koran. For Hitch, it seems, that is enough to forever taint the Koran as a Holy book, and by extension all who embrace it.

OK, got that? Religion used to justify bad acts. Therefore, religion and its followers bad, and deserving of foreign occupation, torture and other benefits of our enlightened assistance.

By Hitchen's logic, of course, Catholicism is equally irredeemable (the Inquisition did not end until 1834), and our own Republic (and, by extension, the religion of its leaders) is forever benighted by its embrace of slavery, which did not end until well after the episode Hitchens rides like a remora.



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