– fordi tiden kræver et MODSPIL

26. Aug 2005

Mere Hitchens

Morten fra MidtImod gør mig opmærksom på Norman Finkelsteins langt mere nær- og dybtgående kritik af Christopher Hitchens end Cockburn's, som jeg linkede til forleden:
Depending on where along the political spectrum power is situated, apostates almost always make their corrective leap in that direction, discovering the virtues of the status quo. "The last thing you can be accused of is having turned your coat," Thomas Mann wrote a convert to National Socialism right after Hitler's seizure of power. "You always wore it the `right' way around." If apostasy weren't conditioned by power considerations, one would anticipate roughly equal movements in both directions. But that's never been the case. The would-be apostate almost always pulls towards power's magnetic field, rarely away. However elaborate the testimonials on how one came to "see the light," the impetus behind political apostasy is - pardon my cynicism - a fairly straightforward, uncomplicated affair: to cash in, or keep cashing in, on earthly pleasures. Indeed, an apostate can even capitalize on the past to increase his or her current exchange value. Professional ex-radical Todd Gitlin never fails to mention, when denouncing those to his left, that he was a former head of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). Never mind that this was four decades ago; although president of my sixth-grade class 40 years ago, I don't keep bringing it up. Shouldn't there be a statute of limitations on the exploitation of one's political past? In any event, it's hard to figure why an acknowledgment of former errors should enhance one's current credibility. If, by a person's own admission, he or she had got it all wrong, why should anyone pay heed to his or her new opinions? Doesn't it make more sense attending to those who got there sooner rather than later? A member of the Flat-Earth Society who suddenly discovers the world is round doesn't get to keynote an astronomers' convention. Indeed, the prudent inference would seem to be, once an idiot, always an idiot. It's child's play to assemble a lengthy list - Roger Garaudy, Boris Yeltsin, David Horowitz, Bernard Henri-Levy… - bearing out this commonsensical wisdom.
Hitchens has riotous fun heaping contempt on several of the volunteer "human shields" who left Iraq before the bombing began. They "obviously didn't have the guts," he jeers, hunkered down in his Washington foxhole. Bearing witness to his own bravery, Hitchens reports in March 2003 that, although even the wife of New York Times columnist Tom Friedman is having doubts about going to war, "I am fighting to keep my nerve" - truly a profile in courage, as he exiles himself in the political wilderness, alongside the Bush administration, Congress, a majority of U.S. public opinion, and his employers in the major media. Outraged at the taunt that he who preaches war should perhaps consider fighting it, Hitchens impatiently recalls that, since September 11, "civilians at home are no safer than soldiers abroad," and that, in fact, he's not just a but the main target: "The whole point of the present phase of conflict is that we are faced with tactics that are directed primarily at civilians….It is amazing that this essential element of the crisis should have taken so long to sink into certain skulls" (emphasis in original). No doubt modesty and tact forbid Hitchens from drawing the obvious comparison: while cowardly American soldiers frantically covered themselves in protective gear and held their weapons at the ready, he patrolled his combat zone in Washington, D.C. unencumbered...
Ja, hvilket heltemod, hvilken ensom røst for sandhed og retfærdighed og imod tyranni og overgreb var Hitchens ikke i sin kamp for krigen mod den frygtelige venstreorienterede overmagt, kun bakket op af præsidenten, et flertal i kongressen, alle de store medier, et flertal af den amerikanske befolkning og (for at det ikke skal være løgn) hans eget hjemlands Tony Blair med samt den engelske regering.

Er der ikke nogen, der kan give den mand en medalje?

Nej, alvorligt talt: En nærmere analyse af Hitchens' udgydelser (som man f.eks. ser det i Cockburn's svarHitchen's svar - via Bistroisten og Raapil - på den historie, jeg citerede forleden) vil vise, at de stort set består af perfekt afleverede logisk/retoriske fejlgreb af den type, som nok kan hænge ved men ikke hænger sammen: Ad hominem, tu quoque ("hvad med dig selv"), guilt by association, stråmand.

Med andre ord: Masser af candy-floss, smarte bemærkninger og skarpsindigt vid til at støtte hans logren for sine nye herrer - men ingen substans.

Se blot nedenstående, fra et offentligt møde med deltagelse af Hitchens og Francis Wheen:
To prove the “strange bedfellows” argument that Baathist Iraq supported “Islamo-fascism”, Hitchens had the historical analogy: “The Hitler-Stalin pact was impossible. Stalin was a communist; Hitler was a fascist.” QED. To the retort that Saddam’s “a secularist, so he couldn’t have had anything to do with Islamic terror”, there was the audacious evidence that Saddam had “Allahu akbar added to the flag” and the stupendous “building of mosques”. Doubleplusgood QED. Is this the best the mighty Hitchens can do? The fan club nodded - the soma had kicked in.

I was brooding on whether to ask him whether he himself had been “soft on fascism” when he vociferously denounced the first Gulf War as an imperialist war. He beat me to it with the strange admission that in 1991 he dearly hoped that Iraq would give the US, or at least Bush Snr, “a bloody nose”. Something, he says, that he feels ashamed of. Best to start emailing the neocon websites with this anti-American hatred. Be careful, Christopher, you’ll find yourself out of work with such talk.

Time for questions. A Hitchenista can’t wait to apply brown nose factor ten: Since we are partly to blame for the present crisis, we have a duty to rectify it, the smitten apostle asks. Hitchens can’t believe his luck. (If only I had said that, Saddam must be musing.) Next question. Does it not undermine the United States’ self-proclaimed aim of spreading democracy by supporting dictatorships? Good question. Bad answer: “Consistency is not undermined by inconsistency,” Hitchens replied, echoing Nick Cohen. I duly broke Bertie Wooster’s world record for the sitting high jump: being inconsistent does not mean that you are not being consistent! Well, well! This really is contrarian stuff ...
Sandheden er, at denne Trotskij- og David Irving-beundrer (af og til beskyldt for selv at være Holocaust-benægter) næppe er så meget at skrive hjem om, som hans næsegruse beundrere på højrefløjen vil have det. "Indeed, the prudent inference would seem to be, once an idiot, always an idiot."

Det opsummeres faktisk alt sammen meget godt i en kommentarSnitchWatch:
From his friendship with Wolfowitz (the friend and facilitator of the murderous Indonesian military, amongst other obvious things) to his speaking tour with his rightward-bound coach, David Horowitz, he seems more than willing to reserve all of his much-famed tongue lashings for the left.

Not only does he seem eager to cop a snook at his former comrades, but he furthermore seems reluctant to convincingly criticise the Bush gang.

He operates now in much the same fashion as the Harry's Place sycophantic crew, who feature an occasional 'Bush Watch' token post on their site but aren't really fooling anyone about their obvious admiration of the drawling Texan monkey.

For me there is one truly telling instant in which Hitchens' current path was revealed to both himself and his readers. When he wrote, in the days following 9/11, that he admitted to feelings of exhiliration when he saw those planes slamming into the WTC on tv, he spoke volumes of his own fanaticism.

Why kind of nutjob or ideologue diehard could have watched those pictures, first time round, and felt anything but shock and horror?

Hitchens however saw it all merely as an opportunity - to confront the forces of what he (correctly) calls 'Islamofascism', but with the forces of what he refuses to see could equally be described as 'Christofascism'.
Med andre ord: Endnu et karrierebevidst, højreorienteret tågehorn, og hans fortid er næppe interessant i den sammenhæng - bortset fra, at der måske engang var nogen, der forventede sig noget andet og mere (f.eks. skarpsindig analyse fremfor mudderkastning) fra hans hånd. Men sådan skal det åbenbart ikke være.