Christopher Hitchens at Powell’s: Cancelled
Looks like Christopher Hitchens‘ appearance at Powell’s tomorrow is cancelled. I was looking forward to that.
As a proxy for the genuine article, I’ll supply links to a January interview with Hitchens conducted by local journalist Michael J. Totten. It’s in two parts. Hitch goes for the throat from the get-go. Regarding the January attack on Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard by an angry Muslim with an axe, Hitch says (emphases mine):
Let’s do a brief thought experiment. I tell you the following: On New Year’s Eve, a man in his mid-seventies is having his granddaughter over for a sleep-over, his five-year old granddaughter. He is attacked in his own home by an axe-wielding maniac with homicidal intent. Your mammalian reaction, your reaction as a primate, is one of revulsion…
…then you pick up yesterday’s Guardian, one of the most liberal newspapers in the Western world, and there’s a long article that says, ah, that picture, that moral picture, that instinct to protect the old and the young doesn’t apply in this case. The man asked for it. He drew a cartoon that upset some people. We aren’t at all entitled to use our moral instincts in the correct way.
…This is a sort of cultural and moral suicide, in my opinion.
Classic, unmitigated Hitchens, for sure. But as always, he throws us some curve balls, particularly in his praise for Barack Obama:
There’s something everyone has forgotten, and Obama has never tried to remind them. He doesn’t get credit because he’s never asked for it. Do you remember when the American crew was taken by the pirates off the coast of Somalia? It’s the same country of origin of the axe-wielding maniac who just tried to murder Kurt Westergaard in Denmark.
Someone went to the Oval Office and said, “Mr. President, you have three choices. We can have a standoff with the Somali government, we can negotiate with the pirates, or you can order the Navy SEALs to fire four shots.”
I wouldn’t like to be a newly elected president and have that dumped on my desk. He must have said, however long it took him, “Use the SEALs.”
But that’s not what impresses me. The point I’m making is not the one you thought I was going to make. What impresses me is that he didn’t give a speech later about it. If Reagan had done that, everyone would remember it. There would be hubris. “They can run, but they can’t hide.”
I like his nature. Those who need to know, know. We don’t have to make a big fucking circus out of it.
Fair albeit arguable points, I suppose. At some point, though, I’d like to hear Hitchens’ take on Obamacare and aspects of his governance that don’t involve war. The cynic in me thinks Hitchens is wealthy enough that matters like health care don’t hit him in the pocketbook as much as the rest of us, so he has no interest in discussing it.
But that’s merely a guess. (FYI: Yes, I do know that Hitchens endorsed Obama in the 2008 election.)