Thursday, June 22, 2006

Standing Up Hitchens

What a strange use of time on yesterday's All Things Considered. Guy Raz gave an 8+ minute send up of/interview with Christopher Hitchens. The interview begins with Raz romanticizing Hitchen's consumption of "4 double-scotches and 3 merlots" during their meeting; Raz states that it has "very little effect on his disposition" and helps "fertilize his brain." Frankly I don't care that Hitchens abuses alcohol and that Raz is impressed. I care about the distortions, lies, and lack of facts behind Hitchens defense of the war in Iraq. This is never addressed. Instead the interview allows Hitchens to define the situation as a moral one in which he has made the just and correct decision while his "far-left" detractors are essentially supporters of Islamic terrorists. NPR claims that "none of HitchenÂ’s former fellow travelers contacted for this story were interested in revisiting the break." What does this mean? Does it mean that people contacted were going to be restricted to discussing only the "break" with Hitchens (the drama) and not the substantive issues? Then no wonder. And just who was contacted? And why call them "fellow travelers" (an old, Cold War term used to describe non-member supporters of the communist party)? It was also interesting that the only sound-bite against Hitchens was a rather ugly ad-hominem attack on him by George Galloway [BTW, a tactic that Hitchens also uses].
If NPR frequently interviewed people who have changed politics (I'm thinking of people like Kevin Phillips [who used to be on NPR more frequently], Chalmers Johnson, John Perkins, etc.) then I'd feel more forgiving about this lackluster interview with Hitchens, but I doubt we'll be hearing much from principled, informed dissenters anytime soon on NPR.
Anyone looking for an articulate rebuttal to Hitchen's rightwing arguments should take a look at this article by George Scialabba and published in N+1.

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