October 3, 2004

Hitchens Interview

British journalist Johann Hari interviews Christopher Hitchens, and can't figure out how he can be backing "this awful President". Of course the Left's reaction to 9/11 provided the impetus that drove Hitchens from their ranks.

He is appalled that some people on the left are prepared to do almost nothing to defeat Islamofascism. "When I see some people who claim to be on the left abusing that tradition, making excuses for the most reactionary force in the world, I do feel pain that a great tradition is being defamed. So in that sense I still consider myself to be on the left." A few months ago, when Bush went to Ireland for the G8 meeting, Hitchens was on a TV debate with the leader of a small socialist party in the Irish dail. "He said these Islamic fascists are doing this because they have deep-seated grievances. And I said, 'Ah yes, they have many grievances. They are aggrieved when they see unveiled woman. And they are aggrieved that we tolerate homosexuals and Jews and free speech and the reading of literature.'"

Hitchens has positive comments on Paul Wolfowitz and neoconservatism in general, making the point that promoting freedom and democracy abroad is preferable in the post-9/11 world to the previous doctrine of support for tyrants in the interest of some elusive "security". Unspoken but implied is that this is a classically progressive idea that does nothing to separate Hitchens from his liberal principles.

Hari wants Hitchens to "come home...we need you". At what cost to Hitchens' principles though? He backs Bush on the principle of strong opposition to totalitarian Islamofascism, while rejecting others on the right like Buchanan and Kissinger on equally sound liberal principles. But there doesn't appear to be much tolerance on the Left for that kind of independent thought, with its deviance from party orthodoxy. And there's nothing the Left reviles more than an apostate; Chambers, Podhoretz, Horowitz. Like those men, Hitchens seems to feel that it is the Left that has left him. (via Arts & Letters Daily)

Posted by dan at October 3, 2004 1:18 AM