The Disenchantment of Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens has discovered that right-wingers are vile:

On the clouded synapses of Sen. John McCain, it became clear as his campaign limped and lurched to its close, the termites had been dining long and dining well. However much one might have admired the low comedy of his closing routine on Saturday Night Live, it had to be admitted that even in that context, he looked a trifle glassy and elderly, not to say lost. No doubt there was some safe refuge to be taken, by himself and his absurd choice of running mate, in self-deprecation. The true ghastliness, however, was revealed in the crudeness of the McCain-Palin attempt to deprecate others.

A few feeble cracks on a comedy show are not enough to erase the memory of a vulgar and vicious attack, mounted on a rival candidate McCain has publicly called “honorable,” only a few days earlier. It had been said that Sen. Barack Obama had once attended a dinner for professor Rashid Khalidi, a distinguished Palestinian academic. It was further said that the Los Angeles Times, which had first reported the five-years-ago dinner in Chicago, was deliberately withholding a videotape of the evening that would show Obama in the audience while tough criticism of Israel was being voiced. Here is how the Republican nominee for the presidency of the United States described the situation in a radio interview in Miami:

I’m not in the business of talking about media bias, but what if there was a tape with John McCain with a neo-Nazi outfit being held by some media outlet? I think the treatment of the issue would be slightly different.

My main point, though, is not to call attention to the bullying and demagogy of McCain’s attack. It is to observe how completely it undermines any claim on his part to foreign-policy experience. Khalidi has been known to me for some time and can easily be read and consulted by anyone with the remotest curiosity about the Israeli-Arab dispute. He is highly renowned, well beyond the borders of his own discipline, for his measure and care and scruple in weighing the issue. If he is seriously to be compared to a “neo-Nazi,” then the Republican nominee has put the United States in the unbelievable position of slandering the most courageously “moderate” of the Palestinian Arabs as a brownshirt and a fascist. What then has been the point of every negotiation on a two-state solution since President George H.W. Bush convened the peace conference in Madrid in 1991? Nazis, after all, are to be crushed, not accommodated. One would have to think hard before coming up with a more crazy and irresponsible statement on any subject. Once again, it seems that McCain utterly lost his bearings.

I put the word moderate in quotation marks above because I dislike employing it in its usual form. Rashid Khalidi’s family is a famous one in Jerusalem, long respected by Arab and Christian and Jew and Druze and Armenian, and holding a celebrated house and position in the city since approximately the time of the Crusades. I have had the honor of being invited to this very house. If Rashid chooses to state that he doesn’t care to be evicted from his ancestral home in order to make way for some settler from Brooklyn who claims to have God on his side, I think he has a perfect right to say so. I would go further and say that if Barack Obama was looking for a Palestinian friend, he could not have chosen any better. But perhaps John McCain has decided that he doesn’t need any Palestinian friends and neither do we. Perhaps he thinks it’s all right to refer to refugees and victims of occupation, who have been promised self-determination and statehood at the podium of the United Nations and the U.S. Congress by George Bush and Condoleezza Rice, as if they were Hitlerites. How shameful. How disgusting. How ignorant.

How right-wing.

Via Memeorandum and Newshoggers.

3 Responses to “The Disenchantment of Christopher Hitchens”

  1. John says:

    I have been reading CH’s work for some time now and have never been under the impression that he is “disenchanted.” Slandering Hitchens as a neocon for opposing totalitarianism utterly discredits the Left. Honestly, grow up.

  2. radical_Moderate says:

    I think CH hit the nail on the head regarding the never-ending sad story of the Palestinians, and willful demonization of Mr Khalidi, if McCain goes down today, as I anticipate that he will, I only hope that a more measured head prevails regarding our biased policy in the middle-east.

  3. Kathy says:

    If CH wants to oppose totalitarianism, John, he would be well advised to start right here at home. The Bush administration is the most totalitarian in U.S. history. I assume Hitchens is beginning to realize that, since he is voting for (or voted for) Obama.

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