Sunday, September 18, 2005

Christopher Hitchens Has Dead Eyes

I don't know what kind of atrocities Christopher Hitchens witnessed or heard about when he visited the Kurds in the early 90's but they must have been awful. Their plight, then and now, seems to be the touchstone for much of what he's written about since that time. While this may be a noble fixation, its a fixation nonetheless and I think there's a solution.

In his debate with George Galloway earlier this week Hitchins could not even bring himself to acknowledge that Barbara Bush made a cruel and possible telling remark regarding the hurricane evacuees. In a classic William F. Buckley/George Will style of debating, he made an erudite and obscure comparison between Mrs. Bush and an 18th Century British dowager, the point of which seemed to be "I'm more clever than you therefore I am more right than you."

Hitchens is now not only an apologist for George Bush as Commander-in-Chief but also as a sterling Constitutional law scholar. His contention seemed to be that the President's handling of Hurricane Katrina was all that the law of the land allowed for, as if none of the many provisions of the Homeland Security Act were in place.

(Also, isn't it a sad commentary on American journalists and/or potitical thinkers that two of the most knowlegable debaters regarding the US invasion of Iraq were non-Americans?)

As the debate progressed and the audience remained unpersuaded, Hitchens was not above taking a cheap shot at them. When he received a round of their boos regarding the war, he chastised them by saying they should not be denigrating the sacrifice the soldiers were making. Clearly, the crowd was doing no such thing; they were booing Christopher Hitchens and no one else.

But what I keep thinking about are his eyes. Christopher Hitchens has dead eyes. Maybe its too much red meat, whiskey and tobacco but that would explain things only if he were a hack like all the other telejournalists but he isn't. Yes, he's just as pompous and self-righteous as they are but underneath that there is tremendous intelligence and maybe just as much stifled compassion.

I think its obvious that Hitchins sees the Kurds as the same sort of victims who died under regimes he may have indirectly supported in his earlier days. Even now the man's an unsufferable elitist; thirty years ago he may have been more willing to ignore the the sufferings of other people for the sake of the revolution. To support the Kurds now is to make amends for that mentality. But his dead eyes give him away. He's made his payback from his head but not from his heart.

Therefore, Christopher Hitchins needs to have a good cry. He has to grieve for whatever he feels his mistakes to have been, for the misery of the Kurds and countless other peoples before them and then he must stop his support for a policy thats causing just as much death as he wanted to atone for.

1 comment:

-C.- said...

I think your response to Mr. Hitchens is more than generous, and downright hopeful. For me, he embodies all the smug ugliness that the current administration has fostered so well. I'd like to believe that his dead eyes, and dead soul, have a chance for regeneration, but I'm not hopeful.
As for Mr. Bush, he doesn't need an apologist but and 'apologizer'... he or she could easily become the most overworked person in America.