Terrorism — a ‘brainless propaganda word’

The social media hills were alive with stories like this posted by liberals delighted by conservative reluctance to use their favorite taxonomy for the Oregonian arsonists. In a 1985 essay called “Wanton Acts of Usage,” Christopher Hitchens won’t deign to pretend “terrorism” exists as a concept, let alone a word. A sapient passage reminded meContinue reading “Terrorism — a ‘brainless propaganda word’”

Andrew Sullivan: a post-mortem

I’ve written enough about St. Andrew over the years, the first political writer whose work I followed online, one of the first writers, period (Charles Taylor of Salon was another before I lost interest, for many of the same reasons). I won’t retract this sentence written in 2011: “These days Sullivan exists for me asContinue reading “Andrew Sullivan: a post-mortem”

Hitchens and Buckley on “Firing Line”

A Sunday treat: the late Christopher Hitchens appears on “Firing Line” soon after the ’84 presidential election. Joining him are host William F. Buckley, Jr. and Emmett Tyrrell, the latter about to begin a career in right wing ratfucking. I got the sense that early in the interview Buckley realized Tyrell, ostensibly on his side,Continue reading “Hitchens and Buckley on “Firing Line””

“Horrendous ideas” and writers

Ta-Nehisi Coates, responding to Glenn Greenwald taking Hitchens to task over his blustery support for the Iraq war: Virtues don’t excuse sins; they cohabit with them. Thomas Jefferson was a slaveholder. Perhaps worse he was a slaveholder who comprehended, more than any other, the moral failing of slavery, and it’s potential to bring the countryContinue reading ““Horrendous ideas” and writers”

The Hitchens Problem

The Awl publishes a long, truculent, loving analysis of The Christopher Hitchens Problem. Maria Bustillos identifies what makes Hitchens crusade — I mean this literally — against religion such a bore, even to those of us who embrace the instinct with enthusiasm: God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, Hitchens’ best-selling diatribe, enumerates hisContinue reading “The Hitchens Problem”

“If the story has to end too early, then its coda will contain a triumph”

Martin Amis on his beloved comrade Hitchens: Whereas mere Earthlings get by with a mess of expletives, subordinate clauses, and finely turned tautologies, Christopher talks not only in complete sentences but also in complete paragraphs. Similarly, he is an utter stranger to what Diderot called l’esprit de l’escalier: the spirit of the staircase. This phraseContinue reading ““If the story has to end too early, then its coda will contain a triumph””

Ronald Reagan – still dead

How I define my politics rests on my conflicted understanding of Ronald Reagan, specifically his Ronald Reagan-ness. Even conservatives who think the New Deal was a boondoggle grant FDR the courtesy of a high historical ranking, so it doesn’t surprise me that liberals concede Reagan’s Importance In the Grand Scheme of Things. Men like ReaganContinue reading “Ronald Reagan – still dead”

“It is often in the excuses and in the apologies that one finds the real offense”

From Hitchens’ latest: Most epochs are defined by one or another anxiety. More important, though, is the form which that anxiety takes. Millions of Americans are currently worried about two things that are, in their minds, emotionally related. The first of these is the prospect that white people will no longer be the majority inContinue reading ““It is often in the excuses and in the apologies that one finds the real offense””

Hitchens: White people starting to think like a minority

As effective as Hitchens’ latest column is, it’s not just rote, but my inability to separate my satisfaction in his attacking the right for a change mitigates its impact. Dismissing Glenn Beck’s rally in DC last weekend, he uses a term I’ve long wielded against the misshapen kind of conservatism I’ve seen the last fifteenContinue reading “Hitchens: White people starting to think like a minority”

“Tissue is the issue”: Hitchens

My Christopher Hitchens anecdote: I saw him on the God is Not Great tour in May 2007 at a local synagogue. Rousing lecture. At the post-lecture book signing (for which he absented himself twenty minutes and returned, emitting discreet waves of scotch and Marlboro Reds), he held up the line by talking sweetly and withoutContinue reading ““Tissue is the issue”: Hitchens”