Christopher Hitchens, 1949 - 2011

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Catchfire Catchfire's picture
Christopher Hitchens, 1949 - 2011

RIP. (*chortle*)

bekayne
Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Ergh. I tried to move the discussion happening in the BUNWYFT thread, but apparently babble software in its prodigious power can only move one post at a time. Considering how cumbersome it is, I'm not up to it. So just read what's happening there and continue it here, yeah?

 

knownothing knownothing's picture

Hedges was hard on Hitchens on Day 6 this morning. With good reason.

6079_Smith_W

Catchfire wrote:

RIP. (*chortle*)

Though if we want to take him at his word, he's not resting at all:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vuW6tQ0218  

 

Gaian

This is from the "later", unabridged Hitchens. Got anything pre-2007, Orwell, Jefferson, Paine, Rushdie? The free-speech bits?

Freedom 55

Ever since I first read [url=http://www.counterpunch.org/2005/08/20/can-cindy-sheehan-end-the-war/]this piece by Alexander Cockburn[/url] in 2005, I haven't been able to hear Hitchens' name without the phrase "truly disgusting sack of shit" immediately coming to mind.

6079_Smith_W

THough Hitchens walked the talk far better than Jefferson ever did.

 

contrarianna

6079_Smith_W wrote:

THough Hitchens walked the talk far better than Jefferson ever did.

If squishy marching in his own calculated BS counts.

6079_Smith_W

I'm not saying I always agreed with him; more often thatnot I didn't. And I think his analysis was clouded by his zeal.

But I do think Hitchens was less of a hypocrite. and I don't base that solely on a revisionist analysis of Jefferson never bothering to free his slaves, not even his lover.

 

 

contrarianna

The problem is in your calling Hitchens' polemical writings "analysis" when they are often transparently dishonest rhetorical strategies.

As I said in my previous post:

"Hitch did not: "right or wrong, call'em as see's em" and he played with facts and fiction as equally useful tools.
Hitchens was devoid of integrity or attempts at truth finding in his propagandizing enterprise.
His polemics were laden with calculated deception (what he boasts of as his skills in "chopping logic" in his autobiography).
He was not "a contrarian" but the servant of his latest ideological embrace with neoconservatism and like many true believers, saw nothing wrong in using deception for The Cause."

As one example: his "waterboarding" theatrical stunt mentioned earlier--(as if one needed "investigative journalism" into this age old torture technique that Japanese were tried for as war crimes).

The difference between what Hitch did and real waterboarding is the difference between holding your breath until its uncomfortable versus being strangled by a thug. Hitch had total control by hand signal when it was to be stopped.

It a classic piece of calculated equivocation, if one read past the title.It is designed to make what a few years  before was unthinkable brutality a subject for which "good people" may disagree.

It is a piece, which acknowledges the unpleasantness of waterboarding but calls it "torture lite" and stresses the professionalism of the trained goons and their sacred dedication to "keeping us safe".
At the same time he gloatingly insinuates the idea it is effective:
"I had read that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, invariably referred to as the “mastermind” of the atrocities of September 11, 2001, had impressed his interrogators by holding out for upwards of two minutes before cracking. (By the way, this story is not confirmed. My North Carolina friends jeered at it. “Hell,” said one, “from what I heard they only washed his damn face before he babbled.”)"

In fact Khalid was waterboarded 183 times:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/5185835/CIA-w...

In a  much later response to the query of why his allies in the Bush administration shouldn't be held accountable for approving the torture, he absurdly replied that the public wanted it and thus share the responsibility.

Slumberjack

Its was his writings and discussions on religion that gained him the most prominence. In many ways he was sort of like the Bob Rae of polemics.  You never know which way the shit is going to fly.

Gaian

And how ironic, eh Sj, that if Hitchens had submitted anyting to babble in his 2005 period we would not have been able to read his God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, had he submitted it under the same nom de plume.

But of course, it's not only religion that poisons everything, is it. In fact you DO know "which way the shit is going to fly," when it's carefully monitored, controlled.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Was this posted earlier?

 

Glenn Greenwald: Christopher Hitchens and the protocol for public figure deaths

Quote:
[The unfettered canonization of Ronald Reagan after his death] happened because of an unhealthy conflation of appropriate post-death etiquette for private persons and the etiquette governing deaths of public figures. They are not and should not be the same. We are all taught that it is impolite to speak ill of the dead, particularly in the immediate aftermath of someone’s death. For a private person, in a private setting, that makes perfect sense. Most human beings are complex and shaped by conflicting drives, defined by both good and bad acts. That’s more or less what it means to be human. And — when it comes to private individuals — it’s entirely appropriate to emphasize the positives of someone’s life and avoid criticisms upon their death: it comforts their grieving loved ones and honors their memory. In that context, there’s just no reason, no benefit, to highlight their flaws.

But that is completely inapplicable to the death of a public person, especially one who is political. When someone dies who is a public figure by virtue of their political acts — like Ronald Reagan — discussions of them upon death will be inherently politicized. How they are remembered is not strictly a matter of the sensitivities of their loved ones, but has substantial impact on the culture which discusses their lives. To allow significant political figures to be heralded with purely one-sided requiems — enforced by misguided (even if well-intentioned) notions of private etiquette that bar discussions of their bad acts — is not a matter of politeness; it’s deceitful and propagandistic. To exploit the sentiments of sympathy produced by death to enshrine a political figure as Great and Noble is to sanction, or at best minimize, their sins. Misapplying private death etiquette to public figures creates false history and glorifies the ignoble....

There’s one other aspect to the adulation of Hitchens that’s quite revealing. There seems to be this sense that his excellent facility with prose excuses his sins. Part of that is the by-product of America’s refusal to come to terms with just how heinous and destructive was the attack on Iraq. That act of aggression is still viewed as a mere run-of-the-mill “mistake” — hey, we all make them, so we shouldn’t hold it against Hitch – rather than what it is: the generation’s worst political crime, one for which he remained fully unrepentant and even proud. But what these paeans to Hitchens reflect even more so is the warped values of our political and media culture: once someone is sufficiently embedded within that circle, they are intrinsically worthy of admiration and respect, no matter what it is that they actually do. As Aaron Bady put it to me by email yesterday:

Quote:
I go back to something Judith Butler’s been saying for years; some lives are grievable and some are not. And in that context, publicly mourning someone like Hitchens in the way we are supposed to do — holding him up as someone who was “one of us,” even if we disagree with him — is also a way of quietly reinforcing the “we” that never seems to extend to the un-grievable Arab casualties of Hitch’s favorite wars. It’s also a “we” that has everything to do with being clever and literate and British (and nothing to do with a human universalism that stretches across the usual “us” and “them” categories). And when it is impolitic to mention that he was politically atrocious (in exactly the way of Kissinger, if not to the extent), we enshrine the same standard of human value as when the deaths of Iraqi children from cluster bombs are rendered politically meaningless by our lack of attention.

That’s precisely true. The blood on his hands — and on the hands of those who played an even greater, more direct role, in all of this totally unjustified killing of innocents — is supposed to be ignored because he was an accomplished member in good standing of our media and political class.

 

Slumberjack

Because he proved that every ideology, aside from atheism which isn't ideological, was disposable when the subject concerned his own personal right to oratory and to the writing of letters and essays.  There didn't seem to be a limit to what he'd befriend, at any cost it would seem.  On religion his arguments were devastating.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Christopher Hitchens at is evolutionary best on women:

Quote:
Why are women, who have the whole male world at their mercy, not funny? Please do not pretend not to know what I am talking about.

All right—try it the other way (as the bishop said to the barmaid). Why are men, taken on average and as a whole, funnier than women? Well, for one thing, they had damn well better be. The chief task in life that a man has to perform is that of impressing the opposite sex, and Mother Nature (as we laughingly call her) is not so kind to men. In fact, she equips many fellows with very little armament for the struggle. An average man has just one, outside chance: he had better be able to make the lady laugh. Making them laugh has been one of the crucial preoccupations of my life. If you can stimulate her to laughter—I am talking about that real, out-loud, head-back, mouth-open-to-expose-the-full-horseshoe-of-lovely-teeth, involuntary, full, and deep-throated mirth; the kind that is accompanied by a shocked surprise and a slight (no, make that a loud) peal of delight—well, then, you have at least caused her to loosen up and to change her expression. I shall not elaborate further.

Women have no corresponding need to appeal to men in this way. They already appeal to men, if you catch my drift.

Freedom 55

 

[url=http://www.thenation.com/blog/165194/being-spit-upon-literally-christoph... On Being Spit Upon - literally - by Christopher Hitchens[/url]

 

Quote:

Most public figures of his ilk are so full of hot air and self-regard, they aren’t even human. For Hitchens, you could see, decades after his days as a student socialist agitator, he was conflicted by what he had become. This is obvious in much of his recent writings: a constant effort to reassure himself that he hadn’t really morphed into what he had once despised. If nothing else, he was consistent in his hatred of Henry Kissinger, and I for one, regret that the aged war criminal outlived his most effective foe.

Christopher Hitchens was a man of prodigious gifts, but in the end, he used those gifts to promote wars that produced a killing field in the Middle East. That, tragically, is his lasting legacy to the world, and no amount of flowery obituaries can change this stubborn fact.

 

 

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture
M. Spector M. Spector's picture

An American academic named Stephen Harper wrote:

For the last quarter of a century, Hitchens’ hard-drinking, tough-talking image has made him the poster-boy of the liberal intelligentsia in the UK and US. Hitchens could certainly be a lot of fun. He delighted in pointing out the hypocrisy and mendacity of certain powerful individuals – such as Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu (so-called ‘Mother’ Teresa), Henry Kissinger and Bill Clinton – and he did so with aplomb. Indeed, there is no denying that ‘the Hitch’ was a consummate prose stylist and a seductively sonorous public speaker. But, as Richard Seymour notes, Hitchens, for all his svelte polemic, was a rather conventional sort of thinker who had “difficulty in handling complex arguments”. And more importantly, like his champion, the British writer and comedian Stephen Fry (for who can forget Fry’s attempts to reassure the British public, following the MP’s expenses scandal in 2009, that all is well with liberal democracy), Hitchens abused his persuasive powers in support of the status quo.

[url=http://dissidentvoice.org/2011/12/christopher-hitchens-a-nationalist-imp...

Dostoyevsky

According to some Babblers a guy who did nothing but write opinion articles for magazines and newspapers is more guilty of crimes against humanity than an appointed living god who actually had the ability to order and did order crimes against humanity.

You can't even make fun of the idiocy in this way of thinking. It's too depressing.   Maybe if Hitchens forced people to read his stuff at gunpoint or something?  But how did he force people to agree with his opinion?

Slumberjack

There are certainly varying levels of responsibility.  While I've taken no issue with his approach to religion, I can't say the same with the way he aligned himself as a public figure with the crimes against humanity undertaken by the West in Iraq, Afghanistan and numerous other places.  When you hire yourself out as a propagandist for such things, you have to accept a measure of responsibility for what occurs.

Unionist

Dostoyevsky wrote:

According to some Babblers a guy who did nothing but write opinion articles for magazines and newspapers is more guilty of crimes against humanity than an appointed living god who actually had the ability to order and did order crimes against humanity.

First post on babble, and already you're lying. Smarter trolls than you generally try to worm their way in first, then start spreading shit around.

Quote:
You can't even make fun of the idiocy in this way of thinking. It's too depressing.

Go write a Russian novel or something. You'll feel better fast.

 

Dostoyevsky

Unionist wrote:

Dostoyevsky wrote:

According to some Babblers a guy who did nothing but write opinion articles for magazines and newspapers is more guilty of crimes against humanity than an appointed living god who actually had the ability to order and did order crimes against humanity.

First post on babble, and already you're lying. Smarter trolls than you generally try to worm their way in first, then start spreading shit around.

Quote:
You can't even make fun of the idiocy in this way of thinking. It's too depressing.

Go write a Russian novel or something. You'll feel better fast.

 

you got me Unionist - I based this on my recollection on the closed thread from yesterday and I guess I exagerted - Should have said equally guilty?

Gaian

No, D, Hitchens and thee are guilty of generalizing, and there is always the "oops" moment whan one realizes how the innocent pay the price. For him (and Blair), the half-million Iraquis civilians were the oops victims. Brilliant polemicist though he was, there really is no excusing that. Keeping in mind, the bloody-minded mullahs - not the ones who say that Allah was not bloody minded - are not one iota his moral superiors. I think that that is the sort non-generalized condemnation that so many hoped for from him. He simply sold out to a political perspective that was founded on oil, empire, and lack of concern for the butcher's bill. Pity.

Slumberjack

Gaian wrote:
In fact you DO know "which way the shit is going to fly," when it's carefully monitored, controlled.

And you accuse me of being a nihilist like there's something wrong with it.

Gaian

Have no idea what your point is beyond the nihilist thingy, Sj. That quote from a few days back had to do with control of ideas/expression hereabouts...an attempt at humour, as it were...but I should know that that can be a dangerous direction.

Nihilism has to do with the declaration/argument, that there is no hope. And there is something wrong with that.Humanists don't need religion or a re-working of reasons for its rejection, beautifully as it was done.

Slumberjack

Gaian wrote:
Have no idea what your point is beyond the nihilist thingy, Sj. 

It was like I was agreeing with you in this instance by proposing a remedy, but as a quip.  Well..i thought it was funny.

Gaian

It is funny.

Me dense(maybe that last highball).

And happy holidays, Sj.

CMOT Dibbler

I didn't know that Stephan Fry backed Hitch.  This makes me sad.  I've always thought that Fry was like Hitchens, but without the nasty bits(the alcoholism, the elitism, the atheistic fundamentalism) to find that he actually supported Chris the bastard, warts and all, is quite disturbing.

Anyway, Hitch is dead.  Fairwell you drunken prick. the world's better off without you.            

Sven Sven's picture

Catchfire wrote:

RIP. (*chortle*)

David Corn, of Mother Jones (and formerly of The Nation), wrote the following commentary following the death of Hitchens: "Here is how I came to hate Christopher Hitchens...."

Mr.Tea

I suppose I'm quite late to the thread but given that it's Christmas, I'm Jewish, and have nothing better to do, I'll share my one Hitchens story. I was going to University of Toronto and was on the debate team and we sponsored and evening with Hitchens. Hitchens showed up looking and smelling like he had passed out in a whiskey distillery but as soon as he took the stage, something clicked and he gave one of the most eloquent, off-the-cuff performances I'd ever witnessed. Afterwards, some of us from the committee had a private dinner with him. There was a lot of wine. Hitchens lit a cigarette, was told this wasn't allowed and launched into a lengthy diatribe about the fascism of smoking laws. They asked him to open a window and gave him a mug as an ashtray and he sat there with us until early in the morning, this famous writer with a bunch of undergrad kids, just talking all night, chain smoking cigarettes and drinking bottle after bottle of wine. Didn't agree with him on everything but he was quite a character and incredibly charming in person (unless you were the poor soul tasked with enforcing anti smoking rules).

ikosmos ikosmos's picture

I'm happy to report that I never heard him speak, or read anything by him, and, now that he's safely dead, I rather think that trend will continue. Merry Christmas!

 

6079_Smith_W

@ North Report

And then there's the arrogant know-it-all variety, of which Hitchens was one.

I don't think I'd call him dull.

 

NorthReport

Not bad.

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/dec/23/ian-jack-not-an-atheist

 

I don't believe in God, so why is it that I don't want to be labelled an atheist?

As a definition, atheism belongs to the same dull category as non-driver or ex-smoker; an inadequate guide to self

 

Gaian

Mr.Tea wrote:

I suppose I'm quite late to the thread but given that it's Christmas, I'm Jewish, and have nothing better to do, I'll share my one Hitchens story. I was going to University of Toronto and was on the debate team and we sponsored and evening with Hitchens. Hitchens showed up looking and smelling like he had passed out in a whiskey distillery but as soon as he took the stage, something clicked and he gave one of the most eloquent, off-the-cuff performances I'd ever witnessed. Afterwards, some of us from the committee had a private dinner with him. There was a lot of wine. Hitchens lit a cigarette, was told this wasn't allowed and launched into a lengthy diatribe about the fascism of smoking laws. They asked him to open a window and gave him a mug as an ashtray and he sat there with us until early in the morning, this famous writer with a bunch of undergrad kids, just talking all night, chain smoking cigarettes and drinking bottle after bottle of wine. Didn't agree with him on everything but he was quite a character and incredibly charming in person (unless you were the poor soul tasked with enforcing anti smoking rules).

That experience would have been sometime after the period when Robertson Davies was the master of Massey College and held forth from the raised area at the head of tables. The old bastard was seated beside a young reporter from the west who had been awarded a semester at U of T for his diligence in reporting. He spent an entire dinner being "talked around" as Davies conversed with the dinner guest on his other side. I expect the snottiness of '75 still infected the precincts in your time? It guaranteed that the Chicago School took over the moribund economics department without debate.

Mr.Tea

Oh, I was much, much later, when Davies had been long gone and buried. I was there late 90s/early 2000s

Slumberjack

CMOT Dibbler wrote:
I've always thought that Fry was like Hitchens, but without the nasty bits(the alcoholism, the elitism, the atheistic fundamentalism) to find that he actually supported Chris the bastard, warts and all, is quite disturbing. 

There's no such thing you know.  Essentially, the atheist argument says little more than 'for the umpteenth time, I don't believe in your invisible friends,,,and moreover, I don't have to even if you insist.'  Atheists are compelled to verbally assert their right not to have religion impose itself on their lives and the lives of their children; through the influence of religious lobbying, through public policy at all levels of government, etc.  We haven't yet taken to the forests with our machine guns. 

The nonsense you have going there however; is easily recognized as one of the talking points of christian fundamentalism.

Gaian

Mr.Tea wrote:

Oh, I was much, much later, when Davies had been long gone and buried. I was there late 90s/early 2000s

question: "I expect the snottiness of '75 still infected the precincts in your time? " Which was some time after one of my sociology-profs-to-be staged a sit-in at the president's office (68?) Anyway, the debating club must have had shit-disturbing in mind? Anything to disturb the dust?

6079_Smith_W

@ Slumberjack

Not to distract this conversation too much (though I fear it will)  atheistic fundamentalism may not exist. People who go on the offensive from an atheist position often use the argument that atheism isn't anything at all as a shield.

On the other hand, there is indeed such a thing as anti-religious fundamentalism. And it is this - using a literal interpretation of the bible, lathered up with the actions of some religious fundamentalists, as a way of smearing many religious people who never did use a literal interpretation.

Also, trotting out the biblical allegories of Eden, sodom and gommorah, and Abraham and Isaac, as an argument that because they are not historically true,  the moral aspects of the bible must not be either. It is a completely irrational argument.

IIf someone wants to debate the bible's misogynist and oppressive messages against its progressive ones that makes sense. But say that because dinosaurs existed none of it is relevant is not.

That is the kind of fundamentalism Hitchens and other practice.

 

Unionist

6079_Smith_W wrote:
People who go on the offensive from an atheist position often use the argument that atheism isn't anything at all as a shield.

Often? Give one example. I personally think religion (all of it) is nonsense, and I think atheism exists. I define it as opposition to the God stuff, not as "absence of theism" or something.

So - please - one example of opposition to religion that uses this so-called "shield" that "atheism isn't anything at all", please.

On the contrary, I have seen defenders of religion who are so full of themselves that they define everything as a religion. Including atheism. And science. I will not cite any examples of such fools, however.

Quote:
On the other hand, there is indeed such a thing as anti-religious fundamentalism.

Nonsense. The word "fundamentalism" is just an insult, hurled around with abandon at one's enemies. Anyone whose brand of religion one doesn't like can be branded a "fundamentalist". It's sort of like calling anyone who uses violence, and whom you don't like, a "terrorist". The use of the term "fundamentalism" has absolutely nothing to do with whether someone interprets some text literally or not. It's about as informative as calling someone an "asshole".

Quote:
... smearing many religious people who never did use a literal interpretation.

I know religious people who are intensely moral and who connect that with their faith. However, if a religious person says "I believe the Bible is the revealed word of God", they had better add: "Ummm, except for the bullshit that people who disrespect their parents shall be put to death", and so on - otherwise, they must not be heard to whine about not taking it literally. Either they abjure the shitty bits, or they wear them.

Quote:
Also, trotting out the biblical allegories of Eden, sodom and gommorah, and Abraham and Isaac, as an argument that because they are not historically true,  the moral aspects of the bible must not be either. It is a completely irrational argument.

There are very few moral aspects of the bible (at least the Old Testament - the New one does have a fair volume of touchy feely platitudes).

 

6079_Smith_W

Your first point: http://atheism.about.com/b/2007/06/11/atheism-is-not-a-belief-system-doe...

And perhaps the reason you haven't run into the argument is because you don't wind up arguing against these blowhards. I hear it all the time.

Your second poinr:

Fundamentalism isn't just a word bandied about. It has a definition, and this is it:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fundamentalism

Many anti religionists in Hitchens' school use a literal and dogmatic approach to smear many people who hold no such values.

And really, I don't think the supernatural aspect is that important, with the exception of the fact that some people base blind subservience on it. What is important is the dangerous moral arguments.

And perhaps we come away from the old testament with different messages, but I don't think we need to go off on that tangent.

 

Sven Sven's picture

All nicely said, as usual, Unionist.

With regard to:

Unionist wrote:

I know religious people who are intensely moral and who connect that with their faith. However, if a religious person says "I believe the Bible is the revealed word of God", they had better add: "Ummm, except for the bullshit that people who disrespect their parents shall be put to death", and so on - otherwise, they must not be heard to whine about not taking it literally. Either they abjure the shitty bits, or they wear them.

I am reminded of one of my favorite Bible verses (Exodus 22:18): "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live."

And what fair-minded person could argue with such wisdom as that?

 

6079_Smith_W

It's not necessarily a case of abjuring the shitty bits or wearing them. There is also realizing that it was a 2000-plus year old law book, so of course, it is going to have many things in it which have developed since then. But the fact remains that it is a foundation on which much of what we now accept was built.

And of course, a lot of it is just as relevent today as it was then.

 

Slumberjack

I don't know whether or not you're being insightful or ignorant, but just in case:

6079_Smith_W wrote:
It's not necessarily a case of abjuring the shitty bits or wearing them. There is also realizing that it was a 2000-plus year old law book, so of course, it is going to have many things in it which have developed since then.

It developed into something far more alarming during the dark ages - more for us in general because much of it is practiced and revealed in law today; the result of this era being situated historically closer to our own time, than our time in relation to all the other alarming things we've only read about and recited from antiquity, which were reported to have taken place by divine law.  You suggested as much in these examples:

Quote:
But the fact remains that it is a foundation on which much of what we now accept was built.

Quote:
And of course, a lot of it is just as relevent today as it was then.

And so it really is about everyone having to wear the shitty bits.

6079_Smith_W

Actually no, SJ. It's not about everyone having to wear the shitty bits, unless you are of the same opinion as Richard Dawkins, who thinks that even progressive believers are to blame. 

There was a bit more going on in the 1300s (the end of the dark age, actually) than the ascendance of the church of Rome. There were also the Cathars, who had a completely different conception of Christianity - so different and threatening that there was a centuries-long crusade devoted to wiping them out.

And of course there were the eastern churches, some of  which had nothing to do with European, or any other kind of imperialism, as well as the Irish church before it was taken over by Rome.

And while some of the faiths that came out of the protestant reformation were as oppressive as what they opposed, there were also anbaptists and other faiths who wanted nothing to do with earthly  power.

It's not that I don't think we all have to bear the responsibility of the things our culture has done. But it is a bit different to have people who had nothing to do with it, and others who struggled and died to resist oppression tarred with the same brush as their murderers.

And I haven't even mentioned the many other faiths that were involved in the history of those times.

 

 

DaveW

just what Hitchens would want: a blazing ideological/theological rumble on his obit thread;

in any case, after the multiple multiple accounts of his prodigious drinking before during and after every meal, the other constant life account is that he listened to people quite intently;

the only personal anecdote I have reminded me of Mr Tea's comment above: a friend was an intern at The Nation just as Hitchens was emerging as a star columnist there, and my friend recalls him having lengthy discussions, and taking a junior staffer's view very seriously, a sign of good character

6079_Smith_W

@ Dave W

Point taken, and I agree he was very interesting, committed, and good at what he did in many ways.

One of my most striking memories of him is on his interview with Jian Ghomeshi a few years back, The last question was what his greatest joy was.

He replied that it was to win arguments against people and make them wish they had not challenged him.

Goes to show that most of us have two sides.

And I don't think it's a real Hitchens-style rumble until someone starts yelling shame on you.

 

 

 

Gaian

You raised a fine point with this, 6079:"It's not that I don't think we all have to bear the responsibility of the things our culture has done. But it is a bit different to have people who had nothing to do with it, and others who struggled and died to resist oppression tarred with the same brush as their murderers."

Aye, that's the rub.But I think that's where the man shone, his extensive reading put him head and shoulders above his opponents in being able to play the nuances against them. He knew more.

Michelle

Gaian, that's a really interesting bit you wrote about Robertson Davies!  Were you, by any chance, the young reporter?  Or were you at the table?

I used to love Davies' books in my late teens and early 20's.  I re-read them all many times.  I haven't read them in a long time, though.  I don't know if I would enjoy them in the same way I did then - maybe I should read them again sometime and find out.  I think I was more easily able to put my feminism on the shelf then during story time, and I was pretty ignorant about any but the most blatant types of racism then, and probably classism too.  And my politics weren't overly-well defined then either, although I'd say they were vaguely progressive-leaning.  I could probably forgive it, though, because his writing is so good, and so funny in places.  His satirical bits are incredible!

But then, I still love L.M. Montgomery's books, despite that they were often infected with colonialist racism and certainly classism, although there was a certain amount of first-wave privileged feminist leanings in it, certainly without being called that in any way.  Somehow it's easier to overlook that sort of thing in a turn of the century author, though, than it is in an over-privileged, snobby, mid-to-late 20th century Toronto-based author.

Anyhow, this is totally off topic.  Sorry folks.  Just really enjoyed that anecdote!

Slumberjack

darn..quote instead of edit...

Slumberjack

Unionist wrote:
Often? Give one example. I personally think religion (all of it) is nonsense, and I think atheism exists. I define it as opposition to the God stuff, not as "absence of theism" or something.

So - please - one example of opposition to religion that uses this so-called "shield" that "atheism isn't anything at all", please.

Suggesting today, and at long last [unlike in past times when Christianity in the western context was the code by which nearly everyone was expected to configure their entire lives around, under pain of death in countless instances, or later as more refined methods were introduced, social ostracization being only one price for sceptical disobedience] that it would be better for all of us if such absurdities were 'hidden from sight...'practice if private as you wish'....but remove all influence from our public offices,' and having the suggestion described as a shield; only outlines the extent of our problem by making everything appear nearly as eternal to what they've been proposing all along.

Quote:
The word "fundamentalism" is just an insult, hurled around with abandon at one's enemies.

To find a device of the Christian Right employed where you'd least expect, and to recognize the same technique applied against every progressive struggle...everything has a fundamental quality to it nowadays.  It's quite striking in it's simplicity and effectiveness.

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