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RIP to the contrarian’s contrarian (and a true role model)

A friend of theirs once took Christopher Hitchens and his wife Carol Blue to dinner at Palm Beach’s Everglades Club, notorious for its exclusion of Jews.

“You will behave, won’t you?” Carol anxiously asked Christopher on the way into the club. No dice. When the headwaiter approached, Christopher demanded: “Do you have a kosher menu?”

Christopher Hitchens was the rarest of birds — a consistent contrarian. If only we had more.

Hitchens did his part, and then some.

People who think with their epidermis or their genitalia or their clan are the problem to begin with. One does not banish this specter by invoking it. If I would not vote against someone on the grounds of “race” or “gender” alone, then by the exact same token I would not cast a vote in his or her favor for the identical reason. (source)

On the Danish cartoon controversy:

The satire was wildly successful, in that it resulted in hysterical Muslims making public idols out of images they had proclaimed to be unshowable lest they became idols. …

Anyway, last week, almost every Danish newspaper made a deliberate decision to reprint the offending cartoons. Perhaps, if you live in most of the countries where this column of mine is syndicated or reprinted, you wonder what all the fuss can have been about. Certainly, if you live in the United States or Britain, you will be wondering still. This is because your newspapers have decided for you that you must be shielded from the unpalatable truth. Or can it really be that? We live in the defining age of the image and the picture; how can it be that the whole point of an entirely visual story can be deliberately left out?

On the Clintons

“They all do it” means, in this circle, “We all do it.” But the apologist won’t concede this consciously or honestly. Faced with the task of explaining the Clinton pardons, including one to Marc Rich, Sidney Blumenthal, a former senior Clinton adviser, immediately responds, in The Clinton Wars, that Richard Nixon pardoned Jimmy Hoffa; and as for the $190,000 in gifts accumulated by the Clintons, it was “roughly the same amount as the preceding Bushes had accepted.” Since he elsewhere accuses the Republican Party of being essentially lawless and segregationist, he might admit that he’s setting himself a low standard. But he doesn’t get the joke.

On intellectual apologists:

There isn’t a day goes by without the brutal slaughter of Muslims in both countries by al-Qaida or the Taliban. And that’s not just because most (though not all) civilians in both countries happen to be of the Islamic faith. The terrorists do not pause before deliberately blowing up the mosques and religious processions of those whose Muslim beliefs they deem insufficiently devout. Most of those now being tortured and raped and executed by the Islamic Republic of Iran are Muslim. All the women being scarred with acid and threatened with murder for the crime of going to school in Pakistan are Muslim. Many of those killed in London, Madrid, and New York were Muslim, and almost all the victims callously destroyed in similar atrocities in Istanbul, Cairo, Casablanca, and Algiers in the recent past were Muslim, too. It takes a true intellectual to survey this appalling picture and to say, as Wright does, that we invite attacks on our off-duty soldiers because “the hawkish war-on-terrorism strategy—a global anti-jihad that creates nonstop imagery of Americans killing Muslims—is so dubious.” Dubious? The only thing dubious here is his command of language. When did the U.S. Army ever do what the jihadists do every day: deliberately murder Muslim civilians and brag on video about the fact? For shame. The slippery slope—actually the slimy slope—is the one down which Wright is skidding.

(re: Noam Chomsky)

In short, we do not know who organized the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, or any other related assaults, though it would be a credulous fool who swallowed the (unsupported) word of Osama Bin Laden that his group was the one responsible. An attempt to kidnap or murder an ex-president of the United States (and presumably, by extension, the sitting one) would be as legally justified as the hit on Abbottabad. And America is an incarnation of the Third Reich that doesn’t even conceal its genocidal methods and aspirations. This is the sum total of what has been learned, by the guru of the left, in the last decade.

On (in)tolerance:

Emboldened by the crass nature of the opposition to the center, its defenders have started to talk as if it represented no problem at all and as if the question were solely one of religious tolerance. It would be nice if this were true. But tolerance is one of the first and most awkward questions raised by any examination of Islamism. We are wrong to talk as if the only subject was that of terrorism. As Western Europe has already found to its cost, local Muslim leaders have a habit, once they feel strong enough, of making demands of the most intolerant kind. Sometimes it will be calls for censorship of anything “offensive” to Islam. Sometimes it will be demands for sexual segregation in schools and swimming pools. The script is becoming a very familiar one. And those who make such demands are of course usually quite careful to avoid any association with violence. They merely hint that, if their demands are not taken seriously, there just might be a teeny smidgeon of violence from some other unnamed quarter …

On religion in politics:

I ask you now, does it seem likely that any article of the U.S. Constitution was specially written so that you could not publicly and freely and fearlessly say that you would most decidedly not vote for:

*A candidate who followed the “Rev.” Jim Jones to a Kool-Aid resort in Guyana (don’t forget that this did actually happen)

*A candidate who said that the pope could excommunicate other American candidates with whom he disagreed

*A candidate who said that the above-mentioned pope was the Antichrist

*A candidate who said that L. Ron Hubbard was a visionary

*A candidate who said that Joseph Smith was a visionary

*A candidate who said that any holy book was scripturally inerrant

*A candidate who was a member of Hezbollah or the Muslim Brotherhood or the Nation of Islam

*A candidate who was a supporter or member of Lehi or the Jewish Defense League

*A candidate who was a member of the Aryan Nations, the KKK, or any other white Protestant “Christian Identity” faction

*A candidate who said that the Quran was dictated by the archangel Gabriel

On China:

Those who care or purport to care about human rights must start to discuss this problem in plain words. Is there an initiative to save the un-massacred remains of the people of Darfur? It will be met by a Chinese veto. Does anyone care about Robert Mugabe treating his desperate population as if it belonged to him personally? China is always ready to help him out. Are the North Koreans starved and isolated so that a demented playboy can posture with nuclear weapons? Beijing will give the demented playboy a guarantee. How long can Southeast Asia bear the shame and misery of the Burmese junta? As long as the embrace of China persists. The identity of Tibet is being obliterated by the deliberate importation of Chinese settlers. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a man who claims even to know and determine the sex lives of his serfs (by the way, the very essence of totalitarianism), is armed and financed by China.

To say Christopher Hitchens will be missed is the understatement of 2011.

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