I‘m not surprised that Christopher Hitchens, the village atheist, is now advocating genocide. His recent speech to a conference of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, in Madison, Wisc. a portion of which can be seen here dramatizes the completion of his evolution from a trendy leftist of the Trotskyist variety into a full-fledged, foaming-at-the-mouth neocon, whose homicidal tendencies have crystallized into a program, as he says in his talk, to “demolish” not only Iran but all religion everywhere.
Because, you see, it’s not okay to be religious; it makes you, in Hitchens’ book, a “positively wicked” person, and this necessarily involves “coercion” so it’s a war to the death. To his “credit,” Hitchens doesn’t discriminate: all religions come in for a vicious and quite emotional assault including one riff on the evils of Judaism, which, I’m sure, will have Abe Foxman up in arms but, not unexpectedly, he displays a particular animus for Islam. The portions of his speech posted on YouTube omit the more reprehensible pronouncements, but we have this account by Professor P.Z. Myers of the University of Michigan at Morris, which tells us all we need to know:
“It was Hitchens at his most bellicose. He told us what the most serious threat to the West was (and you know this line already): it was Islam. Then he accused the audience of being soft on Islam, of being the kind of vague atheists who refuse to see the threat for what it was, a clash of civilizations, and of being too weak to do what was necessary, which was to spill blood to defeat the enemy. Along the way he told us who his choice for president was right now Rudy Giuliani and that Obama was a fool, Clinton was a pandering closet fundamentalist, and that he was less than thrilled about all the support among the FFRF for the Democratic party. We cannot afford to allow the Iranian theocracy to arm itself with nuclear weapons (something I entirely sympathize with), and that the only solution is to go in there with bombs and marines and blow it all up. The way to win the war is to kill so many Moslems that they begin to question whether they can bear the mounting casualties .
“This was made even more clear in the Q&A. He was asked to consider the possibility that bombing and killing was only going to accomplish an increase in the number of people opposing us. Hitchens accused the questioner of being incredibly stupid (the question was not well-phrased, I’ll agree, but it was clear what he meant), and said that it was obvious that every Moslem you kill means there is one less Moslem to fight you which is only true if you assume that every Moslem already wants to kill Americans and is armed and willing to do so.
“Basically, what Hitchens was proposing is genocide. Or, at least, wholesale execution of the population of the Moslem world until they are sufficiently cowed and frightened and depleted that they are unable to resist us in any way, ever again.”
Myers says Hitchens wasn’t noticeably drunk, so he doesn’t have his usual excuse for inexcusable behavior, such as in this previous instance. In any event, such antics are the logical extension of his increasingly warlike thought. This ex-Trotskyist, whose support for militant secularism led him to idolize the founder and first commander of the Red Army, has gone so over the top with his crusade against all religion that he has come to advocate wiping out entire populations. “Demolish it!” he said, when asked about Iran with apparently no more moral compunctions about the slaughter of the innocent than one might normally exhibit toward a swarm of midges.
Myers is right: Hitchens is advocating genocide. Now, what we normally do with such people, in these sorts of situations, is isolate them: they are, after all, sick, and, furthermore, as history has shown, their sickness is sometimes very contagious.
I’m not advocating banning this sort of speech: he has the right to express his views, physically unmolested. That doesn’t mean, however, that we are obliged to give him a forum.
After all, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, or any other respectable organization, would not invite a Nazi or some other proponent of mass murder to speak at their conference. There is a taboo against having any association with those who deny the Holocaust, and a similar outcry against deniers of the Armenian genocide has been in the news lately. Why, then, are we so lenient with the advocates of a new genocide, one perpetrated against the inhabitants of the Middle East?
It’s well known that an upper-class British accent allows the speaker to get away with practically anything, but, really, there is or ought to be a limit to our tolerance, and in this case such a loud proclamation of the desire to kill large numbers of people ought to motivate us to crack down on this sort of thing once and for all.
For all his charm and genuinely likable public persona, bad boy Hitchens needs to be taught a lesson, and this means ostracism: no organization that wants its reputation to remain unsullied ought to be inviting him to speak anywhere, on any subject, even if he offers to do it for free. No television station should solicit his appearance, no radio station should entertain its listeners with his ranting in short, no decent person should have anything to do with him, period. Send him to intellectual and social Coventry, where he can commune with his fellow rogues and miscreants, and do as little harm as possible.
I hasten to add that Hitchens isn’t alone in his genocidal jihad: the Objectivists, the latter-day followers of Ayn Rand, also advocate dropping nuclear bombs on Iran and any number of Arab countries, on the grounds of “self-defense.” They, too, are militant atheists, ideologues of a secularist creed based on their rather distorted interpretation of what Rand believed. Although I am not religious, I’m acutely aware of the dangers posed by radical secularists in the course of modern history, and the death of communism has left people like Hitchens still itching for Armageddon, the final showdown between the forces of Modernity (represented by his fat, smug self), and the forces of medieval Reaction (represented by Iran, or the Muslim enemy of the moment).
Hitchens is quite clearly marketing himself as a contemporary Robert Ingersoll, the spokesman for atheism and secularism in the English-speaking world, although, clearly, looking at the bestseller list, he has a lot of competition for that title. If someone with that kind of a public platform should use his status to spread and popularize the suggestion that it’s a good idea to kill off the world’s Muslims, then we, as a society, are poisoned by his prominence. Decent people cannot allow it.
Of course, television producers and radio talk show hosts will continue to book Hitchens, and publishers will no doubt continue to buy the rights to his written works: Vanity Fair will continue to employ him as a regular columnist, in spite of his increasingly indefensible views. But he’s endangered all that and no longer deserves a platform: he’s just begging to be treated like Don Imus who, at least, was immediately and properly remorseful, quite unlike Hitchens.
At the Freedom From Religion conference, he was given the “emperor has no clothes” award for supposedly being a daring “freethinker,” but the truth is that it is Hitchens who most resembles the emperor in that little parable. No one dares to say what everyone knows to be true: he’s gone ’round the bend and over the top, and it’s high time someone said so.
It’s bad enough, as one wag pointed out I think it was in Radar magazine that all of the most prominent pundits who were the loudest voices in favor of the Iraq war have not suffered one whit for being so wrong: indeed, they have been rewarded with even more pulpits from which to preach their doctrine of perpetual war in the Middle East. So Hitchens isn’t all that unique, in that sense, although his case is singular in one important respect: none of the neocons, not even the bloodthirsty Max Boot, has come out openly in favor of wiping out large numbers of Muslims by design. The implication is always there, of course: after all, what else can we expect if we invade Iran, Lebanon, Syria, and Pakistan but large numbers of civilian dead? Hitchens, however, is the first one to plainly state that this ought to be one of our war aims: mass extermination as a deliberate policy, not the unfortunate result of “collateral damage.”
So the next time you see this advocate of genocide on television, or hear him bloviating over the radio, take the trouble to write the station a note, expressing your displeasure that they would give Hitchens a platform. Would they have an advocate of the Khmer Rouge on as a guest? The next time he shows up at your university, you might show your displeasure in many ways, least of all being an inquiry into the expenditure of public funds to bring a well-known genocidal maniac to the campus. Who’s next on the list of guest speakers Charles Manson?
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
Speaking of Hitchens, there is another interesting piece on him by Richard Poe over at Taki’s Top Drawer. And speaking of TTD, I’ve been blogging regularly over there: on David Horowitz getting caught in another lie, on how to take a look at Israel’s WMD, and on what Wesley Clark is telling us about Washington’s regime-change schedule.