Death of a Madman

May 2, 2011

What Obama does next will help define the legacy of Osama Bin Laden.
By Christopher Hitchens

"There are several pleasant little towns like Abbottabad in Pakistan, strung out along the roads that lead toward the mountains from Rawalpindi (the garrison town of Pakistani's military brass and, until 2003, a safe-house for Khalid Sheik Muhammed). Muzaffarabad, Abbottabad … cool in summer and winter, with majestic views and discreet amenities."

Read More (Slate)


James said...

Engaging and formidable? It's perfectly fine that you want to hoist him up to that level, but I'd argue against it. He's a *journalist*.

That was snark.

Go read the link again. I've more than supported the idea that he's a thinker and intellectual (two things he admits aspiring to in the article).

You called me on points, I supported my case, and still you're here crusading against fanboyism. Have fun with that.

Gtasg71 said...

Hitch as a mouth piece for the neo cons is one of the most absurd ideas iv read in a long time. Liberalism isnt a religion,and no one can "threaten" it. Having come from the right, I find it amusing how many on the left behave with the same "stick to the script" attitude.

Brendan James said...


That's perfectly fine that you choose hoist him up to that level—with approval from magazine polls that Hitch called absurd (in the very link that you've posted!)—and I'd like to stress that I'm not trying to take him down a peg, in any way. I'm simply arguing against these doses of beatification via terms like 'giant' and 'thinker.' He's a *journalist.*

Of course I don't give a shit if someone *calls* me a fanboy, but I would never want to *be* a fanboy. I prefer to read critically, especially if I'm reading someone as engaging and formidable as CH.

Couldn't tell if your 'congrats' was an attempt at snark or not (if it was, it was a sorry one). Regardless, I mentioned our acquaintance simply to make the point that I've spoken to the guy himself about this issue.

James said...

And one more, if these comments will accept a link - Hitchens on how to be a public intellectual:

James said...

Congrats on your acquaintance. Hitchens is a socio-political thinker. He was voted among the top 100 public intellectuals in both polls taken by Prospect and Foreign Policy in 2005 and 2008.

You don't have to be a philosopher to be a thinker, and while you can argue "giant", Hitchens' status as an intellectual is widely accepted, whether he or you like it.

And who gives a flip if someone calls you a fanboy?

Brendan James said...

As a serious admirer and slight acquaintance of the Hitch, I have to say how tired I
am of people referring to him as a 'thinker' or 'intellectual giant.' He is
not, and has never claimed to be, either of those things. Come on—there are
people out there who are doing groundbreaking work in experimental philosophy,
physics, astronomy, etc. Let’s give *them* the proper title of

Hitch is a
superb writer. A magnificent essayist, polemicist, columnist. One of our best.
But he is not a John Rawls or a Richard Rorty. He is not unraveling questions
of human life. I think that's worth pointing out in order to both avoid
fanboyism and give Hitch his due credit.

Brendan James said...

I'm a serious admirer and slight acquiantance of the Hitch, but I am really tired myself of this

James said...

I don't find Hitchens threatening to my liberalism in the least. I think we need more questioners in this world, and I welcome his output even when I disagree with him. The guy is a pleasure to read.

Jeff Morris said...

I decided two years ago that I could primarily be a Hitchens consumer OR primarily a liberal. I could not be both. I'm satisfied with my decision, and here I am.

James said...

Most Hitch haters are upset with him either for his perceived betrayal of a friend (and the left) during the Monica Lewinski scandal or his support for Bush's war in Iraq. They find all sorts of things about him objectionable these days, but it's one of those two that set them off initially. Many of the angriest among them used to be Hitch admirers, and they feel betrayed that such an eloquent advocate of liberal policy would turn on them. They view Hitchens not as a thinker unrestrained by imaginary political labels, but a turncoat - an unprincipled mouthpiece for the neo-cons. Everything about him seems to be fair game to them, and nothing he says is to rest unchallenged. I wouldn't mind their criticisms if they weren't so often filled with clumsy hyperbole and utterly lacking in self awareness.

A few seem irritated that they themselves are not celebrated as intellectual giants, and go to great lengths to demonstrate their talent, or lack thereof.

Spiny said...

A bit off topic but has anybody noticed the caliber of most of the comments on Hitchen's Slate articles? At least half of them are pretty much just calling Hitchens a Neo-Con shill or some other sort of puppet. I don't see why. Even on this article which is as far as controversial as you can get (pretty much OBL was an evil man who stupidly brought on the wrath of nations with his attacks), there's all sorts of stuff that seems to be people just desperate to take Hitchens down a peg. Any comments on or ideas why?

John said...

But would it not have been much more deeply satisfying to have captured him and brought him to trial? Back when Israel had a backbone and a soul, that's what happened with Eichmann... that would have made me stand up and applaud. As it is, in the mind of his followers, Bin Laden is lying with 72 virgins right now...

Rutiwot said...

Good to hear from you, Hitch!

Robinho said...

The turnaround time for this article is quite heartening.


Christopher reads from Hitch-22: A Memoir