Iconic journalist and author Christopher Hitchens has passed away. After 9/11, former "trotskyist" Hitchens became an apologist for cancerous, imperialist wars of aggression and a rabble rouser for an Israelocentric War on Islam. In this provocative article written over one year ago, Joshua Blakeney dissects the nefarious role of writers and intellectuals like Hitchens in contemporary society. Less of them are needed, not more!
- Christopher Hitchens, contributing editor of Vanity Fair, died on 15 December 2011 at the age of 62.
On June 30, Vanity Fair journalist Christopher Hitchens posted on the magazine’s website that he has cancer of the esophagus. As I was contemplating this revelation, I couldn’t help feeling that the neoconservative armchair warrior was getting his just desserts.
Hitchens has, in recent years, become an ignominious cheerleader for wars of aggression that have led to the wide dissemination of depleted uranium weapons.
Because of such weapons, cancer-rates among the populations of Afghanistan, Iraq and Gaza have ballooned.
A recent epidemiological study showed that the Iraqi city of Fallujah is experiencing higher rates of infant mortality, cancer and leukemia than was observed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the atomic bombings of 1945. 
The prospect of Hitchens having to cancel engagements at a time when an Israeli-American assault on Iran seems imminent is positive for humanity, I argue, because it deprives the war propaganda machine of one of its most erudite apologists.
Celebrating and exploiting somebody’s sickness, weakness or even death is something Hitchens often does himself, so I feel that I have licence to say that his illness is a boon for humanity.
Gore Vidal, Mother Teresa, Edward Said, Cindy Sheehan—all of them have been kicked by Hitchens either when they were at their lowest or on their deathbeds. As Hitchens’ ex-friend Alexander Cockburn wrote:
“My sympathies were always with Mother Teresa. If you were sitting in rags in a gutter in Mumbai, who would be more likely to give you a bowl of soup?... one more particularly despicable piece of opportunism on Hitchens’ part…[was] his decision to attack Edward Said just before his death [from cancer], and then for good measure again in his obituary.”
In an excellent refutation of Hitchens’ unsubstantiated slurs against Vidal, University of Sussex political scientist Nafeez Ahmed states: “Gore Vidal is now 85, has lost the use of his legs, and lost his partner of 50 years… Hitchens’ approach, however, is to kick an old man when he’s down, rather than to engage critically and constructively with what his [Vidal’s] still sharp mind has learned.”
The right wing, though, didn’t escape the Vanity Fair polemicist.
On May 17, 2007, Hitchens was interviewed by Fox News and by CNN about the death of the Christian fundamentalist Jerry Falwell, who had died two days previously.
Hitchens used them to celebrate the death of the extremist preacher: “It is a shame that there isn’t a hell for him to go to.” Hitchens legitimately asserted: “We have been rid of an extremely dangerous demagogue who lived by hatred of others and prejudice.”
Hitchens accused Falwell of “fawning on the worst elements in Israel…encouraging the most extreme…fanatics and maniacs on the West Bank and in Gaza not to give an inch to those who already live there… In the most base and hypocritical way [Falwell] encouraged the worst elements among Jewry…[and] ruined the chances for peace in the Middle East.”
Although Hitchens’s observations about Falwell’s legacy seem indisputable, the irony is that, in his self-anointed role as defender of secular, enlightened values, Hitchens is guilty of many, if not all, of the crimes and blunders he volubly attributed to the theocratic warmonger.
One of Hitchens’ most irritating flaws is his ambivalence, and at times hostility, towards facts or truths that stand to refute his empty rhetoric. He has employed two chimeras as weapons against truth since 9/11, the moment when he morphed from a “Trotskyite” into a Bush-supporting neoconservative.
The first is the implausible official story of 9/11.
Hitchens virulently opposes any discussion of about what really happened on Sept. 11, 2001. Of Vidal’s patently tepid “let it happen on purpose” comments, Hitchens retorted that Vidal had “descended straight to cheap, and even to the counterfeit,” prescribing to “crank-revisionist and denialist history.”
In concluding his lustrous defense of Vidal, Nafeez Ahmed wrote: “It is Hitchens, not the indefatigable Gore Vidal, who staggers and stumbles, shamelessly exposed, screaming nonsensically, through the streets of the American capital.”
Without the implausible and wholly debunked official explanation of 9/11—in particular the notion that the highly sophisticated explosions of the WTC towers were planned, funded, and executed by autonomous Islamic fundamentalists—Hitchens’ already tenuous defenses of the 9/11 wars would be bereft of any legitimacy.
It would not be inaccurate to characterize Hitchens as a “conspiracy entrepreneur,” a term coined by University of Chicago law professor Cass Sunstein for people who profit directly or indirectly from propagating their theories: “Some conspiracy entrepreneurs are entirely sincere; others are interested in money or power, or in achieving some general social goal.”
Hitchens has indeed used the implausible official conspiracy theory about 9/11 to advance his career and spread the ludicrous contention that the whole world is under siege from Islamic theocratic megalomaniacs.
Second, Hitchens’ worldview rests to a large extent on his willingness to condemn as “anti-Semitic” those who dispute his debased contentions.
- Hitchens’s oath of U.S. citizenship was administered by former Department of Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff (left) at the Jefferson Memorial in 2007. After September 11, “I began to feel really protective of the United States,” he told C-SPAN. “If I’m going to stand up and say that I think that we ought to be sending our armed forces overseas, I think I probably should be someone who could, in the last resort at least, be called upon to do so.”
In an April 26, 2009, C-Span interview, Hitchens even said his motivation for taking U.S. citizenship stemmed from the fact that after 9/11 people would say “‘the American Jews or the Israeli Jews’ blew up the World Trade Centre.”
Rather than refute scholars like James Petras, Stephen Sniegosky, Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, who have written peer-reviewed books defending the “for Israel” thesis, Hitchens employs anecdotal, ad hominem, irrelevant cant to confuse criticism of the Zionist Lobby with anti-Semitism.
As he wrote in his book A Long Short War: The Postponed Liberation of Iraq: “The fact that many neoconservative régime changers have Jewish names is…how shall I put this…loaded. Some people take a ridiculously long time to pronounce the word “Jew” and others linger for what seems to me an unnecessarily long time to utter the name Wolfowitz.” (p. 7)
Blaming “the Jews” generically for anything is intellectually disrespectful and highly ethnocentric, yet other than from Hitchens and his friends at Fox News, I have seldom come across anyone who mentions, let alone propagates such a theory. It is, however, an irrefutable fact that a number of Mossad agents—representatives of the State of Israel not ‘the Jews’—were arrested in the New Jersey area after they were seen celebrating the 9/11 attacks. Some of these agents two months later claimed on live Israeli TV that they had been sent to “document” the event,” which leads to many unanswered questions regarding Israeli involvement.
In addition, The New York Times revealed that one of the alleged 9/11 hijackers Ziad al-Jarrah was the cousin of an Israeli spy.
As University of Lethbridge professor Anthony J. Hall puts it: “If I’m inaccurate on the issues of Israeli spies inside the United States prior to 9/11, then so are the reports I have been reading about it in many mainstream media venues including those of Die Zeit, Der Spiegel, Le Monde, Counterpunch, Intelligence.online, BBC, Fox News, the Sunday Herald in Scotland and the Sunday Telegraph in Great Britain to mention only a few… Are the sources I have read to be scorched from the record in a book-burning campaign of information cleansing?”
Anyone who reads Hitchens or watches his speeches online should note the incessant allegations of anti-Semitism against those who oppose illegal wars of aggression or who, for that matter, have the temerity to dispute his demagoguery regarding the threats posed by Islamic theocrats.
Hitchens slandered Cindy Sheehan, who lost a son in the war he promoted, for daring to criticize Israel. Cockburn commented: “[Hitchens] knows perfectly well the role Israel plays in U.S. policy but… does not scruple to flail Cindy Sheehan as a LaRouchie and anti-Semite because, maybe, she dared mention the word Israel.”
If anything, Hitchens’s disingenuous rhetoric lends credence to the “for Israel” argument that he denounces without evidence. If everyone who opposes the 9/11 wars is anti-Semitic, doesn’t that imply that the protagonists of these illegal wars are predominantly Jewish? Furthermore, when Hitchens professes that he “devoutly hopes that it’s true” that the 9/11 wars will facilitate a “domino effect from the collapse of Saddam Hussein, extending through Iran and Syria and Saudi Arabia," it seems reasonable to ask: “What’s his motivation if not to promote the Sharon Doctrine of destabilizing the Middle East to weaken Israel’s enemies?” (A Long Short War, 21)
Hitchens’ pro-war stances have often converged with the wishes of the Israeli far right, a group that can easily be described as being “the worst elements among Jewry” because they reject the liberal-secular Jewish tradition in favor of a reactionary, ethnic nationalism that has traditionally been the bane of most Jews.
It cannot be entirely coincidental that the Likudnik rightists, whom Hitchens attempts to exculpate for bringing the world to war, share his opinions on the direction humanity should head in; namely, unilateral war against the Islamic world.
For example, Hitchens echoes the Likudnik myth that Iran is seeking to acquire nukes, thus justifying violent intervention to ensure a non-nuclear Iran. When the CIA claimed not to have found credible evidence that Iran posed a threat to U.S. interests Hitchens authored an article entitled “Abolish the CIA.”
Like the Israeli right, Hitchens invokes international law selectively.
He became enraged when the likes of Saddam Hussein “violated the Genocide Convention on their own territory, invaded neighboring states…[and] sought and nearly acquired nuclear weapons,” (A Long Short War, p. 9) Yet when Israel commits exactly the same crimes, Hitchens is not only forgiving, but actually quotes an Israeli military spokesman’s unreliable pledge that Israel won’t be the second to use nuclear weapons.
- Former MI-5 whistle blower, activist and author interviewed by Jack Etkin on Canadian television, discusses the 1994 bombing of Israeli Embassy in London: "The senior MI-5 officer in charge of the investigation reckoned that the Mossad had bombed its own Embassy."
We also know that representatives of the Zionist movement and the State of Israel have been identified as organizers of false-flag terrorist operations. These have included blowing-up Jewish cultural sites in Iraq in the 1940s and ’50s to coerce Iraqi Jews to go to Palestine, and the 1994 bombing of the Israeli embassy in London to “shatter” a fast-growing Palestinian support network.
On Planet Hitchens, international law can be applied to Henry Kissinger and the Pope, but not to George Bush or Benjamin Netanyahu. The Geneva Convention applies to Saddam Hussein, Hamas and to Iran, but not to Israel, Britain or the U.S.—regimes that actually possess nuclear weapons and, as in Israel’s case, have been willing to share such technology with rogue states like Apartheid South Africa.
The war machine has benefited significantly from Hitchens’ defense of “the war on terror,” cloaked in the mantle of secularism and the enlightenment. Much secular, progressive energy has been wastefully channeled into naïve support for 9/11 wars, thanks to the mantra of “defending the rights of Islamic women” and ‘fighting theocracy.”
With a war against Iran in our midst very likely, having one of the most malignant and cancerous propagandists demobilized from the war machine is something to be celebrated.
It is fair to say that if cancer is good enough for babies in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and soon Iran, then it is good enough for the man George Galloway accurately described as a “bloated, drink-soaked, former-Trotskyite, popinjay.”
Face to Face with Joshua Blakeney: The Origins of The War On Terror