Hitchens, Obama, the War in Iraq and Dave Chappelle Satire

25 03 2008

With the 5th anniversary of the disastrous invasion of Iraq still hanging in the air, Christopher Hitchens in a piece entitled “Blind Faith” claims Barack Obama delivered opportunistic and politically calculating speech race to deflect attention away from Rev. Wright controversy.

In his piece, Hitchens, who usually is a probing writer, neither engaged in a substantive examination of the speech nor did he prove that Obama’s views were in any way identical to those of Rev. Wright’s. Instead the British contrarian registered his disgust with Obama’s reference to his own grandmother to illustrate the subtle interplay between public expressions of vitriol and private utterances of intolerance.

You often hear it said, of some political or other opportunist, that he would sell his own grandmother if it would suit his interests. But you seldom, if ever, see this notorious transaction actually being performed, which is why I am slightly surprised that Obama got away with it so easily. (Yet why do I say I am surprised? He still gets away with absolutely everything.)

Hitchens has never been known to minced words. But he has been one known to misread events as they unfold, such as the war in Iraq, but more on that later. In this instance he is so caught up in his own self-righteousness that he fails to acknowledge the immense risk Obama took and is still bearing in his campaign by not denouncing both Rev. Wright and his controversial remarks. To say that Obama threw his grandmother under the bus for sheer opportunistic gain is to diminish the larger point regarding the very visceral nature of racial prejudice in the America experience. It also fails to acknowledge that Obama indeed took the more difficult route in in giving a nuanced speech that will almost certainly be used against him by soundbite by soundbite.

But Hitchens main beef is not with Obama per se. It’s with religious leaders and religion itself. The author of such awe inspiring works as God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything and scornful attacks on Mother Teresa asked his readers yesterday, “Is it conceivable that such repellent dolts would be allowed into public life if they were not in tax-free clerical garb? How true it is that religion poisons everything.”

A cheap and unsophisticated squawk like that does not merit a response.

But, interestingly enough, while he railed against Obama for giving a speech in bad faith, Hitchens has yet to come clean for his support for a real dangerous enterprise, namely the war in Iraq, perpetuated by a far more powerful “dolt,” namely President George W. Bush. Five years later, despite the flawed war planning, the strategic blunders made along the way, and the thousands of dead Americans and Iraqis, Hitchens is still intent on pushing the notion that invading was a good idea, its just that White House screwed it all up.

As recently as last Monday, Hitchens wrote in Slate:

The past years have seen us both shamed and threatened by the implications of the Berkeleyan attitude, from Burma to Rwanda to Darfur. Had we decided to attempt the right thing in those cases (you will notice that I say “attempt” rather than “do,” which cannot be known in advance), we could as glibly have been accused of embarking on “a war of choice.” But the thing to remember about Iraq is that all or most choice had already been forfeited. We were already deeply involved in the life-and-death struggle of that country, and March 2003 happens to mark the only time that we ever decided to intervene, after a protracted and open public debate, on the right side and for the right reasons.

Spoken like a true believer. Only someone of Hitchens’ outsized sense of piety could blur the differences between a war of choice and the responsibility to protect the actual victims of a genocidal campaign. And at the same time, he conveniently ignores the fact that the sanctions were working, since they weaken Sadaam’s military and forced him to accept weapons inspectors. History did create the war in Iraq, people in the White House did.

Hitchens also astonishingly suggests with the full confidence of a confused Hegalian that the American invasion of Iraq was an inevitable outcome of its involvement with that country’s affairs. Again, that formulation nearly absolves the Bush administration of all responsibility.

More importantly, it is appalling to hear Hitchens castigate clergy men, many of whom opposed the war, while he asserts his own blind faith in asserting that the war was waged “on the right side and for the right reasons” despite so much evidence to the contrary.

At times moments like these, I think only satire can convey the sheer absurdity of some of the pro-war arguments. And in spirit, I present to you Dave Chappelle’s skit spoofing the variety of preposterous justifications used by the Bush White House in the run up to the war in Iraq.





3 responses

26 03 2008
wells fargo ceo wants some too

[…] another post via kut (at least watch the […]

27 03 2008

“Pray to God he don’t drop that cake.” haha.

Kut, a second look at the equally worthy Colbert satire is a must as well.

I remember having a conversation with you in 2003 about Hitchens’ support for the war and his belief that it would lead to Kurdish independence. Any thoughts on his take on that now?

28 03 2008

That’s a good question. I might have to do a post on that in the near future.

If you are interested, check out Hitchens piece on spending his X-mas holiday break in Kurdistan in 2006.


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