01 March 2009

Crazy Courage

From an eyewitness comes this report of a recent exploit of Christopher Hitchens in Lebanon. The great contrarian wanted to show his disdain for the "Syrian Social Nationalist Party," which has a swastika-like logo, so he defaced one of their posters within view of a small gang of partisan thugs, and then paid a modest physical price for his bravado. You have to give Hitchens some credit for bravery, but there was something juvenile about his gesture just as there's something somewhat juvenile about his notion of freedom, a notion that made him an unconditional supporter of George W. Bush's war against Iraq, and which boils down essentially to the right to insult anyone on Earth. I'm not saying that anyone should be immune from insult, but this incident reinforced the impression I have that too many people, in America especially, embrace the freedom to criticize without the responsibility (which comes with citizenship) to criticize constructively. Hitchen's gesture did nothing to improve conditions in Lebanon, but no doubt emboldened his fans to further insult the SSNP from the greater safety of their computer rooms. Thus does Hitchens spread freedom around the world.

4 comments:

Crhymethinc said...

Seems to me that Hitchens got exactly what he deserved for being an arrogant western putz. We may not like what the SSNP stands for or how they operate, but you don't go into their country, deface their property and not expect to get something in return. It is as I always say - If you do something stupid, you have no one to blame but yourself for the consequences. He's damn lucky to be alive.

Samuel Wilson said...

It often seems to me that the problem with people like Hitchens is that they can't accept that there might be parts of the world where they aren't welcome. I don't doubt the sincerity of his sympathy for the oppressed people of such places, but it's probably premised on the presumption that those people are basically like himself: seekers after "freedom" as an end in itself. I fear that his sympathy is likely to diminish in places where the downtrodden most want a strong ruler to stomp on their local oppressors, with no questions asked,or wherever the people hold "order" more valuable than "freedom."

Crhymethinc said...

I wonder, if pressed, exactly how would Mr. Hitchens define "freedom"?

Samuel Wilson said...

As far as I can tell, Hitchens considers himself a "small l" libertarian, probably meaning more a civil-libertarian than an anti-statist ideologue. He was a socialist for many years but now sees no alternative to capitalism. My guess is that "freedom" for him means mostly the right to speak up against the powers that be without fear of reprisal, as well as not being told what to do by priests, bureaucrats, etc.