01 March 2009
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.