DECLINE AND FALL
OF CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS
published October 2009: more than two years before his death
some reason, Christopher Hitchens is still being published by
Vanity Fair. This is mystifying to many of us, since
Hitchens crashed and burned almost a decade ago. After being known
as a Trotskyite as far back as I can remember, and being against
the Vietnam War, being against Henry Kissinger, being against the
first Gulf War, and so on, Hitchens suddenly switched sides after
911 and decided he was a hawk, a gunboat diplomat, a disciple of
Paul Wolfowitz, and other things too gruesome to relate. This was
enough for most of us who had felt some partial alliance to him in
the old days, even those of us who were never Trotskyites or
communists of any shade of red. We imagined he must have been
visited by the spooks late at night, waterboarded for real, and
turned forcibly to the dark side. We gave him this benefit of the
doubt, since we could not imagine that he actually believed what
he now began to say. Although he only took a third at Oxford, we
knew he was a pretty good writer and a fair thinker, a man who had
at least done his reading and could retain some real information,
if not always collate it properly. For this reason, he could not
possibly believe that “Islamofascism” was now the
great threat to the world. He had been seeing through transparent
propaganda like that for two score years. He was also fully
capable of seeing through the lies surrounding 911. If a man like
Hitchens, known for his bravery even above his writing skills,
could fail so conspicuously to join 911 Truth, and in fact join
the propagandists, something must be very wrong. Hitchens' brain
had been infiltrated, if not from without then from within. If the
spooks had not gotten to him, the whiskey finally had.
could see this most clearly in his debate with George Galloway in
2005, when he had opened his comments by asking for a moment of
silence for the “160 people sadistically murdered in Baghdad
this morning...as they waited to register for the upcoming
elections.” That was a debating trick worthy of Bill
O'Reilly, and his listeners were stunned to find that Hitchens
would rate them naïve enough to fall for it. This was a
university audience, after all, not an audience of eight year olds
or addled great aunts. Hitchens had trouble delivering the lines
with a straight face, knowing, as he must, what rotting
emotionalism it was. Only the clandestine gun pointed at him from
the balcony or rafters could explain it. We could not attribute
this wording to our self-styled “Mr. Reason.” The
lines must have been written by the CIA or DoD.
couldn't have gotten any worse than that, and it hasn't, but it
has certainly continued to devolve and dissipate and deflate.
Hitchens is now mentally and physically unwinding in print and pic
at Vanity Fair, and the editors seem content to catalog it
all for us as it happens. In 2007 Hitchens published an article
with the winning title, “Why Women Aren't Funny.” The
title was way too strong for his thesis, but that is the way of
modern sexual polemic. We remember Maureen Dowd making the same
mistake in titling her book Are Men Necessary? so maybe we
can write it off as titles written by the suits, or as offsetting
penalties. But when we get into the article itself, we do not
enter a realm of reason. One of the most substantial claims of
Hitchens is that the funniest comediennes are “hefty or
dykey or Jewish, or some combo of the three.” This is
intended as partial dismissal of them from the female category, I
guess. But I am not aware that male comedians must be slender or
straight or goy to qualify as male, so Hitchens' argument is
strictly illogical. At a stretch, we might see how the “dykey”
ones could be considered a bit more male, but how are hefty or
Jewish women more male? Are Jewish men more male? Are they more
female? What is Hitchens' reasoning here? Either argument would be
novel, but I don't think he is intending either one.
has claimed Jewish blood, and we must give him some credit for
that, but he appears to think it gives him the right to be a
racist. This seemingly harmless comment of his is actually far
more racist than any of the comments of Galloway, Chomsky, or
Finkelstein (since these three aren't racist at all). Chomsky, for
instance, has oft been called an anti-Semite for disagreeing with
the policies of Israel, but policy disagreements can't be racial,
by definition. Chomsky also disagreed with Kennedy's policy: does
that make him anti-Catholic? He disagreed with Johnson's policy:
does that make him anti-Church-of-Christ? Conversely, Hitchens is
not arguing policy here, he is claiming, in a quick and sloppy
way, that Jewish women aren't fully female. That is such a strange
mixture of racism and misogyny we can't really unwind it.
then claims that men are overawed by a woman's ability to give
birth, and that this gives the woman an unchallengeable authority.
But that is nonsense. If it were true, Hitchens would not dare to
challenge them with this slanderous article. This fake sentiment
is just the required bow and scrape before the knife is inserted
in an upward motion. Hitchens is truly awed by nothing in life,
which he just described in previous paragraphs as a joke, a bitch,
and a stinking cesspool. I have a higher opinion of life than
that, but even so, I do not believe that anyone's authority is
unchallengeable, man or woman. I am awed, though not overawed, by
lots of things, but it does not follow that every awe-inspiring
thing is my master. And even if it did, it would not follow that
every god above me or master over me was humorless. Because
Hitchens doesn't need women to be funny does not mean,
therefore, that they are not.
The illogic continues, as
Hitchens then asserts that,
plain fact is that the physical structure of the human being is a
joke in itself: a flat, crude, unanswerable disproof of any
nonsense about "intelligent design."
am not a proponent of Intelligent Design, but an opponent of that
sentence. Hitchens had just said on the previous page that women
are able to wow us with their beauty alone, with no need of humor,
so his argument has no small-case intelligent design. If the
female human being were structurally laughable, would we not laugh
at her rather than worship her or nibble her or enter her? Perhaps
Hitchens means only the male body, but that is also demonstrably
not true. See this month's Vanity Fair online for a picture
of a semi-nude Roberto Bolle. Perhaps Hitchens means only straight
men, but see Hugh Jackman. Perhaps Hitchens means only himself, in
which case his argument begins to come alive.
a few airy paragraphs of evolutionary psychology (with all the
scientific rigor of David Buss), Hitchens provides us with this
if we are to be serious about it, arises from the ineluctable fact
that we are all born into a losing struggle. Those who risk agony
and death to bring children into this fiasco simply can't afford
to be too frivolous.
yes, logical and charming and drôle, all at the same time,
as usual. But are men any less “born into a losing struggle”
than women, assuming for a moment that life is a losing struggle?
No, whatever life is, men and women are equally a part of it. Men
have gone to war more than women, where they risk agony and death.
They must then be humorless, according to the logic of Hitchens.
In Hitchens' cynical universe, to be born is to risk agony and
death, and all are born, so we have no clear division into funny
and unfunny. Besides, women are known for their frivolity.
Hitchens has commented on it in other places, I'm quite sure,
although I intend it as a compliment and I doubt that Hitchens
did. Whether they can “afford” it or not, we all know
that women, like men, are often frivolous. They are frivolous both
before and after they give birth, so any consideration of the
facts explodes Hitchens' statement into tiny pieces. His cynicism
isn't even tempered with a grain of truth. It is a sad, gratuitous
cynicism without any payoff of enlightenment.
is also the time to point out how his sentences and words have
lost all lightness of touch. As his ideas have disintegrated, so
has his structure. I quote only a handful of sentences in this
paper, and I did not choose them for structure, but notice that he
uses the same transparent strategy over and over. His passing
opinion upon the human body—which I have already shown is
false, even by his own admission in the same paper—he
presents to us as "a plain fact." He is quick to tell us
it is a plain fact before he has demonstrated to us that it
is, which is unscientific on the face of it. A few sentences
later, he repeats the trick, with "life as a losing struggle"
prejudged as an "ineluctable fact." Hamhandedness was
Soon after, he says, “One small
coffin and a woman's universe is left in ashes and ruin.”
Not content with libeling all women, Hitchens must also libel all
men. Are men careless when they lose a baby or a child? Do they
continue the jokes and go on as before? A little basic research
would free Hitchens of this misconception.
In the very
next sentence Hitchens is mindful to include “queers”
in his libel. He tells us that Oscar Wilde joked about the death
of a fictional infant, and implies that Wilde could do this where
no one else could because he was gay. Although Wilde had two
children of his own, Hitchens implies he cared less about them
than a straight father would have.
not content to end the stream of libel, Hitchens swings for
Morpheus, claiming that women are more dreamy. Hitchens has no use
for dreams himself, and he is the ultimate male, so dreams are
“fit mainly for mockery and limericks.” Imagine what
every great male artist in history would have to say in
response to this. Even Plato, the original architect of Hitchens'
fascist fantasies, believed in the power and usefulness of dreams.
Beyond that, what is the connection between dreams and humor? Are
they mutually exclusive?
Hitchens' entire article was not
fit to print, but since he is now executive editor (and likely CIA
darling) they printed it anyway.
Almost a year and half
later Alessandra Stanley replied to Hitchens, but the reply was
very late and very weak, which gave Hitchens the usual impression:
he was right and everyone else was secretly wanting to bed him.
Within a month of Stanley's rebuttal, Hitchens had printed his
own, and hit rock bottom. In it he doesn't feel compelled to
defend any of his mistakes in argument in his first paper, since
Stanley didn't call him on them; no, he is free to wax
self-rhapsodic and imagine that her weak reply is a secret
come-on. His wife of 18 years, Carol Blue, must struggle mightily
to see the humor in it, but the entire paper is devoted to that
dash the beads of perspiration from my brow. I accept. I
surrender. Oh Alessandra, oh angel, if you wanted a giggle or even
a cackle, you only had to call me.
since Stanley would probably rather call the hot-dog man on 57th
street. Even if Hitchens looked like Hugh Jackman, prose like that
would dry her up on the instant.
Egad and Begorrah, how do
we explain it all? Why did we have to read any of this? Do the top
magazines in the country really have nothing to publish? Vanity
Fair is now publishing pictures of Hitchens in the shower with
a cigarette, his vast belly glistening like Jabba the Hut.
Apparently Graydon Carter [editor-in-chief of VF] has gone into
semi-retirement, spending his days at the beauty parlor on Madison
getting his hair coiffed, and Hitchens will soon be free to
publish pictures of himself in flagrante delicto, “venting
his sexual frustration on furry domestic animals”, as he
says in his first article.
I guess we should have seen it
coming as soon as Carter agreed to be executive editor for the
film 911. The spooks found his address at the same time
they did Hitchens', and the slick magazines, like the newspapers,
are now published only with the expressed written consent of
major-league money. To be blunt, the secret government owns the
media from top to bottom, and even pictures of Hitchens in the
buff must be vetted by the men in suits in long cars, their hands
rubbing their pants as they slide gently along Constitution
Yes, it is likely that Hitchens read 911 as the
signal it was no longer safe to be an intellectual. As a longtime
fan of Lenin, Hitchens knew the history, knew the progression of
omens. A purge was on the near horizon and he needed to lick some
jackboots pronto. No matter that this had never done the
intellectuals any good: they were always purged for their
intelligence, not for their opinions. There was no way to pick a
side, short of lobotomizing oneself. A coming purge, or the fear
of it, was of no real use to Hitchens personally except as an
immediate measure of his bravery. It was the one thing he thought
he had, even beyond the ability to finish a sentence, and when he
lost it nothing was left but a shell, a rattling husk. His dignity
gone, he was ready to play his new part: the Fool of Vanity
Fair. Galloway had called him a popinjay and a slug, but those
were only slurs upon the animal kingdom. Hitchens was no longer
even that. What was left of him is what is left when a cicada
sheds and flies away into the trees: a nasty brown crust so
fragile it can be crushed underfoot in a passing stroll.
November 18, 2014.
Amazingly, it took me this long to fully understand Hitchens. To
follow me here, you should have already read my paper on Ramparts
in the past year—as well as my other papers of the past 18
months. If you digest the content of those papers and then return
to Hitchens, the thing that finally dawned on me will dawn on you:
Hitchens was MI6 all along. He simply switched assignments in the
late 1990's. Almost all the agents of the 1960's and 1970's
eventually were allowed to switch assignments, since most of them
were so bad at the leftist pose. Only Chomsky was convincing
enough to keep it up all along. Remind yourself of writers like
Peter Collier and David Horowitz, who wrote for the leftist
in the 1960's but
became neocons in the late 1970's. Well, Hitchens did the same
thing, with a longer delay. Also remind yourself what
we have learned about Communism in the US: it was always just
a pose for these fake leftists who were being paid by Intelligence
to misdirect. This was just the controlled opposition, and
Hitchens was part of it for a long time. Communism was used from
the beginning to divert attention and resources away from
the way back to 1848.
It was created to resemble Republicanism, but flatter the lower
classes even more. In this way it successfully undercut the
Republican revolutions of the mid-1800's worldwide, and it is
continuing to do so to this day. Leftists are cleverly diverted
away from the workable Republicanism into the unworkable
Communism, freeing the ruling fascists from worry.
This was Hitchens'
early assignment, and—as it turns out—he was more
convincing in the first pose than the second. Being a pretty smart
guy, he was adept at adopting the semi-intellectual, semi-moral
pose of the modern leftist. He was much less convincing as a
disciple of Wolfowitz, and it is hard to believe anyone bought it.
Watching him closely, you could see it in his eyes and around his
mouth—he was always suppressing a grin. Even he
couldn't believe they had changed his assignment 180 degrees, and
that most people were buying it. His whole life became a joke
after that, even to him; but almost no one got it. By the 2000's,
his personal farce had become surrounded by the general and
pandemic inanity, and it was hard to separate his joke from the
larger joke. Nothing has made any sense for at least 20
years, and so no one expected him to make sense, either. The joke
had by then become so convoluted and extensive, no one could get a
grip on it: you couldn't find a place to pull to get the laugh.
Reading anything after about 1995 was headache-inducing, and most
people gave it up altogether. Not only could you not get any real
information, you couldn't even get an amusing spin on it. I was
just as confused as the rest of you, until I finally discovered
the key to it all. After that, I was able to travel the maze,
getting not only the hidden information, but also the jokes. My
sense of humor—stunted for a few years—has returned,
the clarity allowing me to see not only the horror and tragedy,
but also the crushing absurdity of it all.