I did not want to write about Hitchens again, but you really must check out what Greenwald
have to say. I think Greenwald is onto something: The "eulogy hoopla" surrounding Hitchens resembles the propaganda campaign that inundated the public after Reagan died. Both are attempts to sanctify the damnable. Both are utterly ersatz. The Mighty Wurlitzer can belt out a mean Requiem.
Finkelstein annoys me (slightly) only once:
He [Hitchens] assails French President Jacques Chirac, in a masterful turn of phrase, as a "balding Joan of Arc in drag..."
Not masterful: Confusing. Jeanne spent her entire career in drag, even during her off-hours. (And her en ronde
hairdo was kind of skinheaddish, now that I think about it.)
Zoom out. Let's take in a wider view of this terrain.
The Hitchens debate is being framed -- even by people who can't stand Hitchens -- in terms of Marxism versus conservatism, as though there were no third choice. Mistake. If we allow this or any other political argument to be reduced to a false dichotomy, if we pretend that history comes down to an arm wrestling match between Karl and Ayn, then the anti-Marxists will win the public's affection every time.
The eulogies and critiques have driven home one point that was already clear to many of us: Left and Right stand united in their hatred of FDR, the most despised American president in our history. Hitchens the leftie considered FDR a traitor to the proletarian class; Hitchens the post-leftie considered him a traitor to the patrician class. FDR's true sin, the one for which he will never be shriven, was creating the middle
The problems of false dichtomization and historical revisionism go way beyond the sorry case of one perpetually schnockered typist-for-hire. For decades, no admirer of Franklin Roosevelt, JFK or Bill Clinton has been allowed a voice within America's left-wing journals. Thought control ain't just a conservative thang.
Among the writers who claim to speak on behalf of the working class, there are many poseurs. How to spot the phonies? Simple. Ask 'em what they think of FDR. (While you're at it, take note of how well they dress and eat.)
All of which makes me redouble my cry for a new New Deal.
(By the way: I note that Stephen Fry
-- writing for the same journal that published Gerry "Company Man" Posner -- considered Hitchens a friend. In V
, Fry plays a man murdered by the state in part because he owns a rare and illegal copy of the Koran. Were he a citizen of the V
dystopia, Hitchens no doubt would have approved of the killing. For me, Fry has lost his charm.)