Why Christopher Hitchens Ticks Me Off
Because he's a smart man fully capable of logical arguments, emprical thinking, and the precise use of evidence, but he's too proud of his cleverness by half, ruining it all. From his latest anti-anti-Iraq-war screed in Slate
Come to think of it, what happened to the loud and widespread demand that gays be allowed to serve in uniform? Surely that was not just a Clinton-era campaign to be dropped in favor of gay marriage at just the time when the country needed troops in Afghanistan (generally agreed) and in Iraq (much disputed)?I don't intend a taunt in the above sentence (it's more of a tease, really, as well as a serious question to which I have heard no answer), but I resent the taunt that is latent in the anti-war stress on supposedly uneven sacrifice.
I'm not quibbling with his basic argument; I basically agree with his main principle, with some qualifications. But this snide throwaway set of lines is really pathetic. Who exactly is he asking? His clever set of literary dinner party companions? Has he conducted a scientific poll of the American gay community? Because I'll tell you right now, Hitch dahling, from my vantage point that demand is still damn loud and angry.
Perhaps he hasn't heard that Columbia University recently voted to keep ROTC off campus because it feared that the don't-ask don't-tell policy conflicted with its own policy of non-discrimination. (Intel-Dump has a great batch of posts on the topic here.
) Or the efforts to appeal the Solomon Amendment
which requires law schools taking federal money to allow military recruiters on campus despite an institutional objection to the policy. Right now Technorati has over a 1000 posts listed
for the search "gays in the military," so even excludingthe most recent layer of a dozen or so posts that are ticked off at Hitchens like me, that means the blogosphere is very much discussing the issue. San Francisco's Board recently passed a resolution about the issue
. Over this last Pride weekend, all over the country veterans protested the current policy, for example here
. I put all that together in a few minutes. How long would it have taken for Hitchens to get his answer out of the Web?
It's exactly this kind of imprecise description by implication and muddy use of evidence that should appall Hitchens, who likes to think he is the standard bearer of George Orwell. The snide "teasing" of an insinuation will be fuel for a number of lame readers who want any excuse to nod to themselves and think that gays are cowardly and run in times of war. The sad thing is that these extraneous 80-odd words, more than 5% of an already bloated-for-Slate
column, should have been edited out by Slate's
normally tight and clean standards. It's the magnitude of respect that Hitchens has earned--his journalistic capital--which allows him such leeway, and he's squandering it.