This Hitchens Moment

  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    Embed <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/94022772/94022712" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

This election must have an added significance for Christopher Hitchens. The British ex-pat became a U.S. citizen in April of last year, on his 58th birthday. This will be the first time he's able to vote in a presidential election. Of course, citizenship isn't the only transformation Hitchens has undergone over the years. Once identified with the radical left, he has since come out strongly in defense of the Iraq war, and now leans on many issues to the political right... some call him a neo-neo-conservative. As we continue our series all this week (and next) on This American Moment, we'll check in with Christopher Hitchens, and find out what this election means to him... As an observer, as a writer, and as a new citizen.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

I strongly disagree with Hitchens' characterization of Western civilization as morally superior. Given the atrocities committed by Western powers during World War 2, I think its fair to say that any claim of inherent superiority on the part of Western Civilization is laughable.

Sent by Rohit Patnaik | 2:48 PM | 8-27-2008

In Mr. Hitchen's post 9-11 World, how are Mr. Hitchen's friends in the Pesh Merga what he calls,"independent Kurdistan", doing in Northern Iraq? Does he like the way "IRAQ" played out?

Sent by Bryan McKown | 2:49 PM | 8-27-2008

I constantly find myself comparing and contrasting America at the moment with Rome at their empire's pinnacle. Do you feel that these two points in time for each respective country share many similarities? What does that say as far as the future?

Sent by Tom Major | 2:58 PM | 8-27-2008

Isn't it time that we put to bed the terms "conservative" and "liberal" as nouns and only used them as adjectives, and only to describe the process and not the end result. For both the Left and the Right, most issues readily identified with a particular side cannot be broken down into the classical definitions. (Show me a self-proclaimed Liberal or Conservative, and I'll show you at least three issues where that person favors the opposite application of government; ie, a Liberal who favors freedom over equality or a Conservative who favors federal jurisdiction over that of the state or the private sector.)

Given that there are so many exceptions to the rule, why do intelligent people like Mr. Hitchens still cling to "conservative" and "liberal" as if they are concepts unto themselves and not simply different ways of approaching the same problems?

Sent by Opsi Math | 3:00 PM | 8-27-2008

I am shocked at how woefully ignorant Hitchens is concerning our own meddling in countries that provide no threat to us, yet we have had socialist democratically elected presidents assassinated, propped up despots [in particular South America] and our own recent invasion of Iraq--not to mention our interference in the Middle East since the creation of Israel. For a man who finds religion abhorant, he seems able to forgive all the invasions into our civil rights and privacy from Christian fundamentalism in comparison to Islamic fundamentalism. Hitchens' belief structures sorely lack coherence.

Sent by r.k. matthews | 3:03 PM | 8-27-2008

I just finished listening to Christopher Hitchens and I thought he was fascinating. It is always interesting to me that people who come here from other countries and become citizens are so much more supportive of our country.

Sent by Anne Watman | 3:05 PM | 8-27-2008

Thank you for including Christopher Hitchens in this series. After the interview in which Lani Guinier virtually said that anyone who didn't vote for Obama was a racist (without any question or comment for clarification), I came closer than ever before to turning off the radio. I'm glad I turned it on again today.

Sent by Barbara Kidwell | 3:16 PM | 8-27-2008

I firmly agree with Mr. Hitchens and my career (although born as an American citizen) has been one of a similar move towards conservatism. It seems to me that the old progressive ideals of equal treatment under the law, advancement of science, and protection of the constitutional rights, have simply been abandoned by the left. They're not especially well treated by the radical right wing either, but the core of defenders of the Bill of Rights are Republicans, moderate Democrats and, to some degree Libertarians.

I also thoroughly agree about the superior morality and culture of western, especially anglophone, scientific rationalist, civilization.

Sent by Mike in AZ | 4:04 PM | 8-27-2008

So Christopher Hitchens has turned into a single issue voter in this Presidential election. In effect he chooses to put aside America's lack of universal health care, poverty issues, bankrupt economy, endemic corporate greed, monopolised media, public corruption, politicized legal system, lack of separation of church and state, perversions of patriotism and wilful & deliberate destruction of the most worthy of American democratic values & institutions, to instead see terrorism and islamo fascism alone as the issues by which to measure a party or candidate.

Yet, it should be so readily apparent that successfully fighting one will always require tackling and strengthening the others! Not only here in the US, but around the rest of the world as well.

In fact, what an utterly (and uncharacteristically) boring interview Hitchens delivered today. He is increasingly starting to look like the less and less defensible and unduly self righteous and arrogant bore, that he has always verged on becoming. His truly great mentor, George Orwell, would presumably not be impressed!

Sure the 'left' (what's left of it) is a bit of a joke in its extremes and in its ideological blindness and hypocracy, but Hitchens make the mistake of giving it more credit than it is really due ... for reasons of consistency if nothing else, it is time the totally 'resurgent' and basically amoral 'right' were put under the glare of some equally serious scrutiny on his part ... as it is they who have so held the reins of power for so long now and it is they who are so callously doing the real damage to everything he purports to hold dear.

Christopher rightfully point to the extremes and dangers of fascism in its current revived Islamic form and the mindless, if not outrightly apologetic, response of some of the remaining remnants of the extreme left - not too much of a surprise, given that extreme 'isms' of all kinds usually tend to meet at this same authoritarian and undemocratic point on the scale. However in the process he seems to lose sight of, and fails to document as vehemently the dangers of so many of these same authoritarian syndromes now evident in the behavior of those he has previously admired for taking the fight to terrorism. Defeating fascism should never require adopting many of its same worst characteristics and methods.

Basically the world has always been a battleground between the power and destruction of violence and the much underrated and little understood power of non-violent philosophy, action and resistance. And running in parallel here has been the ongoing battle between cynicism and idealism - negativity and hope - the half empty glass and the half full glass.

Hitchens is increasingly coming across, even when trying to fight the good fight (as with his focus on islamo fascism), as someone who is not allowing his deeper cynicism to be sufficiently tempered by these more life affirming but so often untried, overlooked, and little explored alternatives. (And returning to the election context once more, it is no accident that Obama's message of hope reaches as many people as it so clearly does.)

Sent by Bruce Dickson | 4:55 PM | 8-27-2008

Amen brother

Sent by PoliticalHick | 1:36 PM | 8-29-2008