By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Well, on the last question, you ask as if you don’t really need to, which, as you already know, you don’t. (Same in a way with whether I vote or not; it was you who raised the question of my hypothetical "support" with all its red/blue implications for the nation. By the way, I decided in principle to apply for citizenship after 9/11 and even wrote about it; I’ll get around to the application when I get a minute. Still doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll vote for anyone, though it would have been Nader last time, I confess.) My opposition to religion and the religious is deeper than you credit. It extends to contempt for Lieberman’s fundamentalism and Clinton’s fawning on Billy Graham (now, there was a prayer breakfast for you!), and so I don’t think it’s a change of subject to mention the Democrats, since you imply that only a Republican vote involves faith-based politics. I wasn’t trying to be clever and change the subject, I was asking you to be consistent. Or inviting you to be.
As recently as a January piece I wrote for The Wall Street Journal, which invited me to review the conservative movement, I laid the main stress on the horrors of "faith-based" politics. I could and should have said more about the swinish business of sabotaging family planning in the "tiers monde," but I have written about that elsewhere, and my whole campaign against ‘mother’ T was based partly on the role she played in spreading disease and death in this manner.
However, Duggers old horse, you know better than to suggest any equivalence between American god-botherers and Osama. (The nearest to equivalence one could get would be Robertson and Falwell saying that America had it coming on 9/11: Chomsky and Fisk in clerical drag.) Nobody is going to escape their share of irony and contradiction here: Bush is actually forced to defend the secular state and to make secular allies, even if he fantasizes about some kingdom of heaven. Bin Laden makes a deal with Saddam even though one worships "god" and the other asks people to worship only himself. Secularists like Ramsey Clark make excuses for al Qaeda. Paul Wolfowitz, the smartest guy in the administration, is a secularist to the bones. And I, little me, the most committed anti-theist of us all, have decided that the overriding issue is the willingness of the U.S. to intervene in the civil war that’s going on in the Muslim world, and to help make sure the other side loses. This can’t be difficult to understand, surely. I don’t think the Democrats are truly serious about this, and so I accept the logical and probable consequences of my decision, some of which I know will distress me, let alone you.
Finally, you of course have a point about ticket-splitting, but this is a tactical matter not a matter of principle, and can be decided when it actually presents itself.
Valentine smooch, HitchMy dear Hitch, I was only turning your rhetorical question device in an earlier e-mail back against you. The contradiction is still yours, between what you believe and whom you support, it seems to me in re-reading your latest sending. I suspect that those poor invisible folks around the world who are or will be infected with AIDS because the U.S. theocrats succeeded in denying them condoms might disagree with you about who — between the Christers and Osama — is the more lethal, since the pile of corpses from the former is infinitely higher than from the latter. And it’s worth remembering how your man Bush — he of the incomparable character — made common cause with those great friends of secular enlightenment Iraq, Iran and the Vatican to keep condoms and science-based education from polluting the U.N.’s declaration produced by its summit on the young. Your hallucinations that the Bushies are "defending the secular state" as you put it are, on the facts, just plain loopy. Dragging in the odious Joe Lieberman — whom I never have and never will support because of his Senate co-sponsorhip of Bush’s "faith-based initiatives" — doesn’t alter the mortality rate produced by Dubya and his religious primitives. So now the progressive forces are supposed to unite behind the likes of the "secularist" Wolfowitz? I think,mon vieux choux, you’ve been taking too many Sam Huntington pills. Your blinkered fixation with the "clash of civilizations" is so all-encompassing that it seems to me it’s making you swallow all manner of horrors and leading you on an inexorable path rightward. Don’t like the Dems? Fine. I supported Nader against both Bush and Clinton, as you know. But to move from distaste for the Democrats to declarations in support of Bush’s re-election is such a quantum leap from simply your support for the war (however much your recent donning of the intellectual khaki troubles me) because it implies an endorsement of all the Bush crowd’s malevolent works. By the way, since you bring up consistency, I note that in this latest message you say you were for Nader in 2000 — but in your first e-mail you said you were for Bush over Gore. Which was it? You know, J.K. Galbraith once joked that, if Marx (your former patron saint) said that government is the executive committee of the ruling class, in Japan it’s really true. We are coming perilously close to replicating that diagnosis here with Bush and his well-oiled cronies. Given your history and life’s work, it’s a grotesque alignment for you to choose. You say that Bush and none other takes terrorism seriously. (Duct tape, anyone?) But if Bush took terrorism seriously he wouldn’t be planning a first strike against Iraq absent an overt hostile action on the part of Saddam — because the mad act of an aggressive U.S. war will play right into the hands of Osama and the fundamentalist mullahs, confirm their most dire preachments to the Islamic world, and guarantee that the terrorists will have incomparably more fertile terrain on which to recruit for generations. I don’t expect an uneducated ignoramus like Bush to get this, but I fail to understand how someone as sophisticated as yourself doesn’t. I still have trouble discerning a coherent politics of a progressive hue behind your support for the re-conduction of Bush in ’04, as you claim. It seems to me that you are in contradiction with yourself. You may well say, with Whitman, So, I contradict myself. But it saddens me to see you put your feet so firmly in the camp of the paleolithic obscurantists who want to finish in a grand sweep the dismantling of the federal government which Reagan began and Clinton continued on a small scale, when this was a course you fervently denounced in previous presidencies. All the more so because, whether the U.S. and your (ex-?) compatriot Tony act alone or whether Dubya eventually succeeds in purchasing a Security Council majority, the coming war will destroy the oh-so-fragile moral authority of international law, toward the rule of which the planet has been making hesitant but positive steps in recent years (viz. the ex-Yugoslavia and Rwanda). And your comparison of terrorism to the fascist menace of five decades ago doesn’t hold water historically: Fascism had captured three world powers of the day — Germany, Italy and Japan; but the terrorists (now that Afghanistan has been bribed — for the moment — out of supporting a Taliban regime) are stateless, which is why conventional warfare won’t work against them. And, a propos, if you have any evidence of the "deal" to which you refer between Saddam and Osama — a deal for which the U.S. and Brit intelligence services, with all the multiple billions of dollars at their disposal, have yet to provide any substantiation that will withstand scrutiny — then you ought to publish it. Otherwise, it’s just hot air. Well, Hitch, I shall always love my friend, but I mourn the loss of my comrade. To see such talent as yours put at the service of a truly repugnant crowd like the Bushistas makes me weep. No doubt we’ll have occasion to continue this debate, even if we’ll soon be squabbling about whether all those coming deaths in Iraq have helped shape a better and more secure world.