Thursday, May 04, 2006

Playground

In case you haven't noticed, Juan Cole and Christopher Hitchens have been going at it for a while. Leaving aside the merits of the various arguments, Hitchens truly is entertaining on the offensive, and never more so than in this interview with Hugh Hewitt. For example, Cole claimed that Hitchens is a drunk, and Hitchens replied:

Well, I've always thought that attacks of that kind, wherever they come from, were invariably a sign of weakness. I mean, if Juan Cole wrote a piece attacking me, and all I could think of in reply was to say well, he seems like a dope fiend, or a closet case, or a pederast, I would feel that I wasn't really meeting his argument, I mean, that I hadn't replied to the points he'd made against me.
(Hat tip to Instapundit.)

9 comments:

Jeff said...

FYI---an OU prof has a story about Hitchens and his drinking problem as well. According to this prof, Hitchens was drunk during his talk and made him stop at a bar on the way to the talk for a drink. Coupled with this story and Juan Cole's assertion--I think there is something to the rumors.

Tom said...

Yeah, he's probably a drinker and maybe a drunk, but that doesn't excuse Cole from dealing with the actual charge.

Jeff said...

Tom: the guy's a drunk and shouldn't be taken seriously. Juan Cole should probably ignore him but his drinking problem goes to the heart of Hitchens credibility. At times he is very capable, at other junctures he is a jackass b/c he is a drunk.

Tom said...

Jeff,

That is absurd. I am not a big fan of Hitchens, but show a case where his written work has been affected by his drinking. It's ad hominem and you are better than that.

TB

Jeff said...

Tom, I wasn't trying to be unfair and I do think Cole was unwise to air Hitchens's problem in a public manner---but if Hitchens is an alcoholic then everything he does is affected by his drinking that is my only point. I don't take Hitchens seriously b/c he seems to careen from one extreme to another and is little more than a contrarian crank. The drinking has only made me sympathetic to him as it would explain his rather dramatic swings. If Cole thinks he is an alcoholic he should ignore him--that is generally what I do.

dcat said...

The attack was absolutely unwarranted. That said, slacious stories about guys whose public persona is based on being jerks are always fun. Cole was wrong to raise such allegations, however, under any circumstances. They were irrelevant, they diminish him, and in any case, if being drunk disqualified breilliance, then the golden age of American fiction -- think Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Faulkner -- would be lost.
I do not know if it will see the light of day, but I wrote a letter to the editor of the Atlantic seriously challenging two of Hitch's assertions in his recent review of Peter Beinart's book. I can imagine that if it is published this month, I'll get the full extent of Hitch's wrath.

dcat

Tom said...

Jeff, I hate to say it, but if the only argument of how his drinking affects his work is that Hitchens careens between extremes, then it is not much of an argument. I don't get why Hitchens is so hard to understand: he was, is, and always will be a Trotskyite. He's a communist, and as a good communist, he hates fascism and religion. He always has. He sees the Islamic terrorists and their state sponsors as fascists and/or religious fanatics who also happen to be trying to kill us, so he hates them and doesn't have much time for those who do not hate them. He's been consistent all along.

Since I do not particularly trust Trotskyites, I do not spend a lot of time reading Hitchens. But I've never seen him make Horowitz-like attacks on the left wholecloth. He is also remarkably quiet on domestic affairs, no doubt because he does not want to distract attention away from the war on Islamofascism.

Christopher Hitchens hasn't changed a bit, let alone careened to the other extreme. So what else has his drinking done?

dcat said...

To add to Toms point, 99% of what Hitchens writes is still going to go through an editorial process. In fact, it almost seems like a cop out to pass off inconsistencies, idiocies, or whatever, to a drinking problem, when it may well be a thinking problem.

dcat

jc said...

Jeff,

If we can ignore everything that a drunk says, then why is Kennedy still a Senator?

Ooops. Just joking....