February 10, 2006
Christopher Hitchens Now Officially Insane
From a debate with David Corn:
[Hitchens'] most entertaining remark of the evening came when he asked the audience to contemplate the fact that not a single weapon of mass destruction has yet been found in Iraq. Wasn't that suspicious? Given that Iraq had possessed chemical and biological weapons in the 1990s, shouldn't a few have remained? In fact, he went on, the zero finding was so suspicious that it was not credible. Think for yourself, people, he exhorted the crowd.
Places like the Washington Post are always very concerned when regular citizens believe in "conspiracy theories." But they never notice that conspiracy zealotsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Âpeople certain that they've been proven correct by the very absence of evidenceÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Âactually hold prominent positions in the media and government. Beyond Hitchens, there's a whole passel of neoconservatives who are certain Saddam helped Timothy McVeigh. Even worse, there are a few lost souls who believe George Bush is a good president.
Posted at February 10, 2006 03:42 PM
It's a question of faith, not evidence. I still haven't seen a single one of my friends at church switch teams. I see the blind leading the blind. We can call it willful ignorance, or implausible undeniability, or insanity. But the problem Bush Christians have is like this: Believing any of what you and I know to be undeniable facts requires questioning everything w has said, including his Christianity.
But let's not be gloomy. Here's something that makes me laugh: compared to my Bush Christian friends, I'm a complete wacko. Compared to you, perhaps I'm a complete wacko, too! I actually believe the Bible! I believe in Jesus Christ, the man who required of his followers, "Love your enemies."
Talk about wacko!
Hmmmn. Does this mean that you love Christopher Hitchens? I don't think I can go that far myself.
Send Chris Hitchens to the AA, folks, the drunk is in need of rehab.
Actually Hitchens is not insane. He's actually rather clever here. He is leading his audience down a normal line of reasoning to exactly the wrong conclusion. And he's fabricating his wrong conclusion in such a way that every listener will both create and put stock a their own personal version of the lie for him, without even being individually addressed.
Create a contradiction.
Posit:Saddam was known to have weapon in the past.
Contra-Posit:When we went to look we didn't find any.
Solve the dilemma, with your personal explanation.
So now that the audience is flumoxed he hits them with whatever explanation he wants and he knows many will accept it.
In this instance he implies not just that the latest inspection process conducted was at fault, but in some unspoken way intentional errant.
The beauty of this technique of progandization, is that now having built the framework for an explanation, he appeals to the egos of the audience to fill in whatever details their minds will require to make his statement consistent. Which the audience will do. And then only after investing the time to construct their verision of his illusion, will the attempt to evaluate its "truthiness". And many having gotten this far will be leaning toward the explanation into which they have already invested.
An so we are witnnes to a demonstration of the Classic "Convince the listener to lie to himself for you" technique.
In Hitchens favor is a captive audience of intellectuals who are trained via years of schooling to fill in the missing details as efficiently and automatically as possible.
This type of rhetoric would not work on a less academically trained listener, who would stop dead at the dilemma and therefore fail to fulfill his own end of the bargain.
1. Hitchens's mind is controlled by super-intelligent extraterrestrials.
2. How come we've never seen any leak of super-intelligence in Hitchens's bloviations?
3. That only proves how incredibly super-intelligent those extraterrestrials are.
But we have seen the leak! If you look at Hitchens carefully, you can see little bits of pureed brains and wisps of steam puffing out of his ears every time he speaks. This is even further proof of how incredibly super-intelliegent the extraterrestrials are. They realized he was overburdened by his new mission and are compassionately taking care of his capacity to carry it out. I bet one day his head will detach from his neck and float away squeaking imprecations against his enemies. The extraterrestrials will scoop it up with a butterfly net once it reaches orbit and give it the loving care it needs, forever.
You guys better watch it. I know where you live, and so do the aliens.
I'll confess, I've grown increasingly disgusted with these "debates' about Iraq that simply go over and over the buildup to the war, like an AA meeting having trouble getting started. This, it seems to me, leaves so much territory unexplored that it is practically a victory for the pro-war forces. Not once have I heard the other side press so many obvious things -- for instance, this: the neo-cons like Hitchens continually claim to be supporting liberal democracy in Iraq. Yet their support for a convicted fraud, Chalabi, and a suspected murderer, Allawi, practically delegitimated any chance for a secular or (ha ha) liberal/left option in Iraq. They did it with malice aforethought. They don't even have the excuse that either of those politicians had any popularity, as has been obvious through two elections. Yet they get a pass for having done an enormous, concrete injury to Iraq. And all of the issues so entailed -- the robbery of 8 billion dollars of Iraq's money, the set up of a Taliban style theocracy in Basra, the attempted destruction of a social welfare net (in a country coming out of ten years of sanctions!), etc., etc. In the face of every crime, they maintained universal silence.
You get the picture. These people actually had one narrow use in the period before the war: to guarantee that the force invading Iraq was not international. That was the whole point of the attacks on France, Europe, etc -- because the Cheney-Rumsfeld faction did not want a repeat of Gulf 1, where they felt they were checked by their coalition allies. They wanted American command and control. Period.
Still, being as generous as we can and pretending the the neocon faction actually meant what it said, it could have given feedback on Iraq that could have changed some things. Instead of which, they were either enablers or enactors of the destruction of any of the kind of politics they claimed they were "for". And they get away with it in these rather disgusting debates arranged around a fraternity of old sixties radicals whose last radical act was to write red hot scoops about Pinochet back in 1974. They all know each other, they are all comfortably decaying in some niche in the media or academia, and they are all like so many vacuums. The David Corns, the Marc Coopers, the Christopher Hitchenes, that whole miserable crew.
I'm so damn sick of this parody of the kewl D.C. kids.