Posted by Thomas Nephew on November 12th, 2002
That’s the title of Katha Pollitt’s attempted dismissal of Christopher Hitchens in the latest edition of the Nation. Pollitt delivers a number of well-placed jabs at the pompous Orwell wannabe who, despite being an avowed contrarian, left the bulliest pulpit possible for debating the anti-war left. But these jabs weren’t among them:
Sure, there are plenty of people (not all of whom are leftists) who oppose this war because they oppose all US military intervention on principle, and maybe there is even some graduate student out there, mind addled by an all-Ramen diet, who believes that Osama bin Laden is merely a “misguided anti-imperialist.” But surely you know that lots of people oppose invading Iraq who supported the war in Afghanistan and intervention in Kosovo–why aren’t Mark Danner, Aryeh Neier and Ronald Dworkin on your radar screen? Who died and made Ramsey Clark commissar?
Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t Pollitt pretty firmly in the anti-Afghanistan-war camp? Here’s what she wrote on September 20 a year ago, in “Put Out No Flags“:
Bombing Afghanistan to “fight terrorism” is to punish not the Taliban but the victims of the Taliban, the people we should be supporting. At the same time, war would reinforce the worst elements in our own society–the flag-wavers and bigots and militarists.
As was her perfect right of course, but it seems pretty disingenuous for Pollitt to make those particular comments about Ramen-addled grad students or those “lots of people who supported the war in Afghanistan.”
At minimum, she might have acknowledged Hitchens was righter than she was about Afghanistan, or explained why she was right after all about that not being the right way to tackle the “more difficult task of going after Al Qaeda,” the task she’s now focused her laser beams on. Hitchens is hard to take, but as it stands, it seems to me he at least got one person right: Pollitt.
(Article and pull quote via Electrolite’s Patrick Nielsen Hayden, who is more appreciative.)