June 22, 2004

Hitch on Moore

Wow. I sure hope Christopher Hitchens never guns for me in print. I'll need an icepack and a vacation if it happens.

Today in Slate he gives Michael Moore one hell of a thrashing for his new "documentary" Fahrenheit 911.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at June 22, 2004 12:06 PM
Comments

'bout time someone did.

Posted by: Bithead at June 22, 2004 12:15 PM

Today in Slate he gives Michael Moore one hell of a thrashing for his new "documentary" Fahrenheit 911.

Thrashed all the way to the bank...

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 22, 2004 12:20 PM

Double-plus good, sometimes your responses cause words to fail me. In this case, your comment seems to be deliciously void of content, context, information, assertion, fact, or argumentation. Kind of a Splenda-meets-Olestra of a comment.

On the other hand, perhaps you are just engaged in quashing dissent and free speech by dismissing (and encouraging others to dismiss) Mr. Hitchens' commentary out-of-hand.

Or, on the other, other hand, you may just have missed the memo about the point of polemics.

Posted by: Bravo Romeo Delta at June 22, 2004 12:29 PM

My favorite part:

[...] A short word of advice: In general, it's highly unwise to quote Orwell if you are already way out of your depth on the question of moral equivalence. It's also incautious to remind people of Orwell if you are engaged in a sophomoric celluloid rewriting of recent history.

I only hope Moore is dumb enough to follow through with the threat to sue critics for libel. (You have to love the way he has pre-emptively announced that he can dish it out, but he can't take it...)

Posted by: Mark Poling at June 22, 2004 12:29 PM

Political or military commentators, like astrologers, can survive almost any mistake, because their more devoted followers do not look to them for an appraisal of the facts but for the stimulation of nationalistic loyalties. And aesthetic judgements, especially literary judgements, are often corrupted in the same way as political ones.

- George Orwell, Notes on Nationalism, 1945

Might apply to both Hitchens and Moore, IMO.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 22, 2004 12:29 PM

I'm not sure that literary judgements are corrupted in the same way that political ones are.

This is hardly a stellar case, as you have a writer/pundit critiquing a propaganda/polemic. It's not really the folks one would select for literary critique.

Posted by: Bravo Romeo Delta at June 22, 2004 12:34 PM

brd: Double-plus good [sic], sometimes your responses cause words to fail me. In this case, your comment seems to be deliciously void of content, context, information, assertion, fact, or argumentation. Kind of a Splenda-meets-Olestra of a comment.

Well, I'm sorry you didn't understand the comment.

brd: On the other hand, perhaps you are just engaged in quashing dissent and free speech by dismissing (and encouraging others to dismiss) Mr. Hitchens' commentary out-of-hand.

Are you seriously saying that my invocation of Liberace's famous bon mot about critisism is "quashing dissent and free speech?" I'm astonished, I had no idea it was that easy to do.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 22, 2004 12:34 PM

++UG, I would like to hear your opinion on how the Orwell quoute would apply to Moore and Hitchens.

Posted by: Mark Poling at June 22, 2004 12:35 PM

And if you notice the bottom of the story to which MJT links, Chris fact-checks his own husky behind.

The trouble with Moore's defense of the movie and how you can't call his work a pack of lies is that he rather artlessly says it's an "Op-Ed" - that is an opinion piece. From that he can claim that his work can include highly slanted material with context dropped like a baby from a 10-story window and whose death can be blamed on a lack of universal health care and maybe Haliburton. And with that, all is legit - except of course for criticism of it which is censorship.

Sure, he can take that stance and use it as kevlar against criticism. But to hold that stance in the face of what may very well be one of the most agressive grass-roots fact-checking of a movie in recent history, leaves the Moore-defenders defending "opinions" that are less in tune with hard-nosed-but-honest liberals or conservatives and more like Crazy Ned the Wino.

They can defend his right to say what he wants (and so should everyone) but they can't defend his credibility without dragging themselves down.

Posted by: Bill at June 22, 2004 12:40 PM
I would like to hear your opinion on how the Orwell quoute would apply to Moore and Hitchens.
Political or military commentators, like astrologers, [dpu: like Moore and Hitchens] can survive almost any mistake, because their more devoted followers do not look to them for an appraisal of the facts but for the stimulation of nationalistic loyalties. And aesthetic judgements, [dpu: like Hitchen's review} especially literary judgements, are often corrupted in the same way as political ones.
Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 22, 2004 12:42 PM

++UG, Of course it's that easy to quash dissent! Well, at least I assume it is given the amount of time that the accusation is thrown about.[/joke]

More seriously, one of the problems with this medium is that I can't honestly tell which of the following things you're shooting for in the original comment. Could it be sort of a harmlessly dismissive comment, or all the way from the other end of the spectrum of "see, it's all a big media conspiracy to generate publicity" or whatever you had in mind in between.

Granted, this inability to extract an actual point could very well be my lack of reading comprehension. But, in any case, that's why I felt the comment, as originally written, was comment free.

Posted by: Bravo Romeo Delta at June 22, 2004 12:45 PM

Ah. So to which nationalistic bigotries are Moore and Hitchens appealing?

In Moore's case I know I'm quibbling; Moore's nation can best be described as "Moore's America" where the good and the just are what Moore happens to find profitable at the moment. (Oddly enough, because he filmed white trash clubbing a rabbit to death, this approach has continuing resonance with some people.) Facts that do not support Moore's America need not be considered; no one who adores Moore will mind.

Hitchens on the other hand strikes me as a man without a country at all. A Brit in America, he's about as Republican (or Democrat) as I am a Communist (or Trotskyite). His support for the War on Terror strikes me as support for a very old ideal, that being the primacy of Enlightenment Liberalism. Hitchens may not have a country, but in my opinion he certainly keeps good company.

As to the aesthetics of Moore's work, my mind keeps going back to the poor woman and the poor rabbit. Only the rabbit ended up dead, but both of them were being exploited, and I sure as hell know who ended up fat. And that aesthetic I find displeasing.

Posted by: Mark Poling at June 22, 2004 12:59 PM

D+UG,

Do you ever read Hitchens' literary reviews in The Atlantic? He's no slouch. Be sure you have a dictionary on hand before getting started.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 22, 2004 01:03 PM

Mark, I think you need to read the Orwell essay quoted by Hitchens. Nationalism, as discussed in the essay, is different than patriotism, it's a devotion to a particular mindset. Zionism, for example, or Troskyism. What I'm saying is that both Moore's film and Hitchen's review of it are artistic works aimed at exciting the sensibilities of their particular political associates.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 22, 2004 01:07 PM

I'll summarise the one contrast between Hitch and Moore:

Hitch will offend and please you (sometimes simultaneously!), but you know it comes from the heart and you don't factor into his delivery or opinion (which is stereotypically seen through a haze unfriendly cigarette smoke and while a few sheets into the wind). Thus you value his opinions even when you disagree. He comes off as a difficult but stimulating thinker and not really interested if you'll hate him for slamming on Kissinger or Mother Teresa so long as you know why.

When Moore says something to impress or offend me, I can tell that he's doing it to primarily illicit a given response (often an inflamatary one, left or right). Thus his own opinion seems to be degraded - it's no longer just about Moore's ideas (or even if he has them) - it's about Moore getting to you. Thus Moore becomes the loud flashy peformer and clown trying to be the progressive's friend and the antichrist to his critics.

Ironically to mangle the old quote: It makes Hitch everyone's cloudy-day friend, and Moore everyone's fair-weathered fool.

Posted by: Bill at June 22, 2004 01:28 PM

Greetings,

Ummmm... a minor question. How many people on this board have actually seen Mr. Moore's movie? How many intend to see it?

Posted by: grem at June 22, 2004 01:32 PM

A note about Orwell:

I'm surprised by the number of Orwell quotes that I'm seeing on right-wing blogs, supposedly in support of the Iraq war. I'm sure that Orwell, a deeply committed far-left socialist, is spinning in his grave. He was horrified that both 1984 and Animal Farm were used by the right wing as anti-communist propaganda, and the cherry-picking of his words to support an ill-conceived war is in the very same spirit.

Hitchens' quotation from Notes on Natitionalism is certainly fair use, as he takes a swipe at the same kind of Pacifism that Orwell was up against in his lifelong fight against fascism, but I've been seeing speculation that "Orwell wouldn't have liked Michael Moore" from people who, in all likelihood, know jack shit about Orwell.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 22, 2004 01:38 PM

How many people on this board have actually seen Mr. Moore's movie? How many intend to see it?

Doesn't open until Friday. I plan on seeing it, I liked the trailer, and the positive review from Fox News convinced me.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 22, 2004 01:39 PM

++UG,

The fair guess would be that Orwell would have been a big fan of deep-sixing a murderous fascist regime. I wouldn't be really shocked when people make such an argument.

But, when it gets down to cases, if you don't like the way people are using Orwell's words, and drawing conclusions about the way he thought based on those words, then do something about it other than these vague dismissive comments. So far, all I get out of it is that you (who may or may not know a lot about Orwell) feel qualified to disagree with those who say that they shared some similar sentiments with Orwell.

Are you going anywhere with that, or are you just taking potshots?

Posted by: Bravo Romeo Delta at June 22, 2004 01:42 PM

Actually, you're right ++UG, I do need to read the essay. But I disagree with you vehemently about the equation of Moore's works with the pieces I've read by Hitchens.

Having not read the essay, I still feel I understand the use of the word "nationalism" in this context. Nationalism itself isn't informed by fact or reason; nationalism is the support of the nation (or team, or dogma, or whatever flag the Group rallies around) in spite of fact and reason. I would accuse Moore of the fallacy of nationalism. Like Moore himself, his nationalism an amorphous construct, but it's a nationalism that can be easily discerned.

I have yet to see a critique of Hitchens that accuses him of abandoning fact and reason. He has opinions, yes, but they are informed -- and well defended -- opinions. He does not take refuge in the Nationalist lie that it's more important to defend the Flag than to defend the Truth. He has chosen a side in the debate, but he chose the side that best fit his philosophy of how the world should work; he's also blasted his own side when it deviated from his ideals. (His view and Michael's view of Abu Ghraib strike me as basically indistinguishable. Michael, correct me if I'm wrong.)

The shorter version of this comment is that it seems Orwell was saying a "nationalist" pundit can get away with being sloppy because their constituents don't care about the truth, only about reafirming some atavistic love of the Nation. Show me where Hitchens has been sloppy, or where he has ever shown less than the utmost respect for the truth. Otherwise please don't equate Moore and Hitchens. That strikes me as nationalistic thinking.

Posted by: Mark Poling at June 22, 2004 01:46 PM

I'm not planning on seeing it. He's rich enough, and I don't need the aggravation.

What shocks me, though it probably shouldn't, is the continued parroting of the "Disney refused to release it" lie. Moore said it was a publicity stunt; Disney was NEVER going to distribute the film.

Posted by: Doc at June 22, 2004 01:50 PM

++UG,

As a quick aside, how you square Hitchens' essay about Reagan with the notion that he simply writes to confirm the prejudices of the core constituency he is presumably writing to in the Moore piece?

Thnx,

BRD

Posted by: Bravo Romeo Delta at June 22, 2004 01:51 PM

P.S. I have of course read 1984 and Animal Farm. Both struck me as cautionary tales about the menace of thought control. Which "ism" the oppressors used to subjugate the masses was beside the point, I think.

Posted by: Mark Poling at June 22, 2004 01:54 PM

BRD:

If Hitch has a "core constituency" it's with the contrarians and other "difficult" people. Unforunately the group is too onrey to have a select set of prejudices by which to conform. Remember, this is the fellow who slams Clinton, Kissinger, Mother Teresa and Princess Diana, and what fan rating he has is measured in the number of times you both agree and disagree with him.

Posted by: Bill at June 22, 2004 02:03 PM

D+UG: I've been seeing speculation that "Orwell wouldn't have liked Michael Moore" from people who, in all likelihood, know jack shit about Orwell.

Well I, for one, have read most of Hitchens' books (many of them twice), most of Orwell's books (many of them twice), one of Moore's books (once), and seen two of Moore's movies (the first two documentaries.)

I do know Jack Shit about Orwell, as well as the other two gentlemen under discussion. And Hitchens has forgotten more about Orwell than I've even known. His recent scholarly work "Why Orwell Matters" is both brilliant and highly recommended. (Oh, and by the way, in my opinion Orwell's best book is a collection of essays called "My Country Right or Left."

I would be shocked if Michael Moore has read any of Orwell's political essays from start to finish. I would be even more shocked to learn he read "Homage to Catalonia." If he did, he didn't learn a damn thing from it.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 22, 2004 02:06 PM

Bill: If Hitch has a "core constituency" it's with the contrarians and other "difficult" people.

If you're right (and you probably are) then I am a contrarian and a difficult person. I've been a huge Hitch fan for about eight or nine years now.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 22, 2004 02:08 PM

++UG

Orwell was a socialist, but he despised Stalinists and other totalitarians and often criticized their misuse of facts, language, and history. Primary to his personal morality was honesty and an attempt to see things as they were, undistorted by ideology. Sometimes he got things wrong, but he was always trying. His collected essays make wonderful bedtime reading and give a good insight into the left of the 30's and 40's.

Hitch is far more agressive than Orwell, and his language more flamboyant, but I think that he adheres to the same tradition.

Posted by: chuck at June 22, 2004 02:25 PM

mjt I would be shocked if Michael Moore has read any of Orwell's political essays from start to finish. I would be even more shocked to learn he read "Homage to Catalonia." If he did, he didn't learn a damn thing from it.

I've read "Homage to Catalonia" several times, and I'm not sure what you mean by that.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 22, 2004 02:50 PM

Oh, just to clear up a possible source of confusion - I wasn't referring to MJT when I used the phrase "know jack shit about Orwell", nor was I referring to Hitchens.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 22, 2004 02:56 PM

D+UG,

Do you see any of the points raised in "Homage to Catalonia" that Michael Moore has incorporated into his "world view"? I sure don't.

Where to begin? Orwell's militant anti-facsism, perhaps. Maybe his warning against history being reduced to competing "narratives" instead of a search for the truth, which he said frightened him more than fascism itself. Michael Moore pisses all over the truth to create bogus "narratives" for profit, and if he ever had an anti-fascist bone in his body it has been surgically removed.

He denounced Wesley Clark as a "war criminal," then endorsed him for president of the United States. Can you imagine Orwell doing something like that? What a blowhard and a phony he is.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 22, 2004 02:59 PM

D+UG: I wasn't referring to MJT when I used the phrase "know jack shit about Orwell", nor was I referring to Hitchens.

I didn't think you were. I was just putting it out there because it seemed like the time to do so.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 22, 2004 03:01 PM

"It makes Hitch everyone's cloudy-day friend, and Moore everyone's fair-weathered fool."

Damn right. I first saw Hitchens about ten years ago on C-Span's Washington Journal. At the time I was a centrist and he was clearly on the left side of the political spectrum. I found his arguements brilliant and thought provoking. He was one of the few lefties that genuinely gave you the feeling that you would always be a little more intelligent for listening to his insights.

What I remember clearly about the interview was that it was generally low keyed until the topic of Henry Kissinger came up. He went from being humorous and soft-spoken to virtually snarling, declaring Mr. Kissinger to be a war criminal. He then went on a fascinating tirade of facts that would have opened many peoples eyes. I realized that he is one of the rare group of people who actually get better at defending their point of view when they become angry.

Clearly Mr. Moore got under Hitchens skin last year and it is payback time. I read the article late last night and was roaring with laughter. When Hitch gets pissed, he takes no prisoners.

Posted by: bob at June 22, 2004 03:38 PM

Can you imagine Orwell doing something like that?

No, but I don't think that Moore is claiming to be like Orwell.

While Orwell destested fascism, he detested all totalitarian political tendencies, including Stalinism. And while he advocated the violent overthrow of Hitler, Mussolini, and Franco, and put his own life on the line to fight for socialism in Spain, it should be remembered that these states were European and highly industrialized, and therefore a direct and immediate threat to Orwell's neighborhood. Orwell did not agitate for the invasion of small ineffectual dictatorships all around the world, of which there were an awful lot. Neither did he agitate for invasions based on terrorist attacks on British interests. And he was also not a great fan of colonialism, and I doubt he'd be a big fan of the new version.

As for Moore pissing all over the truth, well, that's an opinion. There's certainly a lot of that going around on all sides at this point. And while there were parts of his last book that I found, well, a bit overreaching, there were other parts I found intelligent and worth reading.

So I'll go and see the film myself. One bad review isn't enough to put me off, no matter how learned the reviewer.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 22, 2004 03:47 PM

"So I'll go and see the film myself."

I'll bet you didn't lose a friend in the towers.
I'm sure you will enjoy it and find it self-validating.

Posted by: bob at June 22, 2004 03:58 PM

++UG,

Let's rephrase the language to make it a bit clearer. On the subject of Iraq, there are two positions. Pro-Liberation and Anti-Liberation. Axiomatically.

Now, within the set of Pro-Liberation viewpoints, I have yet to encounter any argument that was Pro-Liberation, had a reasonable chance of success, and did not involve the liberation of Iraq by US-led forces. That's it. That's the whole shooting match, ace.

Now, with respect to the veracity of Moore's claims you sez:

"As for Moore pissing all over the truth, well, that's an opinion. There's certainly a lot of that going around on all sides at this point. And while there were parts of his last book that I found, well, a bit overreaching, there were other parts I found intelligent and worth reading."

No hoss, it's not an opinion. It's a demonstrable, verifiable fact. Therefore, it is actually not an opinon. By definition.

Secondly, your argument "There's certainly a lot of that going around on all sides at this point" is a logical Tu Quoque fallacy, and needs no further elaboration.

Thirdly, "And while there were parts of his last book that I found, well, a bit overreaching, there were other parts I found intelligent and worth reading." To this I first wonder what you think about a set of arguments that have lack sufficient foundation in demonstrable fact that falsehoods have to be relied upon. For me, I don't consider that to be sufficient foundation for me to place much merit on them. Even so, if the parts of his book that you find intelligent don't rely on lies, I guess you might find something worth looking at.

Myself, I prefer not having to pick flecks of bullshit off my sandwhich in order to eat lunch.

Posted by: Bravo Romeo Delta at June 22, 2004 04:03 PM
He was one of the few lefties that genuinely gave you the feeling that you would always be a little more intelligent for listening to his insights

Heck, I think I like him more when I disagree with him than when I do agree with him.

Besides his Kissinger fixation, I remember his doco on Princess Diana Mania at her death. I found it to be dignified albiet controversial and more than a bit cold given the conventional wisdom as to how we were all supposed to run to the store for the latest Di memorabilia, while at the same time very thought provoking.

Compare that to Moore who seems more interested in taking satisfaction at alienating those with whom he disagrees rather than confronting them with well-rounded arguments. I definitely prefer disagreeing with Hitch far far more than agreeing with Moore. I s'pose it's a respect thing.

Yeah that makes me a difficult contrarian too, I guess.

Posted by: Bill at June 22, 2004 04:11 PM

If you read any of Orwell's stuff on his experiences in Burma, it's hard not to escape the conclusion that he'd be very uncomfortable with recent events in Iraq. Sure, he didn't like fascism, but he didn't have a lot of time for imperialism, either.

On Hitchens - I've never found him so maddening as on the occasion I agreed with him most profoundly - going after Henry Kissenger. What I thought was called for was a cool, relentless assembling of the evidence (which when you see it all together is utterly damning) together with an explanation of the relevant legal standards.

But Hitchens' book was a hot-headed polemic, heavy on rhetoric but light on forensic analysis. He had also not bothered to understand the international and domestic legal standards by which Kissenger's conduct should be judged.

I wonder if this is not a function of his output, which is extraordinary. Given the speed with which he works, he can't possibly take time to reflect on his work and refine it. As a result, he tends inevitably to get by on the brilliance of his rhetoric.

Which unfortunately means that he tends to be more court jester than public intellectual.

Posted by: Mork at June 22, 2004 04:42 PM

Whoops, unintentional implied double negative in the first sentence.

Posted by: Mork at June 22, 2004 04:43 PM

Snitch lost any right to claim Orwell's mantle when he betrayed his best friend to Ken Starr ("under the spreading chestnut tree, I sold you and you sold me"). He's much too comfortable now, speaking power to truth, to be taken seriously as a social critic. Having ol' Samgrass dis you would be like having Pauline Kael pan one of your movies twenty years ago: far from inflicting pain, it would show that you have become a force to be reckoned with.

On a sidenote, MT, I tried to access your site today at the Federal Court building downtown, and it was blocked as a "hatesite", whilst sites like LGF and Indymedia were accessible. What have you done?

Posted by: Steve Smith at June 22, 2004 04:55 PM

bob - I didn't lose a friend in the Towers, but I'm sure that quite a few people who DID lose friends in the Towers will see the film and enjoy it. Nick Berg's dad was at the front of an ANSWER parade in DC a few days after his son was beheaded.

That said, though the partisan side of me will likely enjoy ANY skewering of Bush, the more thoughtful side of me will wonder why Michael Moore and the Leftist perspective that he so eloquently expresses doesn't give a fuck about the fate of oppressed peoples like Kurds, Marsh Arabs and other Iraqis who would have continued to be victimized by Saadam (or his sons) had the overthrow of the regime not occured. If Saadam was a US ally, which he easily could have remained, would they have been screaming for justice then?

Posted by: Markus Rose at June 22, 2004 04:55 PM

Steve: On a sidenote, MT, I tried to access your site today at the Federal Court building downtown, and it was blocked as a "hatesite",

Who knows? Nanny software sucks. A friend of mine worked on nanny software and said he would never ever buy it.

Before my mother retired she worked as a mortgage officer at a bank. A lot of my emails to her were blocked because "they contained profanity." I have never ever used profanity in an email to my mother. But that didn't stop a dozen or so emails being blocked for that reason.

Who knows, Steve? I quoted a guy who wrote the words "fuck Jews." Obviously I do not agree with such a sentiment, but it's possible a bot picked it up and blocked my site because of it. Or something like that.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 22, 2004 05:04 PM

So Nick Berg's dad is a jackass, without the decency to mourn his son before joining up with the Stalinists. Your point is?

Posted by: Doc at June 22, 2004 05:11 PM

Markus,

I thought Michael Bergs exploitation of his son's death was disgusting, boomer narcissism at it's very worst. Nick didn't agree with his father; a less self centered man would have honored his son's death by honoring his son's aspirations even though he disagreed. But no, for Michael it was all about himself. Words fail me to describe such a pathetic human being.

Posted by: chuck at June 22, 2004 05:18 PM

Chuck: Words fail me to describe such a pathetic human being.

Not only did the man suffer the tragedy of out-living his child, his child was brutally murdered on video by terrorists in front of the entire world. I cannot imagine what that must be like. I think the man deserves a lot of slack. He could not possibly have been in a normal state of mind.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 22, 2004 05:22 PM

Nick Berg's dad was aligned with the Stalinists BEFORE his son's head was sawn off on TV. There are some strange indications that his dad's affiliations are responsible for his head getting sawn off.

Posted by: Matthew Cromer at June 22, 2004 05:23 PM

D+UG said "Might apply to both Hitchens and Moore, IMO"

A short Google search will show you that Hitchens wrote the book on Orwell. I wouldn't get in a debate with him about Orwell.

As to the review, it's a simple matter to go through it point by point and tell us where Hitchens is wrong. One or two biggies will do, because that will cast doubt on the rest.

Hitchens is not an easy guy to like - he never met a man he didn't dislike (Reagan, Ghandi, even Mother Teresa were targets of his vitriol). But finally, one of the Left's darlings is under attack.

But you guys are going to have to come up with a better argument than "Hitchens said it so it must be untrue".

Unlike the stupid movie, where you can point to almost every scene and see how Moore manipulated it.

Like the scene of Bush "flaking out" at his Camp David retreat. See if you can see the guy next to him. That's Tony Blair. It's a working vacation. If you can even call it a vacation.

Posted by: Mike at June 22, 2004 05:27 PM

chuck, doc: I'm too liberal and idealistic and internationalistic to be AGAINST the war. And antiwar people appear to be unwilling to support oppressed peoples solely because they happen to be allied with the United States, irrespective of whether the cause is just...this pisses me off.

But I still try to understand where everybody is coming from, Nick Berg's dad included. They just see the war, and every death it has produced, as unnecessary. They ignore any speculation on anything that could have happened if NO invasion had occured.

Posted by: Markus Rose at June 22, 2004 05:29 PM

OK, that works as a point. The hypocrisy of the ANSWER position bothers me as well, but I'm less interested in 'where they're coming from'.

As far as I can tell, ANSWER's position is that we suck, and Israel is evil; no action against us is wrong, and no action we take is justified.

Posted by: Doc at June 22, 2004 05:51 PM

Hitchens demonstrates the way to reduce a jackass to an object of ridicule, through facts and pointed argument. Read Moore's interview in the current Playboy to see what a lunatic he is and how incapable of reason. As for Orwell, of course he was a socialist but he despised the British apologists for Orwell and it is these writings that today's "right" quotes and because he was intellectually honest, Orwell would approve. Both Animal Farm and 1984 are condemnations of Stalin's Soviet Union.

Posted by: Doug at June 22, 2004 06:11 PM

Michael,

Perhaps I was a bit immoderate. But I have seen a lot of stuff like that in my generation. From parents telling me how their kids settle parental fights, to parents running out their kids to further their politics. Not to mention the often bizarre manipulations of kids to take sides during divorce. What ever happened to adults raising kids and taking care of the adult stuff for themselves? It pushes my buttons.

Posted by: chuck at June 22, 2004 06:17 PM

"They can defend his right to say what he wants (and so should everyone)" ---
Without getting into detail on Mike the Whale Moore,exactly WHY should everyone feel compelled to defend his right to say what he wants ?
This is an issue I feel quite strongly about and have commented on in previous posts.While I am very easily convinced that 'opinions'should not be repressed(by the state or its agents) EXCEPT in the direst circumstances,I see NO reason at all to put myself in harms way to defend a creature such as Moore.To me he is both a cause and a result of a serious social failure in our culture.
If he has a right to behave as he does then it stands to reason that perhaps a relative of one of the 4 men slain in Fallujah who he has basically degraded in his past pontifications,might want to remonstate rather forecefully with him.I totally reject the concept that I have a moral duty to jump to the defense of a man whom I would literally not spit on if he were on fire.That's just unacceptable.

Posted by: dougf at June 22, 2004 06:48 PM

No one deserves this thrashing more than Moore. This piece is a keeper – totally dry wit, shaken not stirred. I especially like Hitchens’ admiration of Moore’s courage.

“I have already said that Moore's film has the staunch courage to mock Bush for his verbal infelicity. Yet it's much, much braver than that. From Fahrenheit 9/11 you can glean even more astounding and hidden disclosures, such as the capitalist nature of American society, the existence of Eisenhower's "military-industrial complex," and the use of "spin" in the presentation of our politicians. It's high time someone had the nerve to point this out.”

Moore’s "courage" is only matched by his "originality."

Posted by: mary at June 22, 2004 07:11 PM

A short word of advice: In general, it's highly unwise to quote Orwell if you are already way out of your depth on the question of moral equivalence.

Christopher Hitchens, Marxist, Troskyite, defender of Noam Chomsky and friend to Edward Said and Alexander Cockburn, lecturing Michael Moore on moral equivalence. Grim humor at best, but humor none the less.

These are serious times, but it is worthwhile to remember that neither Chris nor Mike deserve to be taken completely seriously. Both are fools, and have been for years. They differ only in the depth of their respective foolishness.

Posted by: DennisThePeasant at June 22, 2004 07:26 PM

>>>"if I write an article and I quote somebody and for space reasons put in an ellipsis like this (…), I swear on my children that I am not leaving out anything that, if quoted in full, would alter the original meaning or its significance. Those who violate this pact with readers or viewers are to be despised."

I agree, Michael Moore is to be despised.

Posted by: David at June 22, 2004 07:44 PM

Yaaawn.

Late again, but this one caught my eye:

Political or military commentators, like astrologers, [dpu: like Moore and Hitchens] can survive almost any mistake,

In order for this to apply equally to both Moore and Hitchens, they both would have to have made mistakes. In fact, in this context, Hitchen's critique of Moore should have mistakes in it on par with the mistakes he accuses Moore of making. Since ++UG has made no attempt at all to demonstrate that Hitchens has made any mistakes, let alone such egregious errors as he imputes to Moore, I think we can safely not apply this particular passage to Hitchens, but only to Moore.

because their more devoted followers do not look to them for an appraisal of the facts but for the stimulation of nationalistic loyalties.

I'm not sure anyone here really qualifies as one of Hitchen's more devoted followers, so this passage probably doesn't apply either, even if we all do agree to conflate nationalism and patriotism (which is doubtful), or look to Hitchens to stimulate it (which may be less doubtful). About the only thing that can be said in Moore's defense on this one is that his own "more devoted followers" certainly don't look to him to stimulate national pride of any kind!

And aesthetic judgements, [dpu: like Hitchen's review] especially literary judgements, are often corrupted in the same way as political ones.

This one fails to apply immediately, since the substance of Hitchen's critique consists of a judgement of fact and a judgement of meaning. Aesthetic judgements are judgements of form. Hitchens is making a judgement of content. All his asides about the stylistic shortcomings of Moore's work could be safely removed from the piece without removing even one iota of his point.

Really, ++UG,

In general, it's highly unwise to quote Orwell if you are already way out of your depth on the question of moral equivalence.
Posted by: Peter A. at June 22, 2004 07:58 PM

DennisThePeasant:

People change their positions. Orwell himself changed a good deal from the early thirties to his death, and examined how he had gone wrong in his earlier opinion.

I also recall that in some essay circa 1945, that he said that the right had proven to be smarter and more competent then the left. He was referring to the prosecution of the war against fascism, where the radical left had not made much of a contribution. He also respected the patriotism of the aristocratic class and their response to their calling of defending the nation; after all, from a socialist perspective, they were not otherwise productive members of society.

The essay on nationalism did not examing classical nationalism, but rather the bizarre phenomenon of englishmen having patriotic feelings for a foreign nation, Russia. That is, they had not transcended nationalism, but merely transferred it elsewhere. Sort of like saying folks aren't antiwar, just on the other side. Of course, he also examined some of the characteristics of nationalism. Mind, this is all from memory. I haven't been reading Orwell recently.

Re the thirties, I can recommend Vera Brittain's book, "Testament of Experience", for the pacifist side. Orwell's essay justifying the bombing of civilians was triggered by an essay of her's complaining about the bombing of German cities. She also wrote "Testament of Youth", which gives a good account of WWI from a nurse's perspective. I particularly remember the incident where her fiance's uniform was returned to his family after he was killed, with all its bullet holes and smelling of the trenches.

Ciao

Posted by: chuck at June 22, 2004 08:30 PM

Chuck-

I haven't read Orwell myself since college (late '70s), which is a definite 'shame on me'. Based on what you've said, I am going to put 'Testament of Youth' on my reading list, but right now my short list runs one and a half titles by Bernard Lewis, one by Paul Johnson, one by Paul Hollander, one by Victor Davis Hanson and one by Thomas Barnett. Then comes Lou Cannon's trilogy on St. Ronald of Reagan. So it may be a while...

With regards to Hitchens. I know that people change, and MJT and I have had several exchanges as to the relative worth of Hitch, as well as the relative worth of his recent changes. I'm not gonna burn the host's bandwith and try his patience recounting all of the reasons why I find him (to put it mildly) unimpressive. Let's just say that if we must have him around, he is at his least insufferable when he is bashing the Anti-Liberation Left. Pissing off people like Chomsky and Moore does mitigate a certain number of other sins, but only a certain number.

Posted by: DennisThePeasant at June 22, 2004 09:26 PM

DennisThePeasant:

Of course, I suppose some of the appeal of Orwell comes from the fact that he was a literary socialist who also believed in truth and liberty. The black sheep phenomenon, so to speak. Such traits in a conservative would be less astonishing and less worthy of note. A similar remark could probably be made about Hitchens. But hey, why complain when a top notch polemicist comes down on your side?

Posted by: chuck at June 23, 2004 08:49 AM

hitchens' wierd question 'where is the radical firing line?' is hard to figure. is he saying the networks would allow such a thing? why does he think that Buckley was given such a show, not a leftist?

look at what happened to phil donahue when he tried to have a show from the left, for starters. and he had higher ratings than his colleagues at msnbc, his bosses were afraid of an antiwar show becoming popular on the eve of an unpopular war.

Posted by: mac at June 23, 2004 11:19 AM

mac -- I am glad you can read the minds of the powers that be at MSNBC. Do you think cancellation of Donahue's show may have had anything to do with the fact that his ratings were aweful?

Posted by: Ben at June 23, 2004 01:28 PM

Hitchens weakens his arguments when he goes ad hominem on Moore. There really isn't cause to do so especially since it appears like the pot calling the kettle black. Hitchens isn't exactly the most attractive of people. Ex: "I never quite know whether Moore is as ignorant as he looks, or even if that would be humanly possible". This sort of criticism certainly can score points among the "screaming pundit" news talk shows (Chris Matthews, Hannity & Colmes, etc) but really should be beneath Hitchen's to use.
I can only speculate but perhaps it is his own insecurity that compels him to the ad hominem attack or maybe he just really and truly hates Moore. I don't know... or perhaps, he is jealous that a fat, middle-aged, college drop-out from Michigan is able to become a wealthy, successful filmmaker while Hitch, an Oxford educated, Brit practically born with a silver spoon has to toil away writing for what Moore considers chump-change and slumming as an "expert" on basic-cable, pseudo-news programs?

Posted by: Llew at June 23, 2004 02:46 PM

Isn't the "Appeal to Orwell" one of those logical fallacy thingies?

Posted by: Doc at June 23, 2004 03:21 PM

I hope Moore keeps it up. He is helping us Republicans alot.

Posted by: freeguy at June 23, 2004 10:22 PM

Hey, Hitch makes his logical case so well I don't mind the occasional trash talking. Sort of like Michael Jordan getting in the face of some benchwarmer after taking him to school.

Of course, the thought of seeing Hitchen, Moore, or god forbid myself in an NBA uniform is simply frightening...

Posted by: Mark Poling at June 24, 2004 12:22 PM
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