Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

An oldie but goodie

The execrable Christopher Hitchens decided to attack the estimable Juan Cole and got stomped on as a fly by an elephant. Do read. It's not really about Hitchens, it's about war. Here's the story on Hitchens, from yours truly, which I first wrote last year.

Christopher Hitchens, like Lyndon Larouche, used to present himself as a leftist. For many years he had a column in The Nation in which he vied with Alexander Cockburn for the “Most Acerbic” award (a magnificent scarlet inkwell filled with sulphuric acid). Things started to get a little weird in the 1990s when he developed an obsessive hatred of the Clintons. His reasons were partly respectable (triangulating, Dick-Morris-employing betrayers of the revolutionary vanguard) and partly insane (Bill’s serial sex crimes made Ted Bundy look like a boy scout; Whitewater [in which they were guilty, Guilty, GUILTY!) was the financial scandal of the century; Hillary not only murdered Vincent Foster, but conspired with her lesbian lover to seduce, rob and kill dozens of wealthy young fops whose mutilated bodies turned up in seedy alleys all over the DC metro area . .. well, maybe I made up that last one but it’s in the spirit of the thing.) Once he could no longer demonstrate his superiority to the bleating herd of liberal sheep by cheering on Ken Starr, the Iraq war became his next opportunity. His bellicose rantings were enough to drive Dick Cheney to the Quaker meetinghouse. He finally resigned from The Nation, claiming that the refusal of the magazine’s other writers and editors to fall to their knees in grateful acknowledgment of his intellectual and moral superiority on the question of war was proof of their bigotry and hatefulness. He wrote a final hissy fit essay in which he burned every bridge from London to Lompoc.

As some people have noticed, the Iraq war has not turned out the way it was supposed to. Some of the war’s portside chickenhawk supporters have since issued mealy mouthed retractions; others have concentrated on giving Chimpoleon and his pals unsolicited advice about how to do it better. Hitchens, however, has devoted himself to escalatingly vicious and absurd attacks on the war’s opponents. It’s not unusual for polemicists to turn against their own comrades but Hitchens’s case is particularly disgusting and bizarre. I think that chronic alcoholism destroyed brain cells in his cerebral cortex that normally inhibit irrational emotional responses in the limbic system. Something ticked him off around 1994, and the anger just fed into a positive feedback loop that slowly and steadily grows more intense. Eventually, he’ll lose one too many neurons and lapse into a vegetative state.

Unfortunately for the rest of us, he's still a few dead neurons away from the PVS. But at the rate he's going, it shouldn't be long.

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