James Kirchick (h/t Mick Hartley) writes on all that was left unsaid at a memorial service for Christopher Hitchens in New York last month.
The service began with an opening speech by Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter, who set the tone for the event when he mentioned, in passing, Christopher’s “curious prowar stance before the invasion of Iraq.” We would hear next to nothing about Iraq for the rest of the 90-minute service, a glaring omission considering that the war to overthrow Saddam Hussein, second only perhaps to his crusade against religion, was the defining topic of the last decade of Christopher’s life. An impressive array of people performed readings of Christopher’s best work; some of which—Tom Stoppard from a Nation piece on the Prague Spring, Tom Mallon from a Vanity Fair dispatch about North Korea, Christopher Buckley from the memoir Hitch 22—were deeply moving.
But not a single one of the readings was about Iraq, never mind the looming threat of Iran or the hypocrisies of the antiwar movement, topics that consumed Christopher and gradually drove him away from the Nation (which, he concluded, had become “the voice and the echo chamber of those who truly believe that John Ashcroft is a greater menace than Osama bin Laden”) and the left in general. One of his most memorable polemics, the absence of which at the memorial was surely attributable to the fact that it would have offended most of the people in the room, was his evisceration of filmmaker Michael Moore and his Fahrenheit 9/11. This “silly and shady man,” Christopher wrote, had produced a film which represented “a possible fusion between the turgid routines of MoveOn.org and the filmic standards, if not exactly the filmic skills, of Sergei Eisenstein or Leni Riefenstahl.”
Christopher never apologized for his support of the war, or expressed the slightest doubt that he had been wrong in backing it, but the memorial service tried to whitewash this episode as if it were akin to an embarrassing crime he had committed.
Good for the people of St. Louis, Missouri, for throwing the first major parade welcoming home veterans of the war in Iraq. I sincerely hope we see this being repeated around the country. (Including and especially in New York City, by the way. I really don’t understand why Mayor Bloomberg claims he needs permission from the Pentagon to have a parade on Broadway. This is something that the people want to do. It is inappropriate—at the very least—to allow generals in Washington to overrule it.) Continue reading Parade in St. Louis for Iraq War veterans →
Put politics aside. The part of his speech today at the Annual Conference of the American Legion by the President of the United States paying tribute to those who have fought for this country since 9/11 was entirely appropriate and accurate.
Today, as we near this solemn anniversary, it’s fitting that we salute the extraordinary decade of service rendered by the 9/11 Generation -— the more than 5 million Americans who've worn the uniform over the past 10 years. They were there, on duty, that September morning, having enlisted in a time of peace, but they instantly transitioned to a war footing. They’re the millions of recruits who have stepped forward since, seeing their nation at war and saying, “Send me.” They’re every single soldier, sailor, airman, Marine and Coast Guardsman serving today, who has volunteered to serve in a time of war, knowing that they could be sent into harm’s way. Continue reading The 9/11 Warriors →
And, in an important sense, Bush was wrong (as is Obama today), in not insisting on this as a premise in both Afghanistan and Iraq. At Georgetown University today the Archbishop of Denver, Charles J. Chaput, gave a speech which included the following:
The global situation is made worse by the inaction of our own national leadership in promoting to the world one of America’s greatest qualities: religious freedom.
This is regrettable because we urgently need an honest discussion on the relationship between Islam and the assumptions of the modern democratic state. In diplomacy and in interreligious dialogue we need to encourage an Islamic public theology that is both faithful to Muslim traditions and also open to liberal norms. Shari’a law is not a solution. Christians living under shari’a uniformly experience it as offensive, discriminatory and a grave violation of their human dignity. Continue reading Chaput is right →