Friday, March 14, 2008

Rock and Roll

Or, the continuing misadventures of Oliver the Serious Pundit. Oliver Kamm has an entire post around a video of Christopher Hitchens making some morning-after comments on a US breakfast news show. (Three things here: first, why do people take Hitchens so seriously? Second, he says that he's been up all night, and in my experience that's an impediment to clear thinking; third, this is the worst kind of news coverage - journalists interviewing other journalists.) Oliver says he found the link from Martin [sic; he blogs as 'Marty'] Peretz. This is the whole thing:

Christopher Hitchens says that Hillary Clinton would run with George Wallace if doing so could snag her the nomination.

My query to her is: how can she be agreeable to taking on as her vice president Barack Obama, whom she has so dishonorably trashed?


Now, I believe Ms Clinton's campaign team have trashed Mr Obama, and dishonourably so too. But one cannot derive that fact from something Christopher Hitchens says that he thinks she might do in his head. This is not serious political coverage. Hitchens other point against her - mendacity - is perfectly fair as clearly supported by facts (which, almost to rub in that his Wallace jibe wasn't, he's allowed to demonstrate).

As for Mr Obama:

Here Christopher refers to Barack Obama as "a very shallow and flaky candidate" who is a member of a "dumb, nasty, ethnic rock 'n' roll racist church".


"Shallow and flaky" (which just happens to be Oliver's post's title) is not serious analysis either. As I've said before, I've read "God is Not Great." Like me, Hitchens regards a "dumb, nasty ... church" as a tautology. But 'ethnic'? But for clearer analysis, let me hand you over to John Cole. "Who gives a shit what Obama’s minister thinks? He is just another bullshit artist." Heh. Indeed. (Oh, one final dig, John quotes one of the Powertools "But it’s unusual for a thinking person to retain an affiliation with a church whose leader attacks his country unless, at a minimum, that person considers those attacks not 'particularly controversial.'" I refer you to Carl Schurz (1829–1906).)

By "rock and roll" could Christopher Hichens possibly mean this? The best joke on the intertrons this decade if you ask me, and with a video of two white old farts* camping it up for Live Aid.

*Both were younger than I am now. The horror.

Update 8:58 pm. IOZ (one of my favourite bloggers these days) has a couple of videos of Obama's preacher. In the first, he says, "we have a few white people here today". He's not such a racist then, that he keeps people of other skin hues out. (Also, if you didn't know who he was, really, his skin tone is pretty much my dad's. You've never met my dad, obviously. Oliver Kamm's then, going by his mugshot.) I second IOZ, "Barack Obama is a little bitch, but I would vote for his preacher in a second." There are a few whites in the audience; also in fairness, Bill Clinton was raised in a one-parent family. The second video is idiot commentary. I despair. Someone comes along and tells it how it is, and all the pundits just huddle and tut.

10 Comments:

Blogger ejh said...

why do people take Hitchens so seriously?

Because he was the finest leftist writer of his generation. And because he gets lots and lots of media attention, now that he isn't any more.

3/14/2008 07:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Oliver's natural snobbery takes on a particulalry unpleasant tone when it comes to discussing race, so he just probably can't see what's wrong with Hitchen's "ethnic" and "rock'n'roll" sneers (I guess he means the church is a bit gospel - which seems to make him uncomfortable). Witness Kamm's weird piece about a black curator at the National who wrote in the Observer about ways to make the National appeal to more black punters

http://oliverkamm.typepad.com/blog/2007/01/calibans_return.html

firstly, Kamm gives it the title "Caliban's return" - which I assume means he views the man like Caliban , ie a hot tempered savage. Secondly he seems to be suggesting race, slavery, etc are somehow lesser themes in art , somehow "parochial" when there are more "universal" themes. Finally, Kamm put this nasty bit in " I greatly desire a full integration of black and Asian British into all fields of national life. It is a pity that on the evidence of this article there is one black British man too many in the field of arts administration, namely [the curator]"

3/14/2008 08:56:00 AM  
Anonymous shake said...

it’s unusual for a thinking person to retain an affiliation with a church whose leader attacks his country unless, at a minimum, that person considers those attacks not 'particularly controversial'

reminds me of the disparity between the Iraq War policies of St Anthony Blair and the Pope...

3/14/2008 10:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Stephen said...

It's probably the case that most of the white candidates in the US Presidential election worship at churches where the majority of the congregation is white (one of them worships at a church which officially held, as an article of faith, that blacks were inferior until the 1970s).

But its only an ethnic church if the congregation is majority black, apparently.

3/14/2008 11:03:00 AM  
Anonymous shake said...

Ugh, that 'Caliban' piece. For somebody who is boasting of his knowledge of obscure works of literature concerning race, it's fairly clear that Oliver doesn't really understand The Tempest, or else he wouldn't have chosen that title.

Nor does he seem to understand the fact that he is attacking Jonah Albert for saying this:

The paintings in the National Gallery deal with major life themes: love, loss, death, jealousy, betrayal, war, peace, power and many more ideas, all of which are just as relevant to black people as anyone else.

Kamm's 'correct' version of art is this:

The pedagogic power of art lies not in its being "relevant" - though it is obviously, and trivially, true that the subjects cited by Mr Albert are of universal rather than parochial significance - but in its broadening our experience and appreciation of enduring human concerns.

The only difference is the use of the word 'relevant'.

The output of Decents on the arts in general is one of the few things guaranteed to make me laugh. They really don't have a clue...

3/14/2008 11:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Simon said...

"The output of Decents on the arts in general is one of the few things guaranteed to make me laugh. They really don't have a clue..."

There are also shades of the right-wing denunciation of the arts for being too left-wing, or in the Decents' case not sufficiently committed to the GISOOT.

3/14/2008 03:46:00 PM  
Blogger StuartA said...

Seeing as we seem to be on a Kamm binge, here's my tangential contribution.

To anyone who takes Kamm seriously enough to comment on his blog, my advice is don't bother. He warns that he will delete things if "if it enters [his] head" to do so. In my experience this means that he will leap in within 5 minutes to delete anything discreditable to him.

As with most things in Kammworld, the comments facility is strictly for show.

3/14/2008 07:12:00 PM  
Blogger hardindr said...

Obama responds to Rev. Wright.

3/14/2008 11:43:00 PM  
Blogger hardindr said...

Sorry, link below.

http://www.streetprophets.com/storyonly/2008/3/14/18334/7739

3/14/2008 11:45:00 PM  
Anonymous shake said...

There are also shades of the right-wing denunciation of the arts for being too left-wing, or in the Decents' case not sufficiently committed to the GISOOT.

Nick Cohen in particular seems to think that arts awards are dished out not for the artwork in question but for the 'political message'. In general TGISOOT has meant that the Decents have ended up hating the arts establishment because artists in general doesn't, like the Decents, think that the high point of human acheievement is to stick steadfastly and boneheadedly to one fixed ideological position - therefore the people who make and commission art must be terrorist appeasing scum etc etc.

Never mind, of course, that they are the exact same arts admin people who also fete the Decents' novelist of choice, Ian McEwan (and the Decents like Rushide to a lesser extent, in general anyone who criticises his work is a book-burner, but the Decents don't seem to have read anything he's written since Midnight's Children).

3/15/2008 10:49:00 AM  

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