Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Till human voices wake us, and we drown

Well, reader Bubby did ask.

Christopher Hitchens: On the waterboard.

This came to me via Justin 'Chicken Yoghurt'. It's done the rounds: tehgrauniad; Update From the “No Shit” Department (John Cole gets the best title); David T of Harry's Place and many more no doubt.

I did think about blogging this here. It's good to see Hitchens on the right side, and I'm pleased that David T wrote about this too. I also think that this is proper journalism, even if it looks like a bit of a stunt. That is to say, Hitchens left his office and actually did something. I've been thinking about the Nick Cohen thing in the last post, and IF the allegations about the Observer spiking[1] his stuff are true, it must be at least partly because he doesn't seem to do any research. I've said this before, but the Finsbury Park mosque is not far from Islington. Jon Ronson is Jewish (he's said so) and he manages to meet these anti-Semitic nutters and write about them, and he's not the one who calls other hacks 'unmanly'.

Seymour Hersh kept writing about torture after Abu Ghraib; but his stuff didn't get old because he kept up the fact-finding. This is also an excuse for me to link to Preparing The Battlefield: The Bush Administration steps up its secret moves against Iran which I think anticipates the Decent talking points we're going to be seeing in the next few months.

I can't remember all of Hitchens's views on this, but I think he's never tried to argue to torture is either morally acceptable or effective. What he has argued is that there were no orders from the top: the Abu Ghraib scandals were privates acting privately as it were. I hope he's now realised that this was not the case.

Finally, and seriously, I hope his nightmares pass soon.

[1] We use all the drawing-attention to ourselves journo buzzwords here.

6 Comments:

Anonymous bubby said...

I can't remember all of Hitchens's views on this, but I think he's never tried to argue to torture is either morally acceptable or effective

Hmmmm not sure this is correct. What I think he did was attempt to blur the line about what constitutes torture.

7/02/2008 07:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Simon said...

"it must be at least partly because he doesn't seem to do any research"

I don't think Nick has ever done much research in the sense of going out and investigating stuff. The big change really has been the dwindling number of sources he relies upon. In the 'Cruel Britannia' era he drew on quite a diverse range of sources, many of them not very well represented in the mainstream media. Now he's pretty much down to that guy from the probation service, some blogs (whom he usually credits as named individuals rather than blogs to suggest he has been doing more than just browsing the internet), and whoever has made an appearance in HP that week.

7/02/2008 07:47:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

And Paul Berman. Can't believe you missed him.

7/03/2008 05:42:00 AM  
Blogger Alex said...

It's quite a surprising new departure in Hitchens' progress. Over the last ten years, he's wandered like a drunken...drunk, drunkenly, from drink to drink between the partisan poles. In 1998 he thought Henry Kissinger should be put on trial for war crimes, but then discovered he was really a Republican. In 2002 he was a Decent. By 2005 he was doing positively embarrassing stupid shit like going on BBC TV and saying that the victims of Katrina weren't Americans, but this seems to have marked a low point.

Since then, there's been a technical rally at least. In 2006-2007 he suddenly noticed he'd been hanging out with a bunch of cryptofascist religious nuts for ten years and wrote his singalongaDawkins thing. You could read this as him responding to the change in the political weather.

But this implies a fairly major ideological truth moment wrt the entire War On Terror project...

7/03/2008 10:53:00 AM  
Anonymous BenSix said...

Will, I wonder, Nick Cohen volunteer for deportation now?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,1939959,00.html

7/03/2008 11:26:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

A very good essay by Jonathan Freedland on Hitchens and Amis in the NYRB this fortnight - the stuff on Amis is particularly good, mainly because it is so concise, and appears to have been influenced by stuff written on here... Sadly you have to pay for the online edition:

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/article-preview?article_id=21614

On hitchens it is a bit out of date already as it doesn't acknowledge his recent discovery that Bush is bad...

7/03/2008 12:08:00 PM  

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