A reader sent me the above Youtube today. It made me miss Hitch a little more acutely than usual. To see why, go to 48:00 and stay for a few minutes. Watching Hitch stick up for gay love in front of an arch-Catholic audience while debating Bill Donohue all those years ago brought a lump to my throat. He is laughed at and jeered for saying what he says. And so he repeats it. This is the way to counter bigots – by fearless debate and relentless engagement. Hitch had no time at all for nasty bigots. But the last thing he’d ever want is to shut them up.
Leon Wieseltier, meanwhile, has written the same column again! But this time, it does include one pertinent aside:
[Obama] has been trying to escape the Middle East for years and “pivot” to Asia, as if the United States can ever not be almost everywhere, leading and influencing, supporting or opposing, in one fashion or another.
Really? The US must always be “almost everywhere“. Are there no places where the US can express disinterest or indifference or merely concentrate on safeguarding its vital interests? Apparently not. Somehow, the US has to actively stop Russia from meddling – as it has always done – with its near-abroad. How? Ay, that is the question. Wieseltier doesn’t say and never has to say. 1200 words is only ever enough for an indictment, after all.
But this is a live issue. If elected, Hillary Clinton or Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush may well resuscitate the Washington elite’s addiction to saving the world in classic neocon/liberal internationalist fashion. It doesn’t matter that in the last decade, we’ve endured the chaotic consequences of the Libya intervention, the ongoing catastrophe of the Iraq invasion, the impossibility of the Afghan occupation, and the near nightmare of plunging the US into the Syrian vortex (which Wieseltier enthusiastically endorsed). It doesn’t matter that the US is buried in debt, that the public’s opposition to hegemonic meddling is deep and broad, that there is no global ideological struggle to wage, and no genuine external state threats to counter. We just have to be everywhere.
Letting go of empire is never easy. But the prudent, minor unwinding of global hegemony that Obama has managed deserves more respect than this.
Meanwhile, the most popular post of the day was on the humiliation of Sean Hannity in the Cliven Bundy affair. Hannity has since done a triple lutz in distancing himself from his heretofore hero. On his radio show he declared that Bundy’s remarks
are beyond repugnant to me. They are beyond despicable to me. They are beyond ignorant to me,
I just can’t wait to watch the Daily Show tonight, can you?
Runner-up was my post yesterday on Obama’s unsung progress on WMDs in Syria and Iran. Other popular posts were Chad Griffin’s attempt to make amends for the Becker book and Chait’s bon mots about the right and racism. And, er, pseudo-penises.
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And see you in the morning.