Reading Martin Amis--3
Hitchens & Bush
On the question of the war in Iraq, Hitchens insisted that it was absolutely the right thing to do and absolutely the right time to do it. Then, somehow, he segued into what has to be the silliest defense of George W. Bush ever cobbled together. It went something like this: Laura Bush told the then-hard-drinking George W. that it was either “Jim Beam” or her. George W., in opting for her, was not really embracing the strident Christianity that many believe to be at the root of his decision-making and that Hitchens so vehemently opposes. He was simply doing what needed to be done to keep Laura. Besides, we now have “the nicest woman in the White House” that we’ve ever had. Such was the zigging and zagging of Hitchens’ rationalizing, leaving me to wonder at the strange political bedfellows with whom Hitchens is presently locked in embrace as he advocates the destruction of tyrants and terrorists.
Hitchens & Religion
Hitchens’ accept-my-word-as-truth attitude peaked on the subject of Mel Gibson’s The Passion.” He referred to it as the “Leni Riefenstahl version” and decreed it to be “an anti-Semitic film made by an anti-Semite who is the son of an anti-Semite.” “Jesus is not a historical figure,” Hitchens unequivocally stated. For emphasis, he added that although Mohammed is a historical figure, Jesus is not. A professor of medieval literature who is also a biblical scholar found this claim to be absolutely preposterous, citing two “undoubtedly authentic” references in the writings of a, a first-century historian, who provided independent confirmation as to the existence of Jesus (Josephus, Jewish Antiquities).
Amis and Hitchens revealed their sole parting of the way over Gibson’s movie. Amis liked it and felt it to be a powerful film about a powerful myth, and when he said that Hitchens was being too much of a literalist on the topic, Hitchens abruptly countered with “you can’t move between myth and reality so quickly.” Amis simply shrugged—almost imperceptibly—and the matter was dropped, forgoing the need for a moderator’s intervention and avoiding any discussion as to why one could not move quickly between myth and reality.
Building on The Passion and Jesus, Hitchens then launched a full-scale attack on religion. He unequivocally informed the audience that religion equals totalitarianism; that religion is simply a “Disneyfied fraud,” a denial of responsibility and a slavery of the mind. There is absolutely no excuse for being religious, and the human race simply must “outgrow the collective human yearning for God to exist.” “How long will it take us,” he demanded, to get away from “peasant religious belief?” We must “dump the priests, rabbis and mullahs.” Little evidence and no explanation were offered, and it had begun to feel as though Christopher Hitchens was demanding that we take everything he said “on faith.”
If there were any lingering uncertainties as to Hitchens’ ability to formulate a moderate opinion, those were likely dispelled when he tap-danced through his “Mother Theresa is a Slut” number.