Cobban on Hitchens
Helena Cobban is one of our great foreign affairs journalists. She has covered the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere for many years and is herself an accomplished Arabist. Those interested in the Middle East or world affairs who are not reading Just World News daily are depriving themselves of one of the more important sources of insight available on the internet today. She often provides an alternative point of view on Iraq to the one presented at IC, and it is always a delight and honor for me when she posts comments here. She sometimes disagrees with my analysis, and I always respect and take very seriously her highly principled and informed objections– whether in the end I can agree with them or not.
Helena kindly comes to my defense with regard to the Hitchens theft and publication of my private mail. I know she will not mind if I quote here some snippets of what she wrote:
‘ I’ve known Chris Hitchens for, gosh, 35 years now. He was two years ahead of me at Oxford, where we engaged in many of the same political activities. I kept bumping into him over the years that followed . . .
I haven’t, however, seen him in person since that point in the late 1990s when he swung inexplicably around the back-side of the political spectrum and changed from being a fairly moderate lefty to being an extremely bitter and pro-war rightist . . .
. . . anyone who’s known Chris for even one-fourth as long as I have would have to admit the guy has long had a very serious drinking problem. Was it ad-hominem for Juan to mention that? Yes, probably, although he was doing so in a quasi-exculpatory way– and Juan, like many of the rest of us, has had solid evidence of Chris’s performance of professional duties having been impaired by his evident drunkenness…
The theft issue has to do with something Chris quoted directly in the article there, which was a private contribution Juan had made to a private listserv called Gulf 2000. Juan and I are both members of the, fairly large, membership of this group. Chris Hitchens is not . . .
For many list members, the promise of discretion for what they write is a completely necessary element of their personal security against the intrusions (and worse) of authoritarian state bodies.
So Chris Hitchens had just– by some unknown means– gotten hold of something Juan wrote for the list ten days or so ago, and published it there in his Slate article. By doing that, he (and whoever sent him Juan’s contribution there) just blithely violated that requirement for privacy . . .
As for Chris Hitchens, I have been really saddened to watch his degeneration over the years . . .
If Chris Hitchens is not in an AA program, I am sure he needs to get into one. In the meantime, the rest of us should hold him quite accountable for his sleazy actions. Being an alcoholic does not give you a “carte blanche”, or indeed any other kind of an excuse, to disregard the rules of human society and decent behavior . . .
So, too, more to the point, does Slate, which has been publishing his ramblings for quite a long time now.
The excerpts don’t do justice to the essay.
Read the whole thing. And read Just World News every day.