Hitchens explained his break with the left in a recent interview with
the conservative website Front Page. First, the fatwa against Salmon
Rushdie woke him up to the dangers of Islamic fundamentalism.
Secondly, he sided against pacifists on the issue of using the
military for missions with a humanitarian justification, as in
Yugoslavia. Then came 9/11:
"As to the ?Left? I?ll say briefly why this was the finish for me.
Here is American society, attacked under open skies in broad daylight
by the most reactionary and vicious force in the contemporary world, a
force which treats Afghans and Algerians and Egyptians far worse than
it has yet been able to treat us. The vaunted CIA and FBI are asleep,
at best. The working-class heroes move, without orders and at risk to
their lives, to fill the moral and political vacuum. The moral idiots,
meanwhile, like Falwell and Robertson and Rabbi Lapin, announce that
this clerical aggression is a punishment for our secularism. And the
governments of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, hitherto considered allies
on our ?national security? calculus, prove to be the most friendly to
the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
"Here was a time for the Left to demand a top-to-bottom house-cleaning
of the state and of our covert alliances, a full inquiry into the
origins of the defeat, and a resolute declaration in favor of a fight
to the end for secular and humanist values: a fight which would make
friends of the democratic and secular forces in the Muslim world. And
instead, the near-majority of ?Left? intellectuals started sounding
like Falwell, and bleating that the main problem was Bush?s
legitimacy. So I don?t even muster a hollow laugh when this pathetic
faction says that I, and not they, are in bed with the forces of
Source: Jamie Glazov, "Frontpage Interview: Christopher Hitchens," 10
Dec. 2003, http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=11241.
In 2002, Hitchens quit The Nation, the leftist weekly, saying the following:
"This is something more than a disagreement of emphasis or tactics,"
Hitchens writes. "When I began work for the Nation over two decades
ago, [founder] Victor Navasky described the magazine as a debating
ground between liberals and radicals, which was, I thought,
well-judged. In the past few weeks, though, I have come to realize
that the magazine itself takes a side in this argument, and is
becoming the voice and the echo chamber of those who truly believe
that John Ashcroft is a greater menace than Osama bin Laden. . . . In
these circumstances it seems to me false to continue the association,
which is why I have decided to make this 'Minority Report' my last
Lloyd Grove of The Washington Post says the rift between Hitchens and
the left dates to the former's siding against Bill Clinton during the
Source: Grove, "Christopher Hitchens Quits the Nation," The Washington
Post, 26 Sept. 2002,
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Hitchens Nation 9/11