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Cole vs. Hitch
May 3, 2006 7:21 PM   Subscribe

Christopher Hitchens vs. Juan Cole (via).
posted by homunculus (60 comments total)

 
I just saw that on Technorati.
posted by delmoi at 7:33 PM on May 3, 2006


I'd love to do a play where Hitchens and Max Shachtman (an American ex-Trotskyist who was sort of the grandfather of neoconservatism) meet in Trotskyist Hell for becoming imperialist shills, but reading enough of either to get a good sense of voice would be torturous.

On the controversy? My god, Hitchens is completely lost, and
posted by graymouser at 7:36 PM on May 3, 2006


(should be:) On the controversy? My god, Hitchens is completely lost, and desperately trying to pound a broken war drum. Sadly, it may yet be effective.
posted by graymouser at 7:37 PM on May 3, 2006


Well I've now read all three columns.

Cole: 1
Hitchens: 0
posted by wilful at 7:43 PM on May 3, 2006


and we just had Greg Djerejian vs. Glenn Reynolds :P

cheers!
posted by kliuless at 7:51 PM on May 3, 2006


Why does anyone read what Hitchen's writes anymore?

The guy has been wrong on every major point of the 21st century.

I mean, somehow, he's missing the joke when a non-nuclear states threatens a nuclear state with annihilation.

Oh wait, Hitch has done what he normally does...and include something near the top that means you shouldn't read the rest...
This uncultured jerk is, of course, only a puppet figure with no real power, but this choice of puppet by the theocracy is unsettling in itself.
oooh, scary puppet.

What an arsehole.
posted by wah at 8:15 PM on May 3, 2006


I like how the follow-up was Andrew Sullivan whining "that's not true... he wasn't drunk when he acted like a fuckhead!"
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:26 PM on May 3, 2006


I dunno; I know that Hitchens' stock has been in the basement for a long time, but reading all three, I'm gonna have to side with The Drink-Soaked Poppinjay.

Mr. Eek! The Far Right! I've Been Haxx0red By Teh Far Right!1! Did I Mention The Far Right?!? And Capitalize It Enough Times For Maximum Portentiousness?!? Far Right!1! on the other hand spends just as much time bitching about how the notoriously 733t Hitchster pwned him as he does saying "Yeah, I said that, but..."

The Hitchens is a drunk(Who can crack your Outlook with one hand and a bottle of Bombay with the other, apparently) and the Look! Look at what Teh Far Right Image Gallery Has Wrought was pretty fucking lame and desperate, too.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:34 PM on May 3, 2006


BLOGGER AND DRUNK IN INTERNET CATFIGHT SHOCKER!

Developing...
posted by aaronetc at 8:46 PM on May 3, 2006


..on the other hand spends just as much time bitching about how the notoriously 733t Hitchster pwned him as he does saying "Yeah, I said that, but..."

He seemed to spend the majority of the post pointing out the downside of war. Did you read all the way down to the bloody children?
posted by wah at 8:51 PM on May 3, 2006


He seemed to spend the majority of the post pointing out the downside of war. Did you read all the way down to the bloody children?

Could be. But remember that this exchange is not about the war in the conventional sense of "about."
posted by grobstein at 8:55 PM on May 3, 2006


Darth Hitchens is a powerful tool of the Empire now.

There is nothing we can do.

There is no good left in him.

After being almost killed by falling into a pit of whiskey during a battle he has become a pale and horrid shadow of his former self, only kept alive by life support from the neo-cons.
posted by sien at 8:56 PM on May 3, 2006


Where the f*ck are Monty Python when you need 'em?
posted by fourcheesemac at 9:02 PM on May 3, 2006


Did you read all the way down to the bloody children?
Yeah, I did.
I learned war was bad.
I learned if your argument is shaky, pictures of footless people can be your best friend.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:02 PM on May 3, 2006


If your argument is shakey, Alvy? Cole seems to have layed out the relevent points very clearly and, in doing so, schooled Hitch. I read the photos and the anti-war rant as anger over Hitch's unethical and incorrect "journalism." Yeah, they were gratuitous, but given Hitch's role in the run-up to our present bullshit war, I support Cole's fury.
posted by jmgorman at 9:07 PM on May 3, 2006


Better than Hitchens vs. Galloway.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:22 PM on May 3, 2006


Alvy, the point is that Hitchens misrepresented and misapplied, and used those two things to buttress an opinion based on absolutely zero knowledge in the face of someone who has forgotten more about Iran and Iraq than Jonah Goldberg (who Cole pasted a little bit ago) and Hitchens combined will ever know.

Why does it invalidate Cole's statements that he makes jabs at the political wing that's busily trying to turn his expertise and education into a liability when talking about his subject?

And if pictures confound your ability to read around them, you may wish to disable images in your browser.
posted by trigonometry at 9:40 PM on May 3, 2006


Cole +1

Ahmadinejad is clearly referring to the "occupation" of the entire land of Israel, not just the West Bank, Gaza or parts or the whole of Jerusalem.

I didn't see where Sullivan got this. And if Hitchens has to get a quote from Cole's private email list for an attack, that's pretty pathetic. Especially considering all the ammo Cole has of Hitchens in the public sphere.
posted by destro at 9:41 PM on May 3, 2006


you know, i think the points being doled out are going more down personal opinions of the two combatants. "the hitch" is obviously an easy target for this crowd, so cole gets a +1 be default. is there any suprise that sullivan sides with hitchens? no. after reading all three posts, i think the whole thing is akin to a livejournal fight over chat logs. hitchens is just being his drama queen self, cole is doing that whole "i'm going to take the high road, only not and say i did" thing, and sullivan's giggling in the corner.
posted by kendrak at 10:06 PM on May 3, 2006


kendrak, you can think that, but in my ignorance I don't know very much at all about Hitchens or Cole, and reading both sides of the story, Cole's defence is credible and strong.
posted by wilful at 10:18 PM on May 3, 2006


I mean, somehow, he's missing the joke when a non-nuclear states threatens a nuclear state with annihilation.
And the nuclear power tries to bribe a neighbor into supporting an attack by offering it nuclear technology.
posted by scalefree at 10:22 PM on May 3, 2006


wilful, i think cole's argument was sound until the end when he got petty and personal. why he felt the need to take such a route is beyond me.

sullivan's "neutral translation" was interesting to read.
posted by kendrak at 10:27 PM on May 3, 2006


God do I hate me some Hitchens.
posted by bshort at 10:28 PM on May 3, 2006


Hitchens is beyond redemption. Sullivan has moments, but he's also drunk far too much of the Iraq Kool-Aid himself. First off, Sullivan states that Cole got personal whereas Hitchens was being factual. WTF?

Hitchens wrote: Cole is a minor nuisance on the fringes of the academic Muslim apologist community.

Wow, that famous British reserve was really in effect there. Cole probably could have served himself better by realizing that Hitchens is the obvious fool here, but know what? If someone speaks three languages besides their native one, and a respected university pays him to do things like teach about the history and culture of the people who speak those languages, I sure wouldn't base my attempt at a pissing match on linguistic nuances.

Hitch got pwn3d. Again. I hope he's not the alcholic mess that many say he is, but otherwise he's just not trying and it's laughable.
posted by bardic at 11:54 PM on May 3, 2006


On preview, kendrak nailed it in both his comments, at least from my perspective.

Hitchens crossed a line and Cole did an effective job of defending himself.
However, if Cole wasn't a White Hat most folks here would probably say 'There aren't any lines in this,' or 'While the ethics are shaky, quoting an e-mail is justified.'
If Cole wasn't a White Hat, his 'It was an analogy, a quote, an ancient poem,' would be derided as lame duck dissembling, even though it made sense.
And his ending, laying the dead and maimed of Iraq directly at Hitchens' door, while at the same time deriding and dismissing him as a has-been sot, would be torn apart for being a contradictory and blatantly manipulative attempt to further fuel his audience's contempt of Hitchens.
Fortunately for Cole, the choir loves this sermon.

And those photos?
Aimed squarely at your gut, the same gut we lauded Colbert for sticking a long, rusty knife into a few nights ago.

In the long run, neither of those goobers matter. The LiveJournal comparison was dead on, and since they don't matter, I sided with the goober I liked better.
Hitchens has been wrong many times before, it only became a sin when he started being wrong for the other team. The Right had better watch out; if they're not careful, they just might lose the monopolies on double standards, turned blind eyes, and willingness to be manipulated that they've held onto for so many years.


And if pictures confound your ability to read around them, you may wish to disable images in your browser.

Wow, trigonometry, I've never seen someone's intelligence questioned because they objected to photos used purely to elicit a kneejerk reaction.
I didn't think it was possible to come off as both anti-intellectual and condescending, but bravo to you, sir! Two great tastes indeed!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:48 AM on May 4, 2006


Holy crap, did you know spain has granted Hitchens human rights? Freaky!
posted by delmoi at 12:53 AM on May 4, 2006


However, if Cole wasn't a White Hat most folks here would probably say 'There aren't any lines in this,' or 'While the ethics are shaky, quoting an e-mail is justified.'

Are the ethics even shaky? My guess is that someone on this "closed list" forwarded the message to Hitchens, who then felt free to publish it - since he presumably wasn't a member of the list, why would he be bound by their desire for confidentiality? All of Cole's crap about "hacking," etc, is wildly unlikely. I'm certainly closer to Cole's position than Hitchens' on the war, but he comes off as overly put-upon to me.

And, does anyone really believe that Ahmadinejad didn't call for the destruction of Israel? Not that he actually has any power to make that happen, nor that the real people in power in Iran actually want the destruction of Israel themselves (enough to risk anything to get it, anyway), but that Ahmadinejad wasn't willing to throw a bit of red meat to the mob?
posted by me & my monkey at 1:01 AM on May 4, 2006


How is it unetheical to quote comments in a news article, regardless of how they were aquired. I just don't think it is

Regardless, hitch is a fucktard.
posted by Paris Hilton at 1:09 AM on May 4, 2006


also, Ababajabajabajabad can suck my clit.
posted by Paris Hilton at 1:10 AM on May 4, 2006


I kind of like the fact that Hitchens is perpetually sozzled (I've never seen him on TV -- in shows like The Daily Show or Bill Maher's Realtime where he didn't wasn't carting along an emergency cup), but I wish he wasn't such an asshole, a wannabe iconoclast, and a lickspittle.

Gives boozers a bad name, damn it.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:14 AM on May 4, 2006


[hic]
posted by Jimbob at 4:02 AM on May 4, 2006


I hate Hitchens, but Cole did seem like a whiny apologist for a "metaphysical" Iranian desire to destroy Israel.
posted by OmieWise at 6:32 AM on May 4, 2006


I love it how, for someone who thinks he was smeared with unfair charges of Holocaust denial (not that unfair if you check out the evidence), Herr Hitchens seems to be pretty quick with the smear trigger himself

but then, consider than Snitchens had been "friends" with poor Sidney Blumenthal for, like, 15 years. with friends like these, etc
posted by matteo at 6:38 AM on May 4, 2006


does anyone really believe that Ahmadinejad didn't call for the destruction of Israel?

Does anyone really believe that Iraq doesn't have weapons of mass destruction pointed at the US and Israel?

Same argument, different country.
As Juan Cole is fluent in the language and we are not, I would say his translation is the accurate one, and that translation specifically states that the "destruction of Israel" is NOT what putzface said.
How hard is that to understand?
Did you not read the link or do you just pllace more trust in the GOP spin machine for war than an academic expert in the subject area?
posted by nofundy at 7:34 AM on May 4, 2006


Ah. Republican Hack Ergo Propter Hoc.

Go with the numbers in an academic question, not one guy's translation, no matter how eminent.
posted by ~ at 7:54 AM on May 4, 2006


This is all pretty stupid. One guy says that the speech translates one way, and another guy says it means something radically different. Both are goofs.

Since none of us are qualifed to know for sure, any argument is sort of useless don't you think?. What we really need is for somebody to ask Ahmadinejad directly just what the hell he means. You'd think this is something he'd want to clear up.

Whether he is telling the truth or not should emerge from this one way or another. If in fact he is talking about wiping Israel off the map, then what exactly should be done about it?
posted by Rusty Iron at 8:11 AM on May 4, 2006


Wow. This thread has been less than enlightening other than to say that those choosing sides seem to reflect more their personal biases rather than the relative merits of the argument. Hitchens - as much as people want to call him a drunk - seems perfectly credible and coherrent on the page, even if he's obviously disagreeable on any number of things. He his arguments can stand or fall on their own without the ad hominem.

That said, let's throw more gasoline on the fire.
posted by Heminator at 8:17 AM on May 4, 2006


Wow. This thread has been less than enlightening

if you can translate "ehtelal bayad az bayn berad", you're free to enlighten us
posted by matteo at 9:01 AM on May 4, 2006


And, does anyone really believe that Ahmadinejad didn't call for the destruction of Israel? Not that he actually has any power to make that happen

I think that the latter point there--that he neither intends to nor would be able to do anything to Israel--was the main thing Cole was getting at. Not that Ahmadinejad is totally blameless (mistranslated in this case, yes), but that Iran isn't a threat, and that war would be pointlessly destructive.

Or, as he put it in the article: "We don't give a rat's ass what Ahmadinejad thinks about European history or what pissant speech the little shit gives. "
posted by moss at 9:02 AM on May 4, 2006


Fourcheesemac:

Where the f*ck are Monty Python when you need 'em?

They're called "Stephen Colbert" now.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 9:37 AM on May 4, 2006


Oh I see Matteo, if only I learned a foreign language, then I could be omniscent. As far as Hitchens is concerned, I do speak enough latin however to understand what ad hominem is when I see it. And it's not helpful to the discussion.
posted by Heminator at 10:08 AM on May 4, 2006


There seems to be a concerted campaign to discredit Juan Cole by various groups associated with FrontPageMagazine, Campus Watch and other war supporting entities -- check out Cole's wikipedia entry. This thing from Hitchens is nothing by itself but it gets supported by an echo chamber that is primed for this type of anti-Cole material. There isn't much one can really do about it though, if nothing it is effective as ensuring that Cole doesn't become a source for quotes in the NYT, etc as Hitchnes correctly note in his article.
posted by bhouston at 11:12 AM on May 4, 2006


Seems to be? There is.
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:29 AM on May 4, 2006


so cole's outburst against hitchens is a result of the nefarious nature of groups seeking his undoing?

there's not much more to say i guess, because both hitchens and cole don't seem to add anything constructive to the discourse at the incident.

oh, and i'm a girl btw.
posted by kendrak at 11:36 AM on May 4, 2006


Oops.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:55 AM on May 4, 2006


Destro mentions something that no one else has, which is that Hitchens based an entire column on a private mailing list comment by Cole.

Given that Cole is nothing if not prolific, it seems a bit of a cheap shot to attack the man based on one comment that was not for public display in the first place.

But that seems to be where Hitchens has gotten himself after painting his way into a corner for the last few years.

Cole is definitely prone to fits of hyperbole and labeling his opinions as facts, but at least he seems confidant of his position(s), while Hitchens seems to have one position, and constantly needs to find 'enemies' to fit into that box.
posted by cell divide at 12:24 PM on May 4, 2006


"so cole's outburst against hitchens is a result of the nefarious nature of groups seeking his undoing?"

No. But the widespread citation of Hitchen's relatively inane article in the conservative blogosphere only happens because Cole ideological stance and academic creditials and gustiness is viewed as a threat.

Cole obviously does get rattled by this -- he doesn't seem to know how to play the rough game as well as those that have their sights set on him. In a way, it is a lesson that maybe he isn't learning well.

In Cole's normal statements when he is not under attack, at least those I am familar with, seem well thoughtout and insightful although it is clear he isn't conservative and he is not pro-war in the Middle East.
posted by bhouston at 12:43 PM on May 4, 2006


The SwiftBoating of Juan Cole would have made a nice and accurate title for this post.
posted by nofundy at 12:57 PM on May 4, 2006


The Swiftboating of Juan Cole
posted by homunculus at 1:53 PM on May 4, 2006


The neocons had been successfully making the "wiped" quote accepted by the mainstream media as undisputed fact. Yet there were differing translations from the get-go. The NY Times provided the "wiped" translation. But MEMRI (no fans of Juan Cole) translated the line nearly exactly as Cole had it: "This regime that is occupying Qods [Jerusalem] must be eliminated from the pages of history."

And despite Hitchens' argument that if the "wiped" translation was wrong, "Ahmadinejad would have denied it," Iranian officials have on at least two occasions (Ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh on CNN and Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki during a Feb. news conference) challenged the translation.

Now, if we can attract more attention to the substantive dispute of the Cole-Hitchens fight, we will also call attention to the fact that translations are tricky business. And those with political agendas can selectively choose translations to obscure the big picture and manipulate the media.
The Importance of Cole v. Hitchens
posted by y2karl at 2:21 PM on May 4, 2006


Did I happen to mention that I am actually Christopher Hitchens? No? Can't think why :-/
posted by Sparx at 2:25 PM on May 4, 2006


Destro keys onto something which I think is important: Hitchens, despite the large mass of writing Cole makes available publicly, chose to focus on something written in a private mailing group. This makes me think Hitchens is the one grasping at straws, although I would say that incident did nothing to enhance the reputations of any of the participants.
posted by cell divide at 2:28 PM on May 4, 2006


This is a silly thing...that is getting bigger. Reading Heminator's link (the transcript of one nutjob talking to another) is rather enlightening as well...as Hitch does mention how he was nothing near sober when filing the piece...and how a history professor knows no history...and is illiterate.
CH: Well, good for Andrew. How nice of him. Yes, he was here yesterday at lunch, to have lunch, and I said can you hang us just a second while I finish this piece? Because I...and I added that I think you'll like it, because it finally shows what an idiot Juan Cole is. And well, I mean, I don't know about stone cold sober. I'm sure with Andrew, I must have had a drink to celebrate the piece. So he may be exaggerating that. And I can take a drink if I have to, but for some reason, my opponents think it's incredibly important to represent me as a falling down alcoholic.
I think the operative quote there is "I can take a drink if I have to".

No 'want', eh?

And of course, what would HH be without that extra 'H', hypocrisy.
HH: I wonder, what has happened to the left, Christopher Hitchens, in their confusing of sort of personal attacks and slanders with argument?
BTW, it also becomes apparent that Hitch is trying to defend his honor on that private email list...by making it public.
posted by wah at 4:15 PM on May 4, 2006


Neocon opus-dei types getting puffed up by a drunken anti-theist. My sides hurt from laughing.
posted by telstar at 4:50 PM on May 4, 2006


Boy am I glad I didn't go to UMich.
posted by Krrrlson at 6:30 PM on May 4, 2006


humn, fwiw! reason v. instapundit :P
posted by kliuless at 7:58 PM on May 4, 2006


nofundy: nice and accurate?
posted by moss at 8:45 PM on May 5, 2006


The new Slate.
posted by homunculus at 1:26 PM on May 6, 2006


Darn it, I meant to link here. Must be the booze.
posted by homunculus at 1:35 PM on May 6, 2006


Byron York is mad at Glenn Greenwald

(Actually meant for this thread, but it's been closed.)
posted by homunculus at 8:49 PM on June 2, 2006


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