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Christopher Hitchens, White Man – OpEd

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The British born writer Christopher Hitchens died of cancer last week. The outpouring of grief and praise for a man who can only be called a propagandist for barbaric ideologies may seem curious at first glance, but there is an ugly and logical explanation for the reaction.

Mr. Hitchens was for many years known as a leftist, a self-described Trotskyite. He wrote a column in The Nation magazine during that time, and was known for excoriating the likes of Henry Kissinger for the carnage he carried out in Vietnam and Southeast Asia that killed millions of people.

In more recent years Hitchens took a sharp turn in his writings and public statements and in the process became far more famous, and no doubt a lot richer. After the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, Hitchens came out of the closet and presented himself to the world as a full blown neo-con, an unconditional supporter of the Bush administration’s aggressions. So great was his love for the Bushites that he took the citizenship oath in a naturalization ceremony presided over by Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff.

Hitchens became a favorite of pundits, and with a body of prolific work and glib statements in the media, he was rarely out of the spotlight. Yet in the end all his words amounted to nothing more than fighting for the rights of white people to control everyone else in the world.

Hitchens’ descent into support for western imperialism was, as George Galloway put it, a metamorphosis “from butterfly back into slug,” but it wasn’t as sudden as it seemed. Like most criminals, Hitchens showed his true side earlier on. In 1992 he was invited to attend a protest opposing the quincentenary celebration of Columbus’ arrival in the western hemisphere. Hitchens made it clear that he was not at all put off by the genocide of Indians and enslavement of Africans. As he put it, “1492 was a very good year and deserves to be celebrated with great vim and gusto.” According to him, the coming of the European and the barbarity which ensued is just the way things happen, and in fact all for the betterment of humankind.

“But those who view the history of North America as a narrative of genocide and slavery are, it seems to me, hopelessly stuck on this reactionary position. They can think of the Western expansion of the United States only in terms of plague blankets, bootleg booze and dead buffalo, never in terms of the medicine chest, the wheel and the railway . . . But it does happen to be the way that history is made, and to complain about it is as empty as complaint about climatic, geological or tectonic shift.”

In other words, it is part of the natural order of the universe for the world and its people to be under the rule of whites, with people of color preferably under their control whenever possible.

The political ascension of George W. Bush and the beginning of the war on terror was all the opening that Hitchens, a leftist poseur, needed. Why toil away as a left winger known only within that smaller group, when more money and media attention awaited a cheer leader for pax Americana and white supremacy?

His fans may argue with the assessment, calling his unqualified support of the Iraq occupation a “mistake,” when it was no such thing. Hitchens decided to make a living, a very good one, as a professional white man. Beneath his mutterings against “Islamofascism” he was nothing more than an angry white guy who wanted brown people to be conquered or dead.

The liberals who swooned over his British accent and his media savvy may not want to admit it, but they also admired his openly imperialist and indeed racist point of view. He claimed to be sickened by Saddam Hussein’s tyranny, but what he really wanted was for the Arabs to be subservient, in no position to question or to oppose the powerful white-run nations of the west. As for tyranny, if people who looked like him were carrying it out, it wasn’t so bad after all.

The bizarre levels of admiration on display for this man are symptomatic of a much larger problem. Once again we see that the endless aggression is not really opposed by most Americans, and they prove it by lionizing the likes of the late Hitchens. They too think that powerful white people have the right to lay waste to entire regions of the world and to the human beings within them. In fact, they don’t think that non-white people are really human beings with the rights they assume for themselves.

Hitchens may have been in the minority in publicly proclaiming the rightness of mass murder but that doesn’t mean he was alone. Now that he has passed away, it is clear that his ideas were loved by many people, who also hearken back to a time when white was openly declared right, and with ample doses of “vim and gusto” too.

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Margaret Kimberley

Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR (http://www.blackagendareport.com), and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at http://freedomrider.blogspot.com. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgandaReport.com.

15 thoughts on “Christopher Hitchens, White Man – OpEd

  • December 22, 2011 at 7:05 am
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    Give it three months. I suspect Hitchens has something to say posthumously. He didn’t want to be suicided. I think his metamorphosis may have been him playing Ketman. I hope.

  • December 22, 2011 at 7:13 am
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    I wish you could have made these claims while he was still alive so he could have responded to them himself. Some day in the future, racism and religious belief will both cease to exist, either through liberated minds or by the extinction of Homo sapiens.

  • December 22, 2011 at 7:28 am
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    I read this article and all I hear is crying and whining. A person sticking to his own ideals and being an individual seems to be undesirable for those on the right and on the left. Not once have I ever heard Mr. Hitchens be a “cheerleader” of Bush; I have only ever heard Hitchens express support for the invasion of Iraq. I sure hope you can see the difference between those two statements.

    I had thought Hitchens was very clear in explaining why he supported the war in Iraq. The atrocities committed upon its own people, the support provided to terrorist organizations, their desire to restart their wmd program, and their radical religious beliefs all sound like perfectly rational reasons to invade a dangerous and criminal government. Yet all I hear from you are quasi-arguments about Whites opressing Browns and no real rationale for this.

    And I say this as a brown person myself, of the Caribbean variety. And I say this also as someone whose brother served 15 months in Iraq and I am damn proud of what he has done there and I am damn grateful he was able to return in one piece.

    The only conclusions I can draw from your article are:
    1) That everything white people have ever done is rooted in evil and as such all of history involving predominantly white nations should show it to be evil and all other nations to be innocent victims.
    2) That no nation of predominantly white people should get involved in stopping or halting the mass murder, humiliation, and subjugation of brown people by other brown people.
    Such conclusions are so infantile in their logic that it should be scorned upon and ultimately ridiculed. Perhaps you can redirect your anger towards the opression of dark colored amoebas by lighter colored amoebas during the Precambrian epoch.

  • December 22, 2011 at 7:43 am
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    You don’t seem to know Hitchens at all. You yourself are racist. Most of your conclusions in the writing are hasty and not supported by any kind of logic, let alone raw data. I know Hithchens raising his voice aginst waterboarding. I know him taking all the trouble to let the world know the misery of kurds( the voiceless) in the hands of Saadam. I know him attacking irrationality wherever he finds ,in relgion,politics, etc. So what kind of sick perosn are you?

  • December 22, 2011 at 9:45 am
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    What a poorly written article Margaret.

  • December 22, 2011 at 10:59 am
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    This is a very poor piece of writing. It is an unqualified good to identify the racism and injustices in the world with the aim of effecting change, but quite wrong to pin these ills on Hitchens.

  • December 22, 2011 at 11:25 am
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    This is garbage. You or I may not support his war stance, but to call the man a racist and to reduce the man to this dishonest caricature is disgusting. He wore the goddam Kurdistani pin on his lapel and opposed oppression where he saw it. One should only note, among other instances, of his praise for CLR James and others to see that this was no racist, but a loud, and sometimes arrogant, voice for liberation. You should be ashamed of yourself for printing such rubbish. I see the acquisition of nuance in reading or actually the skill of reading has eluded you. Your hysterical biased opinion is worth as much as the paranoid evangelical one that seeks to smear this guy, who was someone to disagree with and be challenged by, and was a fine writer, which is so much more than I can say for your mind, if evidence is to be sought in thoughtful prose.

  • December 22, 2011 at 12:05 pm
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    It’s important to cite here that Hitchens never once called himself a neocon. In point of fact, the issue of Iraqi occupation is perhaps the only meaningful break he ever had with the left — and he felt the Bush administration so badly dropped the ball after the invasion that their legacy would be forever marred by the gross mishandling. It’s also important to note that during those years he also was part of the ACLU’s lawsuit against said administration for illegal wiretapping. No, Hitchens was not a neocon. A look back reveals years and years of service to the left, and not with mere columns and tv appearances, but with unreserved action, from Cuba, to Ireland, to Poland, to the Middle East, he was a present and accounted for “Trotskyite”. He also voted for President Obama. As he said though, Americans tend to have a problem with nuance.

  • December 22, 2011 at 1:14 pm
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    “In other words, it is part of the natural order of the universe for the world and its people to be under the rule of whites”

    no, in other words, he is saying, history is ugly in general. don’t pretend war and expansion is the exclusive domain of whites. that Europeans have been dominant on the world stage for the past 500 years of human history does not mean they always have been or always will be.

  • December 22, 2011 at 2:07 pm
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    You, miss, are what people know as a prime idiot.

  • December 22, 2011 at 2:55 pm
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    Margaret,
    Do you always look at the world through the lens of race and colour and the necessary subjugation of mind which follows? Granted a person is handicapped by their thoughts which are shaped up by their past experience but try to look at things objectively and leave aside a subjective biases which you may yourself be victim of.

    While Hitchens views and the manner in which they were expressed needs to be scrutinised and debated but to accuse him of being a racist is extremely facetious. at that point, I am afraid you ceases to be an objective analyst and become a demagogue preacher.
    Your half baked seemingly facts-induced allegations falls flat on its face as Hitchens was militantly against Milosevic (white guy) who was persecuting muslims (not so white). Also he was against tyrants and dictators like Stalin and Franco and a supporter of Kurdish people in their cause.
    He was an ardent supporter of democracy, free speech,freedom of thought, women’s rights, gays and minority rights and i hope you are not in any way suggesting that these values are exclusively western?
    So you may accuse him of being unapologetic in believing in the supremacy of modern values (wrongly attributed as western by some people)he was not racist by any means.

    This is coming from an Indian guy who is not white nor imperialist.

    Regards,
    Anupam

  • December 22, 2011 at 3:39 pm
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    Pretty stupid characterization of a man who stood for the right, and what an inopportune time to pick a quarrel! You know well he would have mauled you were he alive. I am an Indian & let me tell you, he was a humanist than a white man. This coming from a brown man! Please don’t interpret this as a Muslim women fighting for the right to wear a burka.
    History is full of bloody engagements. India has seen so many of them before the British came. I am no apologist for the British, but then one has to acknowledge at least the judiciary/impartial law enforcement among other things to the British. To say the British were evil would be racist, because most Indians today do that and mostly the impetus is religion and nationalism. Hitchens broke through that. You have a learning curve up ahead of you!

  • December 22, 2011 at 5:02 pm
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    In addition to what person named Daniel left, I will say that the world has not seen such a noble human being for many many years. He lived with the citizens of Sarajevo, Bosnia, in their besieged city for month, starving with them and dodging bullets. I am sure that a person from every single nation in the world which suffered at some point of time, would have nice words about late Mr. Hitchens. So, so sad that there are people like you, Margaret…

  • December 22, 2011 at 6:52 pm
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    How insulting that the author, by the title alone, that white people are a monolithic group. If I make broad statements about black people I bet that wouldn’t go over to well. A great many people don’t support America empire and would like to leave the third world to their own pathetic and violet tendencies. US out of everywhere, and everywhere out of the US.

  • December 22, 2011 at 7:00 pm
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    Is this article a joke? The guy argued against totalitarianism an fascism tirelessly. Bizarre to call him a racist. Perhaps the author should read his memoir.

    What a bizarre piece of ‘writing’.

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