Saturday, September 17, 2005

Friday Night at the Fight

People pretend that they are seeking enlightenment and thoughtful analysis of the issues, but what they really like is a good fight. So, I got a copy of the Galloway/Hitchens debate, and now I'm afraid I can't find the link to where I got it. Part of it is available at

Christopher Hitchens has style; can't deny that. I completely disagree with him, and a good deal of the time he sounds exactly like what his opponent accuses him of being: an apologist for the Bush administration. However, he parries Galloway's heated and creative ad hominems, not to mention the heckling of the crowd, in such a cool and almost lazy fashion that one can't help but enjoy it. So, I find a kind of guilty pleasure in listening to him. He's better to listen to than anybody actually *in* the Bush administration.

But Hitchens told a great big fib -- well, it's entirely possible he told more than one fib, but this one I know something about: Galloway brought up Juan's article knocking down his points in support of the Iraq War, and Hitchens responded by saying the "egegrious figure of Professor Cole" "had never set foot in the region" and "claims to know Farsi and all these other languages". Now, I would expect that those of us that have known Juan for a long time in Baha'i cyberspace would know rather more about his background than those who got to know him as the author of Informed Comment. However, it would not take extraordinary research skills to discover that he has an M.A. in Arabic from the American University in Cairo -- which, the last time I checked, was in the Middle East. This little bit of resume information is all over cyberspace. However, so is the claim that Juan doesn't know Arabic. Well, I've heard that one before; Baha'i fundamentalists were saying several years ago that Juan didn't know Persian very well, and therefore his translations of Baha'i scripture should be mistrusted. (For those who don't know: Juan is a very gifted translator, and this was the first work of his I ever encountered. Not know Arabic! Sheesh!)

Since Juan responds to Hitchens' charges in detail, outlining both his Middle East and language experience, I suppose I don't need to go into it further. But it's so foolish to try to get away with a slander that is so easily disproven that I can't help but wonder why Hitchens and those that do this think they can get away with it. It basically counts on an audience that is either too lazy or too anxious to believe a discrediting falsehood to check it out for themselves.

No comments: