It is unfortunate that with such serious issues to attend to, Christopher Hitchens insists on wasting time on irrelevant and fanciful diatribes against assorted enemies, the latest being his “Rejoinder to Noam Chomsky.” He begins by placing his question “before the house”: “Can the attacks of September 11 be compared to an earlier outrage committed by Americans? And should they be so compared?” NB: His question. If he wants to consider that question, fine, but I didn’t raise it or discuss it, nor will I now. Recall that his series of denunciations takes off from a single sentence in a composite response to journalists in which I said, accurately, that the toll of the “horrendous atrocities” of September 11 might be comparable to the toll of the destruction of half the pharmaceutical supplies of Sudan. The rest is the product of his imagination.
Hitchens fulminates about my failure to refer to his publications on the bombing of the plant–or, he might have added, to the many articles in the mainstream press that considered the validity of the justifications offered for the bombing. The reasons are straightforward, and were stated clearly and explicitly. I kept to prominent articles from credible sources in the mainstream press, which were therefore widely available; and to the topic with which I was concerned, namely, consequences.
Hitchens claims that I accused him of “propensity for racist contempt.” I explicitly and unambiguously said the opposite.
Hitchens condemns the claim of “facile ‘moral equivalence’ between the two crimes.” Fair enough, but since he fabricated the claim out of thin air, I feel no need to comment.
Hitchens is also outraged at my statement that we should condemn Milosevic for the crimes that are “plausibly attributed” to him. According to Hitchens, then, we must also charge him with those that are not plausibly attributed to him, and it is, furthermore, utterly outrageous to suggest otherwise. Of course, he does not mean what he is saying, once again. Having carried irrationality to new limits, he then seeks to evade the accurate argument that he quotes. Perhaps he does not like the way its conclusion applies to him. If so, that’s his problem. The argument remains valid, and elementary, nonetheless.
I will not sink to Hitchens’s level of referring to personal correspondence, which–it is now no surprise–he utterly distorts. The remainder has not even a remote connection to what I wrote, and I will therefore ignore it. And furthermore wish to waste no more time on these shameful meanderings.