The ultimate irony of Christopher Hitchens is that a man who endlessly presents his own atheism as moral superiority comes to the same conclusions about war, colonialism and race that the most fundamentalist Christian warmonger does, so what’s the point?

Aside from devoting his life to the world’s stupidest argument, whether or not God exists, something that cannot be conclusively proven or disproven, Hitchens spends most of his time alternating between furiously beating straw men to pieces and explaining that killing people is a great way solve problems.

Today’s straw man from Slate is titled “Obama is no King”. No shit? Well I guess we oughta just bomb Iran then.

In any case, Hitchens, uniquely immune to self-parody, lists Obama associates that he describes as having extreme views (I have to take his word for it, since I don’t know these people):

The thing that this gaggle of cranks and parasites has in common is the extreme deference with which it is treated by the junior senator from Illinois. In April 2004, Barack Obama told a reporter from the Chicago Sun-Times that he had three spiritual mentors or counselors: Jeremiah Wright, James Meeks, and Father Michael Pfleger—for a change of pace, a white Catholic preacher who has a close personal feeling for the man he calls (as does Obama) Minister Farrakhan. If Obama were to be read a list of the positions that his clerical supporters take on everything from Judaism to sodomy, he would be in the smooth and silky business of “distancing” from now until November. And that is why he hopes that his Philadelphia speech, which dissociated him from everything and nothing, will be enough. He seems, indeed, to have a real gift for remaining adequately uninformed about the real beliefs of his “mentors.” This crossover stuff is not as “inclusive” as it might be made to seem: Meeks‘ main political connections in the white community are with the hysterically anti-homosexual wing of the Christian right.

Referring to Minister Farrkhan as a Minister, is apparently the height of racial extremism.

Keep in mind that Hitchens hasn’t made the argument that Obama holds these beliefs, or that they are somehow represented in Obama’s policy ideas, merely that his association with these people means something, despite the fact that even a quick glance at some of these folks reveals that some of their more extreme views contradict each other (if Meeks is a homophobe, Wright was famously not).

After declaring that Obama should be held accountable for the views of his supporters, Hitchens laments that Martin Luther King was targeted for having communist sympathies because of his associates.


This is a lot sadder, and a lot more serious, than has been admitted. Four decades after the murder in Memphis of a friend of the working man—a hero who was always being denounced by the FBI for his choice of secular and socialist friends and colleagues—the national civil rights pulpit is largely occupied by second-rate shakedown artists who hope to franchise “race talk” into a fat living for themselves.

Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson really should find new jobs. “Race Talk” after all isn’t nearly as profitable as “War Talk,” which has the added perk of making you a Very Serious Person in foreign policy circles.

There is not a hint of self-awareness in Hitchens smearing Obama with the views of his supporters and his frustration that the same thing was a pretext for government abuse of power against Dr. King.

Moreover, while Hitchens claims to have read Taylor Branch’s retrospective of King, he seems to have missed the point:


Dr. King showed most profoundly that in an interdependent world, lasting power grows against the grain of violence, not with it. Both the cold war and South African apartheid ended to the strains of “We Shall Overcome,” defying all preparations for Armageddon. The civil rights movement remains a model for new democracy, sadly neglected in its own birthplace. In Iraq today, we are stuck on the Vietnam model instead. There is no more salient or neglected field of study than the relationship between power and violence.

It’s a field I suggest Hitchens study before he begins to align himself with Dr. King, for whom non-violence was more than a concept.


So amnesiac have we become, indeed, that we fall into paroxysms of adulation for a ward-heeling Chicago politician who does not complete, let alone “transcend,” the work of Dr. King; who hasn’t even caught up to where we were four decades ago; and who, by his chosen associations, negates and profanes the legacy that was left to all of us.

Again: I don’t see anyone comparing King to Obama other than people who want to explain how much better King was than Obama. They’re not in the same fucking league: Obama is an elected official, and the very nature of his position means that he will have to compromise his ideals. And I have yet to see a white politician held to such an absurd standard: It’s as thought because Obama might be president, he has to be implicitly compared to the only other black guy who was a national figure that all Americans can agree on liking (even if they have to make him up to do so).

As for “negating and profaning” the legacy that was left to “all of us,” I would suggest that description probably better fits the warmongering Hitchens, who can find no worth, value, or meaning in the faith of a man he claims to admire so much. Hitchens‘ admiration of King is so much racial posturing, a flimsy pretext for the staggering entitlement he takes in presuming to define the legacy of King for the rest of us, despite having failed to learn its most basic lessons.

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