TheDC Video Vault: A classic Christopher Hitchens rhetorical beatdown

Jamie Weinstein Senior Writer
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Christopher Hitchens, whether you love him or hate him, is one of the finest rhetoricians of our age.

The British-born provocateur, now proudly a naturalized American citizen, broke with many of his left-wing colleagues after the 9/11 terror attacks over their inability to see the necessity of confronting Islamist terrorists. In this classic Hitchens rhetorical beatdown, the atheist and anti-theist takes a questioner to task for suggesting Islamist terror is merely the response to crimes of the West.

“There you have it ladies and gentleman — there you have it,” Hitchens begins answering. “You see how far the termites have spread and how long and well they’ve dined.”

After cataloguing his leftist credentials by pointing out his history of attacking American foreign policy, Hitchens tells the man in soaring language that if he wants to “commit suicide for yourself and for this culture,” go ahead, “but bloody well don’t do that in my name.”

Hitch really starts getting warmed up around 4:25 into the video. That part of his response is so astoundingly good, it would be a crime for it not to be written down as well. You’ll find the transcript below:

If you want to avoid upsetting these people, you have to let Indonesia commit genocide in East Timor, otherwise they’ll be upset with you. You’ll have made an enemy. If you tell them they can’t throw acid in the faces of unveiled women in Karachi, they will be annoyed with you. If you say we insist, we think cartoonists in Copenhagen can print satire on the Prophet Mohammad, you’ve just made an enemy. You’ve brought it on. You’re encouraging it to happen.

So unless you are willing to commit suicide for yourself and for this culture, get used to the compromises you will have to make and the eventual capitulation that will come to you. But bloody well don’t do that in my name because I’m not doing it. You surrender in your own name. Leave me out of it.

I am going to fight these people and every other theocrat ALL … THE … WAY. All the way. For free expression, for women’s rights, for self-determination of small peoples, for the right of Iraqis to federate and have their own show, for the right of the Lebanese to not be bullied by Hezbollah and to have a multi-cultural democracy.

Yes, I’ll fight for this and I think the 82nd Airborne is brave to be fighting for it too. I think you should be ashamed for sneering at people who guard you while you sleep. Thanks.

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