Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Obama to close Guantánamo; Hitchens can't imagine

Obama is expected to close Guantánamo. He said he would during campaigning and there's no reason to doubt him now. Detainees will be sent home where possible: I don't like his proposal that some should then be deported to the US to be tried in special courts. But I do like the idea of military personnel, lawyers, politicians and certain journalists facing human rights prosecution for their wide-based complicity in the illegal detentions: I doubt however Obama will go that far. But he should. America must atone for its failure to be better than our enemies.

Meantime, watch one of the vicars of the Church of Atheism, Christopher Hitchens, do something useful for a change, getting himself waterboarded (ie tortured) by US "captors". The things people will do for the greater good of career!

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your poke at Hitchens is utterly misguided. My understanding is that he underwent waterboarding because he had been arguing that it was not torture. In order to settle the argument, he volunteered to undertake the procedure - which proved so traumatic that he publicly reversed his opinion. I think this was a brave and genuine move by a vocal, opinionated journalist, and showed a willingness to explore his opinions which many other writers would do well to follow. Sorry, Madame.

Duralex said...

Wow ! Is that all you must do in order to become a vicar of the Church of Atheism ? I want to join it !

Madame Arcati said...

Re Hitchens - it was just a stunt for Vanity Fair. The averagely empathetic, fully socialised person would have worked out for themselves that waterboarding is just one of the illegal torture methods employed by the Bush regime. Hitchens is forever described as "extremely clever" and that he certainly is. He is as I've written elsewhere a (Bisexual) Word God who has made a faith of his own articulacy - if I repeat this long enough others will think they first thought of this themselves.

What I don't get is why he failed to put himself in the shoes of Bush's victims before victimising himself. A cycnic could argue that his new-found compassion is a twisted form of self-sympathy.

NB also how the torturers immediately released him the moment he squealed. I doubt that the real-life criminals were so responsive.

Madame Arcati said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Madame Arcati said...

And as for you Duralex, the Atheism Church bit is part of another discussion about Hitchens - whose faith in a non-God is constructively religious.

Ms Baroque said...

Yes, yes, he is a fascinating man all right. I've never really written anything about him, but I'd love to. And publicity stunt indeed, but I still thought it took some gumption to go through with it - although following so hot on the heels of being waxed might appear to trivialise it a bit...

Of course Hitchens is a bit of a bully, but in general I do think you have to respect someone who isn't afraid to say what they think, isn't afraid to change his mind in public and isn't afraid to be disagreed with by almost everyone else.

Ms Baroque said...

Oops - I also meant to say that for someone so conspicuously he does throw his talent away. He makes faces and jokes like a schoolboy when it's time to be serious; of course they're funny, but that doesn't make him deep. And in that book of his, God Is Not Great, utterly failed to convince on its own terms. A stirring polemic, but if you replaced the word "religion" in his text with "human nature" his argument would still stand up. Fluency will get you only so far.

Madame Arcati said...

Always a pleasure to hear from you Ms B - I read a lovely poem of yours in Pen Pushers the other day - and I haven't forgotten about the interview.

Christopher Hitchens as the intellectuals' David Blaine is about the only nice thing I can think to say about this show-off. I prefer imaginativeness to gumption.

Anonymous said...

What a horrible person you are Madame Arcati, a vicious assassin who I suspect suffers from an OCD. Mr Hitchens is a man of tremendous elegance and erudition. His "stunt" strengthened the view that waterboarding is torture and it took great courage to g through that. What has Arcati ever done to prove or disprove a point apart from attend parties on a round of trivial observation and whimsy?

Ms Baroque said...

Anonymous, for heaven's sake. Outside Washington there weren't really very many people who didn't think it was torture, were there??

All power to Hitchens for putting his money where his mouth was, but it's not like he's solved some conundrum.

Mme A, of course you read that issue! I'm glad you liked my poem. More to the point, what did you think of Sophie Parkin's article?

Madame Arcati said...

In between snogging Molly last night I think I told Sophie - or I imagine I did - that I loved her piece on the Colony Room; so well written and sad. Of course raging alcies should have a place to retire to of an afternoon-plus where they can roll around on the piss stained carpet and be called cunty by that old lesbo's ghost. Sophie is a lovely soul and her mum's a great kisser. I don't know whether Roberto - who's writing the screenplay of the Molly biopic - is a great kisser. Perhaps someone could write in.

I find kissing women quite an amusing thing to do.

Duralex said...

<< I find kissing women quite an amusing thing to do. >>

Is that the highest peversion for a gay man, or a new kind of self-imposed torture ? :-)

Oh, tabernak, the string of characters I must enter is "boffutr". "Beau foutre" could be translated by "beautiful cum". I just love those surrealistic coincidences.

Madame Arcati said...

I didn't realise I was a gay man - the things one learns.

Anonymous said...

I happen to know Hitch regards Madame Arcati as an arse.

Duralex said...

<< I didn't realise I was a gay man >>

This is how Alzheimer disease begins. 8-)))

Jody Tresidder said...

I just bet Hitchens would have been waspishly snooty had someone else (appropriately dazzling) done the "stunt" first!

And Madame's line - "Christopher Hitchens as the intellectuals' David Blaine is about the only nice thing I can think to say about this show-off.." is horribly good.

Still, my stomach agrees with Ms. Baroque's qualified defense of his gumption.

I once interviewed (for The Evening Standard) a fiercely clever & adorable Brit who had become a female boxer here in the US (not a "foxy boxer" - a real contender, even if women in this sport remains something of a stunt draw).

I can still recall almost fainting with unexpected, drenching terror when she quietly marched away from our jolly pre-bout chat down a grimy corridor, and into the distant, noisy, blue flood-lit ring.

I suddenly understood she was walking out there to get voluntarily punched very hard by someone else.

I realized I could not ever - not even with the strict safety rules - visibly stricter for women than for men - the meticulous refereeing, the hysterical, uplifting support of the crowd and all her mental and physical preparation - never in a billion, million years, climb up into that ring myself.

And I knew even as I disapproved of her - a little bit- for being suckered by the perverse glamour of it all, she had gumption - and I did not.

So my stomach feels the same watching Hitchens here.

I couldn't do it.

(Fuck, this comment has gone on...!)

Madame Arcati said...

Dear Jody, such a delightful comment it's wasted here and I've put it up as a separate posting with a comment. x