Relatively less savage
Hitchens vs “Melanie”
September 25, 2007
In a peculiar column at Slate, Christopher Hitchens hopes that Al Gore will enter the Democratic nomination race. (Peculiar since, as Hitchens Watch reminds us, Hitchens thought in 2004 that Gore was “completely nuts”.) But it was an offhand aside that caught my eye:
George Bush at his worst is preferable to Gerhard Schröder or Jacques Chirac — politicians who put their own countries in pawn to Putin and the Chinese and the Saudis.
What can we make of this? Is there something about choosing to say “the Saudis” rather than “Saudi Arabia”, and “the Chinese” rather than “China”, which expresses a kind of emotional distaste for the foreigner, conceived as faceless collectivity? Well, perhaps. But the factual claim is intriguing too.
After all, it would seem, according to Hitchens’s contemptuous little side-spit about other countries’ apparent dependence on “the Chinese” and “the Saudis” (it must be just a coincidence that to symbolize Germany and France he specifies their ex-leaders who opposed the Iraq war, not their current leaders) — it would seem that Hitchens thinks the US itself does not in fact have a rather dependent relationship with Saudi Arabia in view of, er, its “energy” requirements. And that the US dollar, for example, is not in fact at the mercy of China’s enormous foreign reserves, not to speak of the US trade deficit. Thank
God Dick Cheney, burps Hitchens in a parallel universe, that “George Bush at his worst” has not put his country “in pawn” to those filthy villains across the seas.
But what’s this? “Melanie Phillips”, Hitchens’s ideological tag-team partner in the mud-wrestling pit of bellicose xenophobia, takes exactly the opposite view: The Real Conspiracy, as she thrillingly calls it, is that America in particular and “the west” in general really is in the process of pawning itself to “Islamists” from Saudi Arabi and elsewhere: just look at all the Saudi petrodollars and endowments to US universities — even, shudder, “Saudi funding at Oxford” in England. Nearly as terrifying:
And now we also learn that the Islamic world (albeit a relatively less savage variety) has gained a majority control over the London Stock Exchange.
At least the UAE is relatively less savage than “the Saudis”. Phew! Of course, they’re still a bit savage, because after all the official state religion is a sky-god religion that differs from a couple of other sky-god religions. But let us be grateful for small mercies.
But now any connoisseur of the kind of throbbing alarmist bigotry practised by Hitchens and “Melanie” must be confused. Is there really a “strategy to take over the west” masterminded by Saudi Arabia and its “relatively less savage” counterparts that is succeeding to a horrifying extent in the US, as “Melanie” claims? Or, as Hitchens claims, is the US actually the only country with cojones enough to resist this evil scheme, in contrast to all those craven European surrender monkeys? Readers, the plot thickens.