Pharyngula

Hitchens at FFRF

Somebody recorded the Hitchens talk, and has uploaded the first parts of it to YouTube. I’ve put what’s currently available below the fold; this only covers about half of the talk, I estimate.

I know there has been a lot of talk about his state of sobriety, but it’s all baseless. He looked perfectly normal up there on the podium, and there was no sign of impairment that I could detect. Judge the man by what he says, not his imagined blood alcohol level.

Comments

  1. #1 toomanytribbles
    October 15, 2007

    thank you for the videos. i was very disappointed by the liquor wars in the comments of your previous post.

  2. #2 Bob O'H
    October 15, 2007

    From the stills, it looks like he’s got a burning bush up there, egging him on.

    Bob
    P.S. Can you justify this post? I mean, to the left?

  3. #3 Dan
    October 15, 2007

    Take it from me, an experienced drinker can act perfectly normal up to six drinks into an evening. Fine motor skills- writing, typing, etc- become a little tricky, but most other functioning isn’t too bad.

  4. #4 Dave Mullenix
    October 15, 2007

    I’m not a big Hitchens fan, but I doubt if he drinks as much as Churchill did and Winston did fairly well.

  5. #5 Owlmirror
    October 15, 2007

    The <div class=”center”> tags for all of the embedded movies are not properly closed with respective </div> tags. That is, the closing tags are missing “/”s, and so are not closing tags.

  6. #6 David Mullenix
    October 15, 2007

    One more thing – Richard Dawkins was the featured speaker at an FFRF convention several years ago. I re-joined the FFRF just to hear him. Unfortunately, the convention was held about one week after 9/11 – and air travel was so tied up he couldn’t make it! At least you go to actually hear Hitchens speak.

  7. #7 csrster
    October 15, 2007

    “From the stills, it looks like he’s got a burning bush up there, egging him on.”

    He brings his own _still_ with him?

  8. #8 truth machine
    October 15, 2007

    From the previous post:

    I disagree entirely with his proposed strategy, which seems to involve putting a bullet through every god-haunted brain.

    Interesting that you and Dawkins are so often falsely accused of this, when Hitchens (and to a lesser degree Harris) are the real thing.

    I disagree with you that there is a clash of civilizations. Go to Muslim countries and actually find out what civilization is like there, rather than letting the MSM and the U.S. government form your views. Imagine a “reconstructionist” theocratic coup in the U.S., with the bible replacing the Constitution as the source of law, and you will have some idea of what life is like there. You got it right when you wrote “most Moslems are primarily interested in living a life of contentment with their families and their work”. That is the civilization, not the theocratic structures that seek control of it.

  9. #9 Meng Bomin
    October 15, 2007

    I will say that I did find Hitchens’ views in the earlier segments to be a bit off. He seems to adhere to an absolutist form of morality that mirrors that found in many religions.

    As much as I would like to claim inherent moral superiority over the religious, it’s difficult to justify such a view. To me, it seems that morality serves to ensure a well-ordered society whose behavior on as whole best ensures the survival of its members within the environment where they reside. Religion is something that has been shared by a vast majority of successful societies, which suggests at the very least that it is not fatal to society.

    I would not be surprised at all if Hitchens’ view that religion is inherently immoral provided a major contribution to his geo-political outlook. For if it is too difficult to convert people from their religion, religion is inherently immoral, and Islam is particularly detrimental to society, why shouldn’t we try to cleanse the Earth of or at least severely weaken Islamic powers? I think Hitchens is a testament to the need for vigilance even when listening to someone who you think shares your point of view on an issue.

  10. #10 Willo the Wisp
    October 15, 2007

    Meng, I don’t see how you can say that religion is inherently moral. Putting aside for the moment the issue of dogmatic incitements to bad behaviour, all theistic religions are based on lies, deception, fear, antiscience, flawed logic and superstition. The thing that makes religiots moral is the same as what makes non-religious people moral – innate ethics and man-made law. Religion contains plenty of justification and incitement to immoral behaviour.

  11. #11 truth machine
    October 15, 2007

    Meng, I don’t see how you can say that religion is inherently moral.

    Well, I can see how you could attack such a strawman based on a blatant false dichotomy — stupidity. Most likely Meng believes that religion is neither inherently moral nor inherently immoral.

  12. #12 ConcernedJoe
    October 15, 2007

    I have not viewed the videos but I’ll offer a comment re: Meng’s (#9). Religion IS inherently immoral!! It is by definition. And by definition it is ALWAYS dangerous and detrimental overall. That is not exaggeration; I am not an intolerant madman.

    Note I said by definition. Personally I believe anything that values and promotes past musings and/or tradition and/or superstition over discovered truth and reason is IMMORAL… for that alone me thinks religion hits the immoral mark squarely and fairly, but I’ll otherwise expand. Religion is by definition: adherence to dogma (the truth be damned), imposed hierarchies (your personal power by damned), imposed laws and customs (value or fairness be damned), threats and unilateral actions to enforce such (rationality and proper justice by damned), etc. etc. Religions (even its “secular” forms like Nazism, Mussolini’s Fascism, or Soviet Communism) all have these basic immoral characteristics. Those define them as religions!!

    As for “Religion is something that has been shared by a vast majority of successful societies” I’d say: show me a truly moral, fair, just, and progressive society that did not get that way thanks to secular thinking and endeavors; thinking and endeavors that actually had to overcome religion in some fashion to be effective! Societies are not enlightened because of religion, but rather generally in spite of religion.

    I suspect Hitchens probably has a point if he meant it along those lines.

    As for his support of the Iraq War, I say he fell for the religion of “militaristic solutions to our energy needs” if you get my drift.

  13. #13 Johnny Potamus
    October 15, 2007

    Speaking of recordings and postings and whatnot, the entirety of the Dawkins-Lennox debate is live — http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=988134574542478162&hl=en — in case anyone missed that a couple weeks ago.

  14. #14 truth machine
    October 15, 2007

    Religion IS inherently immoral!! It is by definition.

    That’s a very silly thing to say. “religion is inherently immoral” is not an analytical truth; it is not stated in, nor logically follows from, the definition of “religion”.

    And by definition it is ALWAYS dangerous and detrimental overall.

    Do you even know what a definition is?

    Religion is by definition: adherence to dogma (the truth be damned), imposed hierarchies (your personal power by damned), imposed laws and customs (value or fairness be damned), threats and unilateral actions to enforce such (rationality and proper justice by damned), etc.

    Please provide a citation for this definition. The only part that is even remotely definitional is adherence to dogma, and one needs an argument (such are possible, but you provided none) that such adherence necessarily results in immorality. And I would challenge any such argument, since it depends upon an absolute notion of morality — which is a rather religious notion itself.

  15. #15 truth machine
    October 15, 2007

    P.S.

    The phrase “by definition” is generally a propaganda tool wielded by intellectually dishonest people who want to invoke a belief without actually arguing for it. “religion is inherently immoral by definition” is no better than this, which I found by googling “by definition”:

    By definition the Left does not believe there is a moral position on any subject.

  16. #16 truth machine
    October 15, 2007

    P.P.S.

    My “inherent” argument is against faith, which is a form of special pleading, which is intellectually dishonest, which is arguably a moral failing.

  17. #17 ConcernedJoe
    October 15, 2007

    “truth” machine — please provide us with a religion of any consequence that does not mostly fit my “definition.” Also please explain why obscuring truth and imposing dogma over truth is not an affront to mankind (thus immoral and dangerous in my book and I suspect in the book of a lot of free-thinkers – but regardless it seems obvious to me).

    I don’t feel in the least intellectually dishonest – and I am certainly not trying to use rhetorical tricks to obscure things or prejudice things. They are my CONSIDERED honestly thought out opinions — I’ve been around awhile – I’ve had experiences – I’ve looked at things – I’ve mulled it over a lot. I stand by my statements. You are welcome to your opinions – but at least enlighten us all by something other than attacking the definition of definition. Show me the error of my statements and why!!!

  18. #18 ConcernedJoe
    October 15, 2007

    Sorry did not see you “My “inherent” argument is against faith, which is a form of special pleading, which is intellectually dishonest, which is arguably a moral failing.” Appreciate that follow up that shows some effort to help me better explain what I was trying to say. Thanks.

  19. #19 ConcernedJoe
    October 15, 2007

    and PS (as we are into PS’s :-))

    religion is not a religion without FAITH and since “..[your] “inherent” argument is against faith, which is a form of special pleading, which is intellectually dishonest, which is arguably a moral failing…”

    Should I rest my case?
    :-) — sorry the devil made me add that!!

  20. #20 Ulyanov
    October 15, 2007

    What is all this talk of Hitchens on morality?

    This is a guy who admires Leon Trotsky, mass murdering leader of the Red Army (p153 of his Not so Great Book), talks about the “ethical glories” of Marxism, same page, and thinks we belong in Iraq.

    He of course has encourgage others to go, while his own son stays home.

    The guy is a piece of shit.

  21. #21 whitma
    October 15, 2007

    Sorry. Hitchens DOES damage his performance with the alcoholic label. It’s an issue regardless of his message. It taints how you see him, it makes an easy target for those who challenge what he says. What he does in his private life his his business. But when you’re on display, he’s representing others with the atheist message and it makes it difficult to take him seriously when he’s publically out-of-control.

    We don’t laud Paris Hilton, Lindsey Lohan and Nicole Richie for this sort of behaviour. It interferes with their work and makes it difficult for others to deal with them. I’d expect better from public figures who actually have something important to say rather than just touting another dumb movie.

  22. #22 truth machine
    October 15, 2007

    “truth” machine — please provide us with a religion of any consequence that does not mostly fit my “definition.”

    This is irrelevant. There are no rocket scientists who aren’t primates, but that doesn’t mean that rocket scientists are primates by definition. My point isn’t about whether religions are bad, it’s about your atrocious claim about what is true “by definition”. As I said, it’s intellectually dishonest; you owe an argument about religion, not a claim that your view is true by fiat.

    Also please explain why obscuring truth and imposing dogma over truth is not an affront to mankind (thus immoral and dangerous in my book and I suspect in the book of a lot of free-thinkers – but regardless it seems obvious to me).

    Again irrelevant — that’s a strawman that has nothing to do with my point, and isn’t a claim that I disagree with or gave any hint that I disagree with. Such strawman arguments are, of course, intellectually dishonest.

    I don’t feel in the least intellectually dishonest

    Uh, what intellectually dishonest person does? But part of intellectual honesty is to take the charge of intellectual dishonesty very seriously and to see if it could possibly apply. This is the sort of thing the best scientists do when someone challenges their results — in fact, the very best scientists operate on the assumption that they are prone to bias and search their own minds and work for any possible hint of it.

    and I am certainly not trying to use rhetorical tricks to obscure things or prejudice things.

    You certainly are, by trying to use definition to do the work of argumentation. And if you weren’t intellectually dishonest, it would be clear to you why your “definition” of religion is exaggerated and ad hoc, especially when you put Nazism etc. under that umbrella. Note that your complaints also apply to libertarianism and free market capitalism (see especially Naomi Klein’s “The Shock Doctrine”), but that doesn’t make them “religion” by definition, whereas one can certainly argue that there are similarities.

    religion is not a religion without FAITH and since “..[your] “inherent” argument is against faith, which is a form of special pleading, which is intellectually dishonest, which is arguably a moral failing…”

    Should I rest my case?

    But that wasn’t your case, it was mine. I never disagreed that religion arguably entails a moral failing, but one must argue for it; it isn’t true “by definition”. And the mere moral failing of being intellectually dishonest is far more widespread than religion, and is considerably less of a failing than the broad crimes attributed to certain organized religions at certain times in history.

  23. #23 Michael
    October 15, 2007

    You’ve really got to take the good with the bad with Hitchens.

    I have a very left wing atheist friend who, upon hearing that I was reading Hitchens, told me that she couldn’t believe I was reading that “nut”. My retort was simply that Hitchens makes some excellent points with regards to the immorality of religion (and I tend to agree with those that think that acceptance of dogma is inherently immoral, or at least predisposes one to inherent immorality), and that we should take what we can from him, while disregarding (or, more importantly, speaking out against) the parts we don’t agree with. It’s not a simple all-or-none situation; for example, Newtonian mechanics is not flawed because Newton was a believer in alchemy (not to mention a devout Christian), and Hitchens’ (rightly placed) rant against the immorality of religion is not reduced because he thinks the Iraq war is justified, though the integrity of the man may be.

    I am an atheist in the Dawkins/Harris mold; I fail to believe because there is no evidence to suggest that I should. If religion were a passive entity, with no effect upon the world outside of the individual believer (meaning, for instance, that the vote of believers was not influenced by their belief), then I would have no problem with religion; deists dont bother me in the least, for example. But this is very clearly not the case, and Hitchens makes this abundantly clear. It is unfortunate that he brings so much baggage to the table, but I think we have to take the good with the bad.

  24. #24 truth machine
    October 15, 2007

    P.S. What I’m suggesting above is that organized religion historically, not “inherently”, has done much much worse than simply unjustifiably believing things. Of course, organized religion has used the “faith” meme as part of its nefarious campaigns, but these campaigns are political, and neither nefarious political campaigns nor faith are unique to religion — the faith of the American people in the veracity of American leaders underlay not just the invasion of Iraq, but the invasion of VietNam, the invasion of the Phillipines, the invasion of Granada, the Mexican-American war (remember the Maine!), the Contra war against Nicaragua, and much much more. The same is true, of course, of Hitler’s invasion of Poland, which used almost identical propaganda as the U.S. used later.

    Irrationality, whether nationalism or belief in a deity or any other form, isn’t “inherently immoral by definition”, but it does provide a fertile ground for manipulation of the populace to commit immoral acts on a grand scale. I’m pretty sure that ConcernedJoe and I agree on that.

  25. #25 truth machine
    October 15, 2007

    (and I tend to agree with those that think that acceptance of dogma is inherently immoral, or at least predisposes one to inherent immorality)

    Um, something can be inherently immoral, and something can predispose one to immorality, but there’s no special sort of immorality that is “inherent” as opposed to other sorts of immorality.

  26. #26 truth machine
    October 15, 2007

    we should take what we can from him, while disregarding (or, more importantly, speaking out against) the parts we don’t agree with.

    Now that is intellectually honest; it’s a rejection of ad hominem arguments and bias. Each of Hitchens’ arguments should be evaluated on its merits, and we shouldn’t reject one because we disapprove of, or accept one because we approve of, his stance on some other matter.

  27. #27 Aris
    October 15, 2007

    Here’s a little more cognitive dissonance for you: Watch this video of Wafa Sultan railing against mysticism and medievalism, and in favor of secularism, and tell me if you don’t agree with at least 98% of what she says:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2WLoasfOLpQ. Very classy and very gutsy too, I thought.

    But then… I realized that she runs around with some of our domestic crazies, who actually don’t agree with the gist of her argument, but find her useful in fueling fantasies about total war against all of Islam, just like Hitchens. In fact, she’s part of deranged David Horowitz’s Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week, along with Coulter, Hannity, et al.

    While it’s true that the fundamentalist strands of Islam are the most virulent expression of the medieval mindset, there are more than a billion Muslims in the world. As with any religion, different adherents interpret their holy books differently, and some, depending on the local culture, customs, history, educational level, etc. can be downright dangerous. But it’s too simplistic to delegate all who may share a religious label as believing exactly the same thing and implementing their faith in the same way. Ironically, the crazies who have now assumed Wafa and Hitchens have done more to promote medievalism and to undermine freedom and progress in this country than Muslim terrorists could ever hope to accomplish.

    What is it with these people? How can they intellectually understand the problems posed by religion, but then emotionally be like 5-year-olds throwing a tantrum?
    ___________________________

  28. #28 Blairs Team
    October 15, 2007

    Its all part of the Jewish Lobby which monopolizes American Foreign Policy, according to Dawkins.

    http://books.guardian.co.uk/news/articles/0,,2180660,00.html#article_continue

  29. #29 truth machine
    October 15, 2007

    Continuing from

    Irrationality, whether nationalism or belief in a deity or any other form, isn’t “inherently immoral by definition”, but it does provide a fertile ground for manipulation of the populace to commit immoral acts on a grand scale.

    It’s been said that good people do good things, and bad people do bad things, but that it takes religion for good people to do bad things. However, I think it takes propaganda coupled with lack of critical thinking skills for good people to do bad things. Many good people believed that Saddam Hussein had WMDs, that Iraq was a threat to the American people, and that George Bush could bring democracy to Iraq.

    Also, it’s not at all clear that people can be divided into “good” and “bad”, as someone like Hitchens illustrates. Even critical thinking, which he clearly is capable of, eludes him when his mind is clouded with fear and anger.

  30. #30 Aris
    October 15, 2007

    The question of whether religion is inherently immoral or moral or amoral misses the point.

    Religions are not about ethics but about piety. That is, you’re told what to do by an authority (the prophet, priest, etc.) who’s channeling a supernatural super-duper entity, and as the adherent you have to comply. If you do, you’re moral. If you don’t you’re immoral. So depending on how benevolent or malevolent the channeling authority is, religious people may end up being ethical or unethical. Since piety is all about submission, there’s no corrective for the wrong imperative. You just do what you’re told, and since the ultimate source is absolute and perfect, there’s no room for correction.

    On the other hand, Ethics, as a philosophical endeavor, is about examining situations and determining what’s moral and what’s immoral by establishing principles based on arguments developed on logic and real-life examples. Just like with science, particular ethical imperatives may be invalid, but as long as they are accepted provisionally, any conclusion can be challenged and corrected.

    Ergo, secular ethics are the only way to progress morally, whereas religion is a dead-end of antiquated exhortations.
    ___________________________

  31. #31 truth machine
    October 15, 2007

    Its all part of the Jewish Lobby which monopolizes American Foreign Policy, according to Dawkins.

    Wow, that statement from Dawkins is quite disturbing. I’m extremely critical of the pro-Israel lobby, and it’s very effective, but “Jewish”? “more or less monopolise American foreign policy”? Ouch. He says “as far as many people can see” — the only people I’m aware of who see Jews “monopolising American foreign policy” are anti-semitic. I’m pretty sure that, for example, Dick Cheney, George Bush, and Condi Rice aren’t Jewish.

    Still, as with Hitchens, that doesn’t sum up Dawkins.

  32. #32 truth machine
    October 15, 2007

    So depending on how benevolent or malevolent the channeling authority is, religious people may end up being ethical or unethical.

    I think you’re onto something, although I don’t think it’s the whole story. I know people who are theistic, ethical, and non-authoritarian who, rather than crediting themselves for their own good ethical judgment, project it onto Jesus. Many people who leave organized religion seem to be of this sort — they can’t abide by what is handed down by the authorities, but they haven’t freed themselves of the underlying mythology. But, no longer being in the grips of the propaganda machine, they are ripe for disillusionment. Some of these folks make their way to something like Unitarian Universalism, where they can give up all but the most abstract elements of theism, while keeping the feel-good social and “tradition” aspects.

  33. #33 Don Quijote
    October 15, 2007

    Probably it was just badly phrased by Dawkins. I think the core of his argument is still correct. My impression here on the other side of the pond is that Jewish organisations are an important force within the pro-Israel lobby and thus can serve as a successful model for a group that monopolises the US foreign policy in a specific but important area (the second point which I think Dawkins did not formulate well).

  34. #34 Mrs Tilton
    October 15, 2007

    We can debate whether Hitchen’s views of the American war on Iraq are correct; we can debate whether alcohol impairs his performance. But there can be no debate, no doubt, about this: his scrotum is smooth as the proverbial baby’s bottom.

  35. #35 howtoplayalone@hotmail.com
    October 15, 2007

    whitma, #21:

    Sorry. Hitchens DOES damage his performance with the alcoholic label. It’s an issue regardless of his message. It taints how you see him, it makes an easy target for those who challenge what he says.

    Wrong. You give him the alcoholic label, or accept the label others gave to him, and it taints how you see him. I’ll judge him on his actions (and there is a lot to be upset about in this speech, perhaps). Show me, say, more than one or two instances – not some gossip by some resentful blogger – in which Hitchens did something or said something he wouldn’t have done or said without the booze.

    He claims to have never missed a deadline. His wife – who is perfectly critical of him, and refers to him as ‘an alcoholic’ – even she admits she’s never seen him noticeably drunk more than a handful of times. That’s not to say he’s not had a ton, and it’s not to say he’s not drunk. It means it doesn’t seem to affect his ability to write, debate, or get shit done.

    I can’t say that much for me – more than say six and I won’t get anything done. Hitchens, and a few others – like Churchill, apparently – can do it, and Churchill said he wouldn’t have been anything without the booze. Others, like Nixon, clearly are negatively affected by alcohol and their addiction.

    We live now in a society that is very sensitive to addiction – which is generally a good thing. But in this context it’s pointless if you can’t show that it is effecting what he said or does. I’m sure he stands by it all.

    We don’t laud Paris Hilton, Lindsey Lohan and Nicole Richie for this kind of behavior

    What? What behavior? Giving a perfectly coherent speech that is consitent with what he’s been saying for years? Who’s lauding him for his drinking? And who’s comparing him (besides you) to those morons?

    It interferes with their work and makes it difficult for others to deal with them.

    Maybe. Now demonstrate how it interferes with Hitchens’ work, and his relations with others.

    I’d expect better from public figures who actually have something important to say rather than just touting another dumb movie.

    Huh? What does that even mean? Speak to what Hitchens said (there’s plenty to dislike).

  36. #36 Moses
    October 15, 2007

    I do judge him by what he says. Alcohol, if present, only makes it easier for him to say what he really means.

    Also, I don’t know why people seem to think Hitchens is a “liberal.” He’s gives me every indication he’s just another Jacobian-authoritarian type, sort of a bearded Ann Coulter (though not as obviously insane), only he’s an “out” atheist instead of a pretend Christian.

  37. #37 howtoplayalone
    October 15, 2007

    opps, affect

  38. #38 Moses
    October 15, 2007

    . the only people I’m aware of who see Jews “monopolising American foreign policy” are anti-semitic. I’m pretty sure that, for example, Dick Cheney, George Bush, and Condi Rice aren’t Jewish.

    Still, as with Hitchens, that doesn’t sum up Dawkins.

    Posted by: truth machine

    Absurd. You need to get out more. And who cares about Bush, Cheney and Rice from an ethnic-religious standpoint? You don’t have to be an Israeli, or a Jew, to kow-tow to Israel and keep the middle east in flames because you support a country that’s gone so dark-side it’s a crying shame.

  39. #39 PZ Myers
    October 15, 2007

    People, you’re still doing it.

    For all we know, Hitchens hadn’t had a drink in a month, or he may have downed a couple of pints of 195 proof lab alcohol before going on stage. He seemed quite together up there, though, and I certainly didn’t witness him taking a nip from a flask or anything, so in the absence of evidence to the contrary, give him the benefit of the doubt on that one.

  40. #40 truth machine
    October 15, 2007

    My impression here on the other side of the pond is that Jewish organisations are an important force within the pro-Israel lobby and thus can serve as a successful model for a group that monopolises the US foreign policy in a specific but important area (the second point which I think Dawkins did not formulate well).

    The is a fallacy of composition. The pro-Israel lobby may monopolize U.S. foreign policy in a specific area, but the pro-Israel lobby is not “Jews”, and Dawkins was talking about the effectiveness of Jews as a group, vs. atheists. But it’s actually the effectiveness of the Israeli government which mobilizes American Jews, through well known irrational biases, in support of Israel via contributions to AIPAC etc. to lobby U.S. Congressmen. But that lobbying wouldn’t be effective if support of Israel weren’t a significant element of U.S. foreign policy in its own right. Chomsky has laid this out quite clearly, documenting how it is Israel that does the bidding of the U.S., not v.v.

  41. #41 crackedmirror
    October 15, 2007

    I thought Hitchen’s drinking was an issue when he said things about the Iraq war I disagreed with. When he says things about religion, it’s not an issue for me…

    Really, however wrong he has been about the Iraq war, he does seem to try to be reality based in his thought process. And there is such a lack of free intelligence, wit, and humor in public discourse these days that he is quite refreshing to listen to.

    The question of whether being critical of Israel means being anti-semetic will never really go away. Israel was set up as a race-based state. This racist foundation also allows defenders of Israel to always frame their critics as anti-semitic. Under our current unwritten rules of discourse on Israel, one must first prove one’s lack of anti-semitism before one can criticize Israeli policies and actions. In the United States, it seems the only way to prove one isn’t anti-semetic is to agree up front with Israeli policies and actions…quite a Catch-22.

  42. #42 truth machine
    October 15, 2007

    Absurd. You need to get out more. And who cares about Bush, Cheney and Rice from an ethnic-religious standpoint? You don’t have to be an Israeli, or a Jew, to kow-tow to Israel and keep the middle east in flames because you support a country that’s gone so dark-side it’s a crying shame.

    What’s absurd is your inability to read or comprehend. Your last statement is exactly the point — it isn’t about “Jews”, which was the point of my naming non-Jews who are heavily involved in forming U.S. foreign policy, including policy toward Israel. Sheesh. Claiming that “Jews monopolize U.S. foreign policy” while ignoring all the *non*-Jews who heavily support the criminal actions of Israel is anti-semitic.

  43. #43 Rozmarija Grauds
    October 15, 2007

    On Churchill’s fuel for clarity of mind, and the supposed similarity of Hitchens’ reliance, see this:

    http://www.straightbourbon.com/articles/cclincoln.html

    (General)Grant was a notorious consumer of Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey, for which he was often criticized. Responding to that criticism, at the height of the war, Lincoln supposedly asked what brand of whiskey Grant preferred, so he could send some of it to all of his other generals. (Grant is said to have favored Old Crow.)

  44. #44 truth machine
    October 15, 2007

    The question of whether being critical of Israel means being anti-semetic will never really go away.

    I never said anything about being critical of Israel meaning being anti-semitic. Can’t you people read? You see a couple of words that connect to some thought you’ve had previously and then respond to that instead of what’s actually on the page. It’s the equating of U.S. policy toward Israel with Jews, and Jews alone that is anti-semitic, not being critical of Israel. Sheesh.

  45. #45 Don Quijote
    October 15, 2007

    Ok. I try to reformulate my point: I do not think that the Jewish lobby does monopolise US foreign policy. I do think that the Jewish lobby has an important part in the US Government’s pro-Israel stance (which sometimes even goes against its own interests).

    I think that at the core of Dawkins’ argument was not an anti-Semitic position but just the search for a good model for an effective and religious group outnumbered by atheists.

  46. #46 truth machine
    October 15, 2007

    This racist foundation also allows defenders of Israel to always frame their critics as anti-semitic.

    Yes, quite so. But my point is that it goes both ways — criticism of Israel doesn’t mean that you’re anti-semitic, and support of Israel doesn’t mean you’re Jewish. There is massive support of Israel among U.S. elites, Identity Christians, and all sorts of other people who aren’t Jewish. So it’s just plain wrong to blame U.S. support of Israel on Jews. I’m ethnically Jewish and I’m as big a critic of Israel as they come, and I’m not alone.

  47. #47 truth machine
    October 15, 2007

    I think that at the core of Dawkins’ argument was not an anti-Semitic position but just the search for a good model for an effective and religious group outnumbered by atheists.

    I know what was at the core, and what his intent was, but his statement incorporated an anti-semitic meme. You can get on any anti-semitic blog and find people equating “neocon” with “Jewish”, ignoring all the non-Jewish neocons. You’re so intent on trying to explain the obvious to a straw man and denying any possible anti-semiticism on Dawkins’ part that you simply aren’t paying any attention to my point or my statements supporting it.

  48. #48 crackedmirror
    October 15, 2007

    truth machine: I hear you.

    P.S. I hadn’t read what Hitchens said in his whole talk before I wrote my commment above. Wow, when he’s crazy, he’s very very crazy.

  49. #49 truth machine
    October 15, 2007

    his statement incorporated an anti-semitic meme … any possible anti-semiticism on Dawkins’ part

    Just to be clear: I don’t think Dawkins is an anti-semite per se. I think that, were the erroneous meme pointed out and explained to him, he would agree and apologize for propagating it. At least, I’d certainly like to think so.

  50. #50 truth machine
    October 15, 2007

    I hear you.

    Thanks.

  51. #51 howtoplayalone
    October 15, 2007

    his statement incorporated an anti-semitic meme …. Just to be clear: I don’t think Dawkins is an anti-semite per se. I think that, were the erroneous meme pointed out and explained to him

    I think that just goes to show how easy it is for people to slip into anti-semetic libels, and how quickly the idea of the Israel lobby “controling” (or ‘strangleholding’ as Walt and Mersh put it) American foreign policy (specious in the first place) turns to “Jews” controling it, turns to…

    These ‘memes’ and understandable slips were rationalized in almost identical ways in the 30s.

  52. #52 Don Quijote
    October 15, 2007

    @truth machine

    You’re so intent on trying to explain the obvious to a straw man and denying any possible anti-semiticism on Dawkins’ part that you simply aren’t paying any attention to my point or my statements supporting it.

    I thought that I understood your argument which apparently you think I didn’t (and I am the first to admit that this is a real possibility). No reason to accuse me of not paying any attention to your argument and of me attacking straw men. There was no bad will from my side and I was not criticising you but I tried to clarify. My second post was again meant to be a clarification, this time of my first post, because following your response I thought it might not have been clear enough.

    In case I have again misread you (this time the tone of your post), please accept my apologies English is not my mother tongue. In written form statements sometimes sound harsher than they are meant to be.

    On the topic itself I think we basically agree. I did say that in my opinion Dawkins did not formulate well. Your statement that

    the only people I’m aware of who see Jews “monopolising American foreign policy” are anti-semitic

    implied for me that you might think that he endorses this kind of views. Apparently this is not the case. I am happy with this.

  53. #53 truth machine
    October 15, 2007

    I think that just goes to show how easy it is for people …

    Yes, people have a great deal of trouble conceptualizing set relationships, especially in the presence of existing bias. It helps to draw a Venn diagram: make a circle representing Jews, and a circle representing those people who control U.S. foreign policy — even restrict it to policy relating to Israel. If “Jews monopolise U.S. foreign policy”, the latter circle will be completely contained in the former circle …

    The same exercise can be done with, say, atheists and people who accept the theory of evolution.

  54. #54 truth machine
    October 15, 2007

    No reason to accuse me of not paying any attention to your argument and of me attacking straw men.

    There’s always reason to state what I think is true. You did address a straw man — the question of whether Dawkins was “search[ing] for a good model for an effective and religious group outnumbered by atheists” — I had already written, quite a ways back, that “Dawkins was talking about the effectiveness of Jews as a group, vs. atheists”.

    Your statement that

    the only people I’m aware of who see Jews “monopolising American foreign policy” are anti-semitic

    implied for me that you might think that he endorses this kind of views.

    He propagated the meme; that’s a de facto endorsement. His whole argument is based on accepting the equation between Jews and U.S. foreign policy toward Israel, but Jews are only one small segment of support for that policy. His argument is fallacious, and the fallacy is rooted in a certain sort of biased thinking that picks out a subset while ignoring the rest of the set. The same sort of thinking is behind the claim that neocons are Jews, or that Jews control Hollywood or the banks, although it’s easier to fall into because of the fact that Israel is a Jewish state (but, while poodles are dogs, dog aren’t poodles). It’s a meme, it’s in the culture, and Dawkins picked it up — it’s quite consistent with his own theory of mental viruses, and he’s not immune to them.

  55. #55 Dan
    October 15, 2007

    Goddamn, UDers with that Guardian article already trolled a different thread. Why do they need to be responded to again?

    The “Jewish lobby” IS what the pro-Israel lobby often calls itself, even if it’s technically ‘wrong’. Dawkins reveals a degree of ignorance of our lobbies in thinking Judaism as a religion has much to do with it. Here’s a shocker, though: most of Europe doesn’t know that much about our lobbying organizations, this doesn’t make Dawkins unique. I don’t know that much about France’s lobby system, if they even HAVE one.

    That is all! It! It doesn’t amount to antisemitism in the least. We’re only hearing about it because Uncommon Descent had a post about it, and spent fifty comments calling Dawkins a Nazi who believes in radical, violent conspiracy theories and is slowly coming unhinged. This is helped along by the fact that a huge contingent of America’s population is inhumanly, pathologically ignorant about our own foreign policy, and even mentioning certain facts is taboo.

  56. #56 Sastra
    October 15, 2007

    Just got back late last night from the FFRF convention (where I met PZ!) and I haven’t had a chance to wade through all the stuff on Hitchens yet, but I agree that his drunk caricature seems to be exaggerated. I’m not saying he doesn’t drink, of course, but I’ve heard him speak in person about 5 or 6 times now, and it’s always been interesting. He’ll start out sort of vague and scattered and you think “oh, he’s not a very good speaker” and then he gets going and you can hear a pin drop.

    When I recollect his talks, I visualize Hitchens in a casual pose, his movements languid and his voice a sort of slow hazy, insouciant drawl which gets slower and clearer when he makes an impassioned point. If you’re expecting him to be drunk, I suspect it looks like that. But I don’t think he is. I’ve seen and sometimes spoken to him at different times of day and that just seems to be what he’s like. (Also very gracious — after this talk, for instance, which ended on such an acrimonious note, he had the book signing, and sat there for over an hour and took pains to talk to everyone, saying things like “no, please, don’t thank me, it is I who thank you, I’m so touched that you did me the honor to have bought my book” and such and sounded sincere not smarmy — he really is nice in person, which he pretends to not like.)

    At any rate, it doesn’t matter if he drinks. It’s not the whiskey talking, as they say. No, it appears to be him. And I think it’s not easy to categorize what he is or what he thinks into some simple little niche, politically or philosophically or personally. He’s a lot more complicated than that, which tends to confuse people who assume he’s going to be simple to figure out.

  57. #57 howtoplayalone
    October 15, 2007

    The “Jewish lobby” IS what the pro-Israel lobby often calls itself

    If they refer to themselves as that – and often! – would you mind giving some examples? Give a lot; they should be easy to find if they commonly refer to themselves as such.

    I dont know about the Gaurdian article or Uncommon Descent, sorry.

  58. #58 truth machine
    October 15, 2007

    The “Jewish lobby” IS what the pro-Israel lobby often calls itself

    That claim itself reiterates the anti-semitic meme that equates the two. From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_lobby

    Jewish lobby is a term referring to allegations that Jews exercise undue influence in a number of areas, including politics, government, business, the media, academia, popular culture, public policy, international relations, and international finance. [1][2][3] It is used most commonly by the far right, far left, and Islamists.[4]

    The expression is commonly associated with antisemitic aspersions.[5] Chip Berlet of Political Research Associates, an American research group that tracks right-wing extremists, writes that it combines the classic elements of anti-Semitic stereotyping and scapegoating, and is part of the discourse of conspiracism.[2]

    Sometimes the term “Jewish lobby” is being used to refer to Israel lobby,[6][7][8] but according to Mitchell Bard, director of the non-profit American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise (AICE), such usage “is both vague and inadequate.”[9]

    Dawkins reveals a degree of ignorance of our lobbies in thinking Judaism as a religion has much to do with it.

    That’s quite true, but it’s not the whole story. Again, it’s an anti-semitic meme, and making up claims about its use because you don’t like that fact doesn’t change it.

  59. #59 Caledonian
    October 15, 2007

    Perhaps everyone that’s so concerned about anti-semitic memes could enlighten us with the rational justifications for our continued financial and diplomatic support of Israel.

  60. #60 truth machine
    October 15, 2007

    Here’s a very interesting article that covers the (sometimes subtle, apparently) points and provides great insight into the realities of U.S. foreign policy in the middle east:

    http://www.hinduonnet.com/fline/fl2020/stories/20031010000906000.htm

    [...]
    When Israel defeated the Arab armies in the Six Days War of June 1967, its profile increased in the eyes of the U.S. strategic planners. Israel took on the role of the gendarme of the oil lands, earned a massive aid package from the U.S. government and became an importer of U.S. arms. Stephen Zunes, Chair of the Peace and Justice Studies Programme at San Francisco University, points out that, as a result the “Aerospace Industry Association, which promotes these massive arms shipments to Israel, is even more influential” than the so-called Jewish lobby. The “general thrust of U.S. policy would be pretty much the same even if AIPAC didn’t exist. We didn’t need a pro-Indonesia lobby to support Indonesia in its savage repression of East Timor all these years.” In other words, AIPAC is powerful not because of its use of money alone, but decisively because of the strategic convergence of interests between Israel, AIPAC and the U.S. Congress.
    THE U.S. Congress stands united behind Israel. Any dissension is met with the reproach of anti-Semitism. If this is the work of the “Jewish lobby”, then it has achieved a remarkable feat: a totally bipartisan Congress with little opposition to its general goals. However, most American Jews tend to lean toward the Democratic Party, so why should the Republicans come out so strongly for Israel?
    [...]

  61. #61 truth machine
    October 15, 2007

    Perhaps everyone that’s so concerned about anti-semitic memes could enlighten us with the rational justifications for our continued financial and diplomatic support of Israel.

    Nice false dichotomy. If you weren’t such a pig-headed idiot, you might have noticed that those who are talking about anti-semitic memes are among the most critical of U.S. support for Israel.

  62. #62 truth machine
    October 15, 2007

    And notice how Caledonian’s typical display of stupidity repeats the anti-semitic meme — concern about anti-semitism, in his/her mind (such as it is) implies support of Israel.

  63. #63 Dan
    October 15, 2007

    I can’t find a citation of the Jewish lobby calling itself the Jewish lobby without doing undue and painfully unnecessary digging through political briefs, although several member organizations of the group do have “Jewish” in the name and Israel is a Jewish state, so it seems silly and Orwellian to make a big deal about the word “Jewish” being used in association with them. I know I’ve heard and/or read “Jewish Lobby” said by Jewish lobbying organizations, but that’s not ultimately important; what IS important is that it can be and often is used completely outside of antisemitic contexts.

    Check the talk page of your linked wikipedia article and their citations, they’re quite good for the purpose of showing that the mainstream press doesn’t seem to find “Jewish lobby” offensive. Furthermore, I imagine the Jewish lobby doesn’t find them offensive either, or the Times would be backpedaling, apologizing, and firing people by now. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Jewish_lobby#NPOV_concerns_and_suggestion

    If you must rely on wikipedia, always at least check the talk page. I’m miserly and lazy, and if there’s nothing supporting my side of a point on the talk page I might have to concede defeat without fighting. :P

  64. #64 truth machine
    October 15, 2007

    BTW, the answer to Caledonian’s question is in the article I just posted above: “Israel took on the role of the gendarme of the oil lands … and became an importer of U.S. arms”. The answer, of course, is money and power. The support of Israel is certainly rational for those who make the money and wield the power. But perhaps, and not without likelihood, Caledonian is too stupid to grasp that what is a rational motivation for some is not a rational motivation for others. People who aren’t incredibly stupid manage to grasp that the notion of “national interest” is a powerful meme that gets large numbers of people to do things that are distinctly not in their interest.

  65. #65 truth machine
    October 15, 2007

    I can’t find a citation of the Jewish lobby calling itself the Jewish lobby

    The question is about what the pro-Israel lobby calls itself; calling it the Jewish lobby kinda begs the question, don’t you think?

    although several member organizations of the group do have “Jewish” in the name

    And several elements of the pro-Israel lobby don’t, and aren’t predominantly Jewish.

    and Israel is a Jewish state

    Perhaps you should draw a Venn diagram. How many American Jews are citizens of Israel? How does Israel being a Jewish state equate Israel with Jews? Are all dogs poodles?

    I know I’ve heard and/or read “Jewish Lobby” said by Jewish lobbying organizations

    Oh, well, that settles it, then.

    they’re quite good for the purpose of showing that the mainstream press doesn’t seem to find “Jewish lobby” offensive.

    Neither does Dawkins — another circular argument. The fact is that most of the time the mainstream press doesn’t make the mistake of equating them.

    Furthermore, I imagine the Jewish lobby doesn’t find them offensive either

    Nice circular argument — the question is about the pro-Israel lobby.

    or the Times would be backpedaling, apologizing, and firing people by now.

    Nice appeal to ignorance — you have no idea whether they have ever backpedaled, apologized, or fired anyone.

    In fact, the article makes it clear that Jewish organizations find it offensive, and most of the people who posted on the talk page you mention find it offensive, claiming (incorrectly) that “Jewish lobby” is always a slur. Your “imagining” is pretty worthless given your obvious inability to reason clearly on this matter.

  66. #66 howtoplayalone
    October 15, 2007

    Dan wrote:

    The “Jewish lobby” IS what the pro-Israel lobby often calls itself…

    and later:

    I can’t find a citation of the Jewish lobby calling itself the Jewish lobby without doing undue and painfully unnecessary digging

    Setting aside the Israel lobby and its supposed stranglehold on the US, calling the lobbyists who support Israel “the Jewish Lobby” plays directly into the most recent manifestation of anti-semitism, namely, that Jews are disloyal to whatever nation they happen to be in and that they have an unmatched, nefarious influence, wether it be over banking, the media, or, these days, American foreign policy.

    To say that even the Israel lobby calls itself the Jewish lobby ‘often’, and then not even be able to offer a single example (and then to play the lazy and ‘miserly’ card) is yet another example of the West’s oldest hatred – this is exactly the way the Germans and the French debated this subject in the 30s, and that was before the Holocaust. Yes, most of them weren’t anti-semites either, so you’re off the hook.

    Furthermore, I imagine the Jewish lobby doesn’t find them offensive either, or the Times would be backpedaling, apologizing, and firing people by now.

    Because, of course, the Times can’t get away with saying anything against the Jooos – such is their reach.

    As for refering to the talk page of wikipedia to make a point…

  67. #67 truth machine
    October 15, 2007

    Dan claimed that The “Jewish lobby” IS what the pro-Israel lobby often calls itself. His blather about doing undue and painfully unnecessary digging through political briefs, and citing his own memory as evidence, is remarkably like what we get from creationists and IDiots in support of their claims.

  68. #68 truth machine
    October 15, 2007

    Indeed, howto, the anti-semiticism is thick here. But one of the really sick things is the way that the use of the anti-semitic charge against critics of Israel has cheapened the term and made anyone who uses it suspect, obscuring real instances. This is quite explicit in dumbf*ck Caledonian”s assumption that, because I’m concerned about anti-semitic memes, I must be a rationalizer of U.S. support of Israel. The thing is though, I live in the U.S. and I’m an atheist, so I don’t subscribe to the biblical blather that God reserved Israel for me, and thus I have no special allegiance at all to Israel — it’s just another theocratic oppressive aggressive country to me,

  69. #69 Dan
    October 15, 2007

    I said it was undue and painfully unnecessary and that it’s from memory. I’m not going to dig up citations to support it from memory; I’ve already said it’s not important to the ultimate point, and if I’m wrong there it’s fine by me. I don’t care if I’m wrong on that point, I was running entirely on memory in saying that I’ve heard/read it used as casual reference to the group of ill-defined organizations. I’m also fully aware the term is entirely and completely imprecise, the precise meaning of it isn’t important. I’m not talking about conspiracies and defining the group; I’m talking about semantics and words.

    You seem to be avoiding the fact that I’ve tried to show the mainstream press HAS used the term “Jewish lobby”. Several times. I posted a link. The term itself is not anti-semitic.

    If the term is, I imagine the mainstream press would not use it. If you wrote an article about niggers and gooks in most mainstream press, the respective people would be pissed off, and you’d be rightfully chewed out and fired. If I put too much faith in New York Times editors to know what is and isn’t scandalous, a slur, and publishable that’s a working allegation, but I think it’s pretty spurious to say they’re violating social norms and publishing slurs.

    And, I’ll reiterate: It’s Orwellian and clumsy to make “Jewish” a slur because it’s next to “lobby”, even when the lobby has many Jewish organizations, Jewish members, and is (to my understanding of its definition) advocating for a Jewish state. The capital L lobby slipped in interestingly; I suspect I was going over the Times brief where they talk about the use of capital-L Lobby and what it means and that’s how it happened.

    Also, accusing me repeatedly of antisemitism is ad hominem. :)

  70. #70 Dan
    October 15, 2007

    Correction: The part I’m running entirely on memory is SELF-reference, not reference.

  71. #71 David Marjanovi?
    October 15, 2007

    truth machine, I just wanted to nominate you for Molly. Then you said Israel is “theocratic”. Could you expand on that? I mean, sure, all manner of ultra-orthodox wackos have plenty of influence in Israel, but… erm…

  72. #72 David Marjanovi?
    October 15, 2007

    truth machine, I just wanted to nominate you for Molly. Then you said Israel is “theocratic”. Could you expand on that? I mean, sure, all manner of ultra-orthodox wackos have plenty of influence in Israel, but… erm…

  73. #73 Dan
    October 15, 2007

    You’ll also note that even though “Arab” can be a term of hate, there’s no talk about racism in the term itself in reference to the Arab lobby.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab_lobby_in_the_United_States

    This is because it is (broken record here) stupid and Orwellian to make a term a slur just because it’s next to “lobby”.

  74. #74 truth machine
    October 15, 2007

    You seem to be avoiding the fact that I’ve tried to show the mainstream press HAS used the term “Jewish lobby”.

    Uh, no, I never denied it, and implicitly acknowledged it — it’s a straw man that has no bearing on your unsubstantiated claim as to what the pro-Israel lobby calls itself.

    Also, accusing me repeatedly of antisemitism is ad hominem.

    Even if I had, which isn’t quite the case, it’s not ad hominem, as I never employed it as a response to any argument of yours. Neither was my pointing out your obvious inability to reason clearly on this matter, which is truly an understatement.

  75. #75 Neil Schipper
    October 15, 2007

    truth machine, Dan, Caledonian: just.. sheesh..

    so eager to push buttons, and so susceptible to having your buttons pushed

    so willing to make these comments painful to look through

    so unwilling to use real names

    And to those harping on the alcohol question: you’ve been rebutted by intelligent first-person observers and the references to Churchill and Lincoln-Grant, so please pipe down.

  76. #76 Dan
    October 15, 2007

    Also, I was referencing the talk page because it has four instances of mainstream news articles on the first screen-length from my link. They’re having (hah-hah) the exact same argument we’re having here, and have been for weeks. The person who took my side of the argument already gathered the citations, so I linked his writing. Is this unforgivable? We’re already referencing Wikipedia, here.

  77. #77 truth machine
    October 15, 2007

    This is because it is (broken record here) stupid and Orwellian to make a term a slur just because it’s next to “lobby”.

    Excuse me while I explain this to your stupid self. The slur is in the implicit assertion that the pro-Israel lobby is primarily Jewish, which is factually false. It grossly inflates the power and influence of Jews, tracking standard anti-semitic notions, as explained by howtoplayalone. As the article I cited above notes, the “Aerospace Industry Association, which promotes these massive arms shipments to Israel, is even more influential” than the so-called Jewish lobby. …

    But really, this is tiresome, and you are clearly too stupid to grasp the points. (Consider that ad hominem if you wish … it’s close enough.)

  78. #78 Dan
    October 15, 2007

    Dan is my real name, Neil.

    Truth Machine: We seem to fundamentally disagree what the argument is about. I’m conceding a point I don’t think matters, which you think matters; that I can’t support I’ve read the pro-Israeli lobby using “Jewish lobby” in casual self-reference. So good for you, I guess you won.

    I have supported what I actually set out to properly support, which was the original point I felt the need to make, which is that “Jewish lobby” is not antisemitic in and of itself (or alternatively all our mainstream news is unapologetically antisemitic, which is far less likely). To my perception at least you moved the goalposts to avoid supporting arguing against this, but that’s fine.

    By disagreeing what constitutes victory, we both get to win. Wonderful, isn’t it?

  79. #79 David Marjanovi?
    October 15, 2007

    People, you’re still doing it.

    For all we know, Hitchens hadn’t had a drink in a month, or he may have downed a couple of pints of 195 proof lab alcohol before going on stage. He seemed quite together up there, though, and I certainly didn’t witness him taking a nip from a flask or anything, so in the absence of evidence to the contrary, give him the benefit of the doubt on that one.

    My point on the previous thread is that it isn’t a benefit in this case. It’s easily imaginable that the alcohol takes an unpondered thought of his, his fears, and his willingness to piss people off, and runs with them, making him say things he wouldn’t even think when sober. If not – that’s worse for him, not better.

  80. #80 David Marjanovi?
    October 15, 2007

    People, you’re still doing it.

    For all we know, Hitchens hadn’t had a drink in a month, or he may have downed a couple of pints of 195 proof lab alcohol before going on stage. He seemed quite together up there, though, and I certainly didn’t witness him taking a nip from a flask or anything, so in the absence of evidence to the contrary, give him the benefit of the doubt on that one.

    My point on the previous thread is that it isn’t a benefit in this case. It’s easily imaginable that the alcohol takes an unpondered thought of his, his fears, and his willingness to piss people off, and runs with them, making him say things he wouldn’t even think when sober. If not – that’s worse for him, not better.

  81. #81 Dan
    October 15, 2007

    God, a new redefinition? And you called me stupid. Okay.

    If you’re lobbying in favor of a Jewish state, it’s a Jewish lobby. People who lobby on behalf of or in relation to a group often becomes the “ lobby”. It’s not really important who the members are, leaving aside that many of the more visible parts of the pro-Israeli lobby are (shockingly) Jewish.

    I don’t even know about the company you’re touting, though.

  82. #82 David Marjanovi?
    October 15, 2007

    By “unpondered thought” I mean a spontaneous idea the consequences of which he hasn’t thought about. If sober, I hope, Hitchens would think about the consequences.

  83. #83 David Marjanovi?
    October 15, 2007

    By “unpondered thought” I mean a spontaneous idea the consequences of which he hasn’t thought about. If sober, I hope, Hitchens would think about the consequences.

  84. #84 truth machine
    October 15, 2007

    The person who took my side of the argument already gathered the citations, so I linked his writing.

    He didn’t take your side. His claim was that “Jewish lobby” is not always intended as a slur, contrary to what the article implies (and he’s right, as I said above). This has nothing to do with what the pro-Israel lobby calls itself. Perhaps this might make a dent in your stupidity: the same fellow wrote

    I have also rewritten the lead of the Israel lobby in the United States to better cover why the term “Jewish lobby” is not preferred. I have added explicitly, by copying from this article, that it is an anti-Semitic slur and what it is used to allege.

  85. #85 David Marjanovi?
    October 15, 2007

    If you’re lobbying in favor of a Jewish state, it’s a Jewish lobby.

    …then it’s a pro-Jewish-state lobby, and probably a pro-Jewish lobby. It isn’t necessarily a Jewish lobby = a lobby that is Jewish.

    For example, it might consist of Christian fundies who want to bring about the rapture and believe Israel’s existence, if not Israel’s extent from Nile to Euphrates, is necessary for that.

  86. #86 David Marjanovi?
    October 15, 2007

    If you’re lobbying in favor of a Jewish state, it’s a Jewish lobby.

    …then it’s a pro-Jewish-state lobby, and probably a pro-Jewish lobby. It isn’t necessarily a Jewish lobby = a lobby that is Jewish.

    For example, it might consist of Christian fundies who want to bring about the rapture and believe Israel’s existence, if not Israel’s extent from Nile to Euphrates, is necessary for that.

  87. #87 Dan
    October 15, 2007

    And I don’t seek to meaningfully comment on what the lobby calls itself.

    Let me say it again: I WAS RUNNING OFF OF MEMORY. I DO NOT CARE IF I AM WRONG ON THAT COUNT. I didn’t ever say it was ‘official” appellation, either, I said it’s been used as a relatively casual self-reference.

    Please, read my writing before you respond to me. Please, please, please.

  88. #88 truth machine
    October 15, 2007

    If you’re lobbying in favor of a Jewish state, it’s a Jewish lobby.

    No, you fucking cretin. If you are lobbying in favor of China, which happens to be an Asian state, that doesn’t make it an Asian lobby.

    Why the hell am I wasting my time on such an utter moron … I’m done with you.

  89. #89 Dan
    October 15, 2007

    Political terms are notoriously ungrammatical. We have a “marijuana lobby”. The cannabis plants did not get up and start lobbying for themselves: it is not a “lobby that is marijuana”. It is a lobby FOR marijuana.

    Similarly, Jewish lobby …

  90. #90 truth machine
    October 15, 2007

    ..then it’s a pro-Jewish-state lobby, and probably a pro-Jewish lobby.

    No, there’s no such implication. For instance, the revelation fundies who think that the triumph of Israel signals the end times are most certainly not “pro-Jewish”. The aerospace industry that lobbies in favor of Israel because Israel buys oodles of very expensive weapons from them are not “pro-Jewish”. There is only a subset, and a minority, of the pro-Israel lobby that is comprised of Jewish organizations that that are of course “pro-Jewish” — but there are also Jewish organizations that are, of course, pro-Jewish but are not part of the pro-Israel lobby and are, in some cases, quite critical of or even hostile to Israel.

  91. #91 truth machine
    October 15, 2007

    Similarly, Jewish lobby …

    Stupid moronic cretinous idiot who thinks that “dog lover” and “poodle lover” are the same thing because poodles are a dog breed.

    Bye.

  92. #92 Dan
    October 15, 2007

    Fine, I give up. Israel, a Jewish state, the respective lobby, and so forth all have their semantics tangled unbelievably. A lot’s been written about it, by Chomsky et cetera. Making even rudimentary points about any of it encourages goalpost-moving and madness of varying stripes. I’m now convinced that there’s no way in hell to argue it in comments, much less with someone inclined to say I’m a stupid fucking cretin whenever he disagrees with a point.

  93. #93 truth machine
    October 15, 2007

    truth machine, Dan, Caledonian: just.. sheesh..

    so eager to push buttons, and so susceptible to having your buttons pushed

    so willing to make these comments painful to look through

    so unwilling to use real names

    So ad hominem, so ad hominem, so ad hominem. Apparently you have nothing substantive to say, and thus can only offer ignorant pop psychology. But on that score, if you find the comments so painful to look through, why are you doing so? Are you expecting to find a pony in all this shit?

    I use my real name every day, but not here, for reasons such that I would have to … well, you know … if I told you.

  94. #94 truth machine
    October 15, 2007

    goalpost-moving

    Your very first statement was “The “Jewish lobby” IS what the pro-Israel lobby often calls itself”. That’s what was disputed, you intellectually dishonest fuck.

  95. #95 truth machine
    October 15, 2007

    someone inclined to say I’m a stupid fucking cretin whenever he disagrees with a point

    No, you’re a stupid fucking cretin because you can’t distinguish between “Jewish state” (specifically Israel) and “Jewish”, “Asian state” (specifically, China) and “Asian”, or “dog breed” (specifically poodle) and “dog”. Or you can distinguish in the last two cases but can’t imagine how that applies to first case. The “tangled semantics” are only a consequence of your own idiocy — “Israel” and “Jewish” have very distinct semantics. Ooh, but Israel is a Jewish state! Ah, but that doesn’t change the fact that those terms have distinct semantics, any more than the fact that China is an Asian state tangles the semantics of “China” and “Asian”, moron. The pro-China lobby isn’t the “Asian lobby”, and a lot of Asians would be, if not offended, at least perplexed if anyone were stupid enough to equate them.

  96. #96 truth machine
    October 15, 2007

    I have supported what I actually set out to properly support, which was the original point I felt the need to make, which is that “Jewish lobby” is not antisemitic in and of itself

    And yet the commenter at Wikipedia whom you claim “took my side of the argument” wrote “I have added explicitly, by copying from this article, that it is an anti-Semitic slur and what it is used to allege”. An odd sort of support.

  97. #97 Arnosium Upinarum
    October 15, 2007

    David Marjanovi? #76 says, “It’s easily imaginable that the alcohol takes an unpondered thought of his, his fears, and his willingness to piss people off, and runs with them, making him say things he wouldn’t even think when sober. If not – that’s worse for him, not better.”

    Of course it’s “easily imaginable”. Isn’t it at least as possible as that whatever it is that makes him say things he otherwise wouldn’t or shouldn’t say also makes him do things he otherwise wouldn’t or shouldn’t do? Like drink?

    Why is it so easy for some people to blame a substance? Why is it so hard to regard HIM as responsible for what he says or does, sober or not? The boozing is irrelevant.

    PZ says he could not discern any behavioral evidence for his imbibing. That’s good enough for me. I sincerely doubt PZ powers of observation are incapable of detecting even a mild intoxication in a public speaker. It just isn’t that difficult.

  98. #98 Barn Owl
    October 15, 2007

    [off-topic] So is there a triple- or quadruple-post blog comments meme floating around here, and at Panda’s Thumb?

    Or is it just one person with a few sockpuppets, a fast internet connection, and a lot of time on his or her hands? [/off-topic]

    Maybe Hitchens just has a combative personality; I’ve often thought the same thing about Alexander Cockburn. Some people just aren’t happy unless they have something about which to argue or complain-it’s a common enough phenotype in academia, at least.

  99. #99 Caledonian
    October 15, 2007

    Ooh, but Israel is a Jewish state! Ah, but that doesn’t change the fact that those terms have distinct semantics, any more than the fact that China is an Asian state tangles the semantics of “China” and “Asian”, moron.

    The key difference is that China isn’t a nation established specially for Asians, where being Asian means you have a “Right of Return” to a place you’ve never been to and your ancestors may not have been for centuries or millennia, and that China doesn’t include a particularly conservative group of people who insist that they’re the only Asians living properly and that all Asians should be Chinese.

    Israel is much more than merely a “Jewish state”, and you know it.

  100. #100 Russell Blackford
    October 15, 2007

    Wow, someone’s sure been adjusting the heat:light ratio in the wrong direction today.

    Personally, I don’t care if Hitchens is a heroin addict who listens to Barry Manilow records and has sex with a parrot while dressed in a rubber suit. It’s his ideas that matter, not his habits. As to his ideas, I wonder whether the Dawkins site has been wise in its rhetoric of “four musketeers”, etc., when some of the muskets are, at times, more like loose cannons.

    I love some of what Hitchens delivers, but as we see here, and as we’ve seen recently with Sam Harris, the “New Atheists” do not form a philosophical school. The more we see of them, the more we see that they are very diverse individuals, sharing only a non-belief in deities and a knack for explaining difficult concepts very clearly. That diversity of clear atheistic voices is probably healthy for the intellectual culture, but Dawkins might be safer associating himself with people like Sokal, Grayling, and Kitcher (though Kitcher has made a mess of that with his recent gratuitous criticisms of Dawkins) than with Hitchens and Harris.

  101. #101 truth machine
    October 15, 2007

    What I know is that such issues have no bearing on the fact that the terms have distinct semantics. Of course Israel is much more than merely a “Jewish state”, which reinforces the point that “pro-Israel lobby” isn’t the same as “Jewish lobby”, since it’s also “pro- US proxy state in the middle east that buys a lot of expensive weapons and has a special place in the neocon/PNAC vision” and “pro- state in constant turmoil with Arab/Muslim/oil producing states in the region”, among other things, you blithering idiot.

  102. #102 truth machine
    October 15, 2007

    Oh, and don’t forget “pro- state that crazy Christians think is indicative of the coming of the end times”, you swiss cheese-brained twit.

  103. #103 the great and powerful oz
    October 15, 2007

    Gah!

    Dan and truth machine, get a freaking room!

    Is it really worth half the thread to discuss what the {Jewish,Israel} lobby calls itself?

  104. #104 truth machine
    October 15, 2007

    you have a “Right of Return” to a place you’ve never been to and your ancestors may not have been for centuries or millennia

    The really nutty thing about this is that, on the flip side, so many American Jews align themselves with Israel based on this supposed God-given destiny, but they have no plans to ever go. These Jews help fund AIPAC and other organizations that are virtually agents of the state of Israel, operating in this country to put immense pressure on politicians and journalists of all parties to maintain Israel as the sacred cow and hide the atrocities they commit against Palestinians and to obscure and lie about the history of the region. Those Jews never fullfil their “God-given destiny” and have no desire to, but the money does keep flowing from the U.S. coffers to Israel and back to the weapons industry, and U.S. control of the middle east remains secure, with Israel as “the gendarme of the oil lands”.

  105. #105 Caledonian
    October 15, 2007

    The really nutty thing about this is that, on the flip side, so many American Jews align themselves with Israel based on this supposed God-given destiny, but they have no plans to ever go.

    Exactly my point! They feel a relationship is there because of cultural identification, not because they actually have shared interests, but the money and the support flows regardless.

    What’s even more irksome is that some people continue to repeat the myth that Israel was created out of nothing, with nothing, when the personal fortunes of a great many people and countless acts of charity by individuals and nations were the only thing that made its establishment possible, and these continued charitable acts instrumental in keeping the place existing.

  106. #106 John B
    October 15, 2007

    Thanks for posting these links & your observations of the conference, PZ ( I particularly liked the idea of talking to sci-fi organizers for tips on conference planning (i’ve only been to one sci-fi conference my only tip is don’t try the ‘Klingon salsa’)).

    Re: Hitchens

    I keep trying to negotiate dogmatism & freedom of speech/thought in my mind, trying to decide if he’s using a tried and true rhetorical strategy or if he really feels his stance is the only reasonable (non-stupid) position (this article tipped me in favour of the rhetoric option: Hitchen’s A Death in the Family, you get the feeling he isn’t prepared for that situation).

    I don’t know if people who are more familiar with his work have some insight into this?

  107. #107 truth machine
    October 15, 2007

    Exactly my point!

    A point which has no bearing on the previous discussion. I did say, quite a while back, in response to your “Perhaps everyone that’s so concerned about anti-semitic memes could enlighten us with the rational justifications for our continued financial and diplomatic support of Israel”:

    Nice false dichotomy. If you weren’t such a pig-headed idiot, you might have noticed that those who are talking about anti-semitic memes are among the most critical of U.S. support for Israel.

    Indeed there is a cultural relationship, but it is largely a result of political manipulation, much as the religious right’s opposition to abortion was largely a result of Richard Viguerie’s creation of a wedge issue to get Ronald Reagan elected. As the piece that I cited (which I suspect you still haven’t read) says,

    Until the 1967 war, few American Jews wanted to identify themselves with Israel. In his 1957 survey of Jewish American attitudes, the sociologist Nathan Glazer found that Israel “had remarkably slight effects on the inner life of American Jewry”. Only one in 20 American Jews travelled to Israel before June 1967, and intellectuals at an AJC symposium on Jewish Identity held a few months before the war barely considered Israel in their comments. After the war, when Israel became a crucial player in U.S. strategy, Israel became, according to Norman Podhoretz, Editor of the neo-conservative monthly Commentary, “the religion of the American Jews”, at least of the mainstream organisations. When AIPAC and the AJC go to Washington now, they meet receptive, even eager, ears. The lobbyists did not create the conditions for Israel’s elevation. U.S. foreign policy did the work for them.

    But you show no indication of being able to comprehend or appreciate these political aspects — for you, it seems to be only about the stupidity of religion. But that stupidity is used to manipulate people to political ends.

  108. #108 William
    October 15, 2007

    PZ – I am the one who was at the FFRF convention and captured and uploaded parts of Hitchen’s talk. I am also a fan of your blog. I just wanted to let you know that I posted a “part 5″ of the talk on YouTube. This video includes short sections of the Q&A stitched together. This part is interesting because of Hitchen’s personal putdown of someone’s perfectly valid question. This is all of my video of the convention and I apologize for the quality. Please enjoy. Thank you. -William (rozworld)

  109. #109 Caledonian
    October 15, 2007

    But you show no indication of being able to comprehend or appreciate these political aspects — for you, it seems to be only about the stupidity of religion.

    No, it’s only about stupidity – it encompasses most of politics and all of religion.

    It is utterly irrelevant whether you’re reasonable on one hand when you’re unreasonable on the other. What difference does it make if you’re critical of America’s support of Israel but are so hypersensitive you identify shorthand statements as anti-semitic? Do you think that the one will negate the other?

    It’s a natural human reaction to conflate nations and individual opinions – why is precisely why Americans abroad have been apologizing personally for the actions of America the nation, because the individual is tainted by the onlookers’ views of the country. Why would you expect Israel to be an exception to this pattern?

  110. #110 John B
    October 15, 2007

    Thanks William (rozworld).

  111. #111 Caledonian
    October 15, 2007

    Indeed, howto, the anti-semiticism is thick here.

    It’s bad form – though often very effective rhetorical strategy – to dismiss arguments as ‘anti-semitic’.

    Whether you support Israel and its policies is sadly not relevant. It proclaims that it supports you and the religio-cultural group you identify with, and so you are linked to it whether you wish to be or not.

    Reality’s a kick in the teeth, isn’t it.

  112. #112 aaron
    October 15, 2007

    Wow! He finally changed his jacket! Must have lost it or stained it or something.

  113. #113 cm
    October 16, 2007

    Thank you William. Too bad you didn’t have footage of some of the points PZ mentioned in the other post, but thanks for your effort, it is appreciated.

  114. #114 truth machine
    October 16, 2007

    Indeed, howto, the anti-semiticism is thick here.

    It’s bad form – though often very effective rhetorical strategy – to dismiss arguments as ‘anti-semitic’.

    You are consistent in your stupidity and intellectual dishonesty; that comment was an aside that dismissed nothing. It is you who dismissed with your idiotic and false dichotomy — I’m concerned with anti-semitic memes because I’m an ethnic Jew with relatives who went to the gas chambers, relatives who weren’t allowed into organizations or given jobs, and all the rest that goes with bigotry, asshole, And you will dismiss this as you have dismissed so much else, because you have slime for intellectual ethics.

    Whether you support Israel and its policies is sadly not relevant. It proclaims that it supports you and the religio-cultural group you identify with, and so you are linked to it whether you wish to be or not.

    I’ve already made this point, moron — Israel contributes to equating “Jewish” with “Israel”, which makes it difficult for many people — especially people as stupid as you are — to distinguish actual instances of anti-semitism. But it’s real, and my relatives who went the gas chamber weren’t checked for whether they believed in God, had cultural associations with other Jews, or were Zionists.

  115. #115 truth machine
    October 16, 2007

    It is utterly irrelevant whether you’re reasonable on one hand when you’re unreasonable on the other. What difference does it make if you’re critical of America’s support of Israel but are so hypersensitive you identify shorthand statements as anti-semitic?

    You’ve sort of assumed your conclusion — which is that you aren’t a moron with no intellectual ethics. I didn’t merely “identify”, I explained at length how the meme is anti-semitic — something you simply dismiss with no argumentation at all. Do you honestly think that your suggestion that, if I am — according to you — unreasonable about something, that somehow negates every reasonable thing I’ve ever said, will impress me or convince me? It’s just another example of your immense stupidity and inability to reason or be at all honest in your assessments. It’s high irony that someone so stupid as you can write “it’s only about stupidity”. Indeed, “it” is you in this case.

  116. #116 Scigatt
    October 16, 2007

    A slight aside…

    On the (im)morality of religion, I think Pearl Jam put it well:

    M.Y.T.H. is
    belief in the game, control
    that keeps us in a box of fear
    we never listen
    to the voice inside
    so drowned out…

  117. #117 ConcernedJoe
    October 16, 2007

    Truth Machine — it’s me – just another of your dumbf**k giving you a shoutout.

    Sorry about your relatives .. very sorry.

    Listen .. eeerrr hate to say this . but “framing” a bit among “friends” would be helpful. You have a lot of material .. worthy stuff .. but you make it hard to see it.

    I know you’ll go ape about my lack ok of intelligent argumentation or something — BUT I like you so I’ll say it .. lighten up and act more like a “teacher” in the best sense .. for instance I’d bet you understood the essence of my statements quite clearly – and indeed agreed mostly with the essence .. you could have coached to help make those statements my press worthly, etc. Instead you made it hard for me (a dumbf**k) to see what you were saying and how to apply it.

    So I’ll just say .. you could add a LOT more value if you lighten up a bit and help coach people. You are so willing and ready to blast you’ll find the transition not so incrementally taxing.

    OK – I’ll step back an take my beating .. but I’d sure prefer sharing “how” you would say what I was trying to say so to speak.

    Peace out

    Oh PS – I stand by my statements (the essence) — hey I’m a “dumbf**K!!” what can I say :-)

  118. #118 Caledonian
    October 16, 2007

    I didn’t merely “identify”, I explained at length how the meme is anti-semitic — something you simply dismiss with no argumentation at all.

    I’ve learned the hard way that arguing with a hysterical zealot accomplishes nothing.

    When hysterical zealots begin addressing criticisms of themselves as ‘anti-semitic’, the result is that criticisms of anything even remotely related to Jews are stifled. We’ve had that technique applied in discussions of religion, atheism, social policy, group identify, circumcision, and politics here at Pharyngula, and it needs to stop.

    Go read Jason Rosenhouse’s post on the subject, and we can talk more about what real anti-semiticism is.

  119. #119 JonnyJohnkins
    October 16, 2007

    I just watched the first four parts of the talk, and everything he said was quite defensible. I’m wondering whether PZ has simply misinterpreted Hitchens. Where’s Part 5?

  120. #120 John B
    October 16, 2007

    rozworld posted part 5 here:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=leZCH5BfGB4

    Re: antisemitism (a term as bad as ‘Indo-European’ for the inane theories that arise from the confusion of language & race) derail

    I don’t understand how anyone can be arguing with truth machine about the mistake Dawkins made (or be all that surprised he made that mistake). Just look at what the Israel lobby does, and who it is. It’s not predominantly Jewish. Whatever power it has, as was said above, comes from the military/economic/religious agenda of Americans with power to affect policy, most of whom are not Jewish and don’t particularly care about, or help, the american Jewish community. Calling it the ‘Jewish lobby’ is bad (because of the historical association with racist half-wits) and wrong (because the lobby is not specifically ‘for Jews’ or ‘of Jews’). It’s pretty clear it was a mistake.

    Obviously, atheists can’t expect, even with fantastic organization, to lobby the current government as effectively as the evangelical Christians or the people with military/economic interests in the middle-east.

  121. #121 Terry
    October 16, 2007

    So far there has not been any evidence given to suggest Hitchens said anything about killing all Muslims. Are you sure you weren’t confusing the term with Islamism?

    I really think you should withdraw the slur.

  122. #122 Nullifidian
    October 16, 2007

    Hitchens is back taking sides with Martin Amis regarding his recent infamous quote.

    He quotes Amis saying he feels a “definite urge” to cause suffering to the whole Muslim community by “Not letting them travel. Deportation–further down the road. Curtailing of freedoms. Strip-searching people who look like they’re from the Middle East or from Pakistan. . . . Discriminatory stuff, until it hurts the whole community. . . .”

    Then in the next sentence he says Amis is “profoundly humanistic and open-minded.” If that’s tbe new face of humanism, is it too late to just call myself a plain atheist?

  123. #123 JonnyJohnkins
    October 16, 2007

    This is ridiculous — is anyone even watching the videos? Everything Hitchens says in these videos is quite defensible, and hardly extreme. Certainly he doesn’t promote genocide.

    Are you people actually looking for the evidence, or are you just going to take PZ’s word for it that Hitchens acted crazily? Papal infallibility, right?

  124. #124 Terry
    October 16, 2007

    At least the blog author had the decency to post the video clips that completely contradict his review.

    I think he should take it a step further and withdraw the smears he has unleashed around the internet.

  125. #125 Mod
    October 17, 2007

    #20 slipped by it seems

    He of course has encourgage others to go, while his own son stays home.

    The guy is a piece of shit.

    I’m not sure how the choices of a man’s son reflect on the man.

    This is a guy who admires Leon Trotsky, mass murdering leader of the Red Army (p153 of his Not so Great Book), talks about the “ethical glories” of Marxism

    For context here is what Hitchens said:

    “Marxism, I conceded, had its intellectual and philosophical and ethical glories, but they were in the past…In addition the very concept of a total solution had led to the most appalling human sacrifices, and the invention of excuses for them.”

    He goes on to say that Marxism had become a solution that was as dogmatic as the problem it attempted to solve.

  126. #126 yyuryyub
    October 30, 2007

    Just like to say I think Hitchens was totally misrepresented by this blog. If you go to richarddawkins.net you will find links to the whole speech. He actually gives quite a good account of “why it’s wrong to compromise” using East Timor as a very convincing example. I don’t always agree with Hitchens but we must critisize him for what he actually says, not just what PZ thinks he heard.

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