Via Ophelia, we get this comment by Christopher Hitchens, addressing the Catholic Church in his debate about religion with Tony Blair:
if I was a member of a church that had preached that AIDS was not as bad as condoms, I would be putting some conscience money into Africa too, I must say. I’m not trying to be funny. If I was trying to be funny, you mistook me. It won’t bring back the millions of people who have died wretched deaths because of that teaching, that still goes on.
What strikes me about this, aside from a deepening of my hatred for debates as means of addressing interesting questions, is that Blair surely could not have asked the obvious followup. Because while Hitchens is not a member of a religious denomination responsible for bringing suffering to Africa, he and Blair are both charter members in a political denomination that has brought unspeakable suffering to the people of Iraq. And I wonder how much conscience money he’s put into rebuilding Iraq, and into rebuilding the international relationships shattered by the ill-advised war which Blair launched and for which Hitchens shilled?
Hitchens, remember, was then a columnist at The Nation, America’s institutional left-wing journal of opinion. I suspect that more rhetorical power came from his warmongering in that venue (“Even the liberal Nation says we should invade…”) than from the fictions Judith Miller penned at The New York Times. Because serious people don’t think the Times is really that liberal, so their warmongering could be read as the usual sensible centrism, while The Nation‘s seeming pro-war stance cut the anti-war effort off at the knees.