January 18, 2008

"People who think with their epidermis or their genitalia or their clan are the problem to begin with."

Christopher Hitchens rails about "identity politics":
Those of us who follow politics seriously rather than view it as a game show do not look at Hillary Clinton and simply think "first woman president." We think -- for example -- "first ex-co-president" or "first wife of a disbarred lawyer and impeached former incumbent" or "first person to use her daughter as photo-op protection during her husband's perjury rap."...

Here again, the problem is that Sen. Obama wants us to transcend something at the same time he implicitly asks us to give that same something as a reason to vote for him. I must say that the lyricism with which he does this has double and triple the charm of Mrs. Clinton's heavily-scripted trudge through the landscape, but the irony is still the same....

I shall not vote for Sen. Obama and it will not be because he -- like me and like all of us -- carries African genes. And I shall not be voting for Mrs. Clinton, who has the gall to inform me after a career of overweening entitlement that there is "a double standard" at work for women in politics; and I assure you now that this decision of mine has only to do with the content of her character. We will know that we have put this behind us when -- as with the vowel -- we have outgrown and forgotten the original prejudice.

ADDED: My son John IMs:
I'm sick of Hitchens's writing style!!

"I shall not vote for Sen. Obama..."

Are we supposed to take him more seriously just because he uses the word "shall"?

I can't imagine any other writer making such a pompous announcement of who they're supporting for president.

COMMENT FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE:
To Professor Althouse.

Madam,

I shan't trouble You or your Readers with my Opinions on Mr. Hitchens, except to say that, were he to stand Time on its Head and return my Century, he would be a welcome Citizen to the Republic of Letters. Mr. Hitchens's Passport would be that he refuses to write Cant, right or wrong as he may be in the Issue.

I should also say that safe arrival upon the Shores of this Republic in my Day, would not have protected Mr. Hitchens from many a Knock. An Author may have written what he would in the Papers; but he should have found that the Love of the Publick was as much a Dweller of the Rocks as that known by the Shepherd in Virgil.

As a Ghost these 250 years and more, I should, indeed, wish to stand Time on its Head and return to my Life; were that it would be concluded better than it fell out. I shall not, however, use this Occasion to make Complaints of my Fate, for 'twas that which all Men share.

Writing in Haste, and puzzl'ing over the Tense to be used if Time were to run backwards,

I remain, Madam,

Your most humble & obt. Servant,

Sir Archy

31 comments:

Meade said...

Can anyone put it better? Brilliant!

N.K. Frost said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Kindley said...

To paraphrase Hitchens: "I shall not be voting for [anybody] ...; and I assure you now that this decision of mine has only to do with the content of [their] character[s]," and the fact that voting confers an aura of legitimacy on a process that it would otherwise not have.

Everybody sees the sordidness, gamesmanship and inauthenticity of the process, and yet we imagine that good will somehow come from so much evil.

Sloanasaurus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sloanasaurus said...

Hitchens, as usual, runs contrary to the liberal establishment media, The media is trying its best to get us to overlook Obama's lack of substance. One column today tried to argue that Obama would be the first real president of the 21st century like Roosevelt for the 20th and Jefferson for the 19th him. The column failed to mention that Roosevelt and Jefferson were both very experienced when they took office.

Obama would be a disaster for the country and for the world if he becomes President.

rhhardin said...

or with their genitalia

They're not thinking with their genitalia, but with their interests.

The interests just happen to be unregulated empathy and soap opera.

If you blame that on genitalia, you assign it to all women, where it's really only 40% of them that completely reject civic responsibilities.

sean said...

Prof. Althouse's son should imagine a little harder: Marty Peretz and Harry Blackmun come to mind almost immediately as people with writing styles at least as pompous as that of Christopher Hitchens.

michaele said...

Ahh, Hitchens, he does wield the blade well. I, too, feel no compulsion to be guilted into voting for Obama because he is black and I sure feel no sisterhood reason to vote for Hillary because she is a woman. I am struggling with who I feel is best for the country or, perhaps, who will do the least harm and that is what concerns me most. I want no identity politics and, once the person is elected and is in place, I want competence and as little partisanship as possible.

former law student said...

re the younger althouse: as Hitchens becomes rotund, his prose becomes orotund

Michael said...

Hitchens is a "shall" kinda guy when he speaks too. I like it.

k said...

Hitchens is a Brit! The proper conjugation of "to be" in the future tense (as I learned it many years ago in a British-style school) in the first person singular and plural is "shall." The rest are "will." He really can't help it, you know.

Smilin' Jack said...

I'm sick of Hitchens's writing style!!
Are we supposed to take him more seriously just because he uses the word "shall"?


Lighten up, John. Brits commonly invert our usage of "shall" and "will," and their usage is arguably more correct:

From The American Heritage® Book of English Usage

The traditional rules state that you use shall to show what happens in the future only when I or we is the subject: I shall (not will) call you tomorrow. We shall (not will) be sure to keep in touch. Will, on the other hand, is used with subjects in the second and third persons: The comet will (not shall) return in 87 years. You will (not shall) probably encounter some heavy seas when you round the point....The English and some sticklers about usage are probably the only people who follow these rules, and then not with perfect consistency. In America, people who try to adhere to them run the risk of sounding pretentious or haughty.

Randy (Internet Ronin) said...

While I agree that Hitchens can be pompous, I disagree with John about the use of "shall" in this context. It reads and sounds quite normal to me, particularly coming from someone who is English-born and educated.

former law student said...

shoot! k is right, even in American English. Although out of fashion, I will, you shall, he shall, etc. are emphatic. (cf. Chicago's motto "I will!") The unemphatic versions are I shall, you will, he will, etc.

Pastafarian said...

I just realized while reading that. He (Hitchens) speaks exactly as he writes. I wonder which came first.As I'm reading it, I can hear him in my head saying it. It's kinda weird.

Trooper York said...

Oh, they just released a campaign documentary about Hillary's run for the White House. It's called Teeth. Check it out at theater near you.

Revenant said...

I can't imagine any other writer making such a pompous announcement of who they're supporting for president.

With all due respect to your son John, I think most political junkies can easily picture, say, Andrew Sullivan or George Will achieving that level of pomposity.

Middle Class Guy said...

The real question here is:

Was Hitchens drunk or sober when he wrote the article? It would determine his frame of mind and his usage of the word shall.

George said...

Hitchens breaks three of Orwell's Rules.

Instead, he could have written:

The problem? People who let their cocks, cunts, or clans do their thinking for them.

Shorter and easier to grasp. Barbarous, yes, but we live in such times.

tee bee said...

Trooper York - isn't the documentary called Cloverfield?

swisnieski said...

Whatever the pomposity of his diction, he's still right: identity politics is cheap.

john said...

"will" versus "shall":

It is a known fact that when you are drunk, it becomes easier to speak the "sh" sound than the "w" sound.

It is a lesser known fact that when you are drunk for a long time, your speaking habits readily transfer to the written word.

That's true.

john said...

hic'

Randy (Internet Ronin) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Randy (Internet Ronin) said...

I think most political junkies can easily picture, say, Andrew Sullivan or George Will achieving that level of pomposity.

It seems to me that Sullivan exceeds it a daily basis but it Will usually needs a fortnight to build up to that level again. And again. And ...

Blake said...

I've grown accustomed to using "will" for something chosen, and "shall" for something required. As in this David McCord Men's choir song:

Sing hey, sing ho, sing heigh-o
From Calais, Maine to Cal.,
For the blue that's in the sky-o,
For the will that's in the shall.
For the ding as in the dongo,
For the larynx in the lad.
And the ping preceeding pongo.
And the sweet succeeding sad.

amba said...

I was going to say "John: he's a Brit!" but I see I've been roundly beaten to it. I remember as a child savoring the quaintness of a spat between the Wart (King Arthur to be) and his adopted brother Kay that featured a lot of "Shall too!" "Shall not!" "Shall!" "Shan't!"

amba said...

In The Sword and the Stone, that is.

Sir Archy said...

To Professor Althouse.

Madam,

I shan't trouble You or your Readers with my Opinions on Mr. Hitchens, except to say that, were he to stand Time on its Head and return my Century, he would be a welcome Citizen to the Republic of Letters.  Mr. Hitchens's Passport would be that he refuses to write Cant, right or wrong as he may be in the Issue.

I should also say that safe arrival upon the Shores of this Republic in my Day, would not have protected Mr. Hitchens from many a Knock.  An Author may have written what he would in the Papers; but he should have found that the Love of the Publick was as much a Dweller of the Rocks as that known by the Shepherd in Virgil.

As a Ghost these 250 years and more, I should, indeed, wish to stand Time on its Head and return to my Life; were that it would be concluded better than it fell out.  I shall not, however, use this Occasion to make Complaints of my Fate, for 'twas that which all Men share.

Writing in Haste, and puzzl'ing over the Tense to be used if Time were to run backwards,

I remain, Madam,

Your most humble & obt. Servant,

Sir Archy

Kirby Olson said...

Swisnieski says that identity politics is cheap. That's well-put.

It's also all the Democrats have to offer.

It seems like they're saying: white men shouldn't think about race, gender and class.

"It's our turn to do that, except fo course we're not doing it." It's our turn to be bigots, except we're not.

It would be nice if someone were to mention John Locke and his notion of universal freedoms: life, liberty, health, and property.

It would be nice if any of the Mod Squad Democrats could mention anything except the three-card monte of race, gender and class. The left mantra of race, gender class has finally gotten to the very top of their party, and now we see the results.

Kirby Olson said...

2 Rongs don't make a Right. They make the Left.