Hitchens in Beirut
A story that I’ve ignored thus far in this space is Christopher Hitchens managing to get himself beat up in Beirut by confronting some thugs. Michael Totten, who was a participant in the encounter, has the definitive account.
Scott Payne is an admirer of Hitchens’ boldness:
I spend a lot of time on this site talking about how we need to respect one another and that we ought to develop an ability for cross-ideological communication, all of which I do sincerely believe and will continue to argue. But there are times… there are times that call for the confidence, gusto, and stupidity to get yourself into situations like the one described in this story. Perhaps not against armed militants in Beruit, but there are times when in your face denouncement is the only acceptable response to some sets of beliefs.
Andrew Exum, however, captures my thoughts on the matter succinctly: “There is a thin line between badass and dumbass.”
Totten, choosing to jump in to defend his friend at the risk of his own life, was decidedly on the good side of that line. Hitchens, provoking a gang of thugs by an action that merely made him feel good but was likely to have no consequence in advancing liberty, was well on the wrong side.
Hitchens’ life is too valuable to put at risk in a childish stunt. He has both the talent and the platforms to fight the Syrian Social Nationalist Party and their ilk by more effective means than scribbling dirty words on a poster.