Thursday, May 04, 2006


More on Hitchens-Cole

By way of Juan Cole, Bill Scher has a good piece on the Hitchens-Cole wrestling match: The key substantive point of dispute is: did or did not Ahmadinejad say that Israel should be "wiped off the map"? Can't anyone get it? Hitchens conceded that Cole was right when he said "Quite possibly, 'wiped off the map' is slightly too free a translation of what he originally said...) " He then went on to attack Cole in a completely manufactured controversy. But this is a big issue, much larger than I realized. From Helen Cobban The theft issue has to do with something Chris quoted directly in the article there, which was a private contribution Juan had made to a private listserv called Gulf 2000. Juan and I are both members of the, fairly large, membership of this group. Chris Hitchens is not. Now, the whole point of having this private list is that its members-- who include citizens of many different countries, of many political complexions, and with many different areas of Gulf-related expertise-- can all explore ideas together in a safe space without the fear that what they write for it will get quoted in the public media. It might sound a little elitist (and probably is). But still, it is a remarkable place, where people who are citizens of many countries, including of course the numerous fairly repressive countries bordering the Gulf, can explore and exchange ideas. For many list members, the promise of discretion for what they write is a completely necessary element of their personal security against the intrusions (and worse) of authoritarian state bodies. So Chris Hitchens had just-- by some unknown means-- gotten hold of something Juan wrote for the list ten days or so ago, and published it there in his Slate article. By doing that, he (and whoever sent him Juan's contribution there) just blithely violated that requirement for privacy. I'm sure that as they hang by chains in Saudi and Iraqi jails they'll thank you for setting Cole straight, Hitch.
This is exactly why outing Valerie Plame was so horrible. Valerie Plame herself suffers "only" the loss of the career in which she's spent her entire adult life. Her operatives in the Middle East face far worse fates.
Did you see Weisberg's responses on behalf of Slate to Cole, PW? I think in an Olberman countdown, he and Hitchens would have to fight it out for Worst Person In The World.

They just don't care that they've breached the security of a list including highly educated, potentially pro-American voices in the Middle East. Totally clueless
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