B.J. Bethel

A view of the world from Ohio

Five years later: What would Hitchens think of Putin, Trump, SJWs, populism?

Christopher Hitchens died five years ago, the day after my birthday. A coincidence of sorts, he was my favorite writer and my greatest professional inspiration and aspiration. He left no issue or stone unturned, was an equal opportunity thinker no matter the political spectrum, and this appeal resonated with a young writer who grew tired and nauseous at what he read on a daily basis from the so-called thought leaders, spewing the same basic entrenched ideas repeatedly.

I missed Hitchens like I missed a distant relative, or a friend I haven’t seen in years. Some days I search google, hoping there is some unearthed essay, or maybe a book project he shelved that is being brought to life, but those hopes are all but gone five years later. I miss him most since the election.

News, magazines and national papers have given ample space to the Putin apparatchiks who take the Trump line on the Russian President-cum-mafioso, who blather like Fyodor Lukyanov about the illegitimate ‘global order’ that has existed since the end of the Cold War. How the Motherland has been wrongfully denied its place in the world because of a meddling American empire that seeks to destroy it within, such as when Hillary Clinton – as Secretary of State – was asked if she supported pro-democracy protesters in Russia, and she said, “Yes.”

Or the online war between the Trump populists, the third-wave professional campus protest bunch that Hitchens so disliked. I can’t imagine the barbs he’d toss, but his with his view gone from this election, many of the things we took for granted – a voice for the enlightenment, democracy, freedom – seemed a bit squelched. Too often cable news hosts let apparatchiks rant about international law when their homeland regularly makes shredded paper of it. When the Russians, with no irony, call a UN session to denounce an American bombing of a Syrian army convoy, while openly carrying out attacks on cities filled with civilians, of bombing convoys of vehicles bringing medical supplies, or the other Keystone Cop wannabe bipolar military might the once might bear attempts to flex, which appropriately fizzes into the mountains of Turkey like Russian cruise missiles.

Putin wasn’t a regular subject of Hitchens, but he wrote of him enough, and often cited the Russian President as an example of the naïveté of George W. Bush. What Hitchens would say about an American and media that for a year and a half let the Russians operate a disinformation campaign interfering with the 2016 election, could be measured in kilotons. He would have found this unacceptable and an act of war.

Trump’s own Russian ties would have brought more righteous vitriol, that one of the two major parties allowed Trump to get as far as he did in the primary with a Putin apparatchik as a campaign chair, not to say being elected president while losing the popular vote by 3 million. Of the populism that gripped a country based on Trump’s signature issue of jobs, how candidates in both parties failed to realize this from the beginning and swing in, or the failure of people to understand what they were voting for.

Or the social justice left, the campus brigade now in charge of much of Twitter, unleashing justice by badgering employers with email for any Tweet that gets out of line. The loud super-minority that was allowed to be the voice of the majority, who take an important issue like racism, use it on campus for their own political gain, then to constantly lower the standard so no one knows what the term means.

Twenty years ago on Charlie Rose, Hitchens feared the infantilization of the feminist movement, and here we are, where puppy dogs, candy and pillows are handed out before speeches.

I’m not sure Hitchens would want to be around for this. His father was a World War II British Naval hero, who was on board one of her majesty’s best when it sunk a German sub, now watching the hard-fought European order being torn apart from the far-left, far-right and an interloping Russia whose only power is the inaction of others.

I doubt my face will appear on any Sunday morning political shows, or in a visual panel next to one of these people who spout legitimacy and other rabble about Trumpism or Putinism, or even our crass PC vs Populist world, so to those of you who have the opportunity, don’t let them walk away. Don’t let a Lukyanov lie and get away from it. Don’t take the risk of being up at night, knowing you could expose these frauds for what they are and you didn’t, because in the end the debate matters, and the side of republicanism, liberalism and democracy hasn’t thrown a punch yet. Whether this is out of apathy or manners, I don’t know, but manners disappear at the moment of disrespect, and our values are being disrespected in every way possible.



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