PZ Myers Gets Caught Lying About Christopher Hitchens
I’m not even sure what you’d call PZ Myers’s sordid little grief hole over at Freethought Blogs. I just know that it’s utterly dreadful. If you can stomach his callow sneering long enough – and hate yourself sufficiently – spend 5 minutes in the comments section featuring his loyal gaggle of trolls. It will take your face off.
PZ Myers has a habit of publicly disagreeing with the more successful figures in the ‘atheist movement’, which would be fine normally. Disagreement is healthy. It’s just that when PZ ‘disagrees’, he tends to reach for the worst possible smears available to make his point. This behaviour has been going on for years, but has recently been distilled in its most toxic form thanks to his interactions with Michael Nugent of Atheist Ireland. I urge you read about that here.
Anyhow, Myers was engaging in a bout of Hitchens bashing on Twitter:
‘Any number’ of ‘Muslims’? We’ll get to that in a moment:
Now, I’m not sure why the question about Iranians is being asked here. The tweet that ‘John Zambri’ is replying to has either been deleted or was never there in the first place. If it’s the latter, it would seem rather odd for PZ Myers to respond to the challenge with a location, time and link though. The included link is PZ Myers’s own report of the FFRF meeting in 2007 – which he and Christopher Hitchens attended as speaking guests. Myers notes his dissatisfaction with Hitchens singling out ‘Islam’ during his talk, then claims this of the Q&A section (emphasis mine):
He [Hitchens] was asked to consider the possibility that bombing and killing was only going to accomplish an increase in the number of people opposing us. Hitchens accused the questioner of being incredibly stupid (the question was not well-phrased, I’ll agree, but it was clear what he meant), and said that it was obvious that every Moslem you kill means there is one less Moslem to fight you … which is only true if you assume that every Moslem already wants to kill Americans and is armed and willing to do so. I think that what is obvious is that most Moslems are primarily interested in living a life of contentment with their families and their work, and that an America committed to slaughter is a tactic that will only convince more of them to join in opposition to us.
Basically, what Hitchens was proposing is genocide. Or, at least, wholesale execution of the population of the Moslem world until they are sufficiently cowed and frightened and depleted that they are unable to resist us in any way, ever again.
Leaving the reader with the distinct impression that Hitchens simply wants to annihilate Muslims, Myers adds:
We can’t simply murder enough Moslems to weaken them into irrelevance, and even if we could, that’s not the kind of culture to which I want to belong.
So, PZ Myers is clearly claiming that Hitchens advocated what amounts to ‘genocide’ during this segment of the talk. That Hitchens was endorsing the indiscriminate slaughter of the Muslim ‘population’. If only there was some way to confirm whether or not Hitchens actually said these things…
Here’s a YouTube video of Christopher Hitchens not actually saying those things, at the very event PZ Myers notes above, at the exact moment PZ Myers accuses him of having said them. Skip to 52 mins and 7 seconds.
Hitchens is clearly talking about militant Jihadists – specifically al-Qaeda in Iraq. Hitchens even goes so far as to note ‘they’ (al-Qaeda) are the ones “blowing up Muslims, not me, not us” – thus distinguishing them from non-combatants. Hitchens hopes that by engaging al-Qaeda militarily:
“They will get to the stage where they realise they have made a mistake, all the evidence in Iraq is that al-Qaeda have already discredited and disgraced themselves, and it’s a matter now of just hunting down and killing them, which I think is a pleasure and a duty” (emphasis mine)
‘Any number’ of al-Qaeda members would have been more accurate in Myers’s initial tweet. Call Hitchens’s comments hawkish, call them wrongheaded, call them whatever you like. But just don’t try to claim he was ‘proposing genocide’ or advocating ‘wholesale execution of the population of the Moslem world’. That would make you a PZ Liars.
Hitchens Wanted Iran ‘Wiped Off The The Face Of This Earth’
As an aside, I have actually seen it claimed that Christopher Hitchens once said the following of Iran:
“As for that benighted country, I wouldn’t shed a tear if it was wiped off the face of this earth.”
Whenever someone throws this quote my way, I always terrify them by asking for the source of it. On the one occasion someone actually managed to provide one, it was the dreadful hatchet job of a book called ‘Unhitched’ by Richard Seymour. The book claims that Hitchens made this declaration to a stunned Wisconsin audience when asked about Iran. The book’s footnote cites the following source for this claim: ‘51. Tariq Ali, interview by author, 3 January 2012’.
So, even though the author directly quotes Hitchens saying these words in the main body of his book – the footnote reveals that the author was actually quoting what someone else had told him Hitchens has said.
That ‘someone else’ also happens to share a name with a debate opponent and critic of Hitchens. I cannot find a single other source to corroborate this already second hand quote. Let me know if you have better luck. For now, it should be filed firmly under ‘hearsay’. Just like anything else PZ Myers claims to have heard someone say.