PZ Myers Gets Caught Lying About Christopher Hitchens

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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:

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‘Any number’ of ‘Muslims’? We’ll get to that in a moment:

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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.

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36 comments

  • To think I used to be a fan of PZ Liars. I’m gonna go shower.

    • I think a great many of us used to respect him – until he descended into the lightless abyss of dogmatic intersectional feminist identity politics

  • I still follow PZ, because believe it or not, his science blogging is still some of the best around. Unfortunately that means 9 out of 10 of his posts you have to very quickly delete before the vomit leaps off your monitor and gets all over you.

  • I used to avidly read Pharyngula a couple of years ago but nowadays it feels like he takes a provocatively contrarian position on every single subject. And his rabid followers in the comments strike me as the saddest bunch of sat-in-their-parents-basement-in-their-underwear losers. I much prefer Jerry Coyne and Larry Moran both for their anti-theist content and also the science content.

    • Coyne is intolerant of all but the mildest dissent. The main difference between Coyne & Myers is political ideology, not a dedication to free speech.

      • That’s true, but only with regard to his own blog and the rules he’s applied (to which I fell foul). Blog owners are free to manage their own blogs, and that isn’t an intolerance of free speech. He won’t tolerate commenters being unduly rude to each other. With Myers pretty much anything goes for his followers when attacking those not in the clique; and Myers often tries to avoid blame for the vitriol by setting them up and letting them loose – especially after what appear to be legal threats from some victims of his attacks. And that’s another difference: as far as I’m aware Coyne has never let things get that out of hand, and hasn’t encouraged it himself. Myers and crew whine if legal action is threatened but have no trouble contributing to legal funds when one of their own is threatened by or wants to take legal action. The behaviour of Myers on various issues is typical of SJW treatment of free speech – anything goes for them, but it’s legitimate to shut it down when it suits them.

        • This is the same argument you get at the Slymepit: Jerry Coyne is allowed to be a censorious jackass because his politics are centre-Right rather than Loony Left SJW. There’s also the time Coyne doxed the wrong person, and the abuse from Jerry’s fanboys forced a teenage boy to lock his Instagram account.

          • Jerry Coyne is “centre-right”? What an unhinged characterisation. He’s a left-wing/centre-leftist, and a staunch liberal. Only the kind of Manichean far-left mindset that considers Hilary Benn far-right ‘red-tory scum’, and believes that Jeremy Corbyn’s a demotic, election-winning centrist, would call Jerry Coyne a centre-right-winger.

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  • PZ Myers has a long history of smearing the more successful people in the atheist and skeptic communities because he thinks that the way to pull himself up is to drag his betters down to his pathetic level. He has failed every time, and he has now done this so often that anyone with a brain in the community just looks at his latest pathetic antics with revulsion before moving on to something worthwhile.

    The only people PZ fools anymore are the bloggers and commenters contained in that stinking cesspool of Orwellian groupthink known as FreethoughtBlogs. And looking at FtB’s Alexa rankings over the long term, PZ is even losing that meager base of support as more and more of his “horde” finally get sick of the nonsense and leave.

  • For all his progressive rhetoric, I don’t think Myers has an ounce of empathy for anyone different from him.

  • “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.”

    Ladies & Gentlemen, only four days into the new year and we already have a winner… ‘The Most Concise & Accurate Blog Revue 2016’.

  • To be fair, when he said that Hitchens “wanted to cow Muslims with wholesale slaughter”, he could have meant that Hitchens “wanted to cow Muslims with the wholesale slaughter of Al Qaeda members.” No?

    • No. PZ’s exact words were “wholesale execution of the population of the Moslem world”.

      • I see it. You’re right.
        “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.”

  • 8 years ago, PZ was at the pinnacle of prominence in the Atheist community — Unfortunately, many of us rejoiced in how he treated the religious. PZ began his quick decent into obscurity as he continued his Keyboard Warrior style of antagonizing people, even when they were well intentioned human beings. Gelato Guy was the final deal breaker for me with supporting the likes of PZ Myers. Bile and bullshit is all that PZ was capable of. His science blog was overshadowed by his incessant ramblings to find MRAs and misogynists under every bed. His blog network shelters mind-numbing commenters that have flushed their sensibilities down the toilet — along with any goodwill that anyone in the Atheist community will now give them.

    Myers tries to stand in the sunlight that illuminates the leaders in our Atheist community. Unfortunately for PZ, he always fails and ends up left in the shadows. I feel slightly sorry for PZ… Like watching someone implode during alcohol or drug abuse. He couldn’t help himself. He thought that his keyboard tough-guy routine would last forever. Like with his reason, his time has run out and all that’s left is a bitter aging irrelevant atheist, shaking his fist at Hitchens for something Hitch never did. Sad.

    • I remember watching footage of him talking with some creationists outside a hall after a lecture/debate. They both spoke for about ten minutes, maybe more, and the creationist was being extremely polite. He was actually perfectly pleasant and – most pertinently – he was also genuine. After a certain amount of bored, lazy condescension Myers said something like “you don’t understand because you’re stupid”.
      It was completely out of the blue – whilst my sympathy for creationists is limited, the guy was pleasant, humble, polite and far from stupid. At the time I watched this clip I only knew about Myers from Dawkins’s references, which were overwhelmingly positive, but that clip sowed a seed of doubt. It appears, from what I read, that Myers has revealed himself to be a rather unpleasant chap.

  • Outhouse Steakhouse

    Myers’ only contribution to atheism is the Courtier’s Reply, and even that may have been plagiarized.

  • And then there were those of us who never bought into this clown — who from the very beginning saw through him like a fishnet.

  • I used to follow PZ but he has totally lost his mind the last years. For me his whole attitude problem stems from when he was in his hay day and he didn’t get included in the ‘4 horseman’ tag that completely took off. Since then he has become increasingly bitter resenting the others for their success. As for his army of angry trolls, it boggles the mind that such a thing could develop like it did.

  • 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”
    ____
    This is actually embarrassing in itself (not to forget the sleeping in the same bed as imperialist neocons) as it has a very poor chance of succeeding, and even whilst Hitchens lived this was clear. The problem of terrorism had vastly grown since the “war on terrorism” had started but Hitchens excused it.

    How terrorist groups end:
    http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB9351.html

    And his support for the war in Iraq well, some of us actually knew that it wouldn’t be an easy job..and that it would lead to massive amounts of death.

    War Games In ’99 Predicted Iraq Problems
    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/11/05/iraq/main2153499.shtml

    2003 intelligence reports predicted violence in Iraq
    http://rawstory.com/news/2007/2003_intelligence_reports_predicted_violence_in_0520.html

    But this is Hitchens, who was impressed that Bush supposedly changed his mind to support nation-building (which is really just imperial goals) despite that we have evidence that Bush focused on Iraq even before he was in office but more than anything had built his administration from neocon strongmen. And Bush supposedly was against nationbuilding?

    So there you go, Hitchens a supposed fan of Orwell siding with imperialists and actually selling more mass-death.

    And as if the arab-world buys that we are into it all for humanitarian reasons.

    ‘They hate our policies, not our freedom’
    ‘Muslims do not hate our freedom, but rather they hate our policies [the Pentagon report says, released in 2004]. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the long-standing, even increasing, support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan and the Gulf states. Thus, when American public diplomacy talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self-serving hypocrisy.’

    Hirsi Ali doesn’t understand this either as she has said:

    “But when it comes to democracy and the American way, Ali said the U.S. has yet to put forth an image that shows “why it’s so attractive” and justifies “the long lines of people waiting for green cards from across the world.”, “It’s time that America tells people across the world what it’s all about,”.

    Well, they already know it.

    • Michael Waterhouse

      Possibly, except when they tell exactly why they hate us and why they fight. Isis tells us and Sam Harris reads it to us and says, for himself, and for Hitch, “I told you so”.

  • “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.”

    Reminds me of Christians that quote Jesus without reminding themselves that it’s what others said he said.

    Or those that claim Josephus as evidence of Christianity because he mentioned what some Christians were supposed to have said or thought.

    The concept of hearsay seems to be lost to them.

  • Also, saying “I would not shed a tear if X happened” is categorically not the same as saying “I think we should do X”. For example, I would not shed a tear if that mendacious louse P.Z. Myers choked on his own bile, but that doesn’t mean I would actively seek to make that happen.

    Logic, fairness and honesty are things Myers seems to have pretty much abandoned, along with his sense of basic human decency.

  • Spooky, I’d almost deleted this bellend from memory when this blog and this too http://goddoesnt.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/an-ideologues-handbook-easy-guide-for.html come along. And to think I took the trouble to see this man speak not once but twice in London a few years ago, the shame of it…

  • The Internet, and blogging specifically, is allowing us to now know better the humans that build our sciences, and it’s not often pretty. We as the willing consumers of this once off-limits information have to do the work to discern the true value(s). It’s not unlike loving a song or a band but hating their lifestyle, and sometimes, like in the case of Amy Winehouse, a drunk will sing about drinking. Is the song still valid? Is it maybe even more poignant? Richard Carrier has successfully convinced me of a few things I left for dead or never fully explored, and in the case of EvoPsych, completely turned me around to believe it to be overwhelmingly pseudoscience. But goddamn, don’t misunderstand what he’s talking about and defend it without backup or try to change his mind, because you’ll pay the price. And sometimes, with many, this is because they’ve done the work, and we haven’t. And, specifically with Carrier, or Harris, they can smell it a million miles away. I like Coyne, but he’s shown some sexism, as has Boghossian. Bennett can be obstinate. Taleb is a classic dick. Greenwald is the worst. As of yet I’ve not significantly disagreed with Harris, but hoping to try with Carrier’s Free Will course mid-year. And Hitchens spoke with an element of tongue in cheek where it mattered, and expressed his love of the sport of debate. So Myer’s attempt at a takedown here is curious. He clearly is trying to stand on the corpse of hitchens to loft himself higher. It’s repugnant.

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  • Excellent journalism, as usual. Has PZ replied with some evasive ad hominem yet? The man either has a very poor grasp of reality, which I doubt, or expediently pretends to, which is much worse.

  • Ad-hominem. No use in real journalism.

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  • And of course, not a single person in his comments section actually questions his claim. Complete echo chamber. Seeing that sort of thing reminds me how important it is to question the things you happen to agree with.

  • I am done with PZ. So sad that a good science communicator has veered off the rails.

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