Thank you for this reminder that Hitchens was, and remains, one of the most brilliant thinkers and communicators of the modern era. Since his untimely death, I often ask myself when confronted with the latest bizarre, irrational, depressing political turn of events, “what would Hitch have to say?” He wasn’t perfect, but that was part of his charisma. We need Hitch’s radical logic and compassion now. This piece eloquently explains why.

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Ezra Klein has a central position in the great social debates of our age. I can only assume he has earn the privilege of our consideration because most of his opinions seems facile and contrived to me. We give the devil his due be he make a false dichotomy between the identity politics of the left and the issue based opinions on the right. I think that considering these Hitchens opinions make that plane. Klein seems to have made a career of make false dichotomies and be willfully obtuse to the problem. He always seems to be pandering to some idealized marginalized group to cast a glow on his own virtue. A common problem these days.

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Great article. Solid points and beautifully penned. I want to buy Matt’s book coming out. I love Hitchens. Especially “Letters to a Young Contrarian,” which I have a marked-up, dog-eared copy of on my bookshelf. Hitchens was one of the world’s most acerbic polemicists, contrarian thinkers, eminent authors.

It seems beyond obvious at this point that identity politics is played on both sides of the political spectrum, and it fails miserably in each case. I loved Freud’s “narcissism of the small difference.” You know what I think it is? I think we live in such a privileged, wealthy, soft nation at this point that we’ve mostly (but not entirely) run out of serious problems; ergo, we have to create fictitious problems. Enter Wokeism and ID politics. MLK and Bayard Rustin were fighting for serious, real freedom. (Read “Bearing the Cross” by David J. Garrow.) They were battling deep Southern cultural racism as well as acute legal racism around the nation. The truth is things have never been better for most Americans than right now, Black Americans included.

Is there a history of anti-black racism in America? Of course. Does racism still exist today? Of course. But we have drastically improved. One of the major issues here is social media and the blatant biases of legacy media (on both sides) which alter people’s perceptions making it seem like racism is absolutely rampant, like racist white cops are trying to hunt down young unarmed black men by the thousands. (Check the Washington Post Police Database: About 15-20 unarmed Black Americans are actually killed each year, a tiny fraction of the 13m Black citizens.)

Two wrongs don’t make a right. An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. You can’t counter right-wing racism by embracing and embedding race essentialism into the leftist psyche. It just doesn’t work. Like Matt discussed: The only way to rationally proceed is to acknowledge that A. Yes, of course ALL human beings notice and are aware of race; B. All human beings have much, much more in common than different; C. The solution is two-way empathy (as Dave Chappell commented on stage in “The Closer”) and an embrace of individuality.

When we’re too privileged as a nation and most major problems have already been solved (again, not all problems), this is when a society reverts to “the narcissism of the small difference” because we’ve run out of other methods or complaints. When you shove a person into a group (white straight male; black man; lesbian LatinX; etc) you immediately drain that person of their inherent individuality and basic humanity. I am not a white straight male: I am Michael Mohr. I don’t view, say, Coleman Hughes or Glen Loury or Kmele Foster as “black thinkers”; they’re just thinkers. Of course I notice their race! But I don’t define them BY their race; that’s the crucial difference.

One thing to remember is that BLM is NOT a continuation of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s. MLK, as mentioned in Matt’s peace, understood the struggle as one of race, yes, but also one fundamentally of class, which very much included white people. I think white “progressives” have always had good intentions but often been problematic in the racial discourse of America. Thomas Sowell brilliantly and astutely writes about this in “Black Rednecks and White Liberals.”

If we keep each other in these tiny, fractured boxes and binary labels such as man vs woman; trans vs biological woman; straight vs gay; black versus white; ad infinitum: Where does that genuinely lead us? Where does that path end? In my estimation it leads to more bigotry, more racism, more perception of constant tribal danger, the expansion of our tiny differences, the lack of empathy, unity, understanding, love.

Harper’s recently tried to take down Hitchens in a piece entitled, “The Enemy of Promise: What Time Did to Christopher Hitchens.” (https://harpers.org/archive/2022/08/the-enemy-of-promise-christopher-hitchens/.) The main thrust is that Hitchens’s views are “out of date” and no longer compatible with liberal progressive values. In other words: Hitch isn’t “woke” enough. A polemicist, a thinker from a bygone era of White Men. I think this take is dead wrong. Hitch is more on-point now than ever before. Same for George Orwell, for that matter. (“Animal Farm” anyone?) Hitchens’s views are solid as ever; it’s the culture that has shifted under his (and our) feet, and very rapidly. This brings us full circle back to social and legacy media the control of narrative perception. Ezra Klein has moved a little more to the center but up until a year or so ago he was pretty radical. (I mean VOX, c’mon.) His book is an interesting read and there’s much to admire in it. But he’s wrong about the left/right divide. I think the irony is that the fringe right and the fringe left have much more in common with each other than they’d ever care to admit. They are both extreme versions of the same type of nasty, grotesque tribalism which is tugging us all further and further apart from each other.

If we want real, honest dialogue, art, speech, and inclusion, we need to rise above identity politics and tribalism and see each other as individual human beings. King did it. Rustan did it. Malcom X eventually did it. This is our calling as a nation. Not to fall into the trap of using hatred to supposedly fix other hatred. Bigotry can’t fix bigotry. Racism can’t fix racism. The losers of this ideology are all of us.

Michael Mohr

Substack writer, “Michael Mohr’s Liberal (But Not Woke) Writing Newsletter


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Hitchens worship tires me. I’ve read similar pieces from this same author over at Quillette, which clearly sees itself as the keeper of the Hitchens flame.

I’m a big fan of both Quillette and FAIR.

But there’s no need to cite the Great Man to promote what are after all rather basic tenets of liberal thought. The idea that only Hitchens got it right in his skewering of absurdities from various sides is nonsense.

And he got a lot wrong — the Iraq War, for instance, and his simplistic attacks on religious faith. And he went into battle for his wrong ideas with a poison pen and contemptuous disregard for the actual arguments of his opponents. In that sense, he actually bears some (small) portion of responsibility for the state of political and intellectual discourse in this country. Which makes him a bad choice for a FAIR poster boy.

I certainly could enjoy a nasty quip, an elegant turn of phrase, or a surprising insight from Hitchens. But he did not walk on water.

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Identity politics needs to stereotype (the dreaded others) as humans need oxygen to live and breathe. Stereotyping is the antithesis of treating individuals on their individual merits,, words and actions and it matters not if the stereotyper is black or white, or a man or woman. As Ruston noted many decades ago, educational equity (& quality education) are essential. Yet our biggest cities have failed and continue to fail miserably to educate the least fortunate in our society. Is it by design or just incompetence on the part of those who serve as our education leaders?

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Individualism and universalism. Sounds so simple and doable and desirable. Oh, wait a sec—how exactly do those concepts jibe with meritocracy?

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My issue with Obama was not so much that he was a Kenyan Marxist.

It was the Lucifearean Cannibal side to him that I found most noxious. He was trafficking children from Chicago into the White House within days of his first inaugeration.

Wikileaks. https://wikileaks.org/gifiles/docs/12/1223066_re-get-ready-for-chicago-hot-dog-friday-.html

Add in all the red diaper babies in his State Department and Valerie Jaretts ties to Iranian Globalists, ten trillion in debt, and one really has to question EVERYTHING about Barack and Michael Obama.

That is not identity politics. It is simply calling the situation clearly.


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