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The problem with Richard Byrne’s take on the “left” (Press Corpse, “Pulp Bullied,” 10/26) is that like almost everyone else who’s waving the flag these days, he can’t dis the left without calling it names, even peppering his prose with red-meatbombs like “Hate America” and making fun of “Cats and Peace” calendars for yuks. It’s the same thing as calling your opponent a name, instead of addressing his argument with one of your own.
He calls Christopher Hitchens’ “compelling” piece in the Nation “the most articulate statement about recent events” from the left, but offers no backingwe just have to take his word for it. In reality, Hitchens is full of himself and “jumped the shark,” as Winston Smith ultimately did in 1984, in NATO’s Serbia war two years ago. Then Byrne trashes Noam Chomsky (who went two tit-for-tat rounds with Hitchens in the Nation), calling him a “pedantic lefty.” Incoming meatbomb! But again, no backing.
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This is all still on the Nation’s Web site, and your readers can see it for themselves, but one of Hitchens’ “compelling” arguments was essentially that he figured out all by himself that the Sept. 11 terrorists used “fully loaded planes” as weapons. Uhhh, nice investigative reporting there, Chris, but I think most of us had figured that out by about lunchtime on Sept. 11.
In a subsequent New Yorker piece, Hitchens was quoted as saying the Sept. 11 terrorism was “state-supported,” though even Dubya’s top-secret “evidence” points to al Qaeda, not a state. Hitchens then trashed Chomsky for daring to suggest any comparison to Bill Clinton’s “Monica” raid on the Sudan civilian pharmy plant in 1998, apparently indignant that such a comparison could be made because Bubba used cruise missiles and the ‘jackers used commercial jets.
Chomsky said in his far briefer rejoinder(s) that he had noted the “wickedness and cruelty” of the Sept. 11 attacks, and cited mainstream press accounts on past U.S. actions in backing his points about Sudan, and so on. What’s so “Hate America” or “pedantic” about that, given the fact that Hitchens trashed him in the first place? It would have been nice if Byrne had backed up his points, too.