On Hitchens on Mamet

I can catalog a long list of areas where Christopher Hitchens and I disagree. He is a radical atheist, I am a believing Jew. He abhors science fiction, I find it to be some of the most thoughtful literature of our time. He is a liberal, I am conservative. The list goes on: one of the reasons I enjoy reading Hitchens’ essays so much is that I can usually find something in each where he and I are in such deep disagreement, and yet he is so eloquent, that I am compelled to re-examine the basis of my beliefs. I consider myself fortunate to have such a foil.

One point on which he and I agree, however, is on our mutual distaste for the brand of conservatism embraced by the playwright and screenwriter David Mamet. Mamet supports Sarah Palin, declares that America is a “Christian country,” and even for me, severely oversimplifies the Arab-Israeli conflict.

I want very much to like Mamet, having not only enjoyed his work but also found myself in agreement with many of his indictments of modern American liberalism as expressed in his 2008 essay in The Village Voice. Mamet is older than I, but I have been a conservative for rather longer than he, so I read his Voice piece with the bemused pleasure of someone who finds those he admires agreeing with him.

Sadly, however, Mamet’s flight from the left to the right did not set him down in conservative territory. Rather, he has flown all the way right, alighting on a square deep in reactionary Tea Party territory, and his new attitude is marked with the zealotry that is so often the mark of the righteous convert. As much as I want take pleasure in Mamet’s enlightenment, I can only join Hitchens in shaking my head at a heartfelt zeal that is not matched by either rhetorical balance or intellectual rigor. What should have been a manifesto wound up being a polemic.

As for Hitchens, where he disappoints in his review, beyond delivering a gratuitous rabbit punch to the great rabbinical sage Hillel, is that he does not ask whether Mamet is the best intellectual light the conservatives can put forth, or indeed whether there might be someone who can articulate a less reactionary position to counter the Palin-Tea Party-Beck-Koch axis. Hitchens would, apparently, prefer to have his readers think “oh, this is what conservatives are all about. Yuck.” This rhetorical device, implying that an extremist viewpoint is typical of an entire people or movement, is not only one of Hitchens’ favorite tools, but one used by demagogues of all political inclinations.

In this, Hitchens is emblematic of the challenge independent conservatives face in crafting an independent, progressive conservative movement. The far right wishes to present themselves as more centrist and mainstream than they are, and the left are happy to oblige, hoping to attract the disaffected to their own ranks.

And yet, there lies the opportunity.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

The Golden West Review

A Californian Perspective on History, Arts, Land, Literature, and Politics

A Bucket and a Pen

In Search of Life after the Career

coffeesteffi ♡

coffee, art & my brewed thoughts

Sea Scout Ship 9201

Channel Islands Harbor • Ventura County Council, BSA

Troop 234, Boy Scouts of America

Port Hueneme/Channel Islands Harbor, CA

Dirty Sci-Fi Buddha

Musings and books from a grunty overthinker

The Chinafornia Wolf

Gratefully Chronicling a Remarkable Journey

The Thousand Books Project

Reading a Meaningful Life

Cafe Book Bean

Talk Books. Drink Coffee.

Silicon Hutong

Addressing China as it is, not as we want it to be

Psych Circus

Enjoy, Learn, and Erase Stigma!

Maura Elizabeth Cunningham

Historian and Writer

Runningwinegirl's Blog

Colorado Girl Sharing Insights on Wine, Public Relations and Life's Adventures

ARLIN REPORT...................walking this path together

PERSPECTIVE FROM AN AGING SENIOR CITIZEN

Blue-eyed Ronin

A contrarian who enjoys challenging existing illusions, one truth at a time.

Observer

People and Trends

commentisfreewatch.wordpress.com/

Promoting fair and accurate coverage of Israel

twitchy.com

Who Said What

Barton's Blog

To the clouds and beyond...

Coffee Shop Rabbi

Basic Judaism spoken here.

Cami Ryan

Science, society, and life

Pacific Paratrooper

This WordPress.com site is Pacific War era information

______Assessing China / The TEA Collaborative______

Tech, Energy & Ambitions: Assessments at the Intersection of Technology, Investment and Policy

Cliche of Logic

This is the beginning of my writing.

An Ordinary Website

of interest to few.

Der Bananenplanet

Alternatives Informationsmedium

Corey Robin

Author of "The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Sarah Palin" and "The Enigma of Clarence Thomas"

Ragan Communications

The Center Must Hold

The China Story

The Center Must Hold

Yale E360

The Center Must Hold

Xindanwei | 新单位

The Center Must Hold

WritersDigest.com

The Center Must Hold

WordCount

Freelancing in the Digital Age

FriendFeed Blog

The Center Must Hold

Business

The Center Must Hold

Blog Daily Listings RSS

The Center Must Hold

Speakeasy

The Center Must Hold

The Center Must Hold

Opinions

The Center Must Hold

RSSOpinion

The Center Must Hold

WebMD Health

The Center Must Hold

Renewal

The Center Must Hold

Village Voice

The Center Must Hold

Uploads from The U.S. Army

The Center Must Hold

TechNode

Latest news and trends about tech in China

WritersDigest.com

The Center Must Hold

Techmeme

The Center Must Hold

%d bloggers like this: