Christopher Hitchens, Bitter Brit

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13 Responses

  1. North says:

    A minor but important correction Matt; in the last near century the British Sovereign has been pretty much scandal proof. The Queen has been dignified, responsible and refined over the decades. It is her siblings, children and to a lesser degree her grandchildren who have been scandal-prone and soft-headed.

    What the institution will do without Elizabeth II when she finally waves her way off this mortal coil I fear to guess. God save the Queen indeed.Report

  2. Simon K says:

    This sentence “But read about Britain’s daily debauches, blinding stupidity and record promiscuity and one starts wondering whether the British have better royals than they deserve” reads like you read the Daily Mail and concluded that the country is going to the dogs, which is what the Daily Mail is there for. The piece would be better off without it, really – a little hesitation in judging entire countries might be in order..Report

    • Matt Schmitz in reply to Simon K says:

      @Simon K,

      I get pretty annoyed when people do this about other countries (France being the most common), so I probably should have been a bit more cautious here. (Still, I did say “start to wonder,” not “conclude,” for what it’s worth.) The reason I went that far was the long, proud and productive history of American polemics against our mother country. Like any good child, we are ready to defend her from any outside attack.

      The eye-shot thing is, I assume, a small and exaggerated trend. Britain’s widespread drinking, however, seems to be a real social problem. I know people who live in Britain who call it the least virtuous nation on earth. That’s a stretch, but it’s sad that people are tempted to make it.Report

      • Simon K in reply to Matt Schmitz says:

        @Matt Schmitz, “Drinking problem? We drink, no problem!”. Seriously, though – binge drinking is a competitive sport in parts of the UK, and there’s a national tendency towards disorder and debauchery. But there are social conventions around all of this that make it less socially disruptive that you’d think if you just read the Daily Mail and took it seriously. I think this is one of the hardest cultural differences between the US and UK to bridge – American public standards are more respectful of authority, more law abiding, more continent, less libertine and more prudish. Private behaviour of course is another matter entirely. I’m not sure about “least virtuous nation on Earth” but I might give you “least publicly virtuous English speaking nation”.Report

  3. Rufus F. says:

    It’s funny- the less time I spend looking at little glowing rectangles, the less I know about scandals. Now I will go read the link; however I suspect this has something to do with Islam because I did see something yesterday about Prince Charles being a covert Muslim on a blog I used to really like before it became about nothing but the blogger’s really intense hatred for Muslims.Report

    • Rufus F. in reply to Rufus F. says:

      @Rufus F., Ah, okay, it’s not about Islam; Hitchens is defending the Enlightenment (peace be upon it) from Prince Charles. Well that’s good. You know, Hitchens is a great prose stylist, but I think I’d describe most of his stuff as “timely”, mainly because I just can’t imagine rereading it at a later date.Report

  4. Mike Schilling says:

    Hitchens actually names Alan Turing as one of the scientists who needs to be defended from Charles’s attack on the Enlightenment, presumably because Charles might, I dunno, hound him to death for being gay.Report

  5. Scott says:

    I think he is justified in his reaction to Price Chuck’s pandering to the Muslims. Prince or not, Chuck needs to know that the commoners will not be silent about such stupidity. Maybe he and Carter can get together and go play somewhere far away from anyone.Report

  6. Barry says:

    In the end, Hitchens is just a guy with a witty style (half of which comes from a British accent and the boldness from alcohol); future historians will puzzle at why anybody considered him worth listening to.Report

  7. Jon says:

    In fact, Galileo really WAS pretty important, even beyond his not inconsiderable personal contributions. The Renaissance followed a millenium and a half of stasis in engineering and science, because the habit of looking at facts first in science had been lost since shortly after the fall of the Roman Republic to absolute monarchy. Clearly, Copernicus had already been paying attention to factses, but facts first was still unfashionable in most of Europe. Galilei’s example brought alot more credibility to that habit in Renaissance Italy, an intellectual center of no small importance.

    Rather a startling amount of Chuckie-boy’s comfort comes from the technological progress that he’s been standing against. No, Alan Turing doesn’t need defending, but contemporary British scientists and engineers might see attacks on their freedoms and especially budget sizes if he had his druthers; New Labour’s already been bad enough, freedom-wise.

    That’s one reason monarchy’s a bad idea – 60%ish aren’t so up to their jobs. Another is, under unchecked monarhchies like Rome’s, stifling of non-kings and those not in favor at the second. That’s how Hero of Alexandria’s gaseous and steam engine work came to be the last real work forward for said 1500 years until the Renaissance.Report