Sunday, September 18, 2005

Galloway and Hitchens face off...

Having the opportunity to watch much of the debate from Baruch College between the British MP George Galloway and Journalist Christopher Hitchens, I wanted to give Galloway a chance. It was apparent from the getgo that Galloway was a politician for his appearance and delivery, and Hitchens an unpolished journalist who could only offer his understated truth and subtle yet self-deprecating ad hominems. Amy Goodman was obviously uncomfortable with the tone of the debate and performed admirably despite this. While I enjoy listening to the British Parliament and their hecklers, they carefully tone down their booing and chattering enough to allow a debate. What can I say? I don't boo or interrupt and I don't think it helps anyone.

Galloways' finest moment, came when he pointed out that the Hitch had supported the rebels in Algeria and the rebels in Vietnam, yet now found himself on the side of imperialism. I found it partly convincing, although in retrospect I don't know how often the Algerians or the Vietnamese massacred their own civilians by the hundreds as the "resistance" heroically has been doing for quite some time now.

Hitch was at his best when he pointed out that the same George Galloway who claimed to be anti-Saddam while Hussein was massacring Kurds in the 80's was embracing Hussein in 1994. It is not a good thing to be a politician accusing journalists of lying.

What went back and forth? Galloway claiming the US has supported murderous dictators across the mideast and claiming the massacre in New York was caused by the despotism in Israel. Unconvincing to say the least when one argues that a massacre in New York would have been forestalled by peace in Palestine. And as Hitch pointed out, this wasn't the best city to be arguing that point.

Hitch appearing to apologize for Bush's response to Katrina wasn't a good moment, though in fairness he alluded to, but did not press the manner in which Louisiana officials were culpable for what happened in their state. A missed opportunity, I thought. Though it was interesting to hear him point out that blaming Arabs for the fate of poor blacks in NO was race-baiting of a form, I felt a little more research on hydrology could have made a better point. His rejoinder that "you are all on television" sounded unwittingly Orwellian and I thought it was ill-advised.

Debates always are nullified by politicians with the simple tactic of total denial. But at some point, this tactic begins to defeat itself. Could EVERYTHING Hitch says be a lie? That is doubtful.

The winner in all this is the British debating style. I learned nothing and nobody was convinced of anything. Should we be surprised?


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