Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Hitchens on Sheehan

It was only a matter of time before Christopher Hitchens weighed in on this one. Discussing Sheenhan’s protest, he says:

I dare say that her "moral authority" to do this is indeed absolute, if we agree for a moment on the weird idea that moral authority is required to adopt overtly political positions, but then so is my "moral" right to say that she is spouting sinister piffle. Suppose I had lost a child in this war. Would any of my critics say that this gave me any extra authority? I certainly would not ask or expect them to do so. Why, then, should anyone grant them such a privilege?
He’s right in principle. Moral authority doesn’t make Sheehan’s argument more persuasive, but like it or not, it makes her argument more intriguing to Americans.

Hitchens addresses Sheehan’s argument like a debater, sweeping its logical legs out from under it. And though he’s successful, Hicthens’s victory is, dare I say, a moral one. Sheehan’s argument may not be persuasive, but that’s really not the point anymore. She’s become a symbol of collective frustration with the war. For better or worse, that status, and not her rhetoric, is what attracts people to her cause.

Read the Hitchens article though. If nothing else, it provides a sensible antidote to some of the reactionary ramblings on the topic of Cindy Sheehan.

--Matthew McCoy