Cities without landmarks
Niagara Falls, U.S./Canada
There was a time in my life when I did a fair bit of work for the tempestuous Lucretia Stewart, then editor of the American Express travel magazine Departures. Together, we evolved a harmless satire of the slightly driveling style employed by the journalists of tourism. “Land of Contrasts” was our shorthand for it. (“Jerusalem: an enthralling blend of old and new.” “South Africa: a harmony in black and white.” “Belfast, where ancient meets modern.”) It was, as you can see, no difficult task. I began to notice a few weeks ago that my enemies in the “peace” movement had decided to borrow from this tattered stylebook. Their mantra was: “Afghanistan, where the world’s richest country rains bombs on the world’s poorest country.”
Poor fools. They should never have tried to beat me at this game. What about, “Afghanistan, where the world’s most open society confronts the world’s most closed one”? “Where American women pilots kill the men who enslave women.” “Where the world’s most indiscriminate bombers are bombed by the world’s most accurate ones.” “Where the largest number of poor people applaud the bombing of their own regime.” I could go on. (I think No. 4 may need a little work.) But there are some suggested contrasts for the “doves” to paste into their scrapbook.
Incidentally, when they look at their scrapbooks they will be able to reread themselves saying things like, “The bombing of Kosovo is driving the Serbs into the arms of Milosevic.”
If the silly policy of a Ramadan pause had been adopted, the citizens of Kabul would have still been under a regime of medieval cruelty, and their oppresssors would have been busily regrouping, not praying. Anyhow, what a damn-fool proposal to start with. I don’t stop insulting the Christian coalition at Easter time. Come Yom Kippur I tend to step up my scornful remarks about Zionism. Whatever happened to the robust secularism that used to characterize the left? And why is it suddenly only the injured feelings of Muslims that count?
A couple of years ago, the same people were striking pompous attitudes about the need to avoid offending Serbian and therefore Russian Orthodox sensitivities. Except that those sensitive people, or their leaders, were engaged in putting the Muslims of Europe to the sword.
There’s no pleasing some people, but as a charter supporter of the nuclear disarmament campaign, I can remember a time when the peace movement was not an auxiliary to dictators and aggressors in trouble. Looking at some of the mind-rotting tripe that comes my way from much of today’s left, I get the impression that they go to bed saying: What have I done for Saddam Hussein or good old Slobodan or the Taliban today?
Well, ha ha ha. It was obvious from the very start that the United States had no alternative but to do what it has done. It was also obvious that defeat was impossible. The Taliban will soon be history. Al-Qaida will take longer. There will be other mutants to fight. But if, as the peaceniks like to moan, more bin Ladens spring up to take his place, I can offer this assurance: Should that be the case, there are many, many more who will also spring up to kill him all over again. And there are more of us and we are both smarter and nicer, as well as surprisingly insistent that our culture demands respect, too.
Reprinted with permission from the London Guardian.
Christopher Hitchens is a regular contributor to Vanity Fair, the Nation and Salon News.More Christopher Hitchens.
Niagara Falls, U.S./Canada
Sydney Opera House, Sydney, Australia
Mount Rushmore, South Dakota, U.S.
Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
Colosseum, Rome, Italy
Taj Mahal, Agra, India
Siena Cathedral, Siena, Italy
Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Arc de Triomphe, Paris, France
Lost City of Petra, Jordan