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Last night, at the 92nd Street Y, famed author Salman Rushdie interviewed Christopher Hitchens onstage about his new memoir, Hitch-22. Neither Rushdie nor Hitchens are especially systematic thinkers, so whenever the conversation turned to politics, one felt a wasted opportunity in not having a more probing interlocutor than one of Hitchens's best friends. That's especially true when you take into account Hitchens' unique views.
The peculiarity of Hitchens's allegiances bears repetition: he sides with the Red Army against the Whites, the Republicans against the Loyalists, the Palestinians against the Israelis, and the Sandinistas against the Contras, but supported Margret Thatcher in the Falklands war and the US against Serbia, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
But why bother going to a talk to hear Hitchens repeat his inane views about Iraq, etc., in any case? What value Hitchens possesses as writer and speaker has less to do with the sharpness of his insight than the sharpness of his wit -- which faculty was, thankfully, on abundant display. Though Rushdie is less witty than Hitchens, he proved to be a helpful partner in bringing about a lively evening, the stage having been set by Vanity Fair editor, Graydon Carter, with an amusing introduction.
I certainly hope that the Y recorded the event and will release a podcast version so everyone might enjoy the hilarity.
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