Mr. Hitchens's Revisionism of His Own HistoryHistorians/History
Mr. Hitchens was thinking nothing of the sort, and he knows it. He was thinking, in standard, knee-jerk anti-American terms, that America was largely to blame for bringing on the attacks. And he said so, in a particularly sickening column for the Guardian published on September 13, 2001:
With cellphones still bleeping piteously from under the rubble, it probably seems indecent to most people to ask if the United States has ever done anything to attract such awful hatred. Indeed, the very thought, for the present, is taboo. Some senators and congressmen have spoken of the loathing felt by certain unnamed and sinister elements for the freedom and prosperity of America, as if it were only natural that such a happy and successful country should inspire envy and jealousy. But that is the limit of permissible thought.
In general, the motive and character of the perpetrators is shrouded by rhetoric about their "cowardice" and their "shadowy" character, almost as if they had not volunteered to immolate themselves in the broadest of broad blue daylight. On the campus where I am writing this, there are a few students and professors willing to venture points about United States foreign policy. But they do so very guardedly, and it would sound like profane apologetics if transmitted live. So the analytical moment, if there is to be one, has been indefinitely postponed.
I am glad to see that Mr. Hitchens has since changed his mind about the dangers
posed by Osama Bin Laden and about the imperatives of American power. But he
has falsified history. Twenty-four hours after the attacks on the World Trade
Center and the Pentagon -- barely two years ago -- Hitchens fiddled on about
the evil Americans and their taboos and their refusal to reckon with their wickedness.
Mr. Hitchens may be a historian, but he is what George W. Bush calls a "revisionist
historian" -- and in this case the history is his own. His invocation of
George Orwell can at best be judged as cynical.