From Magic City Morning Star
Christopher Hitchens: Secularist Fundamentalist
By Michael Devolin
I used to enjoy Christopher Hitchens and his articles critical of Islam. I assumed at the time he could discern the difference between the barbarities of Islam-barbarities no different in this 21st century than they were in the 7th century-and the benignant tenets of Judaism and how these same tenets have proven to be as beneficial to mankind today as they were before, during, and after the Hellenic age. To equate the long ago defiant independence movement of the Maccabee Jews and their adherence to the nationalist aspirations of Judaism with the expansionist and anti-Jewish ideologies of both Christianity and Islam is to blame the Jews for the genocide of Adolph Hitler's Holocaust and the bloodlust and violence of Osama bin Laden's jihadist terrorism. What Hitchens fails to mention in Bah Hanukkah is that the Maccabean revolt was not the only nationalist movement the history of that era records for us. There were also the provinces of Bactria, Parthia, and Cappadocia who asserted their independence. There were more than the Jews of Israel (not "Palestine") with whom the idea of being conquered and subsequently ruled by foreign invaders who demanded taxes and taught philosophy and religion at the point of the sword did not sit well. I guess this historical fact, the brutality of the Greek army, was lost on Hitchens, or maybe he intentionally avoided mentioning it. Primo Levi wrote, "An extreme case of the distortion of a committed guilty act is found in its suppression."
According to Christopher Hitchens, history has forgiven rulers such as Alexander the Great of rampaging about the world imposing by force upon conquered peoples the adoption of Hellenist philosophy and religious sentiment and, as happened in the land of Israel at the time, not only the prohibition of Judaism but also the worship of the G-D of Israel as defined in Judaism. Miserable secularist that he is, Hitchens fails to mention also that the Greeks demanded the Jews worship their gods, a decree antithetical to the tenets of Judaism. His praise of Hellenism's "secularism and philosophy" is not only a contradiction of the fact that Hellenism was all about the polytheistic worship of a pantheon of Greek gods, but also, laughably, this imposture conflicts with his personal and many published aggrandizements of secularism. The angry stupidity of Christopher Hitchens proves the veracity of the proverb, "Zeal without reflection is dangerous."
Our poor historian then excoriates the Maccabean dynasty for becoming "exorbitantly corrupt, vicious, and divided." Just like the Islamic fundamentalists whom Hitchens so often accuses of malice, he now imitates their propagandists by obfuscating the harsh and dissentious realities endured by the Jewish people in Israel (not "Palestine") during the Greek and Roman occupations. He fails to mention that these same Greek and Roman "saviours" and their respective god-cultures were responsible for the politically and religiously motivated murder of Jews by hundreds and thousands. From this point on I will refer to Hitchens' mendacious zeal as "secularist fundamentalism". I think the show fits.
Maybe, like his easily distracted countryman David Irving, Hitchens is attempting to rewrite history. Perhaps he doesn't take Jewish history seriously enough to recount it in real context and with the respect it deserves. Perhaps he could learn much from those Jews who today dutifully remember to each other those few glorious days in ancient Israel (not "Palestine") when the brave Maccabees made it known to Antiochus in no uncertain terms that his murdering thousands of observant Jews would never interrupt their obedience to the numinous intransigence of the laws of their Torah. The Maccabees are not the thugs in the story of Hanukkah, regardless Mr. Hitchens' sciolistic interpretation of their story.
Lastly, I haven't read anywhere that observant Jews disbelieve the world is "made up of atoms." On the contrary, if I remember correctly, there have been a few Orthodox Jewish physicists awarded the Nobel Prize for their work in this field of science. As for Hitchens' "intellectual renegade who prefers Athens to Jerusalem," I'm reminded of a summation of Plato and Aristotle written by Blaise Pascal, a very religious Roman Catholic and a physicist: "when they diverted themselves with writing their Laws and Politics, they did it as an amusement. That part of their life was the least philosophic and the least serious; the most philosophic was to live simply and quietly. If they wrote on politics, it was laying down rules for a lunatic asylum; and if they presented the appearance of speaking of a great matter, it was because they knew that the madmen, to whom they spoke, thought they were kings and emperors. They entered into their principles in order to make their madness as little harmful as possible." Now if only the irreligious Christopher Hitchens would consider the harm and the hurt caused by his insensitive and abrasive language. No-0ne is forcing him to light a candle, although it sounds to me like Mr. Hitchens is by far the loudest at "bitching about the darkness."
Written by Michael Devolin© Copyright 2002-2007 by Magic City Morning Star