Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Hitch in Beirut

Readers of this blog will want to know, if they haven't already heard, of Christopher Hitchens' dust up in Lebanon with the brown shirts of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, on a trip there with independent journalist Michael Totten. Totten's first person account gives a view of the seamy underbelly of life in a place overshadowed by these throwbacks of the 1930's fascist era.

Briefly, Hitchens and Totten were strolling on a Beirut street discussing the posters and flags the SSNP had plastered all over Lebanese cities in the wake of the Hezbollah takeover last May. Their symbol, a modified swastika, rightly enraged Hitchens, who was surprised to turn a corner and see the very thing, on a marker commemorating the brave assassination of two Israeli soldiers buying coffee on that spot by SSNP goons. Hitchens attempted to tear it down; failing that, he defaced it with a black marker. Thugs appeared immediately, and he was beaten soundly while onlookers, including police, averted their eyes.

Fascism is alive and well in many parts of the world, and is being spread under the aegis of its blood relative, radical Islam (even though the current instance is of the SSNP in Syria, which is an Orthodox Christian movement-may God damn them). Civilized people are easily cowed--note the people with the biggest Islamic radical problems are the Brits, the Dutch, the Belgians, the Swiss, the Canadians, the Swedes, the French, and the Spanish, though they all think they have bought off their antagonists with their bowing and scraping and preemptive obedience. They are all counting on their Western civility and Anglo sense of fair play to restrain the worst impulses, and speak to the better angels of, their fascistic intruder/guests. That tactic will make every city in Europe a Beirut.

The only rational response to such threatenings is Hitchens'--early and often. It remains to be seen if there is enough starch in the broad American body politic to stiffen the fabric against the fascistic impulses just beginning in our country. Arm yourself with the truth--read Hannah Arendt's Origins of Totalitarianism and Jonah Goldberg's recent Liberal Fascism and get up to speed on the 21st century version of the bright shining "movement of the future" circa 1930. Everything old is new again, as we enter another low, dishonest decade.

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