Christopher Hitchens on Romney’s Speech

Surprise, surprise. Christopher Hitchens didn’t like Romney’s speech.

Can’t you be witty without being just plain rude?

If you are so inclined, let Hitchens know how you felt about his article.

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  1. Let’s see, profess tolerance but show none. Profess knowledgeableness but remain ignorant. Profess unity but behave secularly. That about describes what I think of Hitchens after hearing the podcast.

  2. He did say a great deal of things that were misleading, and some that were altogether false:

    They seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God. Religion is seen as merely a private affair with no place in public life. It is as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America — the religion of secularism. They are wrong.

    The founders proscribed the establishment of a state religion, but they did not countenance the elimination of religion from the public square. We are a nation “Under God” and in God, we do indeed trust.

    Hitchens is very correct in saying that many of the founding fathers were Deists, decidedly un-Christian, and did not found the nation to be a Christian one.

    Citing the facts that “god” is on our money and in our pledge is nothing but bad history – both were established in the 1950s, during the red scare.

    Romney also states that the constitutional ban on religious tests implies that he does not have to answer questions regarding his beliefs. This is quite fallacious. He doesn’t have to answer for his religious beliefs at all, anywhere, for any reason – the Constitution only bans limitations on who can run. “Would he expect a Scientologist to be able to avoid questions about L. Ron Hubbard?” No. The Scientologist would be able to run for office, sure, but the public would likely demand explanation before they trust their votes to him. This ought to be the same for Mormons.

    It may have been a very shrewd and political move to condemn secularism and assert a Christian nation, as he likely knows that it will ignite a reaction from the freethinking voters. The backlash thereof will put him in the same boat as many other Christians, instead of allowing freethinkers to single him out for his minority religion.

    Hitchens could have maintained a friendlier tone, but I don’t think he said anything “intolerant.”

    By the way, Karen, the only way to profess unity is to behave secularly.

  3. angrymormonliberal

    Hitchens speaks some hard truths. Of course the man is overly rude. But Romney has consistently spoken from both sides of his mouth. He made nice with the liberal establishment in Mass, now he’s trying to erase that. He’s cosying up to the religious right. I found the overt negative references to Islam and atheism offensive.

    Hitchens criticism of religion strips away the veneer of respectability that all groups attempt to maintain. Romney is frankly, ridiculous. The GoP have, during their time in office, made explicit ties with the religious right. They have brought religion into politics. Why the objections then when biting political satire is applied to them? Romney has made undescribed ‘faith’ as a big part of his campaign, admittedly in response to the political climate in the Republican party. I see nothing wrong with biting criticism of that policy.

  4. Did Romney assert a Christian nation? Since Evangelical creedalists do not consider Mormons to be Christian, and since they were largely the audience of this speech, it seems reasonable to conclude that Romney was not asserting a Christian nation but a nation under God, which also encompasses the deists among our population, including some of the founders.

    AML, what about Romney’s criticisms of Islamic radicalism was offensive to you?

  5. can i answer, john?

    its offensive because it is a separate issue from the topic du jour: religion. perhaps in some contexts it may have had its place in a speech about terrorism, international affairs, security, etc., but in this case, it was nothing more than a slick jab, via stereotyping, at islam.

    specifically, i am referring to the radicalism in romney’s speech, that included terms like conversion by extreme, jihad, jihadists, theocratic tyranny and boundless suffering.

  6. Stephen Wellington

    Although I do not like Hitchen’s self-indulgent tone…

    I too think he speaks some hard critical truths that are essential when considering Mitt Romney for president.

    I find Romney disingenuous.

  7. Proctor S. Burress

    Michael said it very well.

    It is not intolerant to call people…anyone at all…out on what they profess. Rude is most often exclaimed by hurt children in the big world of ideas!Surely we all understand that the formulation and defense of ideas is a “contact” sport!

    Others would say that members of NRMs (New Religious Movements)…NOT “cults”…are demonstrating their thin skinned sensitivity by crying “intolerance” when they are challenged on their beliefs. The old adage applies: if you cannot stand the heat, avoid going into warm
    kitchens (people are always cooking-up strange stews in such places).

    The issue is to admit our differences and even to learn to celebrate each others’ differences. Don’t pretend they are not there! Of course, this may never happen especially for those of us in NRMs which is thus… just because a set of religious ideas are less than 500 years old as is also true for Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Scientists and many others. Neither can any of us take comfort in assuming there will not be more NRMs. Of course, there will be… unless human freedom… to think and invent… is totally obliterated! Surely, LDS folks know of one or two good examples of this.

  8. Romney’s speech is a boilerplate? Hitchens’ article is a boilerplate. Just check off your choice of the usual Mormons-are-stupid-dupes talking points.

    Joseph Smith as pedophile? Check. Sneer quotes around “prophet”? Check. Polygamy? Check. Comparison with terrorists? Check. Mormons are racists? Check.

    Not that Hitchens didn’t express an original thought. He came up with the “Mormons are in a tizzy over Romney saying the Bible is the Word of God” all on his own. Clearly, Hitchens belongs to the Church of Making Stuff Up.

    It seems to be Hitchens, and not Romney that wants to “rewrite the historical record.” George Romney’s record on race was impeccable, and I know of nothing in Mitt’s record to suggest anything different. Hitchens’ claims of racism are about as credible as Coleman Young’s claim that Mo Udall was racist. Hitchens informs us that Mitt was “of age” and wonders why he didn’t go with Dad to march with Martin Luther King? Mitt was barely 21 when King was killed. Depending on when the march was, Mitt was either in high school or living away from home at the time. Mitt is a racist because he didn’t ditch school to go march with King? No doubt Hitchens skipped his prom to go on the same march.

  9. I think that Romney was not referring to Islam in general in his speech except when he praised Muslims for their dedication to frequent prayer. His references to radical Islamic terrorists did not seem like any kind of broader reference to all of Islam.

  10. It’s not “calling out” or “challenging” an atheist to say that they’re not worthy of being called fellow citizens. What Romney did was dismiss nonbelievers, which makes this patriotic, altruistic atheist a little mad, frankly.

  11. Hitchens is completely right on a number of levels. Why can’t I go up to Mitt Romney and ask his about all the ridiculous things that his church teaches and have him explain him to me. He’s obviously used his church for his gain and prosperity, but I have the sincere inclination that, if it were possible to drop from the church in exchange for being President without any fallout, he would do it without a second thought. Does he really believe in the crazy incantations that began his ‘faith’?

  12. I was not aware of Christopher Hitchens until recently; I know, call me sheltered ?
    In any event, it appears to me, Mr.Hitchens, makes perfect sense of his assessment of it all.
    My past will indicate I came from a Protesant (United Church of Canada) background in eastern Saskatchewan. This affiliation with this church’s ministry ( a Murray Bater) was a life alterating experience for myself, my sister and my father.
    This betrayal of trust by this so called “Man Of God” (congregation minister) ruined my childhood as well as my sister’s and devastated our father as this adultry by my Mother (Elsie Joyce)and the United Church Minister (Murray Bater) should have been judged as liable in a court of law.
    I am 63 years old now and I regret to say this event changed me forever. I am living proof we are all products of our envoirnment, especially that of our childhood.
    Mr.Hitchens is not some raving lunatic and his foresight has been amazing. Unfortunately, I fear for Mr.Hitchens good health as he appears to be struggling with alcohol addiction and due to his continual throat clearing and coughing, he may even have the early stages of Cancer ….. I hope I am totally wrong on this assessment.

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