William K. Wolfrum's picture

    Christopher Hitchens lets Vanity Fair blow off his legs, kill his entire family, destroy his home; he writes about it

    (WKW Note: Following the death of Christopher Hitchens, many have spoken about his support for the Iraq War, as well as his Vanity Fair story on waterboarding. I wrote this piece on July 3, 2008 to express the conflict I felt over these two issues.)

    What more can be added to the debate over U.S. preemptive war, and whether killing innocent citizens en masse is a crime against humanity? Try firsthand experience. Writer and war-supporter Christopher Hitchens endured the controversial geopolitical maneuver at the hands of the Vanity Fair writers and editors, who blew his legs off, destroyed his home and then hunted down and killed everyone he loved.

    “I declare Jihad on those Vanity Fair Bastards”

    by Christopher Hitchens, August 2008

    Here is the most chilling way I can find of stating the matter. Until recently, “killing innocent citizens” was something that evil terrorists did to Americans and Europeans. It was why a War of Civilizations against a lawless enemy who disregarded the Geneva Conventions was necessary. War is never pretty, and innocents will die, get maimed, be destroyed emotionally and eventually seek revenge. It’s a side-effect of a bigger problem. Still, some feel that preemptive war and killing innocents is a crime against humanity, regardless of the cataclysmic threat of Islamic extremism.

    Exploring this narrow but deep distinction, on a gorgeous day last May I found myself resting at home, preparing to be surprised by a team of extremely hardened Vanity Fair writers and editors who had confronted their country’s enemies in the pages of their magazine for decades. They were going to show me as nearly as possible what real war might be like.

    The first Vanity Fair editor I had approached with the scheme had asked my age on the telephone and when told what it was (I am 59) had laughed out loud and told me to forget it. Being a civilian casualty is for Muslims, not for wheezing, paunchy scribblers.

    I woke early and knew at once that I wasn’t going back to any sort of doze or snooze. It started with little introduction. Sitting on the porch of my home, I was grabbed from behind, pulled to my feet, had a black hood pulled over my face. I was then turned around a few times, I presume to assist in disorienting me. Then, using rocket launchers, they blew both my legs clean off at the thigh.

    While writhing in considerable agony, some weird music assaulted my ears. The outside world seemed very suddenly very distant indeed. Legs already lost to me, I wasn’t able to flee as a fighter jet flew overhead and bombed my home into non-existence, killing my wife and daughter instantly.

    You may have read by now the official lie about this treatment, which is that it “helps” defeat the enemy. This is not the case. You feel that you are drowning because you are drowning — or, rather, being drowned by pain and a horrifying sense of loss.

    I had read stories about Iraqis who, after the loss of everything they held dear, and after being maimed, would quickly recover and support American policies in Iraq. I was already confused and angry, but hell, I thought, no Hitchens is going to do worse than a Muslim.

    Well, O.K., I admit now that those stories were likely falsified. Still, as my pain and heartbreak slowly gave way to a blinding rage and with slightly more bravado than was justified, I said I’d like to try it one more time. That was when I was informed that they had already located my other children and ex-wife and killed them, as well as killing several close friends.

    I desperately needed a drink. As the Vanity Fair editors dumped Depleted Uranium into my mouth, I applied the Abraham Lincoln test for moral casuistry: “If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong.” Well, then, if destroying innocent civilians does not constitute a crime against humanity, then there is no such thing as crimes against humanity.

    One used to be told—and surely with truth—that the lethal fanatics of Allah were schooled to die, and instructed to claim that their families had been killed even if they hadn’t. Did we notice what a frontier we had crossed when we admitted and even proclaimed that their stories might in fact be true? I had only a very slight encounter on that frontier, but I still wish that my experience were the only way in which the words “crimes against humanity” and “America” could be mentioned in the same breath. Until then, however, I pledge to dedicate my life to jihad and to kill each and every employee at Vanity Fair, as well as their families.


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