I went to hear Christopher Hitchens speak at AUB tonight. Before leaving work, I called my friend S. to see if he was still planning on going. He picked up the phone and said: “Did you hear?
“There’s a rumor that Hitchens got beaten up by SSNP thugs in Hamra a couple of nights ago.”
“Is it true?”
“Don’t know. Angry Arab had a thing about it.”
Curious to see Hitch with a black eye, I headed over to the lecture which was entitled: “Who are the Revolutionaries in the Middle East Today?” The auditorium was crowded when he showed up, sans signs of SSNP punishment. He launched his talk by explaining that his real topic would be “The Ironies of History,” and proceeded to wax philosophic about the dangers of moral equivalency, the evil of Hasan Nasrallah, the greatness of Bush, the incoherence of religion, the need for secular nationalist revolutionaries, the white man’s burden, etc. It was signature late Hitchens: an arch and pompous parody of himself.
Elbowing my way to the front of the crowd after the talk, I managed to ask him whether the rumor was true. Had he, in fact, been beaten up in Hamra by the secular nationalist revolutionaries of the SSNP? It was, Hitchens confirmed. “They broke my glases, tried to break my finger. They roughed me up.”
Ironies of history indeed.