Christopher Hitchens and his Critics: Terror, Iraq, and the Lef

Still aghast in June 2002, Martin Amis witnesses that, ‘September 11 was a day of de- Enlightenment.’ In his book, The Second Plane – collecting essays and short-stories penned between September 18, 2001 and September 11, 2007 – he forcefully and yet elegantly registers the shock felt by a sensitive, courageous observer of events, thrust back by gusts of reactionary violence emanating from an unsuspected world of medieval fanaticism, in order to rediscover his own most basic moral and imaginative resources. Only the first of the fourteen pieces indulges for even a moment in that cognitive-affective blunder which Paul Berman perspicaciously identifies as ‘rationalist naïveté’ – the morally lazy, ethically purblind temptation to deduce some readily graspable ‘good reason’ that simply ‘must’ lie behind every apparently heinous act of brutality, so long as it is one directed against those perceived as powerful (the U.S., Europe, Israel) on behalf of the world’s designated victims (the wretched of the earth).

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