Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Hitchens on Grass

I rarely agree with Christopher Hitchens, but when he's right, he's right: "Grass was one of those who dragged the Nazi period into everything, including into discussions where it did not belong. When German reunification finally occurred after 1989, he referred to it with scorn as an Anschluss whereby the West had annexed the former 'German Democratic Republic.' When challenged on the absurdity of this, he wielded the truncheon of moral blackmail and said that, after Auschwitz, his critics had no right to speak about history. At a discussion in a Berlin theater at about that time, I heard him defend these propositions and felt that I was listening to a near-perfect example of bogus pseudo-intellectuality. By this stage, he had already become something of a specialist in half-baked moral equivalences. At the PEN conference in New York in the mid-1980s, for example, he had sonorously announced that conditions in the South Bronx put the United States on a par with the Soviet Union … I didn't like being lectured by a second-rater then and I like it no better when I discover I was being admonished by a member, however junior or conscripted, of Heinrich Himmler's corps d'elite."

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