Juan Cole tears into Christopher Hitchens today, and I'm sorry he had to take the time to do it. There is no bigger waste of energy these days than responding to the sad drunken joke that Hitchens has become. But when you are a public historian with a large readership like Juan, I suppose you can't ignore slanderous attacks on your character, especially when they're launched by Hitchens, who's well-known for getting basic facts wrong when he simply isn't lying.
Juan's response begins:
"Christopher Hitchens owes me a big apology.
"I belong to a private email discussion group called Gulf2000. It has academics, journalists and policy makers on it. It has a strict rule that messages appearing there will not be forwarded off the list. It is run, edited and moderated by former National Security Council staffer for Carter and Reagan, Gary Sick, now a political scientist at Columbia University. The 'no-forwarding' rule is his, and is intended to allow the participants to converse about controversial matters without worrying about being in trouble. Also, in an informal email discussion, ideas evolve, you make mistakes and they get corrected, etc. It is a rough, rough draft.
"Hitchens somehow hacked into the site, or joined and lurked, or had a crony pass him things. And he has now made my private email messages the subject of an attack on me in Slate. (I am not linking to the article because it is highly unethical and Slate does not deserve any direct traffic from my site for it.) Moreover, he did not even have the decency to quote the final outcome of the discussions."
And gets better as Juan picks up steam. Check it out.
As you know, I no longer read Hitchens, and I haven't read his attack on Juan (who I'm sure knows that he'll receive no apology from Hitchens). Nor do I have any intention of doing so. The old wreck's a scratched CD at this point, and based on Juan's riposte, it appears that Hitchens is playing the same fractured tune. It's also clear that he'll do anything to get noticed, no matter how low he has to crawl. Again, my commiserations to Juan for having to spend time in Hitchens' gutter.