Useful idiot still as useful as ever

Tender cutlets of halal meat served fresh for a British Muslim magazine. My favorite story involving Rowan Williams is this one, wherein one man who’s done much for atheism engages another:

June 10, Washington, D.C.: It’s been weeks on the road, and after a grueling swing through Canada I am finally home. I tell the wife and daughter that’s it: no more god talk for a bit—let’s get lunch at the fashionable Café Milano, in Georgetown. Signor Franco leads us to a nice table outside and I sit down—right next to the Archbishop of Canterbury. O.K., then, this must have been meant to happen. I lean over. “My Lord Archbishop? It’s Christopher Hitchens.” “Good gracious,” he responds, gesturing at his guest—”we were just discussing your book.”

The archbishop’s church is about to undergo a schism. More than 10 conservative congregations in Virginia have seceded, along with some African bishops, to protest the ordination of a gay bishop in New England. I ask him how it’s going. “Well”—he lowers his voice—”I’m rather trying to keep my head down.” Well, why, in that case, I want to reply, did you seek a job that supposedly involves moral leadership?

The answer to Hitch’s question is so that he could go round issuing pronunciamentos about the wickedness of western powers and their eternally innocent Middle Eastern victims. LGF has been keeping tabs on him for years, starting with his left-of-left declaration that the invasion of Afghanistan was “morally tainted” to, well, this. Read through the interview at the ToL link and you’ll find him returning to some of his favorite themes: blaming the United States for atrocities committed against Christians by Muslims (“beleaguered Christian communities in Iraq, who are now suffering because their neighbours have turned against them, identifying them with the West”), recoiling at Israel’s security fence more so than at the degenerates it helps to keep out (“Whatever justification given for the existence of the wall, the human cost is colossal”), and only the most timid, halting criticisms of Islamic political culture by comparison (“the Muslim world should be ready to acknowledge that their ‘present political solutions aren’t always very impressive'”) (“Our modern western definition of humanity is clearly not working very well”).

Exit question: When he cites the British imperial example of “tak[ing] over a territory and then pour[ing] energy and resources into administering it and normalising it,” he does realize that’s what we’re trying to do in Iraq, yes?

Jazz Shaw Jun 22, 2021 6:01 PM ET