HITCHENS VERSUS GALLOWAY
THE RUMBLE AND THE MUMBLE
Political Debate As Public Entertainment
By Darryl Mason
In England, maverick MP George Galloway is Tony Blair’s worst nightmare. In the US, Christopher Hitchens is a rumble-mumble mouth Limey-on-the-loose in the US, a columnist for Vanity Fair and Slate, who cheered on the Iraq Invasion and still thinks it was, mostly, a good idea.
This week George Galloway was in the US pumping his new book ‘Mr Galloway Goes To Washington’, which recalls his outrageously honest, righteously raucous appearance before a Capitol Hill Senate hearing into Iraq’s Oil For Food scandal. Galloway let fire in the Senate, and won himself a massive young audience in the US amongst independently minded youth and the hero-starved anti-war legion. We’ll be doing a Best Quotes list from that appearance, and recent Galloway interviews, in the next week.
Galloway and Hitchens banged into each other in a Washington DC street the day of the Senate hearings, they traded insults, then traded some more in the media and Hitchens decided a public debate was in order.
The unanimous verdict from the dozens of live bloggers in the 1000 strong crowd at the subsequent debate two nights ago was Galloway gave Hitchens a public flogging, but Hitchens came off the better because he didn’t insult the American audience.
They went toe to toe on Iraq, September 11, War in general and Dictator Love before an audience that hooted, howled, cheered, booed and railed with fury at some of the opinions aired.
There were no handshakes and no love lost. This was two hours of pure, unrestrained debate of a kind we rarely experience anymore in our super-sanitised public discourse. Hitchens and Galloway both later pointed out the curiousness of two Lads Of London debating the Iraq Invasion in New York City, and pulling such a huge crowd that hundreds were locked out, long before the debate began.
The issue of the night was the justification of the Iraq War, but it spilled out into a sumptuous slanging match where words burst like cluster bombs and opinion scorched the crowd like napalm.
Here is the best of Hitchens Versus Galloway, live from New York City.
Galloway on Hitchens :
"A drink-soaked former Trotskyite popinjay."
"What Mr Hitchens has done is unique in natural history, the first ever metamorphosis from a butterfly into a slug...The one thing a slug does leave behind it is a trail of slime."
"You have fallen out of the gutter and into the sewer."
"People like Mr Hitchens are ready to fight to the last drop of other people's blood."
Hitchens on Galloway :
"This man’s search for a tyrannical fatherland never ends. The Soviet Union's let him down, Albania's gone, the Red Army's out of Afghanistan and Czechoslovakia, Saddam has been overthrown....(but) the hunt never ends!"
Galloway on Hitchens' Shift From Anti-War to Pro-War :
"You start off being the liberal mouthpiece for one of the most reactionary governments this country has ever known and you end up a mouthpiece and apologist for these miserable malevolent incompetents who cannot even pick up the bodies of their own citizens in New Orleans."
Hitchens On Galloway’s appearance in the Senate :
"I believe it is a disgrace that a member of the British House of Commons should go before the United States Senate Subcommittee, and not testify, but decline to testify, and to insult all those who try to ask him questions with the most vile and cheap guttersnipe abuse, I think that's a disgrace. How can anyone who has had dealings with (Saddam’s) regime show their face at a city like this and not content with it, not content with it!"
Galloway On The Cause Of September 11 :
“I believe they emerged out of a swamp of hatred created by us...I believe that it's because of the total, complete unending and bottomless support for General Sharon's crimes against the Palestinian people."
Hitchens in reaction as the crowd boos Galloway :
"Our fault? No, this...dangerous piffle....this is masochism. And it is masochism being offered...by sadists."
Galloway on the NeoCons' rule of the US :
“How far has the Neocon rot seeped into your souls?"
Galloway on the Iraqi Resistance to the Occupation :
"The (NeoCons) intend, if they can, to have an Iraq Americana, but the Iraqi people have decided otherwise."
"The most foreign fighters in Iraq are wearing British and American uniforms. The level of self-delusion is bordering frankly on the racist. The vast majority of the people of Iraq are against the occupation of Iraq by the American and British forces."
Hitchens On Iraq If The Coalition Had Not Invaded :
"Saddam Hussein would be the owner and occupier of Kuwait. He would have succeeded in the annexation - not merely the invasion - but the abolition of an Arab and Muslim state that was a member of the Arab League and of the United Nations. And with these resources, as we now know, because he lost that war, he was attempting to equip himself with the most terrifying arsenal that it was possible for him to ..."
Galloway On The Results Of The Invasion :
“Mr Hitchens's policy has succeeded in making 10,000 new Bin Ladens."
Hitchens On Galloway’s Anti-War Credentials :
"To hear him speak you would think - would you not? - that he was a pacifist, that he defines himself as anti-war? Now how can this be said in good conscience by someone who has just (stood) by the side of the dictator of Syria on the 30th of July, and referred to the 154 ‘heroic’ operations conducted in Iraq by the so-called resistance?"
Galloway On Hitchens Regarding His Attacks On Anti-War Mum Cindy Sheehan :
"You are covered in the stuff you like to smear onto others. Not just me ... but people much more gentle than me, people like Cindy Sheehan ...who gave the life of her son for the war that you have come here to glory in."
The debate ended with no handshakes and now clear winner, but plenty of dark scowling. The audience left wired and wanting more, hitting blogspace to log hundreds of entries in the hours after the debate.
In the end Hitchens got the last word in, hours later on a radio show. Commenting on the debate, Hitchens said he tried not to look at Galloway, because "it was like looking straight into the piggy eyes of fascism."
Galloway, meanwhile, mused on the concept of "taking the show on the road."
A touring political blood-letting debate as public entertainment?