Thursday, February 19, 2009

More On Christopher Hitchens In Beirut

via the UK Guardian.

Hitchens had been drinking on Beirut's main boulevard, Hamra Street, on Saturday afternoon with two other western journalists after attending a rally to commemorate the assassination of the former Lebanese prime minister, Rafik Hariri. They spotted a poster for the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, a far-right group whose logo bears an uncanny resemblance to the Nazi swastika, and Hitchens decided to act.

"They would be better off calling themselves the Syrian National Socialist party, and that's what they are", he said, speaking to today after arriving in the UK by plane. "I couldn't tear it down but I got my marker out and wrote on it, effectively telling them to 'fuck off'."

Hitchens' political statement was witnessed by a group of SSNP activists, who have a strong presence in Beirut. "With amazing speed, in broad daylight on this fashionable street, these guys appeared from nowhere, grabbed me by the collar and said: 'You're coming with us'. I said: 'No I'm not'. They kept on coming. About six or seven at first with more on the way," he said.

He described how he was knocked to the floor, ended up with his shirt covered with blood after he cut his arm in the fall, and "skinned" two fingers on one hand. Hitchens added that was walking with a limp for several days after. "They were after me because I was the one who had defaced the poster," he said.

After scrambling to his feet and "picking up my glasses and my notebook", Hitchens and his companions flagged down a taxi, but a member of the gang who had assailed him jumped in and they climbed back out on to the street, escaping to the safety of a busy coffee shop. A crowd confronted their assailants and the three men managed to escape.

Read the whole thing. Maybe the actions Hitchens took were ill-considered or a bit of Hemingway bravado, but defacing the symbols of a dangerous militia group in Beirut are not the act of a cowardly man.


Ronsonic said...

His hatred of Nazis and ability to recognize them represent the best characteristics of Mr Hitchens.

Good on him.

jumblerant said...

It sounds to me like he got drunk and fell over and got in a cab. At some point he might have defaced a poster.

Seriously, a group of locals find a foreigner writing graffiti on a poster and all they do is give him a shove? Is this 1920's London?? In reality they'd smack him around a bit and do a heck of a lot more than the physical evidence suggests.

These are people who will gladly 'kneecap' offenders in broad daylight so Mr. Hitchens seems to have gotten off very lightly.

I'm just saying....