I’d heard that Hitch addressed the situation in Zimbabwe in his introductory remarks at the Freedom Fest 2008 debate with Dinesh D’Souza, but I hadn’t seen the video of it until today. It’s worth a watch.
The subject of the debate itself wasn’t Zimbabwe, but the general subject of conflict and religion. If you’ve seen one D’Souza/Hitchens debate on God and man, you’ve seen everything that follows this clip, so I’ll only post the first part.
Hitch takes the opportunity to examine his marginal complicity in fostering the Western mythology of Robert Mugabe as a heroic anticolonial guerrilla leader resisting Rhodesian tyranny. A Western moral investment that Mugabe has been trading on ever since, to the unbelievable misfortune of his people.
On the context of the tale, it shouldn’t escape notice that Hitch has somehow recast Mugabe in the service of yet another disingenuous Western ideological cause. Rather than the vanguard of African secular socialism, now Mugabe serves as a depraved representative of Roman Catholic moral insouciance. Neither cause could be a justifiable role for the barbarian in Harare, because neither is even about him.
For me, it brings to mind the discreditable tendency of the West to talk to itself through Africa’s politics, just as Hitchens did when he favored the Maoist rebellion. It’s perhaps this temptation toward circuity, that makes the otherwise absurd claims of Africa’s nationalist despots that the continent is still suffering under the yoke of colonialism, so easy to advance and perpetuate in the West.
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