1st December 2010
Yes I know I said I’d be writing more on my analysis of the speakers and their arguments, but you should see the videos first, or at least one of them, for the flavour. The debaters spoke for 90 minutes, and there are eight videos featuring their debate.
Christopher Hitchens and Tony Blair – Munk Debates 2 (14:11)
This is presently viewable at http://www.youtube.com/user/DailyHitchens22
From there click the nine videos listed, starting with number two, since the first one is only an introduction to the event. As a paid-up subscriber for the Blair/Hitchens Munk Debate, I can view them all from the Munk Debates website. But their presence free on YouTube will likely be limited and/or intermittent due to copyright violations. So, apologies if they are no longer viewable if you click through. [Video number 1 is an introduction by the founder of the Munk Debates]
You can always read the transcripts here.
SO DID HITCH ‘CRUCIFY’ BLAIR ?
Not quite. Though it was near enough to be uncomfortable.
Picture above thanks to Tim’s Wine Blog for “Hitchens – mitts off my wine”. Excerpt: ‘Christopher Hitchens (portrayed with eerie accuracy above by excellent actor Ray Winstone) has some interesting things to say in Slate Magazine this week. He avers to a restaurant meal he was hosting where a waiter interrupted a conversation to re-fill wine glasses for the guests.’
Right from the start of the debate it was clear why the physically but not mentally weakened Christopher Hitchens was likely to win in the end (regardless that he was in a leading position before the start) and why the physically fit Tony Blair was always likely to end up retiring hurt.
Blair has history, good and to some, bad. Hitch has a following of argument addicts, and few dissenters as to his debating ability. He is arguably one of the best debaters of his generation. Blair is arguably one of the best politicians of his/theirs.
But writers write, argue and opine. Politicians – or rather politicians of any value, act. Thus the dissent.
Hitch is hugely entertaining with an eloquence, turn of phrase and fascinating verbal dexterity which has the rest of us thesaurus scouring. Even the political communicator and wordsmith Mr Blair found it hard to match Mr Hitchens, so imbued was the latter’s spiel with the atheist historian’s assured certainties.
Fundamentalist certainties, some might suggest.
ADDENDUM to this: Just spotted this – “Tony Blair reflects on his debate with Christopher Hitchens”
It echoes my thought also just published here on “atheist fundamentalism”. Not MY thought only. To be fair Mr Blair did allude to that in the debate.
Excerpt. Blair says –
“So in a sense the challenge for both people of all faiths and people of none is to create the circumstances in which those faiths can coexist peacefully in mutual tolerance and respect.
In achieving this, the last thing secularism needs, is an attack on religion so extreme that it is almost a type of atheist fundamentalism. This, to be fair, Christopher avoided, at least in Toronto on Friday night!”
The use of the exclamation mark at the end is Mr Blair’s, not mine. In other words, Mr Hitchens may not always be so generous/civilised/balanced/self-critical/thoughtful as to avoid a type of atheist fundamentalism.
Still, Hitch’s opening remarks (in the actual debate) were nothing less than damning, if politely so, laying down (faithfully) as they did all the reasons why not to have any faith in faith.
When it comes to today’s all-knowing ‘liberal’ thinker, scepticism rules. OK? And in this sceptical, cynical world it is so much more ‘normal’ to sound all-knowing, especially about the unknowable.
As I mentioned before this was not an even playing field, and not just because most of the audience were “anti” rather than “pro”.
It was not an even playing field for several other reasons. More on those in a later post.
- Julie has a suggestion here for what the question for debate SHOULD have been.
- Two BBC reports – The opponents “keep the gloves on” and Paul Adams says – “the Christian was not thrown to the atheist lions”
Sign the Ban Blair-Baiting petition here
“All countries need a leader who isn’t afraid to fight terrorism. I believe Mr. Blair did a necessary job in helping his allies. Are we all just supposed to lie down and wait for them to come for us, I don’t think so.”
And – “Mr. Blair is one of the finest politicians to have had the privilege of serving the United Kingdom, and Britons are fortunate to have had him as their Prime Minister. Time will show that Mr. Blair’s approach to affairs in the Middle East were and remain correct. From a member of the Commonwealth, thank you, Mr. Blair, for your continued service to legitimate and lasting (and not convenient or politically expedient) freedom.”
AND – “Tony Blair was the greatest Prime Minister since Winston Churchill and the only regret I have he didn’t get my vote as I live in Canada.”
AND – “I am sick and tired of television and radio interviewers asking the same old questions over and over, regarding the decision to go to war in Iraq, presumably they hope Mr Blair will let slip some secret information which they would then use against him. History will show if the decision was the right one, (I believe it was) but people must accept that Tony Blair is an honourable man, and made his decision based on the known facts and not with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight.”
Tags: 2003 invasion of Iraq, A Journey: My Political Life, AIDS, Ailing Atheist Vs Crucified Christian, BBC, Catholic Church, christian, Christopher Hitchens, Debate, God, God Is Not Great, Iran, iraq war, Middle East, North Korea, prime minister, religion, Roy Thomson Hall, RUDYARD GRIFFITHS, Steven Weinberg, Tony Blair, Toronto, United States, Videos of Blair/Hitchens Religion debate, Winston Churchill, youtube