In order to secure his takedown of Gore, Hitchens also took a bash at me. 'What's the connection between me and Gore?' you may ask. Well, for those who don't know, Gore Vidal wrote a piece in the Observer in late 2002 based largely on my first book, The War on Freedom. That piece was re-published as a chapter in a New York Times bestselling anthology of Gore's recent essays, Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace. So Hitchens obviously felt it important to discredit me, as a way of discrediting Gore's critique of the Bush administration's response to 9/11.
So in Vanity Fair, Christopher Hitchens describes me as a "risible" individual wedded to "conspiracy-mongering" running a "one-room sideshow" institute on the Brighton seaside. Obviously, he does this to try and create the impression that I'm some kind of lunatic nobody who, therefore, no one should bother reading.
I corresponded with Aimee Bell, Vanity Fair's Deputy Editor, who I'm happy to say was very amiable, professional and understanding about the situation. They published my letter to the editor correcting Hitchens's factual inaccuracies - and along with it an immediate response from Hitchens himself (to be expected given that Hitchens is a contributing editor there). Hitchens's response to my letter is so bizarrely arrogant, self-conceited and needlessly bullish, it verges on delusional. Describing me, in summary, as a conspiracy nut-job, he goes on to try to emphasise his own purported intellectual superiority by listing his various honorary academic positions. (I honestly had no idea I'd elicit an inferiority complex out of the poor fellow.)
Since Hitchens's original VF piece came out, I've received several emails from concerned supporters trying to bring his ravings to my attention, and suggesting that I organize some sort of response.
Well, my response to Hitchens has arrived this morning.
Today's Independent on Sunday (IoS) has published my full rejoinder to Hitchens as its own 'web exclusive' here. My piece defends Gore Vidal by clarifying his actual arguments and looks critically at Hitchens's own pathetically despicable track record of war-mongering after 9/11. The IoS has also reported on the whole issue in today's print edition in a separate news piece. And the whole thing has been front-paged on today's IoS homepage.
Spread it around.