Shortly before he succumbed to esophageal cancer in 2011, the journalist, author, and polemicist Christopher Hitchens wrote and spoke voluminously of his life and impending death. Much of his reflections were directed towards to the shift in conservative politics and the rise of Sarah Palin and the Tea Party during the 2008 election cycle.
Although a man of the left, Hitchens broke ranks with many of his colleagues with his outspoken support of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even though his rationale for U.S. foreign policy after 9/11 echoed the debatable ideologies of the Neo Conservatives he found himself supporting, it was also very strongly based in his fearless attacks on global Islamic fundamentalism and religious extremism in general.
In a 2010 interview on the Australian show Lateline with reporter Tony Jones, Hitchens was asked about some of his then-recent writings on the Tea Party phenomenon, which at the time was still at the height of its political influence since being launched from the angry town halls and Capitol Hill protests.
Hitchens saw the genesis of the Tea Party movement as a symptom of white society’s anxiety from becoming a shrinking majority, saying that there are “various forms that this anxiety takes, the silliest of which is the Tea Party — and in some ways the nastiest.”
Commenting further on the Tea Party’s apparent lack of knowledge or interest in geopolitics or history, Hitchens memorably noted that “they are another incarnation of the old know-nothing isolationist tradition.”
He was keenly aware of the underlying racial current that permeated throughout many Tea Party factions and their hated for Obama, which manifested itself in the so-called “birthers” and others who speculated that Obama was a secret Muslim.
“Whatever tone of voice we’re going to have to come up with to discuss the ethnic balance of the future of America — and it’ll have to be very careful and thoughtful, I think, and well-mannered — we know what tones of voice you can’t discuss it in. And that’s the tone of voice these people adopt.”
Hitchens concluded by saying that in regards to the ’08 election, he had seldom seen “grownups behaving as stupidly, as immaturely in an election, as in the last cycle in this country.”
Watch an excerpt from Hitchens’ Lateline interview in the video below.