He doesn't actually accuse Chomsky of these outright for the sensible reason that Chomsky is neither a Truther nor an apologist for 9/11. The problem is that he does not then do the responsible thing and refrain from intimating that Chomsky is one but rather undertakes one of the more cowardly and evasive performances of writing in recent memory. Hitchens is guilty of a whole panoply of sins, none more tragic than the utter absence of a self-critical process and none more glaring than being wrong about just about everything, but rarely before have I known him to be so guilty of cowardice. Say what you mean.
The public record, in which Chomsky has recorded his opinions on every political question imaginable-- because he is asked-- would quickly yield the perspectives Hitchens is looking for. Here is Chomsky refuting 9/11 conspiracy theories in about the least vague terms imaginable. You might consider the entire book that Chomsky published about 9/11 for repeated and consistent denials of the morality of killing innocent civilians on 9/11. This stuff isn't hard to find. Hitchens writes, "It's no criticism of Chomsky to say that his analysis is inconsistent with that of other individuals and factions who essentially think that 9/11 was a hoax." If this is his admission that Chomsky is not a Truther, it's as weird and awkwardly constructed as I can imagine, which I guess is the point. He then says "However, it is remarkable that he should write as if the mass of evidence against Bin Laden has never been presented or could not have been brought before a court." It's remarkable? I find it demonstrably unremarkable, considering that, well, the mass of evidence against bin Laden has never been formally presented in a legal setting-- the way we answer questions of crime and legality, or we did, when we were the society of our ideals.
Hitch continues, "This form of 9/11 denial doesn't trouble to conceal an unstated but self-evident premise, which is that the United States richly deserved the assault on its citizens and its civil society." Again, Noam Chomsky has repeatedly and adamantly denied that the United States or any victim of terrorism deserved the assault. If he felt the opposite way, Hitchens would provide a quote. Instead, he presents this weird non-sequitur:
After all, as Chomsky phrases it so tellingly, our habit of "naming our murder weapons after victims of our crimes: Apache, Tomahawk … [is] as if the Luftwaffe were to call its fighter planes 'Jew' and 'Gypsy.' " Perhaps this is not so true in the case of Tomahawk, which actually is the name of a weapon, but the point is at least as good as any other he makes.If you can explain how this sentence has anything whatsoever to do with the ones that preceded it, or how it proves anything at all about Chomsky's views on 9/11, you're a better man than I. If Hitchens doubts that the United States engineered the slaughter of the Apaches or the Algonquins who used the tomahawk, he should consult a history book. In any event, it's got nothing whatsoever to do with the argument he's presenting. This is elementarily ineffective political writing, which wouldn't survive a fisking in any high-profile blog. But Hitchens being Hitchens, I'm sure he'll largely get a pass.
Of course, bullshit serves its purpose-- it creates space for other people to parrot it without public accountability. So if you took to Twitter or Facebook or low-profile blogs you'd be sure to find people sharing the link and praising it, which creates another layer of unaccountability for what is a post that actively shirks standing for anything.
Hitchens is, to me, a tragic figure; his talents as a rhetorician are real and considerable, but he has lived on the razors edge of self-obsession and myopia for so long that he seems to lack any meaningful ability to interrogate his own opinions at all. This has been confounded always by the personal feelings of other influential writers, and now especially by the fact that he is ill. Now, it is perfectly common to encounter glowing hagiography written about Hitchens that is almost totally uninterested in the question of whether he is actually correct in his opinions or not. Martin Amis's recent love note (and if you ever thought writing was not a game of insiderism and influence trading, let that essay put the thought to bed), which appears to have disappeared from the Guardian's website, is a glowing example. Nobody seems much to care that Hitchens was profoundly, wildly, incredibly, disqualifyingly wrong about Iraq, or about pretty much everything post-9/11. They just care that he's funny and gives good quotes and is an "iconoclast" and labors endlessly to craft his image. That's what counts, not unspeakably wrong opinions.
Hitchens is beyond the ken of mere mortals such as myself, but to those who think that, with his time apparently short, the way to honor Hitchens is to write nice things about him that conveniently ignore his disastrously wrong recent opinions: don't. That's not honoring. In fact, it's one of the worst insults to a critical intellect I can imagine.