Sunday, November 25, 2012

Hitchens on Kennedy

I am quite enjoying Hitchens's biography. I am reading it not from cover to cover but going from topic to topic. The latest two topics were Edward Said and buggery in English boarding schools.

Anyway, I thought this was funny (more quotes on the question of authority to follow):
In my very first term [at Cambridge], in October 1962, President Kennedy went to the brink, as the saying invariably goes, over Cuba. I shall never forget where I was standing and what I was doing on the day he nearly killed me. (It was on the touchline, being forced to watch a rugby game, that I overheard some older boys discussing the likelihood of our annihilation.) 
At the close of the BBC’s programming that night, Richard Dimbleby enjoined all parents to please act normally and send their children to school in the morning. This didn’t apply to those of us boarders who were already at school. We were left to wonder how the adult world could be ready to gamble itself, and the life of all the subsequent and for that matter preceding generations, on a sordid squabble over a banana republic. I wouldn’t have phrased it like that then, but I do remember feeling furious disgust at the idea of being sacrificed in an American quarrel that seemed largely to be of Kennedy’s making in the first place. 
I have changed my mind on a number of things since, including almost everything having to do with Cuba, but the idea that we should be grateful for having been spared, and should shower our gratitude upon the supposed Galahad of Camelot for his gracious lenience in opting not to commit genocide and suicide, seemed a bit creepy. When Kennedy was shot the following year, I knew myself somewhat apart from this supposedly generational trauma in that I felt no particular sense of loss at the passing of such a high-risk narcissist. If I registered any distinct emotion, it was that of mild relief.
— Christopher Hitchens, Hitch-22 

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