Ten contrarian takes I never want to see

VOLKER HARTMANN/AFP/Getty Images One of the tried and true techniques of opinion journalism is to find a public figure or thing (e.g. apple picking) that everyone loves and utterly skewer it. Nobody is better at this than FP contributor Christopher Hitchens, who has made a career out of swimming against the conventional wisdom.  Take, for ...

598637_071017_dalailama_05.jpg
598637_071017_dalailama_05.jpg

VOLKER HARTMANN/AFP/Getty Images

One of the tried and true techniques of opinion journalism is to find a public figure or thing (e.g. apple picking) that everyone loves and utterly skewer it. Nobody is better at this than FP contributor Christopher Hitchens, who has made a career out of swimming against the conventional wisdom. 

Take, for example, this passage from page 200 of Hitch's recent book, God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything

VOLKER HARTMANN/AFP/Getty Images

One of the tried and true techniques of opinion journalism is to find a public figure or thing (e.g. apple picking) that everyone loves and utterly skewer it. Nobody is better at this than FP contributor Christopher Hitchens, who has made a career out of swimming against the conventional wisdom. 

Take, for example, this passage from page 200 of Hitch’s recent book, God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything

The Dalai Lama, for example, is entirely and easily recognizable to a secularist. In exactly the same way as a medieval princeling, he makes the claim not just that Tibet should be independent of Chinese hegemony – a “perfectly good” demand, if I may render it into everyday English – but that he himself is a hereditary king appointed by heaven itself. How convenient! Dissenting sects within his faith are persecuted; his one-man rule in an Indian enclave is absolute; he makes absurd pronouncements about sex and diet and, when on his trips to Hollywood fund-raisers, anoints major donors like Steven Seagal and Richard Gere as holy.

Interesting!!!, as former Slate editor Michael Kinsley, a past master of the contrarian take himself, might have put it. Almost everybody loves the Dalai Lama, who symbolizes for many the virtues of peace, wisdom, and resistance to oppression. Attacking him jars people out of their comfort zones; it’s a sure way to get noticed. And in this instance, I think Hitch makes some good points. Why does this man, of all people, deserve a Congressional Gold Medal?

It’s easy to take the contrarian strategy too far, though. Sometimes, the conventional wisdom is right, both logically and morally. Herewith, 10 arguments I never want to see:

  1. The Case for Genocide
  2. Let Them Eat Cake: How a Delicious Dessert Could Save the World’s Poor
  3. War, What Is It Good for? Absolutely Everything
  4. We Could Use a Man Like Joseph Stalin Again
  5. Steal Their Oil and Convert Them to Christianity? You Bet We Should
  6. Martin Luther King: Overrated?
  7. Sex Secrets of the Ayatollahs
  8. How Dick Cheney Shot a Man in the Face … and Saved a Nation
  9. Why We Need More News about Britney Spears
  10. Appeasement: Our Only Option

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