Mark Oppenheimer (who generally admires Christopher Hitchens, he says) wrote a piece yesterday for the Huffington Post where he pointed out some glaring mistakes that he noticed in Hitchens’ new book God is Not Great:
God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, the new book by Christopher Hitchens, contains one of the stupidest and ugliest factual errors published by a major publisher in years. Some will call the error anti-Semitic; others will just call it woefully uninformed. But it’s an error that certainly discredits the rest of the book, for it reveals how little the author has bothered to learn about the subject at hand.
First, some of the more minor mistakes:
For example, eager to show that religion does almost no good to counterbalance the evil done in its name, he argues that religion was only incidental to the civil rights movement; he seems totally unaware of historian David Chappell’s recent and widely lauded book which argues for religion’s centrality to the movement.
There are also instances, says Oppenheimer, where factual mistakes are made. For example, the author of a particular biography on Joseph Smith is referred to as “Dr. Fawn Brodie” despite the author not having a Ph.D. Also, Hitchens writes that Lubavitchers (a sect of Hasidic Judaism) “regard non-Jews as ‘racially inferior,’ which is nowhere in their teachings.”
What is the big glaring error, though, that discredits the whole book for Oppenheimer?
On p. 54, Hitchens writes, “Orthodox Jews conduct Congress by means of a hole in the sheet…” This is, as even most idiots know, a total fabrication. As a lie, it’s not as bad as the blood libel, but it’s not so far from the old tales of sexual perversion in Catholic monasteries and convents — it’s a lie meant to discredit a whole people by making them seem sexually bizarre and far outside decent society.
Snopes has an explanation of the history of this myth.
Perhaps it’s too early to go to this extreme, but one commenter writes: “Looks like Hitchens has learned how to maximize sales from Ann Coulter.”
[tags]atheist, atheism, Mark Oppenheimer, Christopher Hitchens, Huffington Post, God is Not Great, anti-Semitic, David Chappell, Joseph Smith, Fawn Brodie, Lubavitchers, Hasidic Judaism, Snopes, Ann Coulter[/tags]