The Spine

Praise Where It's Due


I don't much like Christopher Hitchens and he doesn't much like me. It's
been that way for more than 20 years, and it's likely to stay that
way. But I must say his article in the current issue of Vanity Fair
about a soldier over whom he had some remote but deep influence and who was
killed in Iraq literally had me choked up and weeping. It was an
old-fashioned type of patriotism, an unfashionable genus of honor, even a
non-fashionable instance of how one loves family that motivated Mark Daily,
a young honors graduate from U.C.L.A., to go off to war. He was taken down
by an I.E.D., like many idealistic Americans in the ugly theater of
battle. Do not dismiss this: there are legions of idealistic Americans who
put themselves in the devil's way to rescue other human beings from random
murder. And Daily's survival as a type somehow consoles for his death.

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