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Hitchens’ Slurs

The Guardian in London has apologized to playwright Harold Pinter and myself for smears by Christopher Hitchens, the Washington-based commentator.

Hitchens wrote in the Guardian on September 26 that Pinter and I supported “that renowned Muslim-hater Slobodan Milosevic” In the same article he wrote that if one of the hijacked aircraft had crashed into the Capitol or White House, “I would be … reading Pinter and Pilger on how my neighborhood had been asking for it.”

Neither Pinter nor I have written any such thing. Hitchens immediately apologized to Pinter (Guardian letters September 28), saying he had been “informed that Harold Pinter had made an incautious statement in the wake of September” and that he had tried unsuccessfully to have the reference deleted before publication.

He maintained that he did not misrepresent me. But when two Guardian editors combed all my recent work, including a column cited by Hitchens, they found nothing to back up his smears. In fact, I attacked Milosevic during and in the aftermath of the Nato bombing of Yugoslavia (see my Guardian and New Statesman columns for 1999 on http://www.johnpilger.com). As for the September 11 atrocities, I wrote in the Guardian on September 21: “Nothing justifies the killing of innocent people in America, and nothing justifies the killing of innocent people anywhere else.”

Hitchens is, of course, entitled to his opinions, which have included calling the critics of US policy “fascists.” But he is not entitled to fabricate, no matter how urgent his need to smear those with whom he disagrees.

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John Pilger can be reached through his website: www.johnpilger.com

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