Peter Hitchens is a columnist for the Mail On Sunday. He is often portrayed as "right-wing", but Hitchens himself purports to represent the traditional moral, civic and social conservative view. He is a member of the Church of England and a devout Christian.
I first became interested in Peter Hitchens due to his love of literature. I enjoyed - and still enjoy - reading his opinions on fiction books. He shares a lot of my passions and his reviews are among the best I have ever read. Indeed, Peter Hitchens is a gifted writer in his own right and his columns are, in my view, an exemplar of how to communicate political ideas.
Hitchens is also halachically Jewish (his mother was Jewish). He supports the State of Israel (albeit sometimes critically), and has stated at least once that he is a Jabotinsky Zionist. These simple facts about him, when set against his gifts as a wordsmith, do prompt a rather uncomfortable question: has Peter Hitchens been trained in propaganda? In a sense, the answer to that question is obviously 'Yes', because he is a journalist, but I have something more sinister in mind when I ask the question. During his career as a correspondent for the mid-market Daily Express, I believe he lived for long periods in, respectively, Moscow and in or proximate to Washington, D.C.
For these reasons, I will have much to say about Peter Hitchens and will be adding to the information here in the future. I regard him as a classic example of a civically British Zionist who masks his Jewish identity behind the rather trumped-up facade of a plummy-accented middle-class English small 'c' conservative. I do not mean to suggest this is intentional. Hitchens claims he did not find out he was a Jew until his mother told him in his 20s. Whether that is true or not, I believe Hitchens' 'Jewishness' is the most important aspect of his identity, but I also do not believe he is particularly self-conscious of how this influences his writing and journalism.
Hitchens is just another example of a non-native who needs to live up to some exaggerated idea of what an Englishman is in order to affirm the respectability he craves. Non-whites who come to Britain often will do this. The black West Indian gentleman who affects to be 'more British than the British' is a common and well-known phenomenon. Likewise, many people of Indian descent will affect to ape what are seen as stereotypical or traditional English mores. In fairness, this is true of lots of other foreigners - especially Americans. I am from the north of England and very far removed from the quintessential idea of an Englishman, and people like Hitchens, who affect to represent the quintessential national core identity, seem quite alien to me. But then, England has never been 'one nation', but is in fact a composite. Having said that, Hitchens once remarked that Yorkshire - my home county- is the most English county of all, which I found very interesting. It is also the case that the middle-market newspapers that Hitchens writes for tend to have a readership that would find Hitchens' persona quite appealing. Hitchens is an actor, playing a role.
Hitchens will often also make the claim he is Cornish. This is on the strength of his having some Cornish ancestry. Again, I believe this is intended to make him seem closer to his readers than he really is. In truth, he is a privately-educated metropolitan crypto-Jew. He studied politics at York University, which at the time was one of the 'new' universities, and therefore fashionably left-wing. Perhaps not surprisingly, under this influence, Hitchens spent his formative years as a variant of the thing that I think he really is deep down: an active Trotskyist. York as a university has much the same reputation as Exeter: as the place where the posh but dim kids go to study.
Hitchens' claim to being Cornish is of particular relevance to the problem of competing identities. I have a little bit of Irish ancestry, but that doesn't make me an Irishman. I have some Ulster-Scots ancestry, but I won't be joining the Orange Order. Others of my ancestors were from Shropshire, but that doesn't make me a Salopian. We all have some ethnic mixture, but is Cornish really Peter Hitchens' core identity? Is he is really 'Cornish'? We have to introduce some objectivity into the matter, otherwise people could just go round saying they are anything and the meaning and value of identity would be lost. In my opinion, Hitchens' claimed 'Cornishness', to the extent it might be true, is wholly inconsequential.
What I think is of greater consequence is the fact he's Jewish and (by his own admission) a Zionist. The claim to some 'Cornish' identity is just an obfuscation of his true identity, and I think his Jewishness (or Zionism, if you prefer) has influenced his views about what is ailing Britain. Over the years, he has criticised any movement towards British racial nationalism, and has also ridiculed even soft attempts at nationalism, such as UKIP. He has shown consistently a dismissive and contemptuous attitude to groups and political parties that would seek to assert a cohesive white British ethnic identity in the political, civic and social arena.
When I think of Peter Hitchens, I often call up in my mind the Aesop fable of the Monkey and the Dolphin, which goes as follows:
A SAILOR, bound on a long voyage, took with him a Monkey to amuse
him while on shipboard. As he sailed off the coast of Greece, a
violent tempest arose in which the ship was wrecked and he, his
Monkey, and all the crew were obliged to swim for their lives. A
Dolphin saw the Monkey contending with the waves, and supposing
him to be a man (whom he is always said to befriend), came and
placed himself under him, to convey him on his back in safety to
the shore. When the Dolphin arrived with his burden in sight of
land not far from Athens, he asked the Monkey if he were an
Athenian. The latter replied that he was, and that he was
descended from one of the most noble families in that city. The
Dolphin then inquired if he knew the Piraeus (the famous harbor
of Athens). Supposing that a man was meant, the Monkey answered
that he knew him very well and that he was an intimate friend.
The Dolphin, indignant at these falsehoods, dipped the Monkey
under the water and drowned him.
The lesson of that fable is: if you pretend to be something you're not, you will often end up in deep water.