How Not To Write: Maniza Naqvi’s Piece on Hitchens

by Tauriq Moosa

ScreenHunter_05 Dec. 20 13.12I had chosen not to write extensively about the late Christopher Hitchens, since his contributions to my life’s betterment is of no real interest to anyone save my future biographers. And in looking at Maniza Naqvi’s piece on Hitchens I am, in fact, still not focused on Hitchens but on a point much broader: using colourful language in place of arguments is unhelpful to, I think, everyone. To be clear and upfront, I adored Hitchens’ work but that is, in fact, irrelevant to why Naqvi’s piece is a thin piece of tripe that stays afloat on nothing but its own hot air and strained eloquence. This is the type of thing Hitchens attacked: obscurity dressed in eloquence, masking hollow ‘arguments’. Indeed, try and read the first sentence of her piece and see if it makes sense. Come back to me if you know what she's trying to say.

To summarise the entire piece: Ms Naqvi did not like Hitchens. The end.

It is one of many ‘critical’ pieces following his recent death. However, I find it doubtful you will acquire better critical pieces now that the great man is dead than were written while he was alive. No insight can, I think, be gained on his arguments now that his corpse is cold, except that critics can be certain that they will receive no brilliant and biting counter-attacks.

Naqvi’s piece contains things like:

This type of thinking is hitched to a fine pitch for the American audience, in the packaging and selling, in my opinion, of a slimy toad: the blow hard, alcoholic—poser, social climber, wannabe—the unoriginal mediocre cheerleader of war and mass murder who made a career of being draped in mounds of other peoples’ books and supposedly having been himself well read and writing well, all the while being a fraud—and an Iago to America’s Othello.

Oh, I see what she did there! Using colourful language and phrasing, Ms Naqvi managed to write an entire piece without saying anything. Even when dissected, this cumbersome paragraph tells us something extraordinary: Someone didn't like someone else. The world just became dimmer.

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