Hitchens, Wisconsin & the Lincoln Brigade

March 4, 2011

Clarence Kailin, Wisconsin ALB vet

“Don’t mess with Wisconsin,” Christopher Hitchens tells his Vanity Fair readers this week, recalling the state’s solid progressive tradition:

To make a stop in Madison, either as author or speaker or both, used to be no ordinary part of a radical tour. You bumped up against a tradition that went back a good deal further than the 60s. On one occasion I remember getting into conversation with a fit and wiry old man in a plaid shirt, who had bought one of my books and stayed around to make a few dialectical points. It emerged that he had been a volunteer in theAbraham Lincoln Brigade. I was immediately embarrassed at having taken his money, and asked the staff to void out his credit card payment and charge it to me. In a Madison bookstore it didn’t take any time to explain why a fighter for Republican Spain didn’t have to buy his own book—or, subsequently, his own drinks. In fact, I think the shop ended up paying for the whole treat out of its own emaciated budget.

More here.