Christopher Hitchens introduces us to the other side of the Rev. Rick Warren, the one that posed for pictures in Damascus:
Whatever time Warren managed to get with the dear bristled leader was not wasted—you should check out the hilarious parody of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza that accidentally results from the official photograph—and whatever hospitality he received from the Syrian authorities did not go unreturned. "Syria," he told his viewers back home by video, is "a moderate country, and the official government rule and position is to not allow extremism of any kind." This is a highly original way to describe a regime that is joined at the hip with the Iranian theocracy, that is the patron of Hezbollah in Lebanon, and that is the official and unabashed host of the fugitive Hamas leadership whose military wing directs massacre operations from Damascus itself. (One might also add that the Syrian Baath Party's veteran defense minister,* Mustafa Tlas, published a book under his own name that accused Jews of using the blood of non-Jewish children for the making of those ever-menacing Passover matzos. I suppose it depends how you define extremism.)
Warren also told his hosts that 80% of America opposed the administration's policy in Iraq. It's as if Peter Arnett had a religious calling.
Our good pastor also found the time to tell his captive audience—if I may use such an unoriginal phrase in a literal way—that 80 percent of his countrymen opposed the administration's policy in Iraq. Assume yourself, dear reader, to be one of that possible 80 percent. Did you ever ask to be spoken for by Warren, who was a guest of a regime that sponsors al-Qaida infiltrators in Iraq, or to see him denounce the administration in front of an audience of Syrians that had no choice but to listen to whatever it was told? For shame.