Christopher Hitchens 1949-2011, essayist, provocateur, wit, atheist, Brit-American and honest man, passed away on December 15. A Socialist early in life who evolved into a Marxist and eventually into a Conservative Marxist (a distinction he coined), later in life; Hitchens played no favorites and took no prisoners with his writing, he sought victims from both the Left and the Right, using his views of incompetence and dishonesty to guide his sharp critiques of those he eviscerated with indifference and without remorse, but regardless of whether you agreed with him, and he almost always bucked public opinion, he had the ability to make you think.
In this country, we have a phony pantheon of self-proclaimed intellects, starting with the president and his crew of faux intellectuals, but we have a few men who can write, Krauthammer, Sowell, Hanson, Horowitz, Goldberg, men who can write and make you think; Hitchens was among those who have a tremendous grasp of history and can write in a manner that will cause you to think and reconsider. There is a common thread among these writers and several others; they are honest in their opinions and expression. They have not let solipsism become immersed and diverted into proscribed theories of thought and writing that must conform to the party line without deviation or independent thought. No one can say that Hitchens wrote within the boundaries of Leftist drivel that we read in the New York Times or watch on the Main Stream Media. He was honest to his own convictions and was willing to let his thinking evolve when exposed to new evidence.
Hitchens excoriated the Clintons, George Bush, Kissinger, Mother Theresa, Sara Palin, and many others, but he could do it with wit and style.
Typical Hitches in the giddy-up:
“[George W Bush] is lucky to be governor of Texas. He is unusually incurious, abnormally unintelligent, amazingly inarticulate, fantastically uncultured, extraordinarily uneducated, and apparently quite proud of all these things.” – Hardball with Chris Matthews, NBC, 2000
“‘Bombing Afghanistan back into the Stone Age’ was quite a favourite headline for some wobbly liberals. The slogan does all the work. But an instant’s thought shows that Afghanistan is being, if anything, bombed OUT of the Stone Age.” – Daily Mirror, November 2001
“The noble title of ‘dissident’ must be earned rather than claimed; it connotes sacrifice and risk rather than mere disagreement …”
“Do bear in mind that the cynics have a point, of a sort, when they speak of the ‘professional naysayer’.” “To be in opposition is not to be a nihilist. And there is no decent or charted way of making a living at it. It is something you are, and not something you do.” – Letters to a Young Contrarian, 2001
“[Mother Teresa] was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction.” – Slate, October 2003
“The search for nirvana, like the search for utopia or the end of history or the classless society, is ultimately a futile and dangerous one. It involves, if it does not necessitate, the sleep of reason. There is no escape from anxiety and struggle.” – Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays, 2004
“Those who had alleged that a million civilians were dying from sanctions were willing, nay eager, to keep those same murderous sanctions if it meant preserving Saddam!” – The Weekly Standard, May 2005.
“The Bible may, indeed does, contain a warrant for trafficking in humans, for ethnic cleansing, for slavery, for bride-price, and for indiscriminate massacre, but we are not bound by any of it because it was put together by crude, uncultured human mammals.” – God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, 2007
“My own view is that this planet is used as a penal colony, lunatic asylum and dumping ground by a superior civilisation, to get rid of the undesirable and unfit. I can’t prove it, but you can’t disprove it either.” – God Is Not Great
“The only position that leaves me with no cognitive dissonance is atheism. It is not a creed. Death is certain, replacing both the siren-song of Paradise and the dread of Hell. Life on this earth, with all its mystery and beauty and pain, is then to be lived far more intensely: we stumble and get up, we are sad, confident, insecure, feel loneliness and joy and love. There is nothing more; but I want nothing more.” – The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Non-Believer, 2007
His support of the Iraq War and deposing of Saddam Hussein, and denouncing the Islamo Fascism of the Middle East put him at odds with the Left.
“I got hold of a copy of the video that showed how Saddam Hussein had actually confirmed himself in power. This snuff-movie opens with a plenary session of the Ba’ath Party central committee: perhaps a hundred men. Suddenly the doors are locked and Saddam, in the chair, announces a special session. Into the room is dragged an obviously broken man, who begins to emit a robotic confession of treason and subversion, that he sobs has been instigated by Syrian and other agents. As the (literally) extorted confession unfolds, names begin to be named. Once a fellow-conspirator is identified, guards come to his seat and haul him from the room. The reclining Saddam, meanwhile, lights a large cigar and contentedly scans his dossiers. The sickness of fear in the room is such that men begin to crack up and weep, rising to their feet to shout hysterical praise, even love, for the leader. Inexorably, though, the cull continues, and faces and bodies go slack as their owners are pinioned and led away. When it is over, about half the committee members are left, moaning with relief and heaving with ardent love for the boss. (In an accompanying sequel, which I have not seen, they were apparently required to go into the yard outside and shoot the other half, thus sealing the pact with Saddam. I am not sure that even Beria or Himmler would have had the nerve and ingenuity and cruelty to come up with that.)”
His opinion of Michael Moore:
“If Michael Moore had had his way, Slobodan Milosevic would still be the big man in a starved and tyrannical Serbia. Bosnia and Kosovo would have been cleansed and annexed. If Michael Moore had been listened to, Afghanistan would still be under Taliban rule, and Kuwait would have remained part of Iraq. And Iraq itself would still be the personal property of a psychopathic crime family, bargaining covertly with the slave state of North Korea for WMD. You might hope that a retrospective awareness of this kind would induce a little modesty. To the contrary, it is employed to pump air into one of the great sagging blimps of our sorry, mediocre, celeb-rotten culture. Rock the vote, indeed.”
On George Bush:
“[George W. Bush] is lucky to be governor of Texas. He is unusually incurious, abnormally unintelligent, amazingly inarticulate, fantastically uncultured, extraordinarily uneducated, and apparently quite proud of all these things.”
“The general view was that you were a provincial Texan with no interest in doing anything much except shrinking the budget and cutting the maximum tax rate. (This general view was more or less right.)”
“George Bush made a mistake when he referred to the Saddam Hussein regime as ‘evil.’ Every liberal and leftist knows how to titter at such black-and-white moral absolutism. What the president should have done, in the unlikely event that he wanted the support of America’s peace-mongers, was to describe a confrontation with Saddam as the ‘lesser evil.'”
His latest book, a memoir, Hitch-22
“I became a journalist partly so that I wouldn’t ever have to rely on the press for my information.” – Hitch-22, 2010
“What is your idea of earthly happiness? To be vindicated in my own lifetime.” – Hitch-22
“Cheap booze is a false economy.” – Hitch-22
“Where would you like to live? In a state of conflict or a conflicted state?” – Hitch-22
A man whose favorite author was George Orwell, will have redeeming qualities.
Yes, he criticized George Bush and Mother Theresa, he may have been an avowed Marxist, but he called out phonies on the Left and the Right. He admired America’s fighting man and felt that America’s Revolution was the best revolution. He was a wit and a great thinker; among the greatest wits of this era.
One of my favorite essays of his, is this hit piece is on Hillary and Bill, it deals with the honesty mentioned earlier:
Why on earth would we choose to put the Clinton family drama at the center of our politics again?
By Christopher Hitchens|Posted Monday, Jan. 14, 2008, at 12:15 PM ET
Seeing the name Hillary in a headline last week—a headline about a life that had involved real achievement—I felt a mouse stirring in the attic of my memory. Eventually, I was able to recall how the two Hillarys had once been mentionable in the same breath. On a first-lady goodwill tour of Asia in April 1995—the kind of banal trip that she now claims as part of her foreign-policy “experience”—Mrs. Clinton had been in Nepal and been briefly introduced to the late Sir Edmund Hillary, conqueror of Mount Everest. Ever ready to milk the moment, she announced that her mother had actually named her for this famous and intrepid explorer. The claim “worked” well enough to be repeated at other stops and even showed up in Bill Clinton’s memoirs almost a decade later, as one more instance of the gutsy tradition that undergirds the junior senator from New York.
Sen. Clinton was born in 1947, and Sir Edmund Hillary and his partner Tenzing Norgay did not ascend Mount Everest until 1953, so the story was self-evidently untrue and eventually yielded to fact-checking. Indeed, a spokeswoman for Sen. Clinton named Jennifer Hanley phrased it like this in a statement in October 2006, conceding that the tale was untrue but nonetheless charming: “It was a sweet family story her mother shared to inspire greatness in her daughter, to great results I might add.”
Perfect. It worked, in other words, having been coined long after Sir Edmund became a bankable celebrity, but now its usefulness is exhausted and its untruth can safely be blamed on Mummy. Yet isn’t it all—all of it, every single episode and detail of the Clinton saga—exactly like that? And isn’t some of it a little bit more serious? For Sen. Clinton, something is true if it validates the myth of her striving and her “greatness” (her overweening ambition in other words) and only ceases to be true when it no longer serves that limitless purpose. And we are all supposed to applaud the skill and the bare-faced bravado with which this is done. In the New Hampshire primary in 1992, she knowingly lied about her husband’s uncontainable sex life and put him eternally in her debt. This is now thought of, and referred to in print, purely as a smart move on her part. In the Iowa caucuses of 2008, he returns the favor by telling a huge lie about his own record on the war in Iraq, falsely asserting that he was opposed to the intervention from the very start. This is thought of, and referred to in print, as purely a tactical mistake on his part: trying too hard to help the spouse. The happy couple has now united on an equally mendacious account of what they thought about Iraq and when they thought it. What would it take to break this cheap little spell and make us wake up and inquire what on earth we are doing when we make the Clinton family drama—yet again—a central part of our own politics?
Hitchens considered Thomas Jefferson the Author of America, and admired the writings of Thomas Paine, Evelyn Waugh, Bob Dylan, and George Orwell. Although he was an atheist or an anti-theist as he called himself, it is interesting to note that he appreciated Dylan and Waugh, whose works are deeply rooted in theism.
He was a complex and complicated man, who refused to tell you what you wanted to hear, but instead concentrated on honest opinions; he was an honest thinker, and we need to recognize the advantages of honest men over partisan hacks and propaganda politicians. A political system like our Republic requires differing opinions and a swing of power and influence like a metronome; how refreshing it would be to have politicians and pundits with wit, who could offer ideas in opposition that would tend to make America stronger rather than intentionally trying to destroy the country to rebuild or transform America into some form of Marxist tyrannical dystopia.