Christopher Hitchens, R.I. P.
Christopher Hitchens, the author and essayist who wrote the provocative best-seller "God is Not Great," died December 15th of pneumonia, a complication of his esophageal cancer.
Who was this guy?
From: Christopher Hitchens Dies:
From: Christopher Hitchens Dies:
He was an acknowledged contrarian and contradiction -- half-Christian, half-Jewish and fully non-believing; a native of England who settled in America; a former Trotskyite who backed the Iraq war and supported George W. Bush. But his passions remained constant and enemies of his youth, from Henry Kissinger to Mother Teresa, remained hated.
He was a militant humanist who believed in pluralism and racial justice and freedom of speech, big cities and fine art and the willingness to stand the consequences. He was smacked in the rear by then-British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and beaten up in Beirut. He once submitted to waterboarding to prove that it was indeed torture.
Hitchens was an old-fashioned sensualist who abstained from clean living as if it were just another kind of church. >snip<
An emphatic ally and inspired foe, he stood by friends in trouble ("Satanic Verses" novelist Salman Rushdie) and against enemies in power (Iran's Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini). His heroes included George Orwell, Thomas Paine and Gore Vidal (pre-Sept. 11). Among those on the Hitchens list of shame: Michael Moore, Saddam Hussein, Kim Jong il, Sarah Palin, Gore Vidal (post Sept. 11) and Prince Charles.
He advocated intervention in Bosnia and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in Iraq.
No Democrat angered him more than Clinton, whose presidency led to the bitter end of Hitchens' friendship with White House aide Sidney Blumenthal and other Clinton backers. As Hitchens wrote in his memoir, he found Clinton "hateful in his behavior to women, pathological as a liar, and deeply suspect when it came to money in politics."
He wrote the anti-Clinton book, "No One Left to Lie To" at a time when most liberals were supporting the president as he faced impeachment over his affair with Monica Lewinsky.Hitchens also loathed Hillary Rodham Clinton and switched his affiliation from independent to Democrat in 2008 just so he could vote against her in the presidential primary.
The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, completed his exit. He fought with Vidal, Noam Chomsky and others who either suggested that U.S. foreign policy had helped caused the tragedy or that the Bush administration had advanced knowledge. He supported the Iraq war, quit The Nation, backed Bush for re-election in 2004 and repeatedly chastised those whom he believed worried unduly about the feelings of Muslims.
"It's not enough that faith claims to be the solution to all problems," he wrote in 2009 after a Danish newspaper apologized for publishing cartoons of the prophet Muhammad that led Muslim organizations to threaten legal action. "It is now demanded that such a preposterous claim be made immune from any inquiry, any critique, and any ridicule."
His ideal way to die: "Fully conscious, and either fighting or reciting (or fooling around)."
Mr. Hitchens became a U.S. citizen April, 13, 2007, on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial.
Asteroid 57901 Hitchens is named after him.
"Only aspirants for president are fool enough to believe what they read in the newspapers."
"I became a journalist because I did not want to rely on newspapers for information."
"If religious instruction were not allowed until the child had attained the age of reason, we would be living in quite a different world."
"To choose dogma and faith over doubt and experience is to throw out the ripening vintage and reach greedily for the Kool-Aid".
An excellent essay:
More about him:
He will be missed.