Christopher Hitchens (1949 – 2011)

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

Christopher Hitchens died on 16 Dec. of pneumonia, a complication of his esophageal cancer. With eloquence and reason, sprinkled generously with wit and wisdom, his talks were a joy to listen to. His unique insights into religion will resonate long after his voice has been silenced.

In one of my favorite clips, here’s Hitchens on hate speech:

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56 thoughts on “Christopher Hitchens (1949 – 2011)”

  1. One thing he never bullshitted about was the utter fraud Christianity is in general and organized relgion in particular so you dupped morons who believe in some afterlife should immediately go fuck yourselves as the Hitch would say.

  2. As a Britisher I realised very early Christopher Hitchens was a supreme bullshit artist who used his urbane manner and style with words to convince many Americans (not all) that he had depth and intellectual insight on every conceivable subject. In the more cynical and questioning British media environment he would have been quickly exposed as a rather pompous wordsmith actor for all seasons but essentially lightweight. Despite his forum the impact he made is akin to yesterdays newspaper-forgotten and minimal . Liam Green

  3. “And examining my own small store of hatred, I don’t see the connection to religion, in myself. Perhaps others could comment on their own introspection?”


    What angers me about religion is that in an organized sense it has caused a good deal of the human misery in this world for at least 5,000 years. The prophet of most religions are used as figureheads by those who succeed them and become enamored with the power over people’s minds that it provides them. In most cases the original healing message morphs in the hands of these “apostles” into a meaning opposite of what was intended.

    I’m personally a Deist, in that I do believe there is a creative force that informs the Universe. However, I think it is impossible for humans to conceive the nature of that force and how it affects us individually. However,
    I know and have known closely, many people who are deeply religious and exemplary human beings in all ways. Characteristically, they live their lives without preaching to others how they should live their own lives. In my seven decades I’ve learned enough to know how little I or anyone else really knows about life. I may find traditional religious belief uninteresting, that doesn’t mean that for others it has deep value and truth. I admit I could be wrong, Hitchen’s was as convinced of his beliefs as any of the religious “fanatics” he castigated.

    Hitchen’s skewering of Mother Theresa was both courageous and I think valid. Where he and I parted was not in his Atheism, but in the militancy of it. His arguments against religion were mostly superficial and dismissive. He lacked understanding of the metaphors of the original message and instead focused on how those metaphors were used by religious establishments in the pursuit of power. He missed the point that this misuse of power and fear is the real evil of religion.

    Anyone of average, unbiased perception can take apart the Creation Myth in Exodus. However, there are many, including myself a believer in evolution, that understand it was originally meant as a metaphor. So was much of the Torah and with that understanding a different tale is told. The teachings of Confucius, Buddha, the Hebrew Pharisee tradition and Jesus essentially contained the same message. To be truly informed Hitchens should have known this, but if he did he ignored it to score points in his hatred. I find Dawkins similar in this.

    1. Mike Spindell said: “The death of Vaclav Havel moves me far more than that of Hitchens. Havel was a truly heroic figure and perhaps one of the coolest heads of State any country has had. He was what I call a Great Man.”

      Oh really? Looks like another American fool bought into the mythology of Havel the same way Hitchen’s exposed American fools buying into the Mother Theresa myth.

      Here’s the disgusting reality of what Havel stood for:

      “Havel called for efforts to preserve the Christian family in the Christian nation. Presenting himself as a man of peace and stating that he would never sell arms to oppressive regimes, he sold weapons to the Philippines and the fascist regime in Thailand. In June 1994, General Pinochet, the man who butchered Chilean democracy, was reported to be arms shopping in Czechoslovakia–with no audible objections from Havel.”

      “Havel joined wholeheartedly in George Bush’s Gulf War, an enterprise that killed over 100,000 Iraqi civilians. In 1991, along with other Eastern European pro-capitalist leaders, Havel voted with the United States to condemn human rights violations in Cuba. But he has never uttered a word of condemnation of rights violations in El Salvador, Colombia, Indonesia, or any other U.S. client state.”

      1. Karl,

        Thank you for that information about which I was clueless . It seems I violated my own First Law of Political Observation: Trust no-one in power, ever!

        “He was what I call a Great Man.”

        I guess not.

        1. Just hearing those words from you Mike means you’re the righteous Union man I figured you ultimately were and I have nothing but love for you brother and wish you & yours the very best of health & luck this holiday season. Solidarity forever with warmest comradely regards.

  4. SwM,

    The death of Vaclav Havel moves me far more than that of Hitchens. Havel was a truly heroic figure and perhaps one of the coolest heads of State any country has had. He was what I call a Great Man.

  5. “That he got the Iraq War wrong proves nothing more than he was human.”

    No, this is not like making a mistake in arithmetic. It reveals much about Hitchens. His singlemindedness, perhaps, which blinded him to reality. That is, he rightfully opposed Islamofascism, but would not see that this particular effort against it did more harm than good.

  6. Mespo,

    That’s one of the things I like about you. You’re not afthespis speak your truth. If I recall from his premise was she was used not only but the church but as well as politicians…. If I recall he had less than kind remarks for Hillary Rodham Clinton and less so for Charles Keating…

  7. I was an unabashed admirer of Hitchens. Though bombastic, intemperate, and blunt, he was exactly what was needed to puncture the ego balloons of many on the right and left. His remembrance of the religious huckster Falwell was a classic of wit and verve, and his skewering of the overtly pious but privately skeptical from Mother Teresa (“She was a friend of poverty and not the poor”) to Prince Charles (” [his] amazing conceit he has developed in six decades of performing the only job allowed him by the hereditary principle: that of waiting for his mother to expire.”) was a true breath of fresh air. He was a lover of Jefferson, Spinoza, Epicurus, Lucretius,and Madison, and a defender of the best principles of this Country. That he got the Iraq War wrong proves nothing more than he was human. Hail and Farewell!

  8. When Christopher Hitchens debated Al Sharpton
    By Joy-Ann Reid
    12:00 PM on 12/17/2011

    “”The question under debate (‘Is God great?’) and the speakers — two men who are often depicted in harsh caricatures by their critics — might have caused some to expect something like a circus,” Chan wrote for the Times on May 7, 2007. “Perhaps surprisingly, it turned out to be the public intellectual event of the evening, a bit like Bertrand Russell vs. C. S. Lewis. “Taking the atheist position was Christopher Hitchens, the journalist and author of a new book arguing that ‘religion poisons everything.’ In defense of God was none other than the Rev. Al Sharpton, a man of the cloth who is perhaps even better known for his political and civil rights activism than for his training as a preacher”

  9. The War He So Proudly Supported:

    Robert C. Koehler | Iraq syndrome
    5:57 PM, Dec. 14, 2011

    “This won’t be Vietnam, exactly. No helicopter whisking the last remaining Americans off the roof of the embassy. A contingent of 16,000 State Department contract employees — more than 5,000 of them armed mercenaries — will be staying on, running what’s left of the American operation in Iraq.

    But there’s little doubt we lost this war — by every rational measure. Everyone lost, except those who profited from — and continue to profit from — the trillions we bled into the invasion and occupation; and those who planned it, most of whom remain in positions to plan or at least promote the wars we’re still fighting and the wars to come”

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