Friday, December 16, 2011

Christopher Hitchens

It was pretty much literally impossible to agree with everything Christopher Hitchens said.

For example, I was 100% in agreement with his position that Henry Kissinger should be prosecuted, tried, and imprisoned for his myriad crimes against humanity. As he said in The Atlantic:

Many if not most of Kissinger's partners in politics, from Greece to Chile to Argentina to Indonesia, are now in jail or awaiting trial. His own lonely impunity is rank; it smells to heaven. If it is allowed to persist then we shall shamefully vindicate the ancient philosopher Anacharsis, who maintained that laws were like cobwebs-strong enough to detain only the weak and too weak to hold the strong. In the name of innumerable victims known and unknown, it is time for justice to take a hand.

On the other hand, if you agreed with him on Kissinger and Vietnam it was almost certain that you would disagree with him on Bush's invasion of Iraq, which he not only supported, but called "a war to be proud of".

You could agree with his positions on atheism and religions but wish he would be a little more polite and tolerant of the sensitivities of religious people, or at least that he would refrain from criticizing that beloved icon, Mother Theresa:

“[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.”

Or you could take pleasure in his obvious enjoyment of language and learning, but just wish that he would be a little less sure of himself.

Hitchens was one of the greatest public intellectuals of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, A man whose English breeding and education were evident with every word he spoke, but who became an American and embraced that identity.

“Beware the irrational, however seductive. Shun the 'transcendent' and all who invite you to subordinate or annihilate yourself. Distrust compassion; prefer dignity for yourself and others. Don't be afraid to be thought arrogant or selfish. Picture all experts as if they were mammals. Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity. Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence. Suspect your own motives, and all excuses. Do not live for others any more than you would expect others to live for you.”

Hitch died yesterday of esophageal cancer at the age of sixty-two. It is a great loss for all of us.

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Anonymous wade52 said...

Rest well, Hitch. The world is a lesser place in your absence.

January 21, 2012 4:42 PM  

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