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Discussion > Christopher Hitchens 1949-2001 RIP

The great journalist, author, essayist and polemicist, the consummate atheist, the bane of Henry Kissinger, Mother Theresa, Bill Clinton and Princess Diana, a former Trotskyist but always an internationalist comrade, a friend and a mountain of Kurdistan, Christopher Hitchens, has sadly parted ways with us for forever.

I heard the news on TV while reading BH. Seeing that this place has many people who care about good quality English prose, I thought I'd share my sadness here first, for in Christopher Hitchens, we had one of the best commanders of English since George Orwell. No one spoke English as beautifully as he did.

I feel immensely proud to have met him once and shaken his hand thrice.

Having burned the candles at both ends for all his life, may he now find some rest and peace.

Dec 16, 2011 at 10:12 AM | Unregistered CommentersHx

1949-2011 of course. Long enough to be the bane of Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden as well.

Dec 16, 2011 at 10:18 AM | Unregistered CommentersHx

Of course, I also forgot to mention that he was a contrarian extraordinaire and a public intellectual in true Socratic fashion.

He once said he had a challenge with his editor that he was prepared to write on any subject except science and mathematics.

He once said “the four most over-rated things in life are champagne, lobster, anal sex and picnics".

He also authored probably the greatest insult ever:

re: Micheal Moore of Fahrenheit 911 fame.

"Europeans think Americans are fat, vulgar, greedy, stupid, ambitious and ignorant and so on. And they've taken as their own, as their representative American, someone who actually embodies all of those qualities."

That's like hitting two and a half birds with one stone.

Dec 16, 2011 at 10:44 AM | Unregistered CommentersHx

Wow, thanks for this sHx.

I am reminded of what Hitchens said, and I like throwing it at the faces of idiots who know nothing about debate and rhetoric and will rush in like fools to occupy the 'middle ground' (in anything) so they can adopt saintly postures.

"You have probably heard from one complacent pundit or another, the view that argument produces "more heat than light" You have certainly been instructed that truth lies not at one pole or another, but "somewhere in between". And I think I can be sure that you have heard the good old standby, to the effect that matters are not black or white, but differing shades of gray.

May I offer you some observations of my own in response? We know as a law of physics that heat is the chief, if not the only source of light. Reducing the sun to room temperature would decrease light to nothing at all, as well as generating a definite chill."

Dec 16, 2011 at 11:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterShub

Wow, Shub, wow!

I hadn't heard that before.

It turns out he said that Letters to a Young Contrarian.

We have truly lost a Socrates.

Dec 16, 2011 at 11:42 AM | Unregistered CommentersHx

Wow, indeed. His wit and way with words wil be missed by many admirers.

Dec 17, 2011 at 9:05 PM | Unregistered Commenterhro001

Thanks for this. Hitchens was such a gifted writer and thinker. Like Orwell he was another honest voice of the left, willing to castigate his fellow "progressives" when they displayed (all too frequently) severe deficiencies in ethics and intellect.

One of my favorite Hitchens moments was when he eviscerated Michael Moore's ludicrous propaganda tripe "Fahrenheit 911" -- which Hitchens aptly compared to work by Leni Riefenstahl:

Unfairenheit 9/11
The lies of Michael Moore.

By Christopher Hitchens|Posted Monday, June 21, 2004

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/fighting_words/2004/06/unfairenheit_911.2.html


A couple of gems from Hitchens puncturing the hot air balloon of Michael Moore:

"To describe this film as dishonest and demagogic would almost be to promote those terms to the level of respectability. To describe this film as a piece of crap would be to run the risk of a discourse that would never again rise above the excremental. To describe it as an exercise in facile crowd-pleasing would be too obvious. Fahrenheit 9/11 is a sinister exercise in moral frivolity, crudely disguised as an exercise in seriousness. It is also a spectacle of abject political cowardice masking itself as a demonstration of "dissenting" bravery."

and....

"A short word of advice: In general, it's highly unwise to quote Orwell if you are already way out of your depth on the question of moral equivalence. It's also incautious to remind people of Orwell if you are engaged in a sophomoric celluloid rewriting of recent history."

Jan 1, 2012 at 5:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterSkiphil