Friday, 16 December 2011

Christopher Hitchens - GC pays tribute to a unique talent

I’m daunted by the flood of fitting tributes today to author, thinker, wit, polemicist, drinker, and smoker Christopher Hitchens who died of throat cancer yesterday at the age of 62. So here are a few thoughts of what Hitchens, the enemy of all bullshit, meant to me.
Foremost, in his book Orwell’s Victory, he showed that despite the attempts of some iconoclasts George Orwell remains “impressive, uncompromised, and right” among British writers. A man who defended Orwell so passionately had to be on the side of the angels.
I wasn’t really conscious of Hitchens writings when he was still on the Left. I was aware that in contrast to his brother Peter, a Right-wing political journalist, Hitchens had lined up with Trotskyists in his youth.
I caught up with Hitchens post 9/11 when his neo-con conversion led him to support the invasion of Iraq.
Hitchens was a speaker at a public affairs debate I attended a few years ago. He was chilling about the threat he saw to Western civilisation from militant Islam. I came away unconvinced and the Arab Spring has given me fresh hope he is wrong.
His atheism doesn’t have the same resonance in the UK as it does in America. Over here God rarely makes an appearance in political debate.
Among the many tributes here is a link to Hitchens own words. To end this piece with an example of the man’s wry humour, he once said: “The four most over-rated things in life are champagne, lobster, anal sex and picnics.”
He was right about three of them.

18/12/11 This article by New Statesman editor Jason Cowley is as good an assessment of Hitch as I've yet read. GC

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