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Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens, 2007
Born Christopher Eric Hitchens
April 13, 1949 (1949-04-13) (age 60)
Portsmouth, England
Occupation Author, journalist, activist, pundit
Nationality British / American
Ethnicity English
Alma mater Balliol College, Oxford
Genres Polemicism, journalism, essays, biography, literary criticism
Relative(s) Peter Hitchens (brother)

Christopher Eric Hitchens (born April 13, 1949) is an English-American author and journalist. His books, and a prolific journalistic career that has spanned more than four decades, have made him a prominent public intellectual, and a staple of talk shows and lecture circuits. He has been a columnist and literary critic at The Atlantic, Vanity Fair, Slate, World Affairs, The Nation, Free Inquiry, and a variety of other media outlets.

As a political observer, polemicist and self styled radical with an astute historical knowledge, Hitchens rose to prominence as a fixture of the left-wing publications of both his native United Kingdom and United States. Hitchens's departure from the established political left began in 1989 after what he called the "tepid reaction" of the European left following Ayatollah Khomeini's issue of a fatwā calling for the murder of Salman Rushdie.

The September 11, 2001 attacks strengthened his embrace of an interventionist foreign policy, and his vociferous criticism of what he calls "fascism with an Islamic face." Hitchens's adoption of interventionist foreign policy, employment of the term "Islamofascist" and his notable support for the Iraq War have caused his critics to label him a "neoconservative". Hitchens, however, refuses to embrace this designation,[2][3] insisting, "I'm not any kind of conservative".[4]

Hitchens is an atheist and has been identified as being a prominent exponent of the "new atheism" movement. He and fellow high profile contemporary atheists Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Daniel Dennett have often been referred to as "The Four Horsemen" and the "Unholy Trinity".[5] Hitchens is a secular humanist and anti-theist,[6] and describes himself as a believer in the philosophical values of the Age of Enlightenment. His main argument is that the concept of God or a supreme being is a totalitarian belief that destroys individual freedom, and that free expression and scientific discovery should replace religion, that inhibits it, as a means of teaching ethics and defining human civilization. Hitchens wrote at length on atheism, the nature of religion, and their corresponding effects on society, in the 2007 book God Is Not Great.

Hitchens is known for his ardent admiration of George Orwell, Thomas Paine, and Thomas Jefferson, and also for his excoriating critiques of Mother Teresa, Bill and Hillary Clinton, and Henry Kissinger, among others. These contrarian views, along with his argumentative and confrontational style of debate and writing, have earned him both praise and criticism. The San Francisco Chronicle referred to Hitchens as a "gadfly with gusto".[7] In 2009 Hitchens was listed by Forbes magazine as one of the "25 most influential liberals in the U.S. media."[8] However, the same article noted that he would "likely be aghast to find himself on this list", since it demotes his self-styled radicalism to mere liberalism.

Retaining his British citizenship, Hitchens became a United States citizen on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial, on his fifty-eighth birthday on April 13, 2007, exactly 264 years after Jefferson's own birth.[9] In September 2008, he was made a media fellow at the Hoover Institution.[10] His autobiography, entitled Hitch-22: A Memoir, is scheduled for publication in June 2010.[11] Hitchens lives in Washington, D.C.

Contents

Early life and education

In an article in the Guardian Unlimited on April 14, 2002, Hitchens says he could be considered Jewish because Jewish descent is matrilineal. According to Hitchens, when his brother Peter Hitchens took his new bride to meet their maternal grandmother, Dodo, who was then in her 90s, Dodo said, "She's Jewish, isn't she?" and then announced: "Well, I've got something to tell you. So are you." She said that her real surname was Levin, not Lynn, and that her ancestors were Blumenthals from Poland.[12] His brother has researched the family tree and says they are one-thirtysecond Jewish.[12] His mother and father met in Scotland while both serving in the Royal Navy during World War II, his father a Navy Commander whose ship (Hitchens claimed) had sunk Nazi Germany's Scharnhorst.[1] His father's Naval career required the family to move and reside throughout the United Kingdom and its dependencies, including in Malta, where his brother Peter was born in Sliema in 1951.

Christopher's mother Yvonne once said that "if there is going to be an upper class in this country, then Christopher is going to be in it"[13]; Hitchens was educated at the independent Leys School, in Cambridge, and at Balliol College, Oxford, where he was tutored by Steven Lukes, and read philosophy, politics, and economics. In 1973, Hitchens' mother committed suicide in Athens in a suicide pact with her lover; they bled to death after cutting their throats and wrists. Hitchens stated his belief that his mother was pressured into taking her own life under the fear of his father discovering her infidelity.[14]

In the 1960s Hitchens joined the political left, drawn by his anger over the Vietnam war, nuclear weapons, racism and "oligarchy", including that of "the unaccountable corporation". He would express affinity to the politically charged countercultural and protest movements of the 1960s and 70s, and the musical artists associated with those movements such as Bob Dylan, Frank Zappa, The Beatles and The Velvet Underground.[citation needed] He deplored the rife recreational drug use of the time, which he describes as hedonistic.[15]

He joined the Labour Party in 1965, but was expelled in 1967 along with the majority of the Labour students' organization, because of what Hitchens called "Prime Minister Harold Wilson's contemptible support for the war in Vietnam."[16] Shortly thereafter, Hitchens joined "a small but growing post-Trotskyite Luxemburgist sect."[17]

He then became a correspondent for the magazine International Socialism,[18] which was published by the International Socialists, the forerunners of today's British Socialist Workers Party. This group was broadly Trotskyist, but differed from more orthodox Trotskyist groups in its refusal to defend communist states as "workers' states". This was symbolized in their slogan "Neither Washington nor Moscow but International Socialism". Hitchens was and still is a strong admirer of Cuban revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara, commenting that "[Che's] death meant a lot to me and countless like me at the time, he was a role model, albeit an impossible one for us bourgeois romantics insofar as he went and did what revolutionaries were meant to do — fought and died for his beliefs."[19] In March 2010, Hitchens revealed that while at university, he had gay relationships with two fellow students who would go on to serve in Margaret Thatcher's government.[20]

London

Hitchens left Oxford with a third class degree.[21] His first job was with the London Times Higher Education Supplement, where he served as social science editor. Hitchens admits that he hated the job and was later fired from the position, recalling that "I sometimes think if I'd been any good at that job, I might still be doing it." In the 1970s, he went on to work for the New Statesman, where he became friends with, among others, Martin Amis and Ian McEwan. At the New Statesman, he became known as an aggressive left-winger, stridently attacking targets such as Henry Kissinger, the Vietnam War, and the Roman Catholic Church.

Emigration to United States

After emigrating to the United States in 1981, Hitchens wrote for The Nation. While at The Nation he penned vociferous critiques of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and American foreign policy in South and Central America.[22][23][24][25][26][27][28] He became a Contributing Editor of Vanity Fair in 1992 [29], writing ten columns a year. He left The Nation in 2002, after profoundly disagreeing with other contributors over the Iraq War. There is speculation that Hitchens was the inspiration for Tom Wolfe's character Peter Fallow, in the 1987 novel The Bonfire of the Vanities,[30] but others—including Hitchens—believe it to be Spy Magazine's "Ironman Nightlife Decathlete" Anthony Haden-Guest.[31][32]

Hitchens spent part of his early career in journalism as a foreign correspondent in Cyprus.[33] In the past several years, he has continued writing essay-style correspondence pieces from a variety of locales, including Chad, Uganda[34] and the Darfur region of Sudan.[35] He has visited all three countries in the so-called "Axis of Evil": Iraq, Iran and North Korea. His work has taken him to over 60 different countries.[36]

Prior to, but not after, Hitchens' apparent ideological shift, the American author and polemicist Gore Vidal was apt to speak of Hitchens as his "Dauphin" or "heir".[37][38][39] In 2010 Hitchens attacked Vidal in a Vanity Fair piece headlined "Vidal Loco", calling him a "crackpot" for his adoption of 9/11 conspiracy theories.[40]

Work

Literature

Hitchens writes a monthly essay on books in the Atlantic Monthly[41] and contributes occasionally to other literary journals. One of his books, Unacknowledged Legislation: Writers in the Public Sphere, is a collection of such works, and Love, Poverty and War contains a section devoted to literary essays. In "Why Orwell Matters" he defends Orwell's writings against modern critics as relevant today and progressive for his time. In the 2008 book Christopher Hitchens and His Critics: Terror, Iraq, and the Left, many literary critiques are included of essays and other books of writers such as David Horowitz and Edward Said.

During a three-hour interview by Book TV,[1] he named authors who have had influence on his views.

Political views

Hitchens became a socialist "largely [as] the outcome of a study of history, taking sides ... in the battles over industrialism and war and empire". In 2001, he told Rhys Southan of Reason magazine that he could no longer say "I am a socialist". Socialists, he claimed, had ceased to offer a positive alternative to the capitalist system. Capitalism had become the more revolutionary economic system, and he welcomed globalisation as "innovative and internationalist". He suggested that he had returned to his early, pre-socialist libertarianism, having come to attach great value to the freedom of the individual from the state and moral authoritarians.

In 2006 in a town hall meeting in Pennsylvania debating the Jewish Tradition with Martin Amis, Hitchens commented on his political philosophy by stating "I am no longer a socialist, but I still am a Marxist" [42]. In 2009, in an article for The Atlantic entitled "The Revenge of Karl Marx," Hitchens frames the late-2000s recession in terms of Marx's economic analysis and notes how much Marx admired the capitalist system he was calling for the end of, but says that Marx ultimately failed to grasp how revolutionary capitalist innovation was[43].

He continues to regard both Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky as great men,[44][45] and the October Revolution as a necessary event in the modernization of Russia.[17][46] In 2005, Hitchens praised Lenin's creation of "secular Russia" and his destruction of the Russian Orthodox Church, describing it as "an absolute warren of backwardness and evil and superstition."[47] In an interview with Radar in 2007, Hitchens said that if the Christian right's agenda were implemented in the United States "It wouldn't last very long and would, I hope, lead to civil war, which they will lose, but for which it would be a great pleasure to take part."[48]

The years after the fatwa issued against Salman Rushdie also saw him looking for allies and friends. In the United States he became increasingly critical of what he called "excuse making" on the left. At the same time, he was attracted to the foreign policy ideas of some on the Republican right that promoted pro-liberalism intervention, especially the neoconservative group that included Paul Wolfowitz.[49] Around this time, he befriended the Iraqi dissident and businessman Ahmed Chalabi.[50] In 2004, Hitchens stated that neoconservative support for US intervention in Iraq convinced him that he was "on the same side as the neo-conservatives" when it came to contemporary foreign policy issues.[51] He has also been known to refer to his association with "temporary neocon allies".[52]

Hitchens speaking at a September, 2000 third party protest at the headquarters of the Commission on Presidential Debates.

Hitchens would elaborate on his political views and ideological shift in a discussion with Eric Alterman on Bloggingheads.tv. In this discussion Hitchens revealed himself as a supporter of Ralph Nader in the 2000 U.S. presidential election, who was disenchanted with the candidacy of both George W. Bush and Al Gore.[53] Prior to 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, Hitchens was highly critical of Bush's "non-interventionist" foreign policy. He has also criticized Bush's support of intelligent design[54] and capital punishment.[55][55]

Following the 9/11 attacks, Hitchens and Noam Chomsky debated the nature of radical Islam and of the proper response to it. On September 24 and October 8, 2001, Hitchens wrote criticisms of Chomsky in The Nation.[56][57] Chomsky responded[58] and Hitchens issued a rebuttal to Chomsky[59] to which Chomsky again responded.[60] Approximately a year after the 9/11 attacks and his exchanges with Chomsky, Hitchens left The Nation, claiming that its editors, readers and contributors considered John Ashcroft a bigger threat than Osama bin Laden,[61] and were making excuses on behalf of Islamist terrorism; in the following months he wrote articles increasingly at odds with his colleagues. This highly charged exchange of letters involved Katha Pollitt and Alexander Cockburn, as well as Hitchens and Chomsky.

Hitchens made a brief return to The Nation just before the 2004 presidential election and wrote that he was "slightly" for George W. Bush; shortly afterwards, Slate polled its staff on their positions on the candidates and mistakenly printed Hitchens' vote as pro-John Kerry. Hitchens shifted his opinion to "neutral", saying: "It's absurd for liberals to talk as if Kristallnacht is impending with Bush, and it's unwise and indecent for Republicans to equate Kerry with capitulation. There's no one to whom he can surrender, is there? I think that the nature of the jihadist enemy will decide things in the end".[62]

Although Hitchens defends Bush’s post-9/11 foreign policy, he has criticized the actions and alleged killings of Iraqis by U.S. troops in Abu Ghraib and Haditha. In January 2006, Hitchens joined with four other individuals and four organizations, including the ACLU and Greenpeace, as plaintiffs in a lawsuit, ACLU v. NSA; challenging Bush's warrantless domestic spying program; the lawsuit was filed by the ACLU.[63][64][65] In February 2006, Hitchens helped organize a pro-Denmark rally outside the Danish Embassy in Washington, DC in response to the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy.[citation needed]

In the 2008 presidential election, Hitchens in an article for Slate would state, 'I used to call myself a single-issue voter on the essential question of defending civilization against its terrorist enemies and their totalitarian protectors, and on that "issue" I hope I can continue to expose and oppose any ambiguity.' and was critical of both main party candidates, Barack Obama and John McCain. Hitchens would go on to support Barack Obama, calling McCain "senile", and his choice of running mate Sarah Palin "absurd", calling Palin a "pathological liar" and a "national disgrace".[66]

Hitchens has described Zionism as being based on "the initial demagogic lie (actually two lies) that a land without a people needs a people without a land." And he went even further saying "Zionism is a form of Bourgeoisie Nationalism" when debating the Jewish Tradition with Martin Amis at a Town hall function in Pennsylvania. "[67] Hitchens supports Israel's right to exist, but has argued against what he calls Israel's "expansionism" in the West Bank and Gaza and "internal clerical and chauvinist forces which want to instate a theocracy for Jews."[68] Hitchens would collaborate on this issue with Edward Said, in 1988 publishing Blaming the Victims: Spurious Scholarship and the Palestinian Question.

Hitchens actively supports drug policy reform and has called for the abolishment of the "war on drugs" which he described as an "authoritarian war" during a debate with William F. Buckley.[15]. He has supported the legalization of cannabis for both medical and recreational purposes, citing it as a cure for glaucoma and as treatment for numerous side-effects induced by chemotherapy, including severe nausea, describing the prohibition of the drug as "sadistic".[69] On the issue of abortion, Hitchens prioritizes in affirming that he believes a fetus should be regarded as an "unborn child", but opposing the overturning of Roe v. Wade, supporting the development of medical abortion techniques, and fundamentally believing in access to contraceptives and reproductive rights in order to obviate surgical abortion altogether.[70]

Other issues Hitchens has written on include the reunification of Ireland,[71][72] abolishment of the British monarchy,[73] the war crimes of Slobodan Milošević[74] and Franjo Tuđman[75] in Yugoslavia, the Bosnian War,[76] and the U.S. government's use of waterboarding, which he unhesitatingly deemed as torture after being invited by Vanity Fair to voluntarily undergo it.[77][78]

Regarding specific individuals

Over the years, Hitchens has become famous for his scathing critiques of public figures. Three figures — Bill Clinton, Henry Kissinger, and Mother Teresa — were the targets of three separate full length texts, No One Left to Lie To: The Triangulations of William Jefferson Clinton, The Trial of Henry Kissinger, and The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice. Hitchens has also written book-length biographical essays about Thomas Jefferson (Thomas Jefferson: Author of America), George Orwell (Why Orwell Matters) and Thomas Paine (Thomas Paine's "Rights of Man": A Biography).

However, the majority of Hitchens's critiques take the form of short opinion pieces, some of the more notable being his critiques of: Jerry Falwell,[79] George Galloway,[80] Mel Gibson,[81] Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama,[82] Michael Moore,[83] Daniel Pipes,[84] Ronald Reagan,[85] Jesse Helms,[86], and Cindy Sheehan.[17][87][88][89][90][91][92]

Religious views

Hitchens and John Lennox at the "Is God Great?" debate in Alabama

Hitchens often speaks out against the Abrahamic religions, or what he calls "the three great monotheisms" (Judaism, Christianity and Islam). In his book, God Is Not Great, Hitchens expanded his criticism to include all religions, including those rarely criticized by Western secularists such as Hinduism and neo-paganism. His book had mixed reactions, from praise in The New York Times for his "logical flourishes and conundrums"[93] to accusations of "intellectual and moral shabbiness" (The Financial Times).[94] God Is Not Great was later nominated for a National Book Award on October 10, 2007.[95][96]

Hitchens contends that organized religion is "the main source of hatred in the world",[97] "[v]iolent, irrational, intolerant, allied to racism, tribalism, and bigotry, invested in ignorance and hostile to free inquiry, contemptuous of women and coercive toward children", and that accordingly it "ought to have a great deal on its conscience." In God Is Not Great, Hitchens contends that;

"above all, we are in need of a renewed Enlightenment, which will base itself on the proposition that the proper study of mankind is man and woman [referencing Alexander Pope]. This Enlightenment will not need to depend, like its predecessors, on the heroic breakthroughs of a few gifted and exceptionally courageous people. It is within the compass of the average person. The study of literature and poetry, both for its own sake and for the eternal ethical questions with which it deals, can now easily depose the scrutiny of sacred texts that have been found to be corrupt and confected. The pursuit of unfettered scientific inquiry, and the availability of new findings to masses of people by electronic means, will revolutionize our concepts of research and development. Very importantly, the divorce between the sexual life and fear, and the sexual life and disease, and the sexual life and tyranny, can now at last be attempted, on the sole condition that we banish all religions from the discourse. And all this and more is, for the first time in our history, within the reach if not the grasp of everyone".[98]

In 2007 Hitchens began a series of written debates on the question "Is Christianity Good for the World?" with Christian theologian and pastor, Douglas Wilson, published in Christianity Today magazine.[99].This exchange eventually became a book by the same title in 2008. During their book tour to promote the book, film producer Darren Doane sent a film crew to accompany them. Doane produced the film Collision: "Is Christianity GOOD for the World?" which was released on October 27, 2009.

Awards and accolades

Hitchens after a talk at The College of New Jersey.

In September 2005, Hitchens was named as one of the "Top 100 Public Intellectuals"[100] by Foreign Policy and Britain's Prospect magazine. An online poll was held which ranked the 100 intellectuals, but the magazine noted that Hitchens' (#5), Chomsky's (#1), and Abdolkarim Soroush's (#15) rankings were partly due to supporters publicising the vote.[101]

In 2007 Hitchens's work for Vanity Fair won him the National Magazine Award in the category "Columns and Commentary".[102] He was a finalist once more in the same category in 2008 for some of his columns in Slate, but lost out to Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone.[103]

Hitchens is an Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society,[104] and in received the 1991 Lannan Literary Award for Nonfiction.[105]

Personal life

Family

Hitchens has a daughter, Antonia, with his wife Carol Blue, whom he married in 1991. Hitchens has two children, Alexander and Sophia, by a previous marriage in 1981 to Eleni Meleagrou, a Greek Cypriot, who divorced Hitchens in 1989. His son, Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens, born in 1984, has worked as a researcher for London think tanks the Policy Exchange and the Centre for Social Cohesion.

Consumption of alcohol

A profile on Hitchens by NPR stated: "Hitchens is known for his love of cigarettes and alcohol — and his prodigious literary output."[26] However in early 2008 he gave up smoking, undergoing an epiphany in Madison, Wisconsin.[106] His brother Peter later wrote of his surprise at this decision.[107] Hitchens admits to drinking heavily; in 2003 he wrote that his daily intake of alcohol was enough "to kill or stun the average mule", noting that many great writers "did some of their finest work when blotto, smashed, polluted, shitfaced, squiffy, whiffled, and three sheets to the wind."[108]

George Galloway, on his way to testify in front of a United States Senate sub-committee investigating the scandals in the U.N. Oil for Food program, called Hitchens a "drink-sodden ex-Trotskyist popinjay",[109] to which Hitchens quickly replied, "Only some of which is true."[110] Later, in a column for Slate promoting his debate with Galloway which was to take place on September 14, 2005, he elaborated on his prior response: "He says that I am an ex-Trotskyist (true), a "popinjay" (true enough, since its original Webster's definition means a target for arrows and shots), and that I cannot hold a drink (here I must protest)."[111]

Oliver Burkeman writes, "Since the parting of ways on Iraq [...] Hitchens claims to have detected a new, personalised nastiness in the attacks on him, especially over his fabled consumption of alcohol. He welcomes being attacked as a drinker 'because I always think it's a sign of victory when they move on to the ad hominem.' He drinks, he says, 'because it makes other people less boring. I have a great terror of being bored. But I can work with or without it. It takes quite a lot to get me to slur.'"[112]

Relationship with younger brother

Hitchens's younger brother by two-and-a-half years, Peter Hitchens, is a socially conservative journalist in London. The brothers had a protracted falling-out after Peter wrote that Christopher had once joked that he "didn't care if the Red Army watered its horses at Hendon" (a suburb of London). [113] Christopher denied having said this and broke off contact with his brother. He then referred to his brother as "an idiot" in a letter to Commentary, and the dispute spilled into other publications as well. Christopher eventually expressed a willingness to reconcile and to meet his new nephew; shortly thereafter the brothers gave several interviews together in which they said their personal disagreements had been resolved. They appeared together on the 21st June, 2007 edition of BBC current affairs discussion show Question Time. The pair engaged in a formal televised debate for the first time on April 3, 2008, at Grand Valley State University.[114]

Filmography

  • Hell's Angel (1994; writer, narrator)- television documentary
  • Diana: The Mourning After (1998; writer, narrator) - television documentary
  • The Trials of Henry Kissinger (2002; interviewed) - documentary film
  • Hidden in Plain Sight (2003) (interviewed)
  • Confronting Iraq: Conflict and Hope (2005; interviewed)
  • Heaven on Earth: The Rise and Fall of Socialism (2005; interviewed)
  • Discussions with Richard Dawkins : "The Four Horsemen" (2008; discussant) 2 x 60 minute episodes
  • Collision: "Is Christianity GOOD for the World?" (2009; subject, discussant) - reality documentary

In May 2009, Hitchens expressed interest in adapting God is Not Great into a feature documentary, aspiring to be "tougher and funnier" than Bill Maher's 2008 film Religulous.[115]

Bibliography

As sole author

  • 2010 Hitch-22 Some Confessions and Contradictions : A Memoir . Hachette Book Group. ISBN 9780446540339(In Preparation, due for publication 2 June 2010)
  • 2007 God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. Twelve/Hachette Book Group USA/Warner Books, ISBN 0446579807 / Published in the UK as God Is Not Great: The Case Against Religion. Atlantic Books, ISBN 978-1-84354-586-6
  • 2006 Thomas Paine's "Rights of Man": A Biography. Books That Shook the World/Atlantic Books, ISBN 1-84354-513-6
  • 2005 Thomas Jefferson: Author of America. Eminent Lives/Atlas Books/HarperCollins Publishers, ISBN 0-06-059896-4
  • 2004 Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays. Thunder's Mouth, Nation Books, ISBN 1-56025-580-3
  • 2003 A Long Short War: The Postponed Liberation of Iraq. Plume Books
  • 2002 Why Orwell Matters, Basic Books (US)/UK edition as Orwell's Victory, Allen Lane/The Penguin Press.
  • 2001 The Trial of Henry Kissinger. Verso.
  • 2001 Letters to a Young Contrarian. Basic Books.
  • 2000 Unacknowledged Legislation: Writers in the Public Sphere. Verso.
  • 1999 No One Left to Lie To: The Triangulations of William Jefferson Clinton. Verso. Reissued as No One Left to Lie To: The Values of the Worst Family in 2000.
  • 1995 The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice. Verso.
  • 1993 For the Sake of Argument: Essays and Minority Reports. Verso, ISBN 0-86-091435-6
  • 1990 Blood, Class, and Nostalgia: Anglo-American Ironies. Farrar, Straus & Giroux. Reissued 2004, with a new introduction, as Blood, Class and Empire: The Enduring Anglo-American Relationship, Nation Books, ISBN 1-56025-592-7)
  • 1990 The Monarchy: A Critique of Britain's Favorite Fetish. Chatto & Windus, 1990.
  • 1988 Prepared for the Worst: Selected Essays and Minority Reports. Hill and Wang (US)/Chatto and Windus (UK).
  • 1987 Imperial Spoils: The Curious Case of the Elgin Marbles. Chatto and Windus (UK)/Hill and Wang (US, 1988) / 1997 UK Verso edition as The Elgin Marbles: Should They Be Returned to Greece? (with essays by Robert Browning and Graham Binns).
  • 1984 Cyprus. Quartet. Revised editions as Hostage to History: Cyprus from the Ottomans to Kissinger, 1989 (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) and 1997 (Verso).

As sole editor

  • 2007 The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Non-Believer. Perseus Publishing. ISBN 9780306816086

As co-author or co-editor

  • 2008 Is Christianity Good for the World? – A Debate (co-author, with Douglas Wilson). Canon Press, ISBN 1-59128-053-2.
  • 2008 Christopher Hitchens and His Critics: Terror, Iraq and the Left (with Simon Cottee and Thomas Cushman). New York University Press.
  • 2002 Left Hooks, Right Crosses: A Decade of Political Writing (co-editor, with Christopher Caldwell).
  • 1994 International Territory: The United Nations, 1945-1995 (with Adam Bartos). Verso.
  • 1994 When Borders Bleed: The Struggle of the Kurds (with Ed Kashi). Pantheon Books.
  • 1988 Blaming the Victims: Spurious Scholarship and the Palestinian Question (contributor; co-editor with Edward Said). Verso, ISBN 0-86091-887-4. Reissued, 2001.
  • 1976 Callaghan, The Road to Number Ten (with Peter Kellner). Cassell, ISBN 0-304-29768-2

As a contributor

  • 2008. Christopher Hitchens and His Critics: Terror, Iraq and the Left (co-edited by Simon Cottee and Thomas Cushman). New York University Press.
  • 2005 A Matter of Principle: Humanitarian Arguments for War in Iraq, Thomas Cushman (editor). University of California Press, ISBN 0-520-24555-5
  • 2000 Vanity Fair's Hollywood, Graydon Carter and David Friend (editors). Viking Studio.
  • 2000 Safe Area Goražde, Fantagraphics.

References

  1. ^ a b c Christopher Hitchens In Depth. Book TV. Sunday, September 2, 2007. List of writers can be seen @ 1:13:10.
  2. ^ "Tariq Ali v. Christopher Hitchens". Democracy Now. http://www.democracynow.org/2004/10/12/tariq_ali_v_christopher_hitchens_a. Retrieved 2007-05-09. 
  3. ^ "The Situation Room, Nov. 1, 2006". cnn.com. http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0611/01/sitroom.03.html. Retrieved 2009-06-04. 
  4. ^ "The big showdown: Andrew Anthony on Hitchens v Galloway". The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2005/sep/18/otherparties.iraq. Retrieved 2009-06-04. 
  5. ^ Burkowitz, Peter (2007-07-16). "The New Atheism". The Wall Street Journal. http://opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110010341. Retrieved 2008-03-15. 
  6. ^ Andre Mayer (2007-05-14). "Nothing sacred — Journalist and provocateur Christopher Hitchens picks a fight with God". CBC. http://www.cbc.ca/arts/books/nothing_sacred.html. Retrieved 2008-06-29. 
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ "The 25 Most Influential Liberals In The US Media". Forbes.com. January 22, 2009. http://www.forbes.com/2009/01/22/influential-media-obama-oped-cx_tv_ee_hra_0122liberal_slide_13.html?thisSpeed=30000. Retrieved 2009-11-23. 
  9. ^ http://www.greatertalent.com/GTNnews.php?articleId=228
  10. ^ Hoover Institution-Media Fellows
  11. ^ http://amzn.com/0446540331 Amazon.com product information page: Hitch-22: A Memoir
  12. ^ a b Look who's talking April 14, 2002
  13. ^ Lynn Barber, The Observer, April 14, 2002 Look who's talking April 14, 2002
  14. ^ http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2002/apr/14/politics
  15. ^ a b http://www.hoover.org/multimedia/uk/3420306.html
  16. ^ Slate: Long Live Tony Blair
  17. ^ a b c PBS Interview with Christopher Hitchens
  18. ^ International Socialism: Christopher Hitchens "Workers’ Self Management in Algeria" (1st series), No.51, April-June 1972, p.33
  19. ^ Just a Pretty Face?
  20. ^ http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1255852/So-WERE-Tory-ministers-gay-flings-Christopher-Hitchens-Oxford.html
  21. ^ Alexander Linklater (May 2008). "Christopher Hitchins". Prospect Magazine. http://www.prospect-magazine.co.uk/article_details.php?id=10157. Retrieved 2009-02-17. 
  22. ^ Interview with Brian Lamb for the show Booknotes, an author interview series on C-SPAN (some biographical information) October 17, 1993
  23. ^ In-depth interview and profilein New York Magazine April 19, 1999
  24. ^ "Free Radical", interview in Reason by Rhys Southan, November 2001
  25. ^ Atlantic Monthly profile 2003
  26. ^ a b Guy Raz, Christopher Hitchens, Literary Agent Provocateur, National Public Radio, June 21, 2006
  27. ^ New Yorker profile October 16, 2006
  28. ^ Christopher Hitchens video interview 2007
  29. ^ http://www.vanityfair.com/magazine/bios/christopher_hitchens/search?contributorName=Christopher%20Hitchens
  30. ^ Reason Magazine: Free Radical
  31. ^ Timothy Noah, Meritocracy's lab rat
  32. ^ Vogue daily news
  33. ^ At the Rom: Three New Commandments
  34. ^ http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2006/01/hitchens200601 ["Childhood's End"], Vanity Fair, September 2006
  35. ^ http://www.slate.com/id/2129657/ ["Realism in Sudan"], Slate, November 7, 2005
  36. ^ Twelve Books: Christopher Hitchens
  37. ^ Andrew Werth (January/February 2004). "Hitchens on Books". Letters to the Editor. The Atlantic. http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/2004/01/letters.htm. Retrieved 2009-02-17. 
  38. ^ John Banville (March 3, 2001). "Gore should be so lucky". The Irish Times. http://osdir.com/ml/politics.leftists.monkeyfist/2001-04/msg00016.html. Retrieved 2009-02-17. 
  39. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9zq87S_v2s
  40. ^ "Hitchens attacks Gore Vidal for being a 'crackpot'". The Independent. 7 feb 2010. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/news/hitchens-attacks-gore-vidal-for-being-a-crackpot-1891753.html. Retrieved 2009-02-17. 
  41. ^ http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/by/christopher_hitchens
  42. ^ [2]
  43. ^ 2009.April. The Atlantic Monthly
  44. ^ Amis, Martin (2002). Koba the Dread. Miramax. p. 25. ISBN 0786868767. 
  45. ^ "Great Lives - Leon Trotsky", BBC Radio 4, 8 August 2006
  46. ^ "Free Radical", Reasononline, from November 2001 print edition
  47. ^ PBS, 2005
  48. ^ Godless Provocateur Christopher Hitchens Pledges Allegiance to America
  49. ^ "That Bleeding Heart Wolfowitz", Slate, March 22, 2005
  50. ^ "Ahmad and Me", Slate, May 27, 2004
  51. ^ Johann Hari, "In Enemy Territory: An Interview with Christopher Hitchens"", The Independent 23 September 2004.
  52. ^ Christopher Hitchens, "The End of Fukuyama", Slate 1 March 2006.
  53. ^ [3]
  54. ^ Belz, Mindy. "According to Hitch", World Magazine, April 3, 2006
  55. ^ a b "A War To Be Proud Of" September 5, 2005
  56. ^ Of Sin, the Left & Islamic Fascism September 4, 2001
  57. ^ Blaming bin Laden First October 4, 2001
  58. ^ Chomsky Replies to Hitchens
  59. ^ A Rejoinder to Noam Chomsky: Minority Report
  60. ^ Reply to Hitchens's Rejoinder October 4, 2001
  61. ^ Taking Sides September 26, 2002
  62. ^ My Endorsement and Osama's Video: The news in Bin Laden's comments had nothing to do with our election. Slate, November 1, 2004
  63. ^ Lichtblau, Eric. "Two Groups Planning to Sue Over Federal Eavesdropping." The New York Times. January 17, 2006. Retrieved on November 5, 2009.
  64. ^ Statement – Christopher Hitchens, NSA Lawsuit Client
  65. ^ Hitchens, Christopher (1999-08-07). "Gov. Death". Salon.com. http://www.truthinjustice.org/govdeath.htm. Retrieved 2009-05-10. 
  66. ^ Hitchens, Christopher. "Vote for Obama." Slate. Monday October 13, 2008. Retrieved on November 5, 2009.
  67. ^ "Frontpage Interview: Christopher Hitchens Part II". Front Page Magazine. http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=11253. Retrieved 2007-05-09. 
  68. ^ "Arafat's Squalid End". Slate. http://slate.com/id/2109860/. Retrieved 2007-05-09. 
  69. ^ Just a Pretty Face? by Sean O'Hagan, The Observer, July 11, 2004
  70. ^ Belief Watch: Pro-life Atheists
  71. ^ http://www.endusmilitarism.org/gallowayhitchensdebate091605.html
  72. ^ http://www.slate.com/id/2163217/
  73. ^ Hitchens, Christopher (December 6, 2000). End of the line. The Guardian.
  74. ^ "In Defense of WWII: Chapter 5 of 5". Youtube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VB9uqI62ikA. Retrieved 2008-09-07. 
  75. ^ "FrontPage Magazine". Frontpagemag.com. http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/Read.aspx?GUID=C83A870D-93BE-4ACD-B8E0-E082B1D313C0. Retrieved 2008-09-07. 
  76. ^ Bodansky, Yossef (1996). Some Call It Peace: Waiting for the War In the Balkans. International Media Corp. Ltd. ISBN 0952007053. 
  77. ^ "Believe Me, It’s Torture", Vanity Fair, August 2008
  78. ^ On the Waterboard
  79. ^ Video: Christopher Hitchens (May 15, 2007) appearance on Anderson Cooper 360
  80. ^ Unmitigated Galloway May 30, 2005
  81. ^ Mel Gibson's Meltdown July 31, 2006
  82. ^ His material highness Salon.com article by Christopher Hitchens
  83. ^ Unfairenheit 9/11 June 21, 2004
  84. ^ Christopher Hitchens, "Daniel Pipes is not a man of peace", Slate 11 August 2003.
  85. ^ "The stupidity of Ronald Reagan". Slate. http://www.slate.com/id/2101842/. Retrieved 2007-05-09. 
  86. ^ Christopher Hitchens "Farewell to a Provincial Redneck" Slate 7 July 2008.
  87. ^ Christopher Hitchens, Cindy Sheehan's Sinister Piffle, Slate 15 August 2005.
  88. ^ Hitchens's op-ed for Slate regarding Mother Theresa
  89. ^ Hitchens's NPR discussion regarding Thomas Jefferson
  90. ^ Hitchens's BBC Video Essay in support of George Orwell
  91. ^ Interview with Bill Moyers
  92. ^ Edward Luce (2008-01-11). "Lunch with the FT: Christopher Hitchens". Financial Times. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/8e37cd84-bcb6-11dc-bcf9-0000779fd2ac.html. Retrieved 2008-01-12. 
  93. ^ Michael Kinsley, The New York Times Review of Books
  94. ^ Here’s the hitch by Michael Skapinker in The Financial Times
  95. ^ Associated Press
  96. ^ New York Times Bestseller list
  97. ^ http://onegoodmove.org/1gm/1gmarchive/2007/03/free_speech_6.html
  98. ^ Hitchens, Christopher (May 2007). God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. New York: Twelve Books. pp. 283. 
  99. ^ http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2007/mayweb-only/119-12.0.html "Is Christianity Good for the World?"
  100. ^ Foreign Policy, registration required
  101. ^ Foreign Policy, registration required
  102. ^ Press release, Magazine Publishers of America
  103. ^ Magazine Publishers of America, NMA Winners
  104. ^ National Secular Society Honorary Associate: Christopher Hitchens
  105. ^ Lannan Foundation – Nonfiction Awards, webpage retrieved November 13, 2007.
  106. ^ Edward Luce, Lunch with the Financial Times, 11 January 2008
  107. ^ Hitchens, Peter (April 5, 2008). "Hitchens vs Hitchens ... Peace at last as a lifelong feud between brothers is laid to rest". The Daily Mail. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=557443&in_page_id=1770. Retrieved 2008-04-08. 
  108. ^ Christopher Hitchens, Living Proof, Vanity Fair, March, 2003.
  109. ^ Unmitigated Galloway , The Weekly Standard, 2005-05-30.
  110. ^ "There's only one popinjay here, George", Evening Standard, 2005-05-19.
  111. ^ George Galloway Is Gruesome, Not Gorgeous, Slate, 2005-09-13.
  112. ^ Oliver Burkeman, War of words, The Guardian, October 28, 2006.
  113. ^ Christopher Hitchens,Oh Brother, Where Art Thou
  114. ^ "Hitchens v. Hitchens: Faith, Politics & War". Grand Valley State University. http://www.gvsu.edu/hauenstein/index.cfm?id=3425B4C3-DA0C-48A1-FDE23503A04A3318. Retrieved 2008-03-29. 
  115. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FSds2FhTYhE

External links

Articles By Hitchens

Interviews

Debates

Profiles

Reviews


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

The only real radicalism in our time will come as it always has — from people who insist on thinking for themselves and who reject party-mindedness.

Christopher Hitchens (born 1949-04-13) is an Anglo-American political writer.

Contents

Sourced

  • The Baghdad regime is the first oil-producing government to opt for 100-per-cent nationalisation, a process completed with the acquisition of foreign assets in Basrah last December. It was the first to call for the use of oil as a political weapon against Israel and her backers. It gives strong economic and political support to the ‘Rejection Front’ Palestinians who oppose Arafat’s conciliation and are currently trying to outface the Syrians in Beirut. And it has a leader — Saddam Hussain — who has sprung from being an underground revolutionary gunman to perhaps the first visionary Arab statesman since Nasser.
    • Iraq Flexes Arab Muscle, New Statesman, 1976 [1]
  • ...in fact, the war against Iraq is continuing. And it's continuing now by the means which the administration described as contemptible and useless, when they were put forth as an alternative to an actual all-out aerial bombardment. Namely, economic sanctions, which do have the effect of slowly starving and crippling the population of Iraq, while leaving the military cast of Saddam Hussein and his criminal Baath Party in charge. I was asked the other day ... why do you think the administration decided to spare Saddam Hussein ... and I said I think because they thought they might need him again...
    • NPR, Talk of the Nation with John Hockenberry, 1992 [2]
  • If most of those who took part in this one-dimensional debate were honest with themselves, they would admit that they do not in principle believe that the United States can do any good overseas for anyone but the American government, its armed forces, or privileged American elites.
  • A good liar must have a good memory. Kissinger is a stupendous liar with a remarkable memory.
    • The Trial of Henry Kissinger (2002)
  • And yet, I wake up every day to a sensation of pervading disgust and annoyance. I probably ought to carry around some kind of thermometer or other instrument, to keep checking that I am not falling prey to premature curmudgeonhood.
    • Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays (2004)
  • What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof.
  • 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 (Michael Moore) who actually embodies all of those qualities.
  • Faith is the surrender of the mind; it's the surrender of reason, it's the surrender of the only thing that makes us different from other mammals. It's our need to believe, and to surrender our skepticism and our reason, our yearning to discard that and put all our trust or faith in someone or something, that is the sinister thing to me. Of all the supposed virtues, faith must be the most overrated.
    • Penn & Teller: Bullshit!, Season 3, Episode 5: "Holier Than Thou" {2005-05-23}
  • They ("Islamo-fascists") gave us no peace and we shouldn’t give them any. We can't live on the same planet as them and I'm glad because I don’t want to. I don’t want to breathe the same air as these psychopaths and murderers and rapists and torturers and child abusers. It's them or me. I'm very happy about this because I know it will be them. It’s a duty and a responsibility to defeat them. But it's also a pleasure. I don’t regard it as a grim task at all.
  • The enormous dynamic and creative, as well as destructive energy of capitalism... is written up with more praise and more respect by Marx and Engels in the 1848 Communist Manifesto than probably by anyone since. I don't think anyone has ever said so precisely and with such awed admiration how great capitalism is, how inventive, how innovative, how dynamic, how much force of creativity it unleashes.
  • My own opinion is enough for me, and I claim the right to have it defended against any consensus, any majority, anywhere, any place, any time. And anyone who disagrees with this can pick a number, get in line and kiss my ass.
    • "Be It Resolved: Freedom of Speech Includes the Freedom to Hate," debate at University of Toronto, (2006-11-15). Hitchens argued the affirmative position. Info here; video here.
  • You may choose, if you wish, to parrot the line that Watergate was a "long national nightmare," but some of us found it rather exhilarating to see a criminal President successfully investigated and exposed and discredited. And we do not think it in the least bit nightmarish that the Constitution says that such a man is not above the law. Ford's ignominious pardon of this felonious thug meant, first, that only the lesser fry had to go to jail. It meant, second, that we still do not even know why the burglars were originally sent into the offices of the Democratic National Committee. In this respect, the famous pardon is not unlike the Warren Commission: another establishment exercise in damage control and pseudo-reassurance (of which Ford was also a member) that actually raised more questions than it answered. The fact is that serious trials and fearless investigations often are the cause of great division, and rightly so.

For the Sake of Argument: Essays and Minority Reports (1993)

  • That most risky and volatile of all things—a self-pitying majority.
  • It is rather a pity, considered from the standpoint of the professional politician or opinion-taker, that nobody knows exactly what "credibility" is, or how one acquires it. "Credibility" doesn't stand for anything morally straightforward, like meaning what you say or saying what you mean. Nor does it signify anything remotely quantifiable — any correlation between evidence presented and case made. Suggestively, perhaps, it entered the language as a consensus euphemism during the Vietnam War, when "concerned" members of the Eastern Establishment spoke of a "credibility gap" rather than give awful utterance to the thought that the Johnson administration was systematically lying. To restore its "credibility," that administration was urged — not to stop lying, but to improve its public presentation. At some stage in the lesson learned from that injunction, the era of postmodern politics began. It doesn't seem ridiculous now to have "approval ratings" that fluctuate from week to week, because these are based upon the all-important "perception" factor, which has in turn quite lost its own relationship to the word "perceptive."
    • "Credibility Politics: Sado-Monetarist Economics" (1989)
  • We have preachers and savants who dilate endlessly on the sanctity of family and childhood but who tolerate a system in which a casual observer can correlate a child's social origin with its physical well-being.
    • "Hating Sweden" (1989)
  • It was an axiom of "containment" that no part of the known world could be considered neutral. "Neutralism" was among the Cold Warriors' gravest curse words, applied with caustic hostility to India and even France. Those who were not with were against, subjected to intense economic and ideological — and sometimes military — pressure to fall into line.
    • "How Neo-Conservatives Perish" (1990)
  • There is a limit to the success of conservative populism and the exploitation of "little guy" or "silent majority" rhetoric, and it is very often reached because of the emaciated, corrupted personalities of the demagogues themselves.
    • "Nixon: Maestro of Resentment" (1990)
  • Every campaign, Garry Wills once wrote, "taught Nixon the same lesson: mobilize resentment against those in power." History taught the same to many conservative and reactionary populist movements, whose real attitude to those in power and authority was one of a servile, envious, vicarious adoration.
    • "Nixon: Maestro of Resentment" (1990)
  • The reading public isn't born that doesn't think foreigners are either funny or faintly sinister.
  • The conservative aptitude for stressing the "individual responsibility" of all parties except themselves.
    • "Not Funny Enough (2)" (1991)
  • The disquieting thing about newscaster-babble or editorial-speak is its ready availability as a serf idiom, a vernacular of deference. "Mr. Secretary, are we any nearer to bringing about a dialogue in this process?"
    • "Politically Correct" (1991)
  • What a country, and what a culture, when the liberals cry before they are hurt, and the reactionaries pose as brave nonconformists, while the radicals make a fetish of their own jokey irrelevance.
    • "Politically Correct" (1991)
  • It is not enough to "have" free speech. People must learn to speak freely. Noam Chomsky remarked in the sixties about the short-life ultra-radicals on campus who thought that Marx should have been burning down the British Museum rather than writing and thinking in it. The less political descendants of that faction have now tried to reduce life to a system of empowerment etiquette, and have wasted a lot of their own time and everyone else's in the process. But the real bridle on our tongues is imposed by the everyday lying and jargon, sanctioned and promulgated at the highest levels of media and politics, and not by the awkward handful who imagine themselves revolutionaries.
    • "Politically Correct" (1991)
  • There is a reason for the affected profession of "anarchist sympathies" among Tories and grandees, and of "libertarian principles" by Hobbesian yahoos of the right. Among the former, one sees the upholding of the view that a gentleman's business and property are his own, and none of the government's. Among the latter, a distaste for democracy, for taxation, and for the need to consult others about the planet.
    • "Shouting Anarchy" (1989)
  • Rushdie had written a book of nonfiction which offered critical but decided support to the Nicaraguan revolution. He had also been eloquent about the rights of the ever-relegated Palestinians. What more natural, when he was threatened with assassination by contract, than to jubilate about a terrorist-symp who had been caught in his own logic? I counted some ten newspaper and magazine columns from the Podhoretz school, all making this same point in the same words — demonstrating the impressive Zhdanovite discipline that is the special mark of the faction. All of them seemed to regard the affair as some sort of heavenly revenge for the sin of radical promiscuity; much as they have represented the AIDS crisis as a vengeance as on sixties morality. The ethical nullity of these positions never got beyond mere gloating, and will one day help to illustrate the essential distinction between irony and brutish sarcasm.
    • "Siding with Rushdie" (1989)
  • Perhaps the values of socialists can only be realized by socialists in a nonsocialist society.
    • "The Free Market Cargo Cult" (1990)
  • The pornography of tough-mindedness, covert action, and preparedness for "peace through strength" has had a predictably hypnotic effect on the legislative branch, turning it from legal watchdog to lapdog.
    • "The State Within the State" (1991)
  • "Peace through Strength," surely history's most exploded nostrum.
    • "The Twilight of Panzerkommunismus" (1988)
  • The United States has an isolationist and insular culture, combined with a global and interventionist posture. This highly dangerous and febrile mixture, which greatly facilitates the task of the fear-mongers and chauvinists, needs a very exact and nuanced diagnosis. I don't think that analogies from the totalitarian model, however suggestive, are sufficient.
    • "The 'We' Fallacy" (1988)
  • The polls undoubtedly help to decide what people think, but their most important long-term influence may be on how people think. The interrogative process is very distinctly weighted against the asking of an intelligent question or the recording of a thoughtful answer.
    • "Voting in the Passive Voice" (1992)

Unacknowledged Legislation: Writers in the Public Sphere (2000)

  • Intellectuals never sound more foolish than when posing as the last civilised man.
    • "The Egg-Head's Egger-On" (2000)
  • The secular state is the guarantee of religious pluralism. This apparent paradox, again, is the simplest and most elegant of political truths.
    • "Ireland" (1998)
  • All the excitements of a prohibited book had their usual effect, one of which, as always, is to expose the fact that the censors don't know what they are talking about.
    • "Not Dead Yet" (1999)
  • That phrase, "loss of innocence," has become stale with overuse and diminishing returns; no other culture is so addicted to this narcissistic impression of itself as having any innocence to lose in the first place.
    • "The Road to West Egg" (2000)

Letters to a Young Contrarian (2001)

  • Every day, the New York Times carries a motto in a box on its front page. "All the News That's Fit to Print," it says. It's been saying it for decades, day in and day out. I imagine most readers of the canonical sheet have long ceased to notice this bannered and flaunted symbol of its mental furniture. I myself check every day to make sure that the bright, smug, pompous, idiotic claim is still there. Then I check to make sure that it still irritates me. If I can still exclaim, under my breath, why do they insult me and what do they take me for and what the hell is it supposed to mean unless it's as obviously complacent and conceited and censorious as it seems to be, then at least I know I still have a pulse. You may wish to choose a more rigorous mental workout but I credit this daily infusion of annoyance with extending my lifespan.
  • I have been called arrogant myself in my time, and hope to earn the title again, but to claim that I am privy to the secrets of the universe and its creator — that's beyond my conceit. I therefore have no choice but to find something suspect even in the humblest believer. Even the most humane and compassionate of the monotheisms and polytheisms are complicit in this quiet and irrational authoritarianism: they proclaim us, in Fulke Greville's unforgettable line, "Created sick — Commanded to be well." And there are totalitarian insinuations to back this up if its appeal should fail. Christians, for example, declare me redeemed by a human sacrifice that occurred thousands of years before I was born. I didn't ask for it, and would willingly have foregone it, but there it is: I'm claimed and saved whether I wish it or not. And if I refuse the unsolicited gift? Well, there are still some vague mutterings about an eternity of torment for my ingratitude. That is somewhat worse than a Big Brother state, because there could be no hope of its eventually passing away.

    In any case, I find something repulsive about the idea of vicarious redemption. I would not throw my numberless sins onto a scapegoat and expect them to pass from me; we rightly sneer at the barbaric societies that practice this unpleasantness in its literal form. There's no moral value in the vicarious gesture anyway. As Thomas Paine pointed out, you may if you wish take on a another man's debt, or even to take his place in prison. That would be self-sacrificing. But you may not assume his actual crimes as if they were your own; for one thing you did not commit them and might have died rather than do so; for another this impossible action would rob him of individual responsibility. So the whole apparatus of absolution and forgiveness strikes me as positively immoral, while the concept of revealed truth degrades the concept of free intelligence by purportedly relieving us of the hard task of working out the ethical principles for ourselves.

    You can see the same immorality or amorality in the Christian view of guilt and punishment. There are only two texts, both of them extreme and mutually contradictory. The Old Testament injunction is the one to exact an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth (it occurs in a passage of perfectly demented detail about the exact rules governing mutual ox-goring; you should look it up in its context [Exodus 21]). The second is from the Gospels and says that only those without sin should cast the first stone. The first is a moral basis for capital punishment and other barbarities; the second is so relativistic and "nonjudgmental" that it would not allow the prosecution of Charles Manson. Our few notions of justice have had to evolve despite these absurd codes of ultra vindictiveness and ultracompassion.

    Judaism has some advantages over Christianity in that, for example, it does not proselytise — except among Jews — and it does not make the cretinous mistake of saying that the Messiah has already made his appearance. However, along with Islam and Christianity, it does insist that some turgid and contradictory and sometimes evil and mad texts, obviously written by fairly unexceptional humans, are in fact the word of god. I think that the indispensable condition of any intellectual liberty is the realisation that there is no such thing.

  • Time spent arguing with the faithful is, oddly enough, almost never wasted.
  • Only a humorless tyrant could want a perpetual chanting of praises that, one has no choice but to assume, would be the innate virtues and splendors furnished him by his creator, infinite regression, drowned in praise!
  • 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.

God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (2007)

  • Why, if God was the creator of all things, were we supposed to "praise" him for what came naturally? (p. 3)
  • If Jesus could heal a blind person he happened to meet, then why not heal blindness? (p. 3)
  • Our prefrontal lobes are too small while our adrenal glands are too big. (p. 8)
    • On Intelligent Design
  • I shall simply say that those who offer false consolation are false friends. (p. 9)
  • Religion is man-made. Even the men who made it cannot agree on what their prophets or redeemers or gurus actually said or did. (p. 9)
  • The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species. It may be a long farewell, but it has begun and, like all farewells, should not be protracted. (p. 11)
  • "Now the birth of Jesus Christ was in this wise. When his mother, Mary, was espoused to Joseph, before they came together she was found with child of the Holy Ghost." Yes, and the Greek demigod Perseus was born when the god Jupiter visited the virgin Danaë as a shower of gold and got her with child. The god Buddha was born through an opening in his mother's flank. Catlicus the serpent-skirted caught a little ball of feathers from the sky and hid it in her bosom, and the Aztec god Huitzilopochtli was thus conceived. The virgin Nana took a pomegranate from the tree watered by the blood of the slain Agdestris, and laid it in her bosom, and gave birth to the god Attis. The virgin daughter of a Mongol king awoke one night and found herself bathed in a great light, which caused her to give birth to Genghis Khan. Krishna was born of the virgin Devaka. Horus was born of the virgin Isis. Mercury was born of the virgin Maia. Romulus was born of the virgin Rhea Sylvia. For some reason, many religions force themselves to think of the birth canal as a one-way street, and even the Koran treats the Virgin Mary with reverence. (p. 22-23)
  • A modern believer can say and even believe that his faith is quite compatible with science and medicine, but the awkward fact will always be that both things have a tendency to break religion's monopoly, and have often been fiercely resisted for that reason. What happens to the faith healer and the shaman when any poor citizen can see the full effect of drugs and surgeries, administered without ceremonies or mystifications? Roughly the same thing as happens to the rainmaker when the climatologist turns up, or to the diviner from the heavens when schoolteachers get hold of elementary telescopes. (p. 47)
  • Scientific critics of religion such as Daniel Dennett have been generous enough to point out that apparently useless healing rituals may even have helped people get better, in that we know how important morale can be in aiding the body to fight injury and infection. (p. 47)
  • I pose a hypothetical question. As a man of some fifty-seven years of age, I am discovered sucking the penis of a baby boy. I ask you to picture your own outrage and revulsion. Ah, but I have my own explanation all ready. I am a mohel: an appointed circumciser and foreskin remover. My authority comes from an ancient text, which commands me to take a baby boy’s penis in hand, cut around the prepuce, and complete the action by taking his penis in my mouth, sucking off the foreskin, and spitting out the amputated flap along with a mouthful of blood and saliva. (p. 49)
  • The Shia fundamentalists in Iran lowered the age of "consent" to nine, perhaps in admiring emulation of the age of the youngest "wife" of the "Prophet" Muhammed. Hindu child brides in India are flogged, and sometimes burned alive, if the pathetic dowry they bring is judged to be too small. The Vatican, and its vast network of dioceses, has in the past decade alone been forced to admit complicity in a huge racket of child rape and child torture, mainly but by no means exclusively homosexual, in which known pederasts and sadists were shielded from the law and reassigned to parishes where the pickings of the innocent and defenseless were often richer. In Ireland alone- once an unquestioning disciple of Holy Mother Church-it is now estimated that the unmolested children of religious schools were probably the minority. (p. 51)
  • Violent, irrational, intolerant, allied to racism and tribalism and bigotry, invested in ignorance and hostile to free inquiry, contemptuous of women and coercive toward children: organized religion ought to have a great deal on its conscience. (p. 56)
  • Religion comes from the period of human prehistory where nobody- not even the mighty Democritus who concluded that all matter was made from atoms- had the smallest idea of what was going on. It comes from the bawling and fearful infancy of our species, and is a babyish attempt to meet our inescapable demand for knowledge. Today the least educated of my children knows much more about the natural order than any of the founders of religion. (p. 64)
  • One may choose to call that "god" even if one does not know the precise nature of the first cause. (p. 71)
  • Of the other bodies in our solar in our own solar system alone, the rest are all either far too cold to support anything recognizable as life, or far too hot. The same, as it happens, is true of own blue and rounded planetary home, where heat contends with cold to make large tracts of it into useless wasteland, and where we have come to learn that we live, and have always lived, on a climatic knife edge. Meanwhile, the sun is getting ready to explode and devour its dependent planets like some jealous chief or tribal deity. Some design! (p. 80)
  • Though it is true we are the highest and smartest animals, ospreys have eyes we have calculated to be sixty times more powerful and sophisticated than our own and that blindness, often caused by microscopic parasites that are themselves miracles of ingenuity, is one of the oldest and most tragic disorders known to man. And why award the superior eye (or in the case of cat or bat, also the ear) to the inferior species. (pp. 82-83)
  • Religion, it is true, still possesses the huge if cumbersome and unwieldy advantage of having come "first." (p. 96)
  • In particular, it is absurd to hope to banish envy of other people’s possessions or fortunes, if only because the spirit of envy can lead to emulation and ambition and have positive consequences. (p. 100)
  • Is it too modern to notice that there is nothing about rape, nothing about the protection of children from cruelty, and nothing about genocide? Or is it exactingly "in context" to notice that some of these very offenses are about to be positively recommended? (p. 100)
    • On the Ten Commandments
  • Their multiple authors -- none of whom published anything until many years after the Crucifixion -- cannot agree on anything of importance. Matthew and Luke cannot concur on the Virgin Birth or the genealogy of Jesus. They flatly contradict each other on the "Flight into Egypt," Matthew saying that Joseph was "warned in a dream" to make an immediate escape and Luke saying that all three stayed in Bethlehem until Mary's "purification according to the laws of Moses," which would make it forty days, and then went back to Nazareth via Jerusalem. (Incidentally, if the dash to Egypt to conceal a child from Herod's infanticide campaign has any truth to it, then Hollywood and many, many Christian inconographers have been deceiving us. It would have been very difficult to take a blond, blue-eyed baby to the Nile delta without attracting rather than avoiding attention.) (p. 111)
  • The Gospel according to Luke states that the miraculous birth occurred in a year when the Emperor Caesar Augustus ordered a census for the purposes of taxation, and that this happened at a time when Herod reigned in Judaea and Quirinius was governer of Syria. That is the closest to a triangulation of historical dating that any writer even attempts. But Herod died four years "BC" and during his rulership the governor of Syria was not Quirinius. There is no mention of any Augustan census by any Roman historian, but the Jewish chronicler Josephus mentions one that did occur- without the onerous requirement for people to return to their places of birth, and six years after the birth of Jesus is supposed to have taken place. (p. 112)
  • Jesus makes large claims for his heavenly father but never mentions that his mother is or was a virgin, and is repeatedly very rude and coarse to her when she makes an appearance. (p. 116)
  • Islam is at once the most and the least interesting of the world's monotheisms. It builds upon its primitive Jewish and Christian predecessors, selecting a chunk here and a shard there, and thus if these fall, it partly falls also. (p. 123)
  • Like many but not all of Islam’s principal sites, Mecca is closed to unbelievers, which somewhat contradicts its claim to universality. (p. 136)
  • Exceptional claims require exceptional evidence. (p. 143)
  • I have interviewed some of the hundreds of thousands of people who claim to have had direct encounters with spacecraft, or the crew of spacecraft, from another galaxy. Some of these are so vivid and detailed (and so comparable with other depositions from other people who cannot have compared notes) that a few impressionable academics have proposed that we grant them the presumption of truth. But here is the obvious Ockhamist reason why it would be utterly wrong to do so. If the huge number of "contacts" and abductees are telling even a particle of truth, then it follows that their alien friends are not attempting to keep their existence a secret. Well, in that case, why do they never stay still for anything more than a single-shot photo? There has never been an uncut roll of film offered, let alone a small piece of a metal unavailable on earth, or a tiny sample of tissue. And sketches of the being have a consistent anthropomorphic resemblance to those offered in science fiction comics. Since travel from Alpha Centauri (the preferred origin) would involve some bending of the laws of physics, even the smallest particle of matter would be of enormous use, and would have a literally earth-shattering effect. Instead of which — nothing. Nothing, that is, except texts and shards that are available only to a favored few. (p. 144)
  • Those who desire to certify miracles may wish to say that such recoveries have no "natural" explanation. But this does not at all mean that there is therefore a "supernatural" one. (pp. 147-148)
  • When the debris settled on Ground Zero, it was found that two pieces of mangled girder still stood in the shape of a cross, and much wondering comment resulted. Since all architecture has always involved crossbeams, it would be surprising only if such a feature did not emerge. I admit that I would have been impressed if the wreckage had formed itself into a Star of David or a star or crescent, but there is no record of this ever having occurred anywhere, even in places where local people might have been impressed by it. (pp. 149-150)
  • Jesus, it is true, shows no personal interest in gain, but he does speak of treasure in heaven and even of "mansions" as an inducement to follow him. Is it not further true that all religions down the ages have shown a keen interest in the amassment of material goods in the real world? (p. 158)
  • Millions of people would have mindlessly starved to death if his advice had been followed. (p. 183)
  • The museums of medieval Europe, from Holland to Tuscany, are crammed with instruments and devices upon which the holy men labored devoutly, in order to see how long they could keep someone alive while being roasted. It is not needful to go into further details, but there were also religious books of instruction in this art, and guides for the detection of heresy by pain. (p. 219)
  • Nothing proves the man-made character of religion as obviously as the sick mind that designed hell, unless it is the sorely limited mind that has failed to describe heaven — except as a place of either worldly comfort, eternal tedium, or (as Tertullian thought) continual relish in the torture of others. (p. 219)
  • If religious instruction were not allowed until the child had attained the age of reason, we would be living in a quite different world. (p. 220)
  • The shedding of blood — which is insisted upon at circumcision ceremonies — is most probably a symbolic survival from the animal and human sacrifices which were such a feature of the gore-soaked landscape of the Old Testament. By adhering to the practice, parents could offer to sacrifice a part of the child as a stand-in for the whole. (pp. 223-224)
  • Billion of dollars have already been awarded, but there is no price to be put on the generations of boys and girls who were introduced to sex in the most alarming and disgusting ways by those whom they and their parents trusted. (pp. 227-228)
    • On the Catholic Church sex abuse scandals
  • It is interesting to find that people of faith now seek defensively to say that they are no worse than Nazis or Stalinists. (pp. 230)
    • On the atheism of Hitler and Stalin
  • What is a totalitarian system if not one where the abject glorification of the perfect leader is matched by the surrender of all privacy and individuality, especially in matters sexual, and in denunciation and punishment - "for their own good" - of those who transgress?
  • Those who invoke "Secular" tyranny in contrast to religion are hoping that we will forget two things: the connection between the Christian churches and fascism, and the capitulation of the churches to National Socialism. (p. 242)
  • The idea that a group of people — whether defined as a nation or as a religion — could be condemned for all time and without the possibility of an appeal was (and is) essentially a totalitarian one. (p. 250)
  • Human decency is not derived from religion. It precedes it. (p. 266)
  • Religion has run out of justifications. (p. 282)
  • All postures of submission and surrender should be part of our prehistory. (p. 285)

On the Bosnian War

  • ...the same mistake that disfigured the coverage of the Bosnian war, where every consumer of news was made to understand that there was fighting between Serbs, Croats, and "Muslims." There are two apples and one orange in that basket, as any fool should be able to see. Serbian and Croatian are national differences, which track very closely with the distinction between Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic beliefs. Many Muslims are Bosnian, but not all Bosnians are Muslim. And in fact, the Bosnian forces in the late war were those which most repudiated any confessional definition.

On the Kosovo War

  • The "line of the day" among administration spokesmen, confronted by masses of destitute and terrified refugees and solid reports of the mass execution of civilians, is to say that "we expected this to happen." They did? (They never told anyone.) If they want to avoid being indicted for war crimes themselves, these "spokesmen" had better promise us that they were lying when they said that.

On the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan

  • Many of the points made by the antiwar movement have been consciously assimilated by the Pentagon and its lawyers and advisers. Precision weaponry is good in itself, but its ability to discriminate is improving and will continue to improve. Cluster bombs are perhaps not good in themselves, but when they are dropped on identifiable concentrations of Taliban troops, they do have a heartening effect.
  • Only a complete moral idiot can believe for an instant that we are fighting against the wretched of the earth. We are fighting, as I said before, against the scum of the earth
  • If you're actually certain that you're hitting only a concentration of enemy troops... then it's pretty good because those steel pellets will go straight through somebody and out the other side and through somebody else. And if they're bearing a Koran over their heart, it'll go straight through that, too. So they won't be able to say, 'Ah, I was bearing a Koran over my heart and guess what, the missile stopped halfway through.' No way, 'cause it'll go straight through that as well. They'll be dead, in other words.
  • Did we not aid the grisly Taliban to achieve and hold power? Yes indeed 'we' did. Well, does that not double or triple our responsibility to remove them from power?
    • Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays (Nation Books, 2004)
  • We are not occupying Afghanistan, we are there as guests of a government, at their request. [4]

On the 2003 invasion of Iraq

  • It must be obvious to anyone who can think at all that the charges against the Hussein regime are, as concerns arsenals of genocidal weaponry, true.
  • I doubt that even if this evidence could be upgraded to 100 per cent it would persuade the sort of people who go on self-appointed missions of mediation to Baghdad. These people further fail to see that governments now have a further responsibility to their citizens — namely to see that something is done to prevent future assaults on civilisation.
  • We know that the enemies of our civilization and of Arab-Muslim civilization have emerged from what is actually a root cause. The root cause is the political slum of client states from Saudi Arabia through Iraq, Pakistan and elsewhere, that has been allowed to dominate the region under U.S. patronage, and uses people and resources as if they were a gas station with a few flyblown attendants. To the extent that this policy, this mentality, has now changed in the administration, to the extent that their review of that is sincere and the conclusions that they draw from it are sincere, I think that should be welcomed. It's a big improvement to be intervening in Iraq against Saddam Hussein instead of in his favor. I think it makes a nice change. It's a regime change for us too. Now I'll state what I think is gonna happen. I've been in London and Washington a lot lately and all I can tell you is that the spokesmen for Mr. Blair and Mr. Bush walk around with a look of extraordinary confidence on their faces, as if they know something that when disclosed, will dissolve the doubts, the informational doubts at any rate, of people who wonder if there is enough evidence. [Mark Danner: It's amazing they've been able to keep it to themselves for so long.] I simply say, I have two reasons for confidence. I know perfectly well that there are many people who would not be persuaded by this evidence even if it was dumped on their own doorstep, because the same people, many of the same people, didn't believe that it was worth fighting in Afghanistan even though the connection between the Taliban and Al Qaeda was as clear as could possibly be. So I know that. There's a strong faction of the so-called peace movement that is immune to evidence and also incapable of self criticism, of imagining what these countries would be like if the advice of the peaceniks has been followed. I also made some inquiries of my own, and I think I know what some of these disclosures will be. But, as a matter of fact I think we know enough. And what will happen will be this: The President will give an order, there will then occur in Iraq a show of military force like nothing probably the world has ever seen. It will be rapid and accurate and overwhelming enough to deal with an army or a country many times the size of Iraq, even if that country possessed what Iraq does not, armed forces in the command structure willing to obey and be the last to die for the supreme leader. And that will be greeted by the majority of Iraqi people and Kurdish people as a moment of emancipation, which will be a pleasure to see, and then the hard work of the reconstitution of Iraqi society and the repayment of our debt — some part of our debt to them — can begin. And I say, bring it on.
  • The best case scenario is a rapid attack by precision-guided weapons, striking Saddam's communications in the first hours and preventing his deranged orders from being obeyed. Then a massive landing will bring food, medicine and laptop computers to a surging crowd of thankful and relieved Iraqis and Kurds. This could, in theory, all happen.
  • I, for one, will not have [the Vietcong] insulted by any comparison to the forces of Zarqawi, the Fedayeen Saddam, and the criminal underworld now arrayed against us. These depraved elements are the Iraqi Khmer Rouge.
  • Those who had alleged that a million civilians were dying from sanctions were willing, nay eager, to keep those same murderous sanctions if it meant preserving Saddam!
  • If you examine the record of the so-called the anti-war movement in this country and imagine what would have happened had its counsel been listened to over the last 15 and more years, you would have a world in which the following would be the case:

    Saddam Hussein would be the owner and occupier of Kuwait, he would have succeeded in the annexation, not merely the invasion, but the abolition of an Arab and Muslim state that was a member of the Arab League and of the United Nations. And with these resources as we now know because he lost that war, he was attempting to equip himself with the most terrifying arsenal that it was possible for him to lay his hands on. That's one consequence of anti-war politics, that's what would have happened.

    In the meanwhile, Slobodan Milošević would have made Bosnia part of a greater Serbia, and Kosovo would have been ethnically cleansed and also annexed. The Taliban would be still in power in Afghanistan if the anti-war movement had been listened to, and al-Qaeda would still be their guests. And Saddam Hussein, with his crime family, would still be privately holding ownership over a terrorized people in a state that's been most aptly described as a concentration camp above ground and a mass grave underneath it.

    Now if I had that record politically, I would be extremely modest, I wouldn't be demanding explanations from those of us who said it's about time that we stop this continual capitulation to dictatorship, to racism, to aggression and to totalitarian ideology. That we will not allow to be appeased in Iraq, the failures in Rwanda, and in Bosnia, and in Afghanistan, and elsewhere. And we take pride in having taken that position, and we take pride in our Iraqi and Kurdish friends who are conducting this struggle, on our behalves I should say.

  • I’m quite convinced in my own mind that those who were arguing that [the need to intervene in Iraq] was a more immediate one than some believed - were I’m sure convinced that they were right on fact, I don’t think they were making it up. So as to lying, I don’t think it has been established that any lies were told.
  • I don't think that the figure 2000 is an important milestone, in the first place. And in the second place, I don't think that this can be determined by public opinion. The righteousness of the war was not demonstrated by public support for it in the beginning, nor its wisdom altered by the evident decline in public support for it. I don't pay attention to the opinion polls, or indeed to the casualty figures, because I know that this is an inevitable war, a war that was going to have to happen — and was, in my opinion, both just and necessary.
  • Interviewer: It seems to be acknowledged that there're more people out there supporting the aims of Al-Qaeda and groups like them, and are willing to die, as a result of this war, than perhaps there were previously?

    Hitchens: Well, you could as easily say that the number of people who used to be based in Afghanistan, have, as a result of the intervention there, relocated themselves and spread the virus in that way. Both of these arguments lead to only one terminus, which is: we should surrender to jihadism, and not try to oppose it, in case we make them upset.

  • They want me to immolate myself, and I sincerely believe that for some of them, when they see bad news from Iraq, the reaction is simply 'This will make Hitchens look bad!' I've been trying to avoid solipsism, but I've come to believe there are such people.
    • "He Knew He Was Right," profile by Ian Parker, The New Yorker (2006-10-16)
  • Taking the points in order, it's fairly easy to demonstrate that Saddam Hussein is a bad guy's bad guy. He's not just bad in himself but the cause of badness in others. While he survives not only are the Iraqi and Kurdish peoples compelled to live in misery and fear (the sheerly moral case for regime-change is unimpeachable on its own), but their neighbors are compelled to live in fear as well.

    However—and here is the clinching and obvious point—Saddam Hussein is not going to survive. His regime is on the verge of implosion. It has long passed the point of diminishing returns. Like the Ceausescu edifice in Romania, it is a pyramid balanced on its apex (its powerbase a minority of the Sunni minority), and when it falls, all the consequences of a post-Saddam Iraq will be with us anyway. To suggest that these consequences—Sunni-Shi'a rivalry, conflict over the boundaries of Kurdistan, possible meddling from Turkey or Iran, vertiginous fluctuations in oil prices and production, social chaos—are attributable only to intervention is to be completely blind to the impending reality. The choices are two and only two—to experience these consequences with an American or international presence or to watch them unfold as if they were none of our business.

On religion

  • Religion ends and philosophy begins, just as alchemy ends and chemistry begins and astrology ends, and astronomy begins.
    • Interview with Lou Dobbs [5]
  • When I am at home, I never go near the synagogue unless, say, there is a bar or bat mitzvah involving the children of friends. But when I am traveling, in a country where Jewish life is scarce or endangered, I often make a visit to the shul. [6]
  • Religious exhortation and telling people, telling children, that if they don’t do the right thing, they’ll go to terrifying punishments or unbelievable rewards, that’s making a living out of lying to children. That’s what the priesthood do. And if all they did was lie to the children, it would be bad enough. But they rape them and torture them and then hope we’ll call it ‘abuse’. [7]
  • [Religious belief] is a totalitarian belief. It is the wish to be a slave. It is the desire that there be an unalterable, unchallengeable, tyrannical authority who can convict you of thought crime while you are asleep, who can subject you - who must, indeed, subject you - to total surveillance around the clock every waking and sleeping minute of your life - I say, of your life - before you're born and, even worse and where the real fun begins, after you're dead. A celestial North Korea. Who wants this to be true? Who but a slave desires such a ghastly fate? I've been to North Korea. It has a dead man as its president, Kim Jong-Il is only head of the party and head of the army. He's not head of the state. That office belongs to his deceased father, Kim Il-Sung. It's a necrocracy, a thanatocracy. It's one short of a trinity I might add. The son is the reincarnation of the father. It is the most revolting and utter and absolute and heartless tyranny the human species has ever evolved. But at least you can fucking die and leave North Korea! [8]
  • Name me an ethical statement made or an action performed by a believer that could not have been made or performed by a non-believer. [9]

Comparisons

Iraq

  • Only the force of American arms, or the extremely credible threat of that force, can bring a fresh face to power. [10]
  • [Even if the U.S. doesn't attack] Saddam Hussein is not going to survive. His regime is on the verge of implosion. [11]
  • It [the Iraq war] was not for the sake of oil. [12]
  • Of course it's about oil, stupid. [13]
  • The regular media caricature of Iraqi society is not even a parody. It is very common indeed to find mixed and intermarried families, and these loyalties and allegiances outweigh anything that can be mustered by a Jordanian jailbird who has bet everything on trying to ignite a sectarian war. Second, it means in the not very long run that the so-called insurgency can be politically isolated and militarily defeated. It already operates within a minority of a minority and is largely directed by unpopular outsiders.
  • If there is a sectarian war in Iraq today, or perhaps several sectarian wars, we have to understand that this was latent in the country, and in the state, and in the society all along. It was not the only possible outcome, because it had to be willed and organized, but it was certainly high on the list of probabilities.

Cambodia

  • Here is the story, as far as I can trace it, of Chomsky's effort to "minimize" or "deny" the harvest of the Khmer Rouge. It will be seen that the phony "credibility" of the charge against him derives from his lack of gullibility about the American mass killings in Indochina (routinely euphemized or concealed by large sections of the domestic intelligentsia). From this arises the idea that Chomsky might have said such things; was the sort of person who could decline to criticize "the other side"; was a well-known political extremist. Couple this with the slothful ease of the accusation, the reluctance of certain authors to prove they are not unpatriotic dupes, and you have a scapegoat in the making. 1985
  • [Chomsky] has now been impeached by his own standards, since scrutiny of the evidence does not bear him out on Serbia or Afghanistan or Iraq. It didn't bear him out on Cambodia either, though he was never a "Holocaust denier" or anything like it. And he has, I think, ceased to be of any use to young people who might pardonably doubt the official story. 2004

Miscellaneous

  • [I am persuaded by] the materialist conception of history. [14]
  • A theory that seems to explain everything is just as good at explaining nothing. [15]
  • (Howard) Dean is a raving nut bag...a raving, sinister, demagogic nutbag...I and a few other people saw that he should be destroyed.
    • Quoted in The New Yorker, October 2006. According to writer Ian Parker, this was Hitchens' response to a dinner-party guest who made a favourable comment about Howard Dean. Parker states that Hitchens appeared heavily drunk at the time.
  • Fine, now that I know that, to you, medical ethics are nothing, you've told me all I need to know. I'm not trying to persuade you. Do you think I care whether you agree with me? No. I'm telling you why I disagree with you. That I do care about. I have no further interest in any of your opinions. There's nothing you wouldn't make an excuse for. You know what? I wouldn't want you on my side. I was telling you why I knew that Howard Dean was a psycho and a fraud, and you say 'That's O.K.' Fuck off. No, I mean it: fuck off. I'm telling you what I think are standards and you say, 'What standards? It's fine, he's against the Iraq War.' Fuck. Off. You're MoveOn.org. Any liar will do. He's anti-Bush. Fuck off...Save it sweetie, for someone who cares. It will not be me. You love it, you suck on it. I now know what your standards are, and now you know what mine are, and that's all the difference -- I hope -- in the world.
    • Quoted in The New Yorker, October 2006. According to Ian Parker, this was Hitchens' response to the aforementioned dinner-party guest informing him that she supported Howard Dean because of his anti-war stance, and was not especially concerned about allegations that he had once lied about an abortion he had performed.
  • I mean, for me, it’s enough to be at war. The crucial thing is to be at war. [16]
  • The progress that's made ... in any argument or in any discussion is by confrontation. That's a dialectical fact. People say "oh let's have less heat and more light," fatuously. There's only one source of light. It happens to be heat.
    • May 4, 2008 TimesTalk [17]
  • And if I didn’t know better, I’d say they [the U.S. marines] were doing God’s work. Let them fear us. That’s the thing -- let them fear us. [18]
  • I’m too old to shoulder a rifle in any meaningful sense myself. [19]
    • Hitchens' response to the suggestion that those who preach war should consider fighting it themselves.
  • To be involved in this [the Iraq War], frankly, just makes me happy. [20]

About Christopher Hitchens

  • In creating Christopher Hitchens, God took special care and did a hell of a job. A writer touched by greatness, following his own broken compass all over the map, servile to no one, insulter of many, drinker and smoker nonpareil. A man of consequence. A writer. Thank you, God.
    • Mark Warren, Esquire [22]
  • Since Hitchens evidently does not take what he is writing seriously, there is no reason for anyone else to do so.
  • Hitchens maintains that that "there is a close fit between the democratically minded and the pro-American" in the Middle East - like "President for Life" Hosni Mubarak, King Abdullah of Jordan...that [referring to 9/11] "Washington finally grasped that "there were `root causes behind the murder-attacks" [emphasis in original] (but didn't Hitchens ridicule any allusion to "root causes" as totalitarian apologetics?)...that "racism" is "anti-American as nearly as possible by definition"...that "evil" can be defined as "the surplus value of the psychopath"...is there a Bartlett's for worst quotations?
  • Hitchens is also a militant atheist, or as he prefers to term it "anti-theist." I wish it were not so, because I'd love to have Hitchens' rapier wit and bohemian elegance on our side.
    • Dinesh D'souza [25]
  • Two altogether opposed political stances can each draw an audience's attention. One is to be politically consistent, but nonetheless original in one's insights; the other, an inchoate form of apostasy, is to bank on the shock value of an occasional, wildly inconsistent outburst. The former approach, which Chomsky exemplifies, requires hard work, whereas the latter is a lazy substitute for it. ... The master at this pose of maverick unpredictability used to be Christopher Hitchens. Amidst a fairly typical leftist politics, he would suddenly ambush unsuspecting readers with his opposition to abortion, admiration of the misogynist and juvenile lyrics of Two Live Crew ("I think that's very funny"), or support for Columbus's extermination of Native Americans ("deserving to be celebrated with great vim and gusto"). Immediately the talk of the town became, "Did you read Hitchens this week?"
    Although a tacit assumption equates unpredictability with independence of mind, it might just as well signal lack of principle.
  • That such a dynamic speaker, writer and thinker has devolved into a sputtering death-loving crank is certainly sad, especially for us who knew him back in the day.
    • Dennis Perrin [26]
  • What you have before you is the first known metamorphosis of a butterfly into a slug.
  • [A] drink-soaked former Trotskyist popinjay. (To which Hitchens replied, "Only some of which is true.")
  • A short list of the greatest living conversationalists in English would probably have to include Christopher Hitchens....Great brilliance, fantastic powers of recall and quick wit are clearly valuable in sustaining conversation at these cosmic levels. Charm may be helpful too....
    • The Economist [27]
  • A couple of months after the invasion of Iraq, I was in Los Angeles and some drunk accosted me, saying, "George Bush was right about everything he said about Iraq!" - weapons of mass destruction, the al-Qaeda connection and more. It was Christopher Hitchens, "debating" me, and furious. His confusing our President's assertions with reality was a verbal pie he threw in the air and caught on his face.
  • Long ago he came out against abortion. Interesting! Then he discovered and made quite a kosher meal of the fact that his mother, deceased, was Jewish, which under Jewish law meant he himself was Jewish. Interesting!! (He was notorious at the time for his anti-Zionist sympathies.)
    • Michael Kinsley, New York Times [29]
  • If you are a religious apologist invited to debate Christopher Hitchens, decline.
  • Christopher Hitchens is a brilliant man, and there is no living journalist I more enjoy reading.
  • I had an old rule that I would never debate Hitchens about anything—he is one of the great intellects and wits of the age—since there was no chance I would ever win.
  • I don't think there is anyone in the world who when I see the byline, I want to read the article more. He makes us think differently about things, I don't know of a higher praise I can say to an author.
  • Well-travelled, hyper-educated... always funny, Christopher Hitchens has no equal in American journalism.
    • Voice Literary Supplement [34]

Misattributed

  • BUSH IS NOT GREAT (HE'S MARVELLOUS!)
    • Headline in the June 8 2007 edition of British satirical magazine Private Eye, accompanying a Hitchens parody piece.
  • Many stupid people refuse to believe in a supreme power. I felt like that once but then I had a moment of revelation when I realised that everyone was talking nonsense and that there was an all-powerful benign intelligence that controlled our destinies. The ignorant and uneducated blamed Him for allowing wars in which thousands died or floods in which people's homes were swept away while He merely looked on. "Why does He allow evil to happen?" they asked, as if this was a sensible question. But it isn't. The fact remains that George Bush does exist. Although He moves in mysterious ways and His sayings are sometimes difficult to comprehend, if we have faith in George Bush all will be revealed and our lives will be transformed. We could not wish for more.
    • The aforementioned Private Eye parody piece.
  • Many are the cheap and easy laughs in which one could indulge at the extraordinary, pitiful hysteria of those attempting to see something suspect, or even less than laudable, in Dick Cheney’s entirely justified, indeed, necessary, shooting of Harry Whittington. According to no less an authority than the so-called ‘Daily’ Kos, Mr Whittington apparently had a ‘right’ (granted by whom?) to wander, uncalled for and unmarked, directly into the sites of the man who was praised for his shooting by no less an authority than Lee ‘Harvey’ Oswald, back in the days when the Democratic Party still fought against totalitarianism, before the Jihadist wing of the extremist party of the Michael Moore faction staged their grisly coup ‘d’etat’ (a French word meaning, originally ‘Islamo-jihadist of the Left’ [...] but no less an authority than an old friend of mine who works and fights high up in the upper echelons of the so called state ‘department’ a man entirely untouched by the vagaries and conspiracies of the thuggish authoritarianism of the so called ‘C’ IA which ran through the cobbled streets of the State like a veritable whirlwind of Reaganite self-certainty, disenobling the watery flow of power from that much vaunted fountain of secularism best known as the white ‘house’ to those too ignorant to realise its true role as the ‘house’ of the illuminati: as this man, to repeat, told me, myself, and, indeed, I (or as it were, we) this Mr Whittington was on his way, even as Dick unleashed his mighty cannon, to buy uranium from Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden, who are, as we speak, meeting on the so called ‘far’ side of the moon in order to unveil a proto-’ji’ hadist empire of neo-caliphatinism a word that, were it to be real, would be no less real than the threat of apres-jihadist terror that my good friend ‘dick’ had the temerity, indeed, the accuracy, to stop.
    • Parody of Hitchens which appeared on the website HitchensWatch on February 14th 2006. Parts of the text have since been presented on other websites as genuine Hitchens quotes.[35]

External links

Wikipedia
Wikipedia has an article about:

Articles By Hitchens

Interviews

Debates

Profiles

Reviews

Anti-Hitchens/9-11 Truther/Conspiracy site


Simple English

Christopher Hitchens
File:Christopher Hitchens
Christopher Hitchens, 2007
Born Christopher Eric Hitchens
April 13, 1949 (1949-04-13) (age 61)
Portsmouth, England
Occupation Author; journalist, activist, pundit
Nationality British / American
Ethnicity English
Alma mater Balliol College, Oxford
Genres Polemicism, journalism, essays, biography, literary criticism
Relative(s) Peter Hitchens (brother)

Christopher Hitchens is an atheist, writer and debater. He has written for various magazines (including online), such as The Nation, Free Inquiry, Slate among othes. He is a supporter of the philosphical movement called humanism.

Other Websites

Books written by Christopher Hitchens

References

  1. Christopher Hitchens In Depth. Book TV. Sunday, September 2, 2007. List of writers can be seen @ 1:13:10.







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