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Main article: "Political views of Christopher Hitchens

My own opinion is enough for me, and I claim the right to have it defended against any consensus, any majority, anywhere, anyplace, anytime. And anyone who disagrees with this can pick a number, get in line and kiss my arse.

—Christopher Hitchens[64]

The "San Francisco Chronicle referred to Hitchens as a ""gadfly with gusto".[65] In 2009, Hitchens was listed by "Forbes magazine as one of the "25 most influential liberals in the U.S. media".[66] The same article noted, however, that he would "likely be aghast to find himself on this list", as it reduces his self-styled radicalism to mere liberalism. Hitchens's political perspectives also appear in his wide-ranging writings, which include many dialogues.[67]

While Hitchens supported Israel's right to exist, he was often critical of the Israeli government's handling of the "Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Having long described himself as a "socialist and a "Marxist, Hitchens began his break from the established political left after what he called the "tepid reaction" of the Western left to "the controversy over "The Satanic Verses, followed by the left's embrace of Bill Clinton, and the antiwar movement's opposition to "NATO intervention in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 1990s. He later became a "liberal hawk and supported the "War on Terror, but he had some reservation, such as his characterization of waterboarding as "torture". 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 "NSA warrantless surveillance; the lawsuit was filed by the ACLU.[68][69]

Critiques of specific individuals[edit]

Hitchens was known 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 also wrote 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).

The majority of Hitchens's critiques took the form of short opinion pieces, including critiques of "Jerry Falwell,[70][71] "George Galloway,[72] "Slobodan Milošević,[73] "Mel Gibson,[74] the "14th Dalai Lama,[75] "Michael Moore,[76] "Daniel Pipes,[77] "Ronald Reagan,[78] "Jesse Helms,[79] and "Cindy Sheehan.[23][80] When comedian "Bob Hope died in 2003, Hitchens wrote an attack piece on him, calling Hope "a fool and nearly a clown, but he was never even remotely a comedian" and "Quick, then—what is your favorite Bob Hope gag? It wouldn't take you long if I challenged you on "Milton Berle, or "Woody Allen, or "John Cleese, or even "Lenny Bruce or "Mort Sahl. By this time tomorrow, I bet you haven't come up with a real joke for which Hope could take credit." Critics argued that Hitchens focused solely on Hope's declining years and ignored his heyday in the 1940s.[81] Hitchens was also critical of "Pope Benedict XVI.[82]

Criticism of religion[edit]

God Is Not Great

Hitchens was an "antitheist and he once said that a person "could be an atheist and wish that belief in God were correct," but that "an antitheist, a term I'm trying to get into circulation, is someone who is relieved that there's no evidence for such an assertion."[83] He often spoke against the "Abrahamic religions. When asked by readers of "The Independent (London) what he considered to be the "axis of evil", Hitchens replied "Christianity, Judaism, Islam—the three leading monotheisms."[84] Hitchens was raised nominally Christian, and went to Christian boarding schools, but from an early age declined to participate in communal prayers. Later in life, Hitchens discovered that he was of Jewish descent on his mother's side. Hitchens's Jewish-born ancestors were immigrants from Eastern Europe (including Poland).[13][85][86] In a 2010 interview at "New York Public Library, Hitchens stated that he was against infant "circumcision.

On the path to "Mother Teresa's sainthood, a process "Aroup Chatterjee has described as "a superstitious, black magic ceremony"[87] Hitchens acted as one of two people to give evidence against the cause for her "beatification in 2003, the other being Chatterjee.[88]

In 2005, Hitchens was accused by "Bill Donohue of the "Catholic League for Religious and Civil Liberties of being particularly "anti-Catholic. Hitchens responded "when religion is attacked in this country ... the Catholic Church comes in for a little more than its fair share". Hitchens had also been accused of anti-Catholic bigotry by others, including Brent Bozell, Tom Piatak in "The American Conservative, and "UCLA Law Professor "Stephen Bainbridge.[89][90] 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."[91] When "Joe Scarborough on 12 March 2004 asked Hitchens whether he was "consumed with hatred for conservative Catholics", Hitchens responded that he was not and that he just thinks that "all religious belief is sinister and infantile".[92] Piatak claimed that "A straightforward description of all Hitchens's anti-Catholic outbursts would fill every page in this magazine", noting particularly Hitchens's assertion that "US Supreme Court Justice "John Roberts should not be confirmed because of his faith.[90]

In February 2006, Hitchens helped organise a pro-Denmark rally outside the Danish Embassy in Washington, DC in response to the "Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy.[93]

Hitchens and "John Lennox at an "Is God Great?" debate (Alabama, 2009)

God Is Not Great demonstrated Hitchens's role in the ""New Atheism" movement, and he also was made an Honorary Associates of the "Rationalist International and the "National Secular Society.[94] Hitchens said he would accept an invitation from any religious leader who wished to debate with him. He also served on the advisory board of the "Secular Coalition for America,[61] a lobbying group for atheists and humanists in Washington, DC. On 30 September 2007, "Richard Dawkins, Hitchens, "Sam Harris, and "Daniel Dennett met at Hitchens's residence for a private, unmoderated discussion that lasted two hours. The event was videotaped and titled "The Four Horsemen".[95] In it, Hitchens stated at one point that he considered the "Maccabean Revolt the most unfortunate event in human history due to the reversion from "Hellenistic thought and philosophy that its success constituted.[96] That same year, 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.[97] 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 27 October 2009. On 4 April 2009 Hitchens debated "William Lane Craig on the existence of God at "Biola University.[98] In God Is Not Great, he expanded his criticism to include all religions, including those rarely criticised by Western secularists, such as "Buddhism and "neo-paganism. The book received mixed responses, from praise in "The New York Times for his "logical flourishes and conundrums"[99] to accusations of "intellectual and moral shabbiness" in the "Financial Times.[100] God Is Not Great was nominated for a "National Book Award on 10 October 2007.[101] Hitchens said that organised religion is "the main source of hatred in the world",[102] "[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: [it] ought to have a great deal on its conscience". Hitchens therefore says in God Is Not Great that humanity is in need of a renewed "Enlightenment.[103]

In February 2010, Christopher Hitchens was named to the Honorary Board of distinguished achievers of the "Freedom From Religion Foundation.[104] On 26 November 2010, Hitchens appeared in Toronto, Ontario at the "Munk Debates, where he debated religion with former British Prime Minister "Tony Blair, a convert to "Roman Catholicism. Blair argued religion is a force for good, while Hitchens was against it.[105]

In 2012, Hitchens's widow, Carol Blue, reported that Hitchens had no "deathbed conversion.[106]

The following dictum is widely attributed to Hitchens and has become known as "Hitchens's razor: "What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence."

Personal life[edit]

Hitchens after a talk at "The College of New Jersey in March 2009

Hitchens was married twice, first to Eleni Meleagrou,[107] a "Greek Cypriot, in a Greek Orthodox church[21] in 1981; the couple had a son, Alexander, and a daughter, Sophia. They divorced in 1989. From February 1990, Hitchens's girlfriend was reported as being Carol Blue, an American screenwriter. In 1991, Hitchens married Blue[11] in a ceremony held at the apartment of Victor Navasky, editor of The Nation. They had a daughter, Antonia.[11]

Hitchens's father, Eric Hitchens, was a commander in the British "Royal Navy. Hitchens often referred to his father as simply the 'Commander'. Hitchens's father was deployed on "HMS Jamaica which took part in the sinking of the German battleship "Scharnhorst in the "Battle of the North Cape on 26 December 1943. Christopher Hitchens would refer to his father's contribution to the war: "Sending a Nazi convoy raider to the bottom is a better day's work than any I have ever done." He also stated that "the remark that most summed him [his father] up was the flat statement that the war of 1939 to 1945 had been 'the only time when I really felt I knew what I was doing'."[108]

Hitchens's mother, Yvonne, died in "Athens in 1973 when, despite first reports in The Times that she had been murdered, it was later concluded that her death had been the result of an apparent suicide pact with her boyfriend, Reverend Timothy Bryan. Hitchens travelled to Athens to identify his mother's body.[14][109]

Hitchens's younger brother by two-and-a-half years, "Peter Hitchens, is a Christian and socially conservative journalist, although, like his brother, he had been a Trotskyist in the 1970s.[110][111][112][113][114]

Hitchens smoked tobacco and drank "hard alcohol frequently. His preferred brand of cigarette was "Rothmans.[115] His preferred whisky was "Johnnie Walker Black.[116][117][118][119][120][121][122]

Final illness and death[edit]

Hitchens in 2010

In June 2010, Hitchens was on tour in New York promoting his memoirs Hitch-22 when he was taken into emergency care suffering from a severe "pericardial effusion and then announced he was postponing his tour to undergo treatment for "esophageal cancer.[123] He announced that he was undergoing treatment in a Vanity Fair piece titled "Topic of Cancer".[37] Hitchens said that he recognised the long-term prognosis was far from positive, and that he would be a "very lucky person to live another five years".[124] During his illness, Hitchens was under the care of "Francis Collins and was the subject of Collins's new cancer treatment, which maps out the "human genome and selectively targets damaged "DNA.[125][126]

In April 2011, Hitchens was forced to cancel an appearance at the "American Atheist Convention, and instead sent a letter that stated, "Nothing would have kept me from joining you except the loss of my voice (at least my speaking voice) which in turn is due to a long argument I am currently having with the specter of death." He closed with "And don't keep the faith."[127] The letter also dismissed the notion of a possible deathbed conversion, in which he claimed that "redemption and supernatural deliverance appears even more hollow and artificial to me than it did before."[127]

In September 2011, Christian apologist and debate opponent "William Lane Craig stated that he was impressed with how some Christians had positive feelings for Hitchens, stating "[d]espite his vitriolic attacks upon Christianity he has a sort of lovable curmudgeonly quality about him that everybody I meet who has seen him loves Christopher Hitchens, and they are genuinely and sincerely praying for either his recovery or for his coming to know Christ as his savior before his death. People have a genuine heart-felt concern for this man."[128]

Hitchens died on 15 December 2011 at the "University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in "Houston.[129] According to "Andrew Sullivan, his last words were "Capitalism. Downfall."[130][131] In accordance with his wishes, his body was donated to medical research.[132] Hitchens wrote a book-length work about his last illness, based on his Vanity Fair columns. Mortality was published in September 2012.[133]

Reactions to death[edit]

Former British prime minister Tony Blair and Hitchens at the Munk debate on religion, Toronto, November 2010

Former British prime minister Tony Blair said, "Christopher Hitchens was a complete one-off, an amazing mixture of writer, journalist, polemicist, and unique character. He was fearless in the pursuit of truth and any cause in which he believed. And there was no belief he held that he did not advocate with passion, commitment, and brilliance. He was an extraordinary, compelling, and colourful human being whom it was a privilege to know."[134]

Richard Dawkins, a friend of Hitchens, said, "I think he was one of the greatest orators of all time. He was a polymath, a wit, immensely knowledgeable, and a valiant fighter against all tyrants, including imaginary supernatural ones."[134]

American "theoretical physicist and "cosmologist "Lawrence Krauss, also a friend of Hitchens, said, "Christopher was a beacon of knowledge and light in a world that constantly threatens to extinguish both. He had the courage to accept the world for just what it is and not what he wanted it to be. That's the highest praise, I believe, one can give to any intellect. He understood that the universe doesn't care about our existence or welfare and he epitomized the realization that our lives have meaning only to the extent that we give them meaning."[135][136] "Bill Maher paid tribute to Hitchens on his show "Real Time with Bill Maher, saying, "We lost a hero of mine, a friend, and one of the great talk show guests of all time."[137] "Sir Salman Rushdie and English comedian "Stephen Fry paid tribute at the Christopher Hitchens Vanity Fair Memorial 2012.[138][139][140][141] Three weeks before Hitchens's death, "George Eaton of the New Statesman wrote, "He is determined to ensure that he is not remembered simply as a 'lefty who turned right' or as a contrarian and provocateur. Throughout his career, he has retained a commitment to the Enlightenment values of reason, secularism and pluralism. His targets—Mother Teresa, Bill Clinton, Henry Kissinger, God—are chosen not at random, but rather because they have offended one or more of these principles. The tragedy of Hitchens's illness is that it came at a time when he enjoyed a larger audience than ever. The great polemicist is certain to be remembered, but, as he is increasingly aware, perhaps not as he would like."[142] "The Chronicle of Higher Education asked if Hitchens was the last public intellectual.[143]

On 9 October 2012, Hitchens was posthumously given the "LennonOno Grant for Peace, accepted by his widow Carol Blue.[144]

In 2015, an annual prize of $50,000 was established in his honor for "an author or journalist whose work reflects a commitment to free expression and inquiry, a range and depth of intellect, and a willingness to pursue the truth without regard to personal or professional consequence."[145]

Film and television appearances[edit]

Year Film, DVD, or TV Episode
1984 "Opinions: "Greece to their Rome"
1988 "Frontiers
1993 Everything You Need to Know
The "Opinions Debate[146]
1994 Tracking Down Maggie: The Unofficial Biography of Margaret Thatcher
"Hell's Angel (documentary)
1996 "Where's Elvis This Week?
1996–2010 "Charlie Rose (13 episodes)
1998 Princess Diana: The Mourning After
1999–2001 Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher
1999–2002 "Dennis Miller Live (TV show; 4 episodes)
2002 "The Trials of Henry Kissinger
2003 Hidden in Plain Sight
2003–2009 "Real Time with Bill Maher (TV show; 6 episodes)
2004 Mel Gibson: God's Lethal Weapon
2004–2006 "Newsnight (TV show; 3 episodes)
2004–2010 "The Daily Show (TV show; 4 episodes)
2005 "Penn & Teller: Bullshit! (TV show; 1 episode, s03e05)
"The Al Franken Show (Radio show; 1 episode)
Confronting Iraq: Conflict and Hope
"Heaven on Earth: The Rise and Fall of Socialism
2005–08 "Hardball with Chris Matthews (TV show; 3 episodes)
2006 "American Zeitgeist
"Blog Wars
2007 "Manufacturing Dissent
"Question Time (1 episode)
"Your Mommy Kills Animals
Personal Che
In Pot We Trust
"Hannity's America
2008 Can Atheism Save Europe? (DVD; 9 August 2008 debate with "John Lennox at the "Edinburgh International Festival)
Discussions with Richard Dawkins: Episode 1: "The Four Horsemen" (DVD; 30 September 2007)
"Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed
2009 Holy Hell (Chap. 5 in 6 Part Web Film on "iTunes)[147]
God on Trial (DVD; September 2008 debate with "Dinesh D'Souza)
President: A Political Road Trip
"Collision: "Is Christianity GOOD for the World?" (DVD; Fall 2008 debates with "Douglas Wilson)
Does God Exist? (DVD; 4 April 2009 debate with "William Lane Craig)
Fighting Words[148] (TV Movie; 2009)
2010 "Phil Ochs: There But For Fortune
The God Debates, Part I: A Spirited Discussion (DVD; debate with "Shmuley Boteach; Host: Mark Derry; Commentary: Miles Redfield)
2011 Is God Great? (DVD; 3 March 2009 debate with "John Lennox at "Samford University)
92Y: Christopher Hitchens (DVD; 8 June 2010 dialogue with "Salman Rushdie at "92nd Street Y)
"ABC Lateline[149] (TV show, 2 episodes)
2013 Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia[150] (DVD Documentary)


Christopher Hitchens bibliography
Christopher Hitchens reading his book Hitch-22


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External links[edit]

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