Christopher Hitchens was famous for numerous antics, but most of all for his book, God Is Not Great. He announce his diagnosis of cancer of the esophagus in June 2010.
“I love the imagery of struggle,” he wrote about his illness in an August 2010 essay in Vanity Fair. “I sometimes wish I were suffering in a good cause, or risking my life for the good of others, instead of just being a gravely endangered patient.”
Eloquent and intemperate, bawdy and urbane, he was an acknowledged contrarian and contradiction — half-Christian, half-Jewish and fully non-believing; a native of England who settled in America; a former Trotskyite who backed the Iraq war and supported George W. Bush. But his passions remained constant and enemies of his youth, from Henry Kissinger to Mother Teresa, remained hated.
He was a militant humanist who believed in pluralism and racial justice and freedom of speech, big cities and fine art and the willingness to stand the consequences. He was smacked in the rear by then-British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and beaten up in Beirut. He once submitted to waterboarding to prove that it was indeed torture.
Hitchens was an old-fashioned sensualist who abstained from clean living as if it were just another kind of church.
That pretty much sums it up.
If you are not familiar with Hitchen’s, it takes only a few of his remarks to get the picture. Here are a few quotes:
“It [Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize] would be like giving someone an Oscar in the hope that it would encourage them to make a decent motion picture.”
About Sarah Palin: “She’s got no charisma of any kind, [but] I can imagine her being mildly useful to a low-rank porn director.”
“If you gave [Jerry] Falwell an enema he could be buried in a matchbox.”About Mother Teresa: “She was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction.”
You could expect to not know where Hitchens was coming from until he was finished opining, yet he managed to be thoroughly consistent in his pithy rants. Today, he’ll have some explaining to do to the Almighty, and it won’t end up on the front page of the New York Times.