12.16.2011 09:45 AM

Hitchens

His powers of expression were remarkable. His politics sucked; they were often despicable, in fact.

Why do so many writers sing his praises? Because they want to be like him. They’re all stuck in the graveyard of broken dreams, and see Hitchens as someone who got out and got rich. They want that.

34 Comments

  1. Blair says:

    Hitchens was brilliant.

  2. Man in the North says:

    His politics sucked because he was not (and no interest in being) a politician. It’s this detachment that allowed him to so infuriatingly swoop into the political landscape, render his judgements and observations, and leave again. He was beholden to no party line, no consistency required, no apologies. It’s hard not to envy that, but it is not attainable for those of us who are politically committed. But it’s damn near impossible to not be impressed by his ideas and rhetoric.

  3. KenzoS says:

    Man in the North very ably sums up Hitch, IMHO.

    I have to respectfully disagree with you Warren. I’m a lefty too, and found many of his arguments and politics way out of sync with mine. I should qualify that by saying, at times- again, at other times, completely in synch. But that is the whole point with Hitchens isn’t it? The rigour and substance of the rhetoric, and dare I say it, often times his bravery, set him apart and above. I don’t think it was just a matter of envying his money or success, frankly. A lot of political writers would’ve loved to have his skill and guts.

    • Warren says:

      An impressive vocabulary doesn’t excuse, or shouldn’t, politics which whitewash acts of evil.

      • KenzoS says:

        Quite true, of course. But I honestly don’t think that was what he was attempting to do. Unlike many other more malevolent creatures on that side of the political spectrum.

      • Josh says:

        Whitewash acts of evil? Hitchens went after everyone – right, left, whatever. I’ve never seen you criticize Clinton’s moral failings (and I’m not talking about his sexual affairs). If he truly wanted to whitewash acts of evil, he would have never gone after the likes of Mother Teresa or other politically incorrect targets. Hitchens was excellent because he forced everyone to take a harder look at their own political heroes and ideologies. Blind worship of individuals and ideas does not well serve the world. For that, Hitchens will be most missed.

      • The Doctor says:

        Warren, I find it a bit surprising that you would be that harsh on Hitchens, given what he did re: waterboarding. Christ, he voluntarily agreed to be waterboarded as part of his research for an article on the subject. Has anyone else on the planet done that? There aren’t many writers with that kind of guts or integrity. And he debated Bill O’Reilly on the subject.

        I also think there’s a substantive difference between making arguments in support of a particular policy versus “whitewashing” it. The term “whitewashing” implies that the writer is completely and blithely ignoring the problems and costs inherent in an act or policy. I assume your main problem with Hitchens is the Iraq invasion. I agree that lots of tub-thumping Iraq War supporters (Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and their cheering section) were guilty of whitewashing. You can disagree with Hitchens’ arguments in support, but those writings and arguments were much more reasoned and considered than other stuff that was sheer propaganda.

        • Pat says:

          I figured that WK was against Hitch’s anti-Zionism.

          • Lipman says:

            Anti-Zionism? In the past few years Hitchens was an enormous supporter of Israel. He limited his artillery fire to “the most fanatical elements” in Israeli politics who sided/colluded with American evangelical Christians like Falwell and Robertson.

      • Ted B says:

        Will have to disagree with you on this one, Warren.

        Hitchens wrote books on the evils of American empire and in particular Kissinger. He has made a career out of going after the bad guys, politics and political correctness and political bedfellows be damned.

        Saw an interview with him on CPAC and he was asked about anyone who really infuriated him to the point of hate. Without hesitation he said Kissinger who he constantly argues should be in jail. No sleeping dogs for this guy.

        Perhaps you refer to the Iraq War. That was a dumb politically/economically motivated war, but I personally wouldn’t go so far as to call it evil. And if you listened to him explain his reasons, he certainly isn’t doing any whitewashing of it.

        Fortunately, the UN kept us out of that dumb war. But at the time, 54% of Canadians, me not among them, thought we should fight the war. It changed rapidly over time but a lot of Canadians were at one time in support.

        • M-J says:

          “but I personally wouldn’t go so far as to call it evil.”

          Millions were killed and millions more irrevocably ruined for no apparent reason. I’m curious as to what would rise to the level of evil, in your learned opinion.

  4. Tim says:

    “Playing at smart without being clever.” That’s what Bob Marley used to say.

  5. Obama Republican says:

    He was a former Trotskyist who turned neoconservative because it falls into his ideological Troytskyism: spreading American nihilism under the guise of freedom and democracy.

    I appreciated his ability at polemics, but his reasoning for supporting the Iraq War sounded like psychobabble to justify killing of people he didn’t like–God-fearing Muslims who offended the sensibilities of those martini-sipping limousine liberals that he liked to associate with.

    His takedown of Mother Teresa was iconoclastic, to be sure. He even said that life begins at conception, probably just to ruffle a few of his acquaintances in leftist circles. Hey, it was Hitch being Hitch.

    He found ways to monetize his atheism. I’m borderline agnostic, but I have no real quarrel with those who hold sincere religious beliefs; these things represent culture and community for many people. If God doesn’t exist, and God is superstition and fiction, then what does that say of human beings who created these? They are man-made things, and so it isn’t God that is the problem, but man itself. The Soviet Union. The Great Leap Forward. These things almost had an anti-religious sanction, but were just as horrific as the Inquisition. It doesn’t bode well for humanism, does it?

  6. The sort of man who believed that if you yell at the other guy long enough and loudly enough, he will eventually see the light, the out beyond the cave and the shadow play kind of light. WHich is ironic, really.

  7. Domenico says:

    What I liked about Hitchens was that he was not an ideologue. You might not always agree with what he said, he might infuriate you, but he had a rational argument to back up his musings, unlike most polemics you find in the media.

  8. KenzoS says:

    Gord, in your and many other arch-conservatives dreams, was he an enlightened conservative. He would’ve been the first to give a big wet raspberry to that.

    Methinks you’ve missed his point somewhat.

  9. Kevin says:

    With a bow to Mr. Hitchens: “If you gave Tom Kent an enema, you could bury him in a matchbox”.

  10. Dude Love says:

    What’s wrong with doing something you like, believe in your position/politics and make money at it?

  11. Domenico says:

    but I will be using the original quote.

  12. ASME says:

    Religion is nothing but a sh.. distruber. There is no such thing as an etherial heaven. The wasted time and effort put into such drival could be best administered to this mother earth and her survival.

  13. Justin says:

    Nor are you Gord.

  14. Lipman says:

    LMAO

    Gord: coming from you, this is simply laughable. But since you raised the “evidence” question:

    HOW BOUT THOSE WMD’s?

  15. James Gordon says:

    He amusingly called Toronto ‘puritarian’ which of course, it is. This place sucks, and is no fun. I suspect WK objects to some of the stuff Hitchens said about religion; but if people believe that the world would be a better place if no one believed in Islamic, Christian, and Jewish theology because it begets evil, they have every right to say so without being labelled despicable.

  16. M-J says:

    Obvious troll is obvious.

  17. gray says:

    I’m thinking the animus in the OP has to do with religion but maybe Mr Kinsella can inform us.

    Hitchens had a long engagement with opposition figures, such as they were, in Iraq, and the Kurds. So it is not surprising to me that he would add his polemical talents to winning support that war.

    His real moment was at 9/11 when he exposed the dinosaur left, his old ideological colleagues really, for supporting the attack based on some degraded sense of anti-imperialism and pointing out that everything AQ stood for was against a modern progressive society. Even while his erstwhile pals Chomsky, Cockburn et al were trying to find common cause with the theocratic terrorists.

    • KC says:

      I agree that Mr. Kinsella is probably being influenced by his religious beliefs here. I opposed the Iraq War too and obviously don’t agree with Hitchens’ stance on it. But Iggy supported the Iraq War as ferverently as Hitchens ever did and WK had no problem with him…

  18. Hammer Dom says:

    …loved the man, it is a great loss.

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