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RIP Christopher Hitchens
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Plum Puddin'



Joined: 26 May 2008
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Post Fri Dec 16, 2011 8:58 pm
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neveragainlikesheep



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I don't think Hitchens was smug at all. He was definitely a straight shooter who made no pretenses about what he thought and for that I'll always respect and admire him.

I find him far more intellectually honest than Dawkins. Talk about smug.

I find it odd that people are RIP'ing him.
Post Sat Dec 17, 2011 2:27 am
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Nahgied



Joined: 30 Mar 2004
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Missed by me for sure.

I very much enjoyed hitch-22, and would suggest picking it up.
Post Sat Dec 17, 2011 11:31 am
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Jesse



Joined: 02 Jul 2002
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Yeah "smug" isn't quite le mot juste; I think people just mean "superior," and sometimes maybe "self-satisfied."

He had his moments is about the nicest thing I can say for him.
Post Sat Dec 17, 2011 11:43 am
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Captiv8



Joined: 25 Aug 2006
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I like smugness sometimes. I like confidence and intelligence all of the time. Right or wrong, endearing or angering, he could advocate his position like nobody's business. Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, rest easy.
Post Sat Dec 17, 2011 1:50 pm
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Alan Hague



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Despite my disagreeing with some of his views on religion & the war in Iraq, I still very much appreciated his work. It's a great & wonderful thing to have someone come along who makes being-a-thinking-person cool again. I don't think it's a stretch to say that Hitchens was the ideal of the Enlightenment era come to fruition.
Post Sat Dec 17, 2011 4:53 pm
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Mark in Minnesota



Joined: 02 Jan 2004
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I disagreed with the Hitchens position in a ton of areas, but I'm always sad to see a quality blowhard silenced. The most frustrating thing to me about the modern conservative movement is how dumbfoundingly inarticulate many of its leaders seem to be. Those leaders never really embraced Hitchens because of his atheism, but they seemed to shout words like "elite" a little less loudly if he was near the discussions--and consequently perhaps focused a little more on the substance of their arguments.
Post Sun Dec 18, 2011 11:30 am
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mlanifesto



Joined: 16 Apr 2006
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crash wrote:

edit: that debate reminds me of just how much of a dipshit galloway is. did he disappear or something? i haven't seen anything from him recently.


It all went sideways for George shortly after this




Shame about Mr. Hitchens, was lucky enough to work with him (in a peripheral capacity) a few times, he was always a gent. He kept some bad company after living in Washington for so long, all that marble does funny things to people.

The saddest part is that he is survived by his brother, Peter.
Post Mon Dec 19, 2011 4:12 am
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Anti.Agent036



Joined: 11 Jul 2003
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I definitely was not a fan of him in the latter years. He contributed a lot to xenophobia, and championed the war in Iraq and gave rallying speeches in support of it. To me, he is a man with no integrity. Please don't simply support him because of his views on atheism.

I think this is a good obit by a former friend...

http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/12/16/farewell-to-c-h/


Quote:

Farewell to C.H.
by ALEXANDER COCKBURN
I can’t count the times, down the years, that after some new outrage friends would call me and ask, “What happened to Christopher Hitchens?” – the inquiry premised on some supposed change in Hitchens, often presumed to have started in the period he tried to put his close friend Blumenthal behind bars for imputed perjury. My answer was that Christopher had been pretty much the same package since the beginning — always allowing for the ravages of entropy as the years passed.

As so often with friends and former friends, it’s a matter of what you’re prepared to put up with and for how long. I met him in New York in the early 1980s and all the long-term political and indeed personal traits were visible enough. I never thought of him as at all radical. He craved to be an insider, a trait which achieved ripest expression when he elected to be sworn in as a U.S. citizen by Bush’s director of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff. In basic philosophical take he always seemed to me to hold as his central premise a profound belief in the therapeutic properties of capitalism and empire. He was an instinctive flagwagger and remained so. He wrote some really awful stuff in the early 90s about how indigenous peoples — Indians in the Americas — were inevitably going to be rolled over by the wheels of Progress and should not be mourned.

On the plane of weekly columns in the late eighties and nineties it mostly seemed to be a matter of what was currently obsessing him: for years in the 1980s he wrote scores of columns for The Nation, charging that the Republicans had stolen the 1980s election by the “October surprise”, denying Carter the advantage of a hostage release. He got rather boring. Then in the 90s he got a bee in his bonnet about Clinton which developed into full-blown obsessive megalomania: the dream that he, Hitchens, would be the one to seize the time and finish off Bill. Why did Bill — a zealous and fairly efficient executive of Empire – bother Hitchens so much? I’m not sure. He used to hint that Clinton had behaved abominably to some woman he, Hitchens, knew. Actually I think he’d got to that moment in life when he was asking himself if he could make a difference. He obviously thought he could, and so he sloshed his way across his own personal Rubicon and tried to topple Clinton via betrayal of his close friendship with Sid Blumenthal, whom he did his best to ruin financially (lawyers’ fees) and get sent to prison for perjury.

Since then it was all pretty predictable, down to his role as flagwagger for Bush. I guess the lowest of a number of low points was when he went to the White House to give a cheerleading speech on the eve of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. I think he knew long, long before that this is where he would end up, as a right-wing codger. He used to go on, back in the Eighties, about sodden old wrecks like John Braine, who’d ended up more or less where Hitchens got to, trumpeting away about “Islamo-fascism” like a Cheltenham colonel in some ancient Punch cartoon. I used to warn my friends at New Left Review and Verso in the early 90s who were happy to make money off Hitchens’ books on Mother Teresa and the like that they should watch out, but they didn’t and then kept asking ten years later, What happened?

Anyway, between the two of them, my sympathies were always with Mother Teresa. If you were sitting in rags in a gutter in Bombay, who would be more likely to give you a bowl of soup? You’d get one from Mother Teresa. Hitchens was always tight with beggars, just like the snotty Fabians who used to deprecate charity.

One awful piece of opportunism on Hitchens’ part was his decision to attack Edward Said just before his death, and then for good measure again in his obituary. With his attacks on Edward, especially the final post mortem, Hitchens couldn’t even claim the pretense of despising a corrupt presidency, a rapist and liar or any of the other things he called Clinton. That final attack on Said was purely for attention–which fuelled his other attacks but this one most starkly because of the absence of any high principle to invoke. Here he decided both to bask in his former friend’s fame, recalling the little moments that made it clear he was intimate with the man, and to put himself at the center of the spotlight by taking his old friend down a few notches. In a career of awful moves, that was one of the worst. He also rounded on Gore Vidal who had done so much to promote his career as dauphin of contrarianism.

He courted the label “contrarian”, but if the word is to have any muscle, it surely must imply the expression of dangerous opinions. Hitchens never wrote anything truly discommoding to respectable opinion and if he had he would never have enjoyed so long a billet at Vanity Fair. Attacking God? The big battles on that issue were fought one, two, even five hundred years ago when they burned Giordano Bruno at the stake in the Campo de’ Fiore. A contrarian these days would be someone who staunchly argued for the existence of a Supreme Being. He was for America’s wars. I thought he was relatively solid on Israel/Palestine, but there too he trimmed. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency put out a friendly obit, noting that “despite his rejection of religious precepts, Hitchens would make a point of telling interviewers that according to halacha, he was Jewish” and noting his suggestion that Walt and Mearsheimer might be anti-Semitic, also his sliming of a boatload of pro-Palestinian activists aiming to breach Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip. (His brother Peter and other researchers used to say that in terms of blood lineage, the Hitchens boys’ Jewishness was pretty slim and fell far outside the definitions of the Nuremberg laws. I always liked Noam Chomsky’s crack to me when Christopher announced in Grand Street that he was a Jew: “From anti-Semite to self-hating Jew, all in one day.”)

As a writer his prose was limited in range. In extempore speeches and arguments he was quick on his feet. I remember affectionately many jovial sessions from years ago, in his early days at The Nation. I found the Hitchens cult of recent years entirely mystifying. He endured his final ordeal with pluck, sustained indomitably by his wife Carol.
Post Mon Dec 19, 2011 1:04 pm
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Anti.Agent036



Joined: 11 Jul 2003
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Here's a great one...

Norman Finkelstein on "former leftists", or Chris Hitches...



http://www.normanfinkelstein.com/on-christopher-hitchens/
Post Mon Dec 19, 2011 1:07 pm
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Anti.Agent036



Joined: 11 Jul 2003
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And another one (this time, Glenn Greenwald)...


http://www.salon.com/2011/12/17/christohper_hitchens_and_the_protocol_for_public_figure_deaths/singleton/


"...and then assembled two representative passages from Hitchens’ post-9/11 writings. In the first, Hitchens celebrated the ability of cluster bombs to penetrate through a Koran that a Muslim may be carrying in his coat pocket"

"... and in the second, Hitchens explained that his reaction to the 9/11 attack was “exhilaration” because it would unleash an exciting, sustained war against what he came addictively to call “Islamofascism”

"I rarely wrote about Hitchens because, at least for the time that I’ve been writing about politics (since late 2005), there was nothing particularly notable about him. When it came to the defining issues of the post-9/11 era, he was largely indistinguishable from the small army of neoconservative fanatics eager to unleash ever-greater violence against Muslims: driven by a toxic mix of barbarism, self-loving provincialism, a sense of personal inadequacy, and, most of all, a pity-inducing need to find glory and purpose in cheering on military adventures and vanquishing some foe of historically unprecedented evil even if it meant manufacturing them."
Post Tue Dec 20, 2011 10:43 am
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Windom



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Okay, we get it, you weren't a fan.

There were a lot of things to dislike him for - the Edward Said thing springs to mind - but let's focus on statements like: "If Jerry Falwell had been given an enema, he could have been buried in a matchbox."
Post Tue Dec 20, 2011 11:54 am
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Anti.Agent036



Joined: 11 Jul 2003
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Location: Gilbert, AZ
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Windom wrote:
Okay, we get it, you weren't a fan.

There were a lot of things to dislike him for - the Edward Said thing springs to mind - but let's focus on statements like: "If Jerry Falwell had been given an enema, he could have been buried in a matchbox."



I just can't admire someone like that. I've agreed with some of what he said his early years regarding religion, the Arab-Israeli conflict, imperialism, and even ideology to an extent. However, that doesn't mean shit to me, particularly because of his newly-discovered advocacy of war, which was along the same footing as a Wolfowitz and Bremer. Also, the whole Islamofascism rhetoric is a Fox News talking point recycled ad nauseum.
Post Tue Dec 20, 2011 1:58 pm
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MCGF



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So you can only admire people you agree with?
Post Tue Dec 20, 2011 2:14 pm
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Charlie Foxtrot



Joined: 23 Jan 2008
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MCGF wrote:
So you can only admire people you agree with?


What would there be to admire about him if you didn't agree with his ideas? If you think he was a good writer (I don't, but that's a different argument), that's hardly something to praise. Leni Riefenstahl and D.W. Griffith are considered master filmmakers, but are not deserving of our admiration.
Post Tue Dec 20, 2011 2:27 pm
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