Christopher Hitchens

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Christopher Eric Hitchens (born 13 April 1949, died 15 December 2011) was an English-American author and journalist whose books, essays and journalistic career spanned more than four decades. He was a columnist and literary critic at The Atlantic, Vanity Fair, Slate, World Affairs, The Nation and Free Inquiry, and became a media fellow at the Hoover Institution in September 2008. He was a staple of talk shows and lecture circuits. In 2005, he was voted the world's fifth top public intellectual in a Prospect/Foreign Policy poll.

He was best known near the end of his life for his strong and vocal opposition to religion, demonstrated among other places in his 2007 book God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.

He died on December 15, 2011 from complications relating to oesophageal cancer.

Christopher Hitchens provides examples of the following tropes:
  • Aloof Big Brother: To Peter Hitchens.
  • Berserk Button: Jokes that make light of circumcision.
  • Bi the Way
  • Corrupt Church/Religion of Evil: Hitch saw all religion this way.
  • Creepy Monotone: Sometimes slipped into this.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Oh boy...
    • "Will an Iraq war make our Al Qaeda problem worse? Not likely."
    • (On Jerry Falwell): "If you gave Falwell an enema, he could be buried in a matchbox. "
    • (On Michael Moore): "But speaking here in my capacity as a polished, sophisticated European as well, it seems to me the laugh here is on the polished, sophisticated Europeans. They 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 who actually embodies all of those qualities."
  • Determinator: Hitchens didn't let little things like being diagnosed with oesophageal cancer (the disease which ultimately took his life) stop him from giving public speeches and participating in debates. While somewhat quieter in his later days, he had just as much fire in him.
  • Drunken Master: He was well known for his love of the bottle, particularly Johnnie Walker Black Label, and claimed drinking made him a better writer. He frequently appeared in interviews with a glass of whiskey in hand.
  • Enemy Mine: One thing that makes him so controversial in the atheist community is that he had this attitude towards the Bush Administration.
  • Fake Ultimate Hero: How Hitch saw many revered figures, most notably Mother Teresa, widely viewed to be a Friend to All Living Things.

"[Mother Teresa] 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."

  • Fan Nickname: When Hitchens made a particularly good point or refutation, it was often referred to as a "Hitchslap". Hitchens himself is sometimes referred to as 'Hitch', including in the title of his memoir, Hitch-22.
  • Four Horsemen: ...of New Atheism, alongside Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and Daniel Dennett.
  • Four-Philosophy Ensemble: along with the other so-called "New Atheists" described above: Hitchens was The Cynic, Sam Harris is The Optimist, Richard Dawkins is The Realist, and Daniel Dennett is The Apathetic.
  • Friendly Enemy: Even by his most ardent intellectual foes, he was widely admired and respected.
  • Gallows Humour: In an interview when he was asked what he thought of people who said his politics moved to the right as his waist line expanded. He stated that he'd just lost 30 pounds and not in a pleasant way (due to his cancer treatment).
  • The Grinch: See this essay, or this one. He wasn't too wild about Hanukkah, either.
  • Hollywood Nerd: Type 2
  • Insult Backfire: During one of Hitchens' public appearances, an audience member at the microphone attempted to embarrass him by mocking his divorce. Rather than attack the man, Hitchens simply expressed his continuing respect for his ex-wife and his love for their shared children. The show of class and emotional maturity completely undermined whatever point the man was trying to make.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: He claimed that religion in general is ultimately a dangerous and destructive organization, and that a religion-free world would be much better.

"All religious belief is sinister and infantile."

  • Jerkass: He comes off as this, according to his religious debate opponents. He really is a....
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Hitchens may have been uncompromising in his criticisms, but a very large portion of his criticisms regarded morality. Even when other criticisms could be made against a person, that person's immorality was his primary concern, and it was extremely difficult to get him to focus on anything else.
  • Jewish and Nerdy: Ethnically, at least.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: With his younger brother, Peter. Christopher was a very outspoken atheist/anti-theist and held predominantly (but by no means exclusively) leftist political views. Peter is an Anglican convert from atheism and holds predominantly conservative political views. Christopher was known for drinking and smoking a lot, whereas Peter can't drink much and doesn't smoke. Christopher supported the Iraq War, bucking the left-wing consensus, whereas Peter opposed it, bucking the right-wing one.
  • The Snark Knight
  • Sophisticated As Hell: As a master of polemic, it's hardly surprising.
  • The Anti-Nihilist: Was always very outspoken about the inbuilt morality of human beings, and did not fear death at all, even when confident that he would experience Cessation of Existence.
  • Worthy Opponent: Whether you agreed with him or not, Hitchens was undeniably intelligent, well spoken and persuasive.

Shmuley Boteach: "I have debated many atheists, from Richard Dawkins to Daniel Dennett to Sam Harris to Christopher Hitchens. Of them all, Hitchens has been by far the most formidable opponent, the one I have most loved and the one that has most gotten under my skin. "