Friday, December 16, 2011

Farewell To Christopher Hitchens, 1949-2011: He Was Nobody's Bitch

By Manifesto Joe

I seriously disagreed with him more than occasionally, but I have to take my hat off at least briefly to this man. He was a toady to no one.

To his credit, he cut his own intellectual path through life, without regard for what anybody else was thinking. I thought he went seriously wrong after the 9/11 attacks -- I think he got the wrong idea from that. But I can sort of understand what was happening there. He despised all fundamentalist religion, not excepting Islamic extremists from the mix. I'd say he just got a little bit detoured by them, and a bit blinded by their "opponents."

He was always his own man, first and foremost, and I have to respect that. So, Chris, maybe God isn't great. But if God is there, I hope he (or she) cuts you a decent deal. I wish you great debates in what afterlife may be. Absent that -- peace.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.


Anonymous said...

Christopher Hitchens was a hero of mine when he railed against any form of zealotry. He however pissed me off when he sided with Bush/Cheney over Iraq and Afghanistan. If he spent more time and energy on debunking the blind "faith" Wall Street and Washington had in cuthroat supply side economics instead of backing the chickenhawks, I might feel more inclined to hope whatever Deus ex Machina out there would treat him with the benefit of the doubt.


George Johnston said...

The Hitchens defenders I've talked to say, "Well, he was wrong about Iraq, but outside of that, he was an astute guy."
I guess the only problem with that stance is that the Iraq fiasco is a pretty major fucking deal to be wrong about. After all, that was the biggest issue of our era. And Hitchens was totally wrong about it. Bush couldn't have asked for a better propagandist.
Incidentally, most of your justifications for Hitchens, "he was nobody's bitch"..."He was a toady to no one"..."Without regard for what anybody else was thinking," would also perfectly sum up one stubborn SOB named George W. Bush, as well.
(Yeah, I know: people are saying, "The guy just died, cut him some slack." But all I can think about are the many thousands of Iraqis dead in a senseless war Hitchens passionately supported.
I wonder if this "intellectual" even was aware that Islamic fundamentalism is now vastly stronger in Iraq than it ever was under the secular Saddam regime.

Manifesto Joe said...

I was rather mystified at some of what happened with Hitchens after 9/11, but when you're sizing up the sum of a person's life -- I'm not sure many of us can withstand that much scrutiny.

The Iraq war was indeed a biggie, and Hitch blew most of his credibility with me when I read about his positions on that.

But, to mention perhaps a parallel -- Jack Kerouac was a booze-soaked hawk who actually supported the Vietnam War and railed against the hippies in his last novel. Does that mean that "On the Road" should be dismissed as rubbish without a reading?

George Johnston said...

Actually, I had "On the Road" on my to-do reading list. But having now learned that Kerouac was someone who "supported the Vietnam War and railed against the hippies," I doubt I'll bother to read his works now.
I'm surprised to learn that Kerouac was basically like Archie Bunker. (Maybe a hipper version of Archie Bunker, but Archie Bunker nonetheless).
I realize we all have our flaws. But there are certain flaws a person can have that can be so significant, that it just makes me less interested in wanting to have anything to do with them. Life's too short and there are too many great works that I haven't had time to read. But perhaps I'm alone in this view.
The people I consider heroes (Nelson Mandela, Che Guevara) had their flaws, too...but nothing so major as to be a problem for me.

Manifesto Joe said...

Just to remark a bit more on Kerouac -- a lot of people, me included, have been ambivalent about him, and he seemed to have a troubling duality. The 1952 edition of Jack, the guy who was writing most of "On the Road" about that time and was the prototype hipster, was one guy. The bloated, sodden, red-faced, redneck who went on William F. Buckley's TV show in '68 and talked a bunch of right-wing horseshit seemed like a different man entirely. But, sadly, they were both the same guy.

I guess I would say the same about the C. Hitchens who faced down a toadlike Robert Novak on "Crossfire" back in the '80s. That seemed like a different guy than the one who said in 2004 that he was probably going to vote for Bush. But, sadly, they were both the same guy. I acknowledge that I preferred the old one.

SJ said...

@Manifesto Joe, George Johnston,
I hear you both on Hitchen's Iraq War stance, it's more than a mistake in judgment, as none of his positions were casual. But I'll say this, unlike the promoters of that war that is now suddenly, -baffingly, somehow just ended, at least the man put his money where his mouth was on the issues and the long list of policies that violated our Constitution and Geneva -like Water boarding. He underwent the process himself in order to form a opinion (--rather unnecessary and theatrical but it's farther than I was ever willing to go in arguing with Bush supporters in proving my point.)
As for his role in supporting the war itself, it will in time overshadow much of his eloquent and fiery humanist arguments on behalf of the sane and sober among us.