R.I.P. Christopher Hitchens
Christopher Hitchens is dead.
He was sick with a dreadful disease, so I suppose this should not be shocking. And yet, it is — so alive was his mind as it came through in his writing, it is hard to imagine him gone. It is not like me to become emotional over the death of someone I did not know personally. But tonight, quite uncharacteristically, a part of me wants to cry.
Hitch was a man very much after my own heart. Argumentative and contrarian, he did not merely criticize religion; he despised mythology and idol-worship in all its forms, which is why he was one of very few people with the balls to rip into the cults of Princess Diana and Mother Theresa. He didn’t mince words and he suffered no fools. When he was wrong about something, he acknowledged it simply and unreservedly, without launching into the kind of hypocritical damage control and rationalization that most people resort to when caught with their pants down. He wrote elegantly. I certainly did not agree with him on everything, but I admired him for his brilliance, intellectual honesty, consistency and style.
Essayists like Hitchens are rare indeed. He will be missed.
EDITED TO ADD: Tributes to Hitchens have been mixed, with many criticizing his support for the war in Iraq, his comment about women not being funny, his alcoholism and his difficult personality. As a man who liked nothing so much as attacking sacred cows, I am sure Hitch would not want it any other way.