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Friday, July 20, 2012

RE: [mukto-mona] Who was not afraid of Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011)?


  I met Christopher at a Graduate Center, CUNY, event in 1990 at the height of the Rushdie Affair fiasco. He had listened to me intently while I was defending Salman Rushdie's novel, Satanic Verses as a Muslim.  His article defending Rushdie was published shortly afterwards. I quoted Hitchens  later on in my article on Rushdie (published in  Law and Literature Perspectives, ed. Bruce Rockwood).

           He was a personable guy, enormously intelligent and always a delight to read no matter how controversial the content. It is true that he could be combative and arrogant, and many of his friends never forgave him for supporting the U. S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. Tariq Ali was so furious that he remarked (in his book The Clash of Fundamentalisms) that there had been one casualty that the 9/11 memorial forgot to mention in the roll call -- and that was Christopher Hitchens.

               Tariq Ali can now join thousands of Christopher's fans to bid farewell to the real end of a talented author. I will miss the sparkling brilliance of his words -- the weapons that he stockpiled. Let Christopher remain amongst us as a model of eloquence when we feel embattled and want to strike our opponent with sharp words.   

                Farida Majid

[An article in Truthout did a good job of explaining why Christopher did a turnabout and then turned to writing anti-God stuff as a cover]

Author, pundit Christopher Hitchens dies at 62

Shannon Stapleton / Reuters file

Author Christopher Hitchens outside his hotel in New York in June, 2010.

By Hillel Italie, Associated Press National Writer

Christopher Hitchens, the author, essayist and polemicist who waged verbal and occasional physical battle on behalf of causes on the left and right and wrote the provocative best-seller "God is Not Great," died Thursday night after a long battle with cancer. He was 62.
Hitchens' death was announced in a statement from Conde Nast, publisher of Vanity Fair magazine. The statement says he died Thursday night at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston of pneumonia, a complication of his esophageal cancer.
"There will never be another like Christopher. A man of ferocious intellect, who was as vibrant on the page as he was at the bar," said Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter. "Those who read him felt they knew him, and those who knew him were profoundly fortunate souls."
A most-engaged, prolific and public intellectual who enjoyed his drink (enough to "to kill or stun the average mule") and cigarettes, he announced in June 2010 that he was being treated for cancer of the esophagus and canceled a tour for his memoir, "Hitch-22."
Hitchens, a frequent television commentator and a contributor to Vanity Fair, Slate and other publications, had become a popular author in 2007 thanks to "God is Not Great," a manifesto for atheists that defied a recent trend of religious works. Cancer humbled, but did not mellow him. Even after his diagnosis, his columns appeared weekly, savaging the British royal family or reveling in the death of Osama bin Laden.
"I love the imagery of struggle," he wrote about his illness in an August 2010 essay in Vanity Fair. "I sometimes wish I were suffering in a good cause, or risking my life for the good of others, instead of just being a gravely endangered patient."
Eloquent and intemperate, bawdy and urbane, he was an acknowledged contrarian and contradiction -- half-Christian, half-Jewish and fully non-believing; a native of England who settled in America; a former Trotskyite who backed the Iraq war and supported George W. Bush. But his passions remained constant and enemies of his youth, from Henry Kissinger to Mother Teresa, remained hated.
Vanity Fair's Christopher Hitchens discusses the sex abuse scandal at the Vatican.


He was a militant humanist who believed in pluralism and racial justice and freedom of speech, big cities and fine art and the willingness to stand the consequences. He was smacked in the rear by then-British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and beaten up in Beirut. He once submitted to waterboarding to prove that it was indeed torture.

Hitchens was an old-fashioned sensualist who abstained from clean living as if it were just another kind of church. In 2005, he would recall a trip to Aspen, Colo., and a brief encounter after stepping off a ski lift.

Date: Thu, 19 Jul 2012 13:34:34 -0700
Subject: [mukto-mona] Who was not afraid of Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011)?


"Human decency is not derived from religion. It precedes it." C. Hitchens

Well, worry no more! Mr. Hitchens passed away last year by losing his
final battle with a deadly nemesis, the cancer. Whether you hate him
or love him, he was one of the great literary personalities that one
could hardly ignore in the last two decades. It was delightful to
watch and listen to this sharp witted man debating and pulverizing his
opponents with very precise and lethal arguments.  He was the man to
debate and test whether you could knock him down with your counter
punches.  As an impartial observer, I must say that very few could
survive his punches. He rarely lost any debate as far as I can
recall.  As a former Trotskyite and Oxford educated man, he ended up
changing his positions many times over making his friends and foes
very puzzled with his contradictory stances.  He was unique in the
sense that he never tried to please anybody and spoke forthrightly
whatever he felt right about the issue without any fear. Right or
wrong, you would wish he would be arguing for your side than taking
sides with your opponents. That was his charm! He will be dearly
missed as a strong and independent voice of our time!
"All great truths begin as blasphemies." GBS


Mukto Mona plans for a Grand Darwin Day Celebration: 
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"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it".
               -Beatrice Hall [pseudonym: S.G. Tallentyre], 190

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