Christopher Hitchens Dies, Age 62

I find it amusing to see all the people lamenting his death here considering he appears to have made a living attacking mainly those who have just died after there deaths (and after they were unable to rebut him I might add)
 
The Hitchens Cult Denigrates His Legacy

Asguard said:

I find it amusing to see all the people lamenting his death here considering he appears to have made a living attacking mainly those who have just died after there deaths (and after they were unable to rebut him I might add)

Well, that's the thing. For instance, I don't loathe Hitchens. Indeed, for an asshole, he was pretty much my kind of asshole, save for a few things like his insatiable lust for Muslim blood and perverse need to find any reason to hate someone.

Glenn Greenwald used the occasion of Hitchens' passing to reflect on "the protocol for public figure deaths", considering the widespread worship of Ronald Reagan in 2004 as a comparison to Hitchens' passing:

All of this was triggered for me by the death this week of Christopher Hitchens and the remarkably undiluted, intense praise lavished on him by media discussions. Part of this is explained by the fact that Hitchens — like other long-time media figures, such as Tim Russert — had personal interactions with huge numbers of media figures who are shaping how he is remembered in death. That’s understandable: it’s difficult for any human being to ignore personal feelings, and it’s even more difficult in the face of the tragic death of a vibrant person at a much younger age than is normal.

But for the public at large, at least those who knew of him, Hitchens was an extremely controversial, polarizing figure. And particularly over the last decade, he expressed views — not ancillary to his writings but central to them — that were nothing short of repellent.

Corey Robin wrote that “on the announcement of his death, I think it’s fair to allow Christopher Hitchens to do the things he loved to do most: speak for himself,” 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 (“those steel pellets will go straight through somebody and out the other side and through somebody else. So they won’t be able to say, ‘Ah, I was bearing a Koran over my heart and guess what, the missile stopped halfway through.’ No way, ’cause it’ll go straight through that as well. They’ll be dead, in other words”), 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 realized that if the battle went on until the last day of my life, I would never get bored in prosecuting it to the utmost.”

Hitchens, of course, never “prosecuted” the “exhilarating” war by actually fighting in it, but confined his “prosecution” to cheering for it and persuading others to support it.

And, of course, he quoted Orwell, of whom Hitchens thought highly, to drive the point home: "... no true patriot ever gets near a front-line trench, except on the briefest of propaganda-tours .... Perhaps when the next great war comes we may see that sight unprecedented in all history, a jingo with a bullet-hole in him."

As you might expect, Greenwald received plenty of flak from Hitchens' devotees, to which he responded, reasonably enough, I think:

The day after Jerry Falwell died, Hitchens went on CNN and scorned what he called “the empty life of this ugly little charlatan,” saying: ”I think it’s a pity there isn’t a hell for him to go to.” As I said, those demanding that Hitchens not be criticized in death are invoking a warped etiquette standard on his behalf that is not only irrational, but is one he himself vigorously rejected.

So when I see folks around here blubbering because not everybody is willing to worship their Golden Calf, it only reminds me that whatever good people think Hitchens actually accomplished is largely forfeit by those who most loudly proclaim it.

To the other, I don't disagree with Bells about the notion of scorning one upon their passing. The thing is, though, that pissing on a person's grave, while we tend to think of it as a ludicrous insult, might also be a proper act of reverence. It depends, as such, on whether the departed was the sort of person who took joy in pissing on other people's graves.

Hitchens, for his part, seemed perfectly happy to squirt his foulness all over certain dead. I can't think of any better way to honor him than by pointing out that he was, ultimately, an asshole. People can be well-meaning assholes, and I'll certainly accept that claim on Hitchens' behalf. But in the end, I'm not worried that someone will take this occasion as an excuse to speak poorly of me upon my passing. As it is, I already expect it. People ought to sing, "Ding, dong, the dick is dead," if they already think I'm a dick, and most of those people would much rather I was dead already. So if they want to piss on my grave, who am I to complain? At least it makes them feel better. And it's not like I'm going to be in any condition to feel offended.
____________________

Notes:

Greenwald, Glenn. "Christopher Hitchens and the protocol for public figure deaths". Salon. December 17, 2011. Salon.com. December 17, 2011. http://www.salon.com/2011/12/17/chr..._protocol_for_public_figure_deaths/singleton/
 
Why are you transposing this into a popularity issue about dead people anyway? "Blubbering because not everybody is willing to worship their Golden Calf"? Come on.

Asguard said:
I find it amusing to see all the people lamenting his death here considering he appears to have made a living attacking mainly those who have just died after there deaths (and after they were unable to rebut him I might add)

Besides the double death affirmation, he made his living mainly by attacking dead people? Really?

There's a pretty marked difference between a good morbid gloat and just being wrong about the public record of the expired.

Edit: Fortunately, Glenn Greenwald was free of personal bias in his consideration of the man he never felt the need to consider:

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.

'Inadequate' and 'neoconservative' to boot, apparently. He must have known him quite well, this man whom he never knew. Or does Greenwald make his living primarily from having a go at the dead, once they were dead? :D Funny.
 
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I find it amusing to see all the people lamenting his death here considering he appears to have made a living attacking mainly those who have just died after there deaths (and after they were unable to rebut him I might add)

Yeah. So?
I'm not saying that people shouldn't criticize him after death. Go right ahead!
 
(Duh ....)

Spidergoat said:

... just that your criticism is shallow and defensive.

Well, like I said, I'm celebrating the Hitchens tradition.

Is it too much to ask that the Hitch cult actually pay attention?
 
Well, like I said, I'm celebrating the Hitchens tradition.

Is it too much to ask that the Hitch cult actually pay attention?

"Cult"? I can only presume you mean me and SG, abstraction notwithstanding. Criticisms so cheerfully noted; also, cheerfully disagreed with. Did you pay attention to that?
 
Well, like I said, I'm celebrating the Hitchens tradition.

Is it too much to ask that the Hitch cult actually pay attention?

By calling him an asshole? By implying that no one can be in favor of a war unless they are also a soldier? You don't have to respect the dead, just make some sense.
 
This and That

GeoffP said:

"Cult"? I can only presume you mean me and SG, abstraction notwithstanding.

And you would presume wrongly. There are more people in this world, Geoff, than you and Spidergoat, who worship at the altar of St. Christopher with religious zeal. As I said before, but you apparently did not consider worth paying attention to:

This is why his cultish canonization is problematic. In twenty or fifty years, perhaps Hitchens will, in fact, stand out as a luminary of the age. I rather suspect, though, that he will be recalled in the long memory of our human experience, as a popular fad, perhaps merely symptomatic of a troubled age.​

On the other hand, you, like Spidergoat, answer the question quite demonstrably, and with little room for question. Is it too much to ask that the Hitch cult actually pay attention? Well, actually, yes.

• • •​

Spidergoat said:

By calling him an asshole?

Like I said, he's still my kind of asshole. Except for the bigoted bloodlust and pointed hatred.

By implying that no one can be in favor of a war unless they are also a soldier?

Well, you know, most days I would think you intelligent enough to figure it out, but today you've given me reason to doubt that.

Consider that Orwell was very important to Hitchens' outlook. And then consider that Hitchens embodied the kind of jingo that Orwell criticized.

Which, of course, is exactly the sort of reality that tends to slip by cultists caught up in their idolatrous delusions.

You don't have to respect the dead, just make some sense.

I am respecting the dead. Indeed, all you who worship him with such vacuous zeal betray him. Hitchens cultists are, in the end, just like any other religious zealots who trade their brains at the door for membership. The best thing one can say on Hitchens' behalf is that at least he's dead and doesn't have to witness this pathetic affirmation of the human religious instinct.
 
Now who's the asshole? If we respect Hitchens and his arguments, suddenly we are religious zealots who don't think about things? I think you don't like his opinion about Iraq, therefore you don't respect him or anyone that likes him.
 
C'mon guys, don't feed the troll. The evident Glenn Greenwald fandom says it all anyway. Just facepalm and back away slowly.
 
You don't respect Hitchens

Spidergoat said:

Now who's the asshole? If we respect Hitchens and his arguments, suddenly we are religious zealots who don't think about things?

You're acting just like a religious zealot.

There is a difference between respecting Hitchens and his arguments to the one, and treating him like a revered holy man to the other. As long as you keep doing the latter, you're betraying any pretense of respecting him.

I think you don't like his opinion about Iraq, therefore you don't respect him or anyone that likes him.

Actually, my problem is that your idol worship discredits Hitchens even further.

You're only missing a really funny joke because you've made yourself the punch line.
 
I hate to read members bickering, so I'll take quadraphonics' advice and just back away slowly.
 
All hail the Hitchens; Praise him with great scorn!

And you would presume wrongly. There are more people in this world, Geoff, than you and Spidergoat, who worship at the altar of St. Christopher with religious zeal. As I said before, but you apparently did not consider worth paying attention to:

Well, you know.

This is why his cultish canonization is problematic. In twenty or fifty years, perhaps Hitchens will, in fact, stand out as a luminary of the age. I rather suspect, though, that he will be recalled in the long memory of our human experience, as a popular fad, perhaps merely symptomatic of a troubled age.​

On the other hand, you, like Spidergoat, answer the question quite demonstrably, and with little room for question. Is it too much to ask that the Hitch cult actually pay attention? Well, actually, yes.

Oh so we are in the cult. I wondered from the first half. 'Little room for question'? You mean like the part where you said he never really bothered to criticize capitalism, even though he did? Is this the introspective lead I should be taking?

Like I said, he's still my kind of asshole. Except for the bigoted bloodlust and pointed hatred.

Well, you know, most days I would think you intelligent enough to figure it out, but today you've given me reason to doubt that.

I think that false honesty/intelligence see-saw has gone on long enough to make me suspect you're only doing it to try and look up people's shorts. Simmer down.

Consider that Orwell was very important to Hitchens' outlook. And then consider that Hitchens embodied the kind of jingo that Orwell criticized.

Yes: one aspect of Hitchens' body of work. One thing. Well, surely, that must invalidate his moral stance on everything. It's the kind of petty detail that tends to slip by cultists caught up in their idolatrous delusions. Mea culpa, clearly.

I am respecting the dead. Indeed, all you who worship him with such vacuous zeal betray him.

There's that cult thing you said we weren't part of again. (Gawrsh, a body don't know which way ter turn hereabouts.) 'Vacuous zeal'? My writings have so clear made evident some kind of cultish worship of the man, because I like his work, and because I don't consider him a bigoted asshole on the basis of sweet fuck all? The best you could get from this thread is a certain maudlin woe, but that's not quiiite the same thing here.

Hitchens cultists are, in the end, just like any other religious zealots who trade their brains at the door for membership. The best thing one can say on Hitchens' behalf is that at least he's dead and doesn't have to witness this pathetic affirmation of the human religious instinct.

Again: I should infer this from your unchecked commentary?

Greenwald says you can check out any time you like, but you can - nevah leave.
 
If only you could be honest, Geoff

GeoffP said:

You mean like the part where you said he never really bothered to criticize capitalism, even though he did?

Once again, you are caught trying to dishonestly manipulate history. I said he hadn't made certain criticisms. You told me to go read Hitchens. One would think that if there was some specifically applicable point you're thinking of, you would at least make it.

That you haven't is telling.

I think that false honesty/intelligence see-saw has gone on long enough to make me suspect you're only doing it to try and look up people's shorts. Simmer down.

As with so many things, Geoff, if you really had anything valuable to offer—you know, something more than blind, stupid contrarianism—you would have done so by now.

Yes: one aspect of Hitchens' body of work. One thing. Well, surely, that must invalidate his moral stance on everything. It's the kind of petty detail that tends to slip by cultists caught up in their idolatrous delusions. Mea culpa, clearly.

Get with the context, Geoff. That was the aspect under consideration. I mean, really, what are you saying to people when you get offended that someone you disagree with happens to address a point under consideration?

There's that cult thing you said we weren't part of again.

The question arises whether your poor reading comprehension is deliberate or just an unfortunate reality. As I said, Geoff, there are more people in the world than you and Spidergoat who worship at the altar of St. Christopher with religious zeal.

My writings have so clear made evident some kind of cultish worship of the man, because I like his work, and because I don't consider him a bigoted asshole on the basis of sweet fuck all?

No, you demonstrate your zeal with your fanatical dishonesty, Geoff.

Duh.

Again: I should infer this from your unchecked commentary?

Greenwald says you can check out any time you like, but you can - nevah leave.

You're only proving the point of your delirious fanboy approach to Hitchens.

I just think it's hilarious that your feelings are so badly hurt because people won't give Hitchens' humanity greater reverence than he gave other people.

So I guess we're back to Christian morals, eh? You know, turn the other cheek, and say nice things about him in order to ignore everything else? Is that what makes you happy, Geoff? It's possible, we know, for people to be both genius and troubled, but not yo' po' widdle Sain' Chrissofer.

Oh, boo hoo. Someone doesn't think he was the best thing to happen to humanity since the orgasm. Waah.

Pfft. Poor you. Take it back to your temple if you want to wail and lament at the altar of St. Christopher, and spare us your determined and bigoted lack of comprehension.
 
Are you this stupid in real life, or are you only pretending?

Once again, you are caught trying to dishonestly manipulate history. I said he hadn't made certain criticisms.

And he had. Eaaasy there, Paranoia Pirate.

Get with the context, Geoff. That was the aspect under consideration.

That was the aspect you cherry-picked out for consideration. It isn't the full representation of his work. It's a sideline. Why are you holding onto it like a wailing, terrified child, other than it's the one thing you can point at to justify your own hatred for the guy? Sad.

The question arises whether your poor reading comprehension is deliberate or just an unfortunate reality. As I said, Geoff, there are more people in the world than you and Spidergoat who worship at the altar of St. Christopher with religious zeal.

The membership of which you insert SG and myself into, and then pull out of, as if you're trying to practice the rhythm method with an organ you don't quite understand the use of. As I said, we're not fanboys. Could you be more myopic on this issue? Do you understand?

You're only proving the point of your delirious fanboy approach to Hitchens.

That comment was sad and funny at the same time. But don't think you've cornered a new market on theatrical impulse here: I was laughing at you, not with you. :D

I just think it's hilarious that your feelings are so badly hurt because people won't give Hitchens' humanity greater reverence than he gave other people.

Are you actually being serious with this, or is it more of the same old you know? Do you actually believe this crap? Amazing.

Pfft. Poor you. Take it back to your temple if you want to wail and lament at the altar of St. Christopher, and spare us your determined and bigoted lack of comprehension.

It amazes me that someone who lauds his own intelligence as broadly and often as you do could so determinedly dodge every opportunity to display it. Here, let me Tiassize a little: No, really, Tiassa. For serious.

You did earn a complaint on the above, though, so kudos to you again. Never mind th' nettles: git 'er dun, Cletus.

****

Dear quadra and SG: I'm sorry. You were right, and yet I fed the troll anyway.

I hope it doesn't give his widdle tummy twoubles.

Geoff
 
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Hullo, trolling.


of course, mindless fanboy
reverence rather than criticism
He was vile in some things but brilliant in others.


yes
the incredible and thought provoking notion that no man is above the law.
the man was an absolute visionary indeed
We may not have Hitch to kick around any more, but at least we still have the bemusing spectacle of his inferiors tying themselves into rhetorical knots in search of some way to dismiss - rather than address - his output.


a dismissal or validation of output usually occurs after an address. you are obviously implying that if properly addressed, hitchens's pov can never be dismissed coupled with a strange notion that a corporeal death also includes the demise of ideas and letters.
That should make a handy template for dismissing anything critical that anyone has to say about anything, as misguided and tangential.


here is another...
We may not have <controversial figure> to kick around any more, but at least we still have the bemusing spectacle of his inferiors tying themselves into rhetorical knots in search of some way to dismiss - rather than address - his output.


ja, insert any dead philosopher and brush of any criticism by vacuously claiming nothing has been addressed
 
As for caring about him strictly because of who he is: to whom are you referring? I admire his writings because I find them eloquent, poignant, thought-provoking, frank, logical, and because they piss off Sam and Tiassa.

Just making note of the trend amongst religious radicals to latch onto individual words and phrases factually or allegedly uttered by well-respected intellectuals in general, as a form of personality idol worship. I think I misunderstood what Joepistole was specifically referring to in my original reply, but there are indeed plenty of people out there right now looking for some implicit Hitchens endorsement of religion so they can fling their feces at some atheists.

Examples: Christian Science protestants often make the claim that Einstein quietly paid multiple visits to their reading rooms and endorsed their holy texts. Intelligent design advocates like to claim that Darwin renounced evolution on his deathbed. Doubtless there will be many in the religious community who won't be satisfied with the idea of a widely-read author/intellectual like Hitchens dying with a lack of belief in the divine.

To be fair, one often sees the same sort of fallacy when a communist invokes something Lenin or Marx wrote, or an atheist invokes something Dawkins or Hitchens wrote, in such a fashion that one is implicitly expected to accept the argument because of its author. My point is merely that this kind of idolistic thinking is fit for zombies, but not living humans with a heartbeat and fresh brains. As I say, in this case my remark was mainly addressed to anyone who wants to go digging through Hitchens' trash to see if he had any last minute changes of heart on religion- if their faith in some way depends on affirmation from prominent dissidents, then Hitchens should be the least of their concerns.

You know, it was actually my very Catholic parents who pointed me in Hitchen's direction and they too agreed with some of what he had to say, especially about the Catholic leadership. My own mother, who admired Mother Theresa for example, will be the first to state that she was manipulative and had a very public persona that she wanted to portray, but that in private, she was driven to succeed, not for the public as she tried to portray herself, but for her own means. My mother read Hitchen's articles at Slate, one could almost say religiously. While she did not agree with all that he said and like me, found some of it quite repulsive, she could not deny that some of his observations were correct.

In skeptical circles there's actually a tremendous deal of controversy not only over Mother Teresa's personality in private, but over her actual dealings and deeds. To sum it up, besides certain allegations of corruption, the general accusation is that she liked to take sick poor people off the streets, mostly Muslims and other non-Christians, plop them into beds where they'd be confined to shoddy, crowded rooms with exposure to even more diseases than they were being exposed to on the streets, and then leave them to suffer as they died because "suffering brings them closer to Christ". There is said to be an enormous gap between the media-portrayed ideals of her as a helping figure, and the factual track record left behind in her wake.

Hitchens, by all reports, was a prodigious drinker but never a drunk. Apparently he had an amazing capacity for operating quite normally after consuming large amounts of alcohol.

Sounds a lot like Winnie Churchill.
 
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