Four tributes to Hitch

December 17, 2011 • 5:43 am
First, a lovely eulogy from Richard Dawkins in the Independent, “Illness made Hitchens a symbol of the honesty and dignity of atheism.”  (Much of this was in Richard’s tribute to Hitchens when giving him the Richard Dawkins Award in Texas this October.)

He inspired, energised and encouraged us. He had us cheering him on almost daily. He even begat a new word – the hitchslap. It wasn’t just his intellect we admired: it was also his pugnacity, his spirit, his refusal to countenance ignoble compromise, his forthrightness, his indomitable spirit, his brutal honesty.

And in the very way he looked his illness in the eye, he embodied one part of the case against religion. Leave it to the religious to mewl and whimper at the feet of an imaginary deity in their fear of death; leave it to them to spend their lives in denial of its reality. Hitch looked it squarely in the eye: not denying it, not giving in to it, but facing up to it squarely and honestly and with a courage that inspires us all.

Before his illness, it was as an erudite author, essayist and sparkling, devastating speaker that this valiant horseman led the charge against the follies and lies of religion. During his illness he added another weapon to his armoury and ours – perhaps the most formidable and powerful weapon of all: his very character became an outstanding and unmistakable symbol of the honesty and dignity of atheism, as well as of the worth and dignity of the human being when not debased by the infantile babblings of religion.

Every day of his declining life he demonstrated the falsehood of that most squalid of Christian lies: that there are no atheists in foxholes. Hitch was in a foxhole, and he dealt with it with a courage, an honesty and a dignity that any of us would be, and should be, proud to be able to muster. And in the process, he showed himself to be even more deserving of our admiration, respect, and love.

Farewell, great voice. Great voice of reason, of humanity, of humour. Great voice against cant, against hypocrisy, against obscurantism and pretension, against all tyrants including God.

A Martin Rowson cartoon from today’s Guardian:
A short video tribute put together yesterday, highlighting his opposition to religion and his attitudes toward life.
And the only picture I could find of Hitch in cowboy boots, from a slide show at The Washington Post.  (Susan Jacoby has a tribute there, too.)  Boots, of course, should not be worn over the pants for males.
h/t: Matthew Cobb, Grania Spingies, Diane G.

14 thoughts on “Four tributes to Hitch

  1. As sad as this whole thing makes me, I can watch a video compilation, like the one above, and feel wonderful. The man made a deep mark on the world, a mark that won’t easily be buffed out by theists.

    1. Agreed! I’ve been feeling quite a loss now that he’s gone, but watching this video gives me renewed hoped. He started what we all have to finish.

    1. Yes, there was much that was admirable about Christopher Hitchens and much that was not; I was appalled by the sheer vanity of his refusal to admit that he was terribly wrong in supporting Bush and Blair in making war on Iraq – a refusal that his certainly well-written piece on the young soldier who died in Iraq after signing up under the Hitchens influence did little to qualify. Andrew Sullivan has done better (I pointed out to him once when he talked of those who were against the war being ‘appeasers’ of Saddam Hussein that, no, it was not about appeasement, but about how best to deal with a difficult and complicated situation, and that who those were against the war were far from being all members of the ‘lunatic left’, but most of them were people who – unlike Blair and Bush – had a sense of what reality is, and of its recalitrance). Glenn Greenwald is absolutely right in saying what he says about what one might call the sanctification of Christopher Hitchens, something that I think the man himself would not have wanted.

  2. Boots, of course, should not be worn over the pants for males.

    That sounds so Texan. “That’s the way we do it here, for no good reason whatsoever, so people everywhere ought to do it the same way.”

        1. Sorry, but if you’re making a statement about what people think about how boots should be worn, you’re dead wrong. Just go to the western U.S. where people actually wear them every day.

  3. I think that there are times when pants should be tucked into boots, when the poop is calf-high for example. And since Hitch has waded through some shit in his day, it probably became a habit.

  4. I’ve been following this the last four days or so, like many of us, but the best obituary I’ve seen is

    don’t know how to send a link to Dr. Coyne, but I think he’d like to see it, and can find it.

    Try to ignore the picture of Hitch with the excreble Tony Blair that tops the article.

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