The great author and polemicist Christopher Hitchens bowed out too soon in 2011 after succumbing to oesophageal cancer. There’s always the temptation to write ‘after losing a long battle with cancer’, but as Hitch himself said:
‘You’ve heard it all right. People don’t have cancer: they are reported to be battling cancer. No well-wisher omits the combative image: You can beat this. It’s even in obituaries for cancer losers, as if one might reasonably say of someone that they died after a long and brave struggle with mortality. You don’t hear it about long-term sufferers from heart disease or kidney failure’
Hitchens felt it was more accurate to describe the experience as one of being battled by cancer, rather than the other way around:
‘Allow me to inform you, though, that when you sit in a room with a set of other finalists, and kindly people bring a huge transparent bag of poison and plug it into your arm, and you either read or don’t read a book while the venom sack gradually empties itself into your system, the image of the ardent soldier or revolutionary is the very last one that will occur to you. You feel swamped with passivity and impotence: dissolving in powerlessness like a sugar lump in water’
I often see people attributing the following statement to the late Christopher Hitchens on the topic of Iran:
“As for that benighted country, I wouldn’t shed a tear if it was wiped off the face of this earth.”
This occurs across social media, in comment threads and in news articles.
Now, It would be untrue to claim that Christopher Hitchens never engaged in hawkish rhetoric from time to time, but given that Hitchens had also visited Iran, spoke fondly of it and voiced his solidarity with the Iranian people – I remained unconvinced with the authenticity of this particular quote.
Every attempt to identify a primary source led me back to a book called ‘Unhitched’ by Richard Seymour. This book is what one typically refers to as a ‘Hatchet Job’. Here is the quote as it appears in Seymour’s book (p92):
I’m not even sure what you’d call PZ Myers’s sordid little grief hole over at Freethought Blogs. I just know that it’s utterly dreadful. If you can stomach his callow sneering long enough – and hate yourself sufficiently – spend 5 minutes in the comments section featuring his loyal gaggle of trolls. It will take your face off.
PZ Myers has a habit of publicly disagreeing with the more successful figures in the ‘atheist movement’, which would be fine normally. Disagreement is healthy. It’s just that when PZ ‘disagrees’, he tends to reach for the worst possible smears available to make his point. This behaviour has been going on for years, but has recently been distilled in its most toxic form thanks to his interactions with Michael Nugent of Atheist Ireland. I urge you read about that here.
Are you a fan of Hitch? Of course you are. The below documentary was brought to my attention last week, and it’s wonderful. Kristoffer Hellesmark has managed to put together a lengthy film chronicling the life of the great late polemecist. It’s a superb blend of archive footage, Hitch voiceover from his autobiography audio book and Kristoffer’s own impressive visual style. Highly recommended. A thoroughly decent way to spend a Sunday in my opinion. Please share your thoughts in the comments section. Enjoy.
I was looking for a documentary about The Hitch to watch but
I could never find one. I waited and waited. Finally I figured:
“Why don’t I just make one?”. That was the inspiration for this project.
I did not make it to gain financially as I do not own most of the
I simply wanted to in my own small way, further the legacy of Christopher Hitchens.
Thanks for watching.
‘The Hitch’- Christopher Hitchens documentary from Kristoffer Hellesmark on Vimeo.