Christopher Hitchens has lost his voice to esophageal cancer. His health is rapidly deteriorating. It doesn't look good. Though I have only come to know and love Hitchens in the last six years, I consider myself a true fan. Fan is probably not the best word. I suppose I can best describe how I feel about Hitchens with an analogy. Hitchens is to me, what Obama is to a black American; he is validation. As a life-long atheist I have always felt okay in my beliefs but quite alone--a bit of a anomaly. Then I stumbled upon a brilliant, witty, and charismatic man who shares my metaphysical perspective and is also unusually gifted with a passion and ability to to share his vision--our vision--so powerfully and eloquently with humor and truth and mass appeal. He brought atheism to the forefront. He made it reasonable, respectable, and ripe for discussion. He took it out of the closet and forced others to take notice to this undervalued and stigmatized position. Hitchens didn't tell me what to think. He showed me it was right and good to think what I already thought. This was validation. This was/is community. I will miss Hitchens, as will so many others. Best pal Martin Amis has written a piece for The Observer, a tribute of sorts to the quotable Hitch.
A few of my favorite Christopher Hitchens quotes are: (from the upcoming book The Quotable Hitchens edited by Windsor Mann) "Ronald Reagan is doing to the country what he can no longer do to his wife." On the Chaucerian summoner-pardoner Jerry Falwell: "If you gave Falwell an enema, he'd be buried in a matchbox." And, "One reason to be a decided antiracist is the plain fact that 'race' is a construct with no scientific validity. DNA can tell you who you are, but not what you are." As well as, "A melancholy lesson of advancing years is the realisation that you can't make old friends." But these last two speak volumes: "What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence" and "A Holocaust denier is a Holocaust affirmer." Pure genius!
Hitchens may leave the party too soon. But his legacy will live on.
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