God is NOT Great: Remembering Christopher Hitchens

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I’m not entirely sure where I first came across the now late Christopher Hitchens. Probably around the time I was in university. But he has been a figure in my mind for a very long time right up there with George Orwell, Mikhail Bakunin, and Subcomandante Marcos among others. Not that these figures have any real connection to each other, except that they’ve all helped shape my thinking, all helped me define the space I want to hold in this world.

Love him or hate him – as many do – Hitchens was a magnificent writer, a scathing critic, and apparently someone who liked to pick a fight. He was a drunk, an unabashed smoker of cigarettes, and someone who didn’t have a whole lot of time for those he saw as fools and charlatans. Those are all things that made him the great contrarian that he was. Those are all things I admired him for.

There will be plenty written about Hitchens in the days and weeks to come. I can't compete, so I offer only my own recognition of his death. No prayers – he would hate that – simply remembrance.


And so in honour of the great man, 13 memorable quotes:

1. “It [Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize] would be like giving someone an Oscar in the hope that it would encourage them to make a decent motion picture.”

2. “Hatred, though it provides often rather junky energy, is a terrific way of getting you out of bed in the morning and keeping you going. If you don’t let it get out of hand, it can be canalized into writing.”

3. “A good liar must have a good memory. Kissinger is a stupendous liar with a remarkable memory.”

4. “Cheap booze is a false economy.”

5. About Sarah Palin: “She’s got no charisma of any kind, [but] I can imagine her being mildly useful to a low-rank porn director.”

6. “If you gave [Jerry] Falwell an enema he could be buried in a matchbox.”

7. “The governor of Texas, who, when asked if the Bible should also be taught in Spanish, replied that ‘if English was good enough for Jesus, then it’s good enough for me’.”

8. About Mother Teresa: “She was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction.”

9. “Everybody does have a book in them, but in most cases that’s where it should stay.”

10. “[O]wners of dogs will have noticed that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they will think you are god. Whereas owners of cats are compelled to realize that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they draw the conclusion that they are gods.”

11. About George W. Bush: “He is lucky to be governor of Texas. He is unusually incurious, abnormally unintelligent, amazingly inarticulate, fantastically uncultured, extraordinarily uneducated, and apparently quite proud of all these things.”

12. About Michael Moore: “Europeans think Americans are fat, vulgar, greedy, stupid, ambitious and ignorant and so on. And they’ve taken as their own, as their representative American, someone who actually embodies all of those qualities.” — his description of American filmmaker Michael Moore.

13. “The four most overrated things in life are champagne, lobster, anal sex and picnics.”

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