Christopher Hitchens: A life in quotes

Scourge of US presidents and religion, defender of Iraq war and Palestinian cause, Hitchens never ducked an argument.

Christopher Hitchens
Hitchens was born in the UK but made his name across the Atlantic as a caustic and controversial writer [Reuters]

Christopher Hitchens, the British author and journalist who has died at at the age of 62 , was famous for his controversial polemic writings, his sharp wit and blunt honesty.

Hitchens could write, talk and debate at length and ferociously on a wide range of subjects and was a regular contributor to publications such as the New Statesman, Vanity Fair, the Atlantic, Slate, World Affairs, and The Nation.

“Terrorism is the tactic of demanding the impossible, and demanding it at gunpoint.”

– Christopher Hitchens

He was the author of 17 books, including “The Trial of Henry Kissinger”, “God is not Great”, and a memoir, “Hitch-22”. His final publication of a collection of his essays, “Arguably”, was released this year.

Here are some of his most memorable quotes from a literary and journalistic career spanning more than four decades:

“[Britain is] “Weimar without the sex.” – Hitchens verdict on why he left the UK for America during the end of the 1970s.

“[Mother Teresa] 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.” – Hitchens once remarked that his enemies include Bill Clinton, Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II.

“[Heaven is a] place of endless praise and adoration, limitless abnegation and abjection of self; a celestial North Korea.” – When asked what his views on heaven were.

“Reagan is doing to the country what he can no longer do to his wife.” – Hitchens was a vocal critic of the Reagan presidency.

I am an anti-Zionist. I’m one of those people of Jewish descent who believes that Zionism would be a mistake even if there were no Palestinians.” – Hitchens was constant in his condemnation of the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine.

I apply the Abraham Lincoln test for moral casuistry: “If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong.” Well, then, if waterboarding does not constitute torture, then there is no such thing as torture.” – Hitchens volunteered to be waterboarded to show how it could be used as a means of torture.

“[George W. Bush] 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.”  –Hitchens’ view of Bush in 1999, a year before he became US President. In 2003 Hitchens was a staunch supporter of the US-led invasion of Iraq.

“Terrorism is the tactic of demanding the impossible, and demanding it at gunpoint.” – Hitchens said his support for the so-called “war on terror” in 2001 was premised not on conservative principles but on liberal ones.

“Religion is man-made. Even the men who made it cannot agree on what their prophets or redeemers or gurus actually said or did.”Hitchens was a dogmatic atheist, writing the bestseller, “God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything”.

“My so-far uncancerous throat . . . is not at all the only organ with which I have blasphemed.” – To someone who insisted that God had given him throat cancer in order to punish the “one part of his body he used for blasphemy”.

“Suppose there were groups of secularists at hospitals who went round the terminally ill and urged them to adopt atheism: ‘Don’t be a mug all your life. Make your last days the best ones. People might suppose this was in poor taste.” A parting shot against those who suggested that he should embrace religion before he died.

Source: Al Jazeera