This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

← Christopher Hitchens: 'You have to choose your future regrets'

Christopher Hitchens: 'You have to choose your future regrets' - Comments

HughCaldwell's Avatar Comment 1 by HughCaldwell

Well spoken, Christopher. The ability to speak extempore as well, in its way, as he writes, is one of his great talents.

Sun, 14 Nov 2010 16:30:25 UTC | #547302

beanson's Avatar Comment 2 by beanson

wow!- Hitchens vs Blair, that I got to see! He'll destroy the supercillious, pontificating minimus

Sun, 14 Nov 2010 16:36:50 UTC | #547305

HughCaldwell's Avatar Comment 3 by HughCaldwell

This is a very perceptive comment by Richard Dawkins on Hitchens.

Hitchens (has the) ability to temper his pugnacity with old-fashioned courtesy. ...If you are a religious apologist invited to debate with Christopher Hitchens, decline. His witty repartee, his ready-access store of historical quotations, his bookish eloquence, his effortless flow of well-formed words, beautifully spoken in that formidable Richard Burton voice (the whole performance not dulled by other equally formidable Richard Burton habits), would threaten your arguments even if you had good ones to deploy.

http://richarddawkins.net/articles/1609

Sun, 14 Nov 2010 16:36:56 UTC | #547306

BanJoIvie's Avatar Comment 4 by BanJoIvie

Here's to Christopher Hitchens, a near peerlessly brilliant and eloquent man with the most profound courage of his convictions. (Sipping beverage.)

It always gives me some pain to be reminded, as in this article, of his vehement support for - and indeed his role in facilitating - the Iraqi invasion. My internal cheerleader goes wild for his arguments when he is deploying them for 'my side' of any issue, but I confess that such joy is tempered when I reflect that those same skills were and are deployed in service of a conclusion I find repugnant.

I have read his arguments over and over. While agreeing on many a detail; I simply can't fathom how he arrives at and defends his overall stance.

And yet. Hitchens is better informed and more keenly insightful on such matters than I shall ever live to be, and he is convinced by the reasoning he puts forth. Therefore, I must wonder if it really is me who is missing the forrest for the trees. For now, I hold to my conclusion that Hitch is just wrong on this one, but find that statement bizarre even as I type it.

It's uncomfortable disagreeing with Christopher Hitchens. Rather like suspecting that an enemy has aquired an 'ultimate weapon' which you can't match. One feels as thought the very ground beneath one's feet may be of questionable stability.

I don't envy those luckless theists - and apologists for their camp - who try to do it an a full time basis.

Sun, 14 Nov 2010 17:20:26 UTC | #547327

RichardofYork's Avatar Comment 5 by RichardofYork

No matter what takes This Giant of literacy and language , the hole left behind will take some filling for me. Who else do I rush to read when ever a link or news article arises?. If Hitch gets another 20 years somehow wont make a bit of difference we all have to go .

Sun, 14 Nov 2010 17:55:09 UTC | #547342

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 6 by Stafford Gordon

First class.

I was surprised and pleased to learn that Tony Blair has agreed to debate with Christopher Hitchens, because initially I thought the former Prime Minister would come out of it badly. But on reflection a kernal of suspicion has begun to form.

If the debate is solely about secularism v religion, fine, Hitchens will prevail; I'm sure Mr Blair knows that's the risk he's running and that it could result in his humiliation.

But, what ever ones opinion of Blair, he is a consumate politician, and I surmise that he will attempt to use the opportunity to garner support for his decision to back the invasion of Iraq; I'm sure he also knows that Hitchens agreed with it and does so still.

Both men could end up head to head on two fronts, intriguingly, agreeing on one of them.

can't wait.

Sun, 14 Nov 2010 18:41:11 UTC | #547370

frax71's Avatar Comment 7 by frax71

Well said BanJolvie, Hitchens is a conundrum is'nt he. I have long been an opponent of imperialist intervention, but when one is faced with the eloquence of Hitchens arguments I am forced to question whether I might have been wrong and was just not aware that I was. But when we see the tragic consequences of the invasion of Iraq I am convinced that on this occasion, at least, he was wrong. Not that I am expecting him to acknowledge that, and strangely would be disappointed if he were to do so !

Sun, 14 Nov 2010 19:01:05 UTC | #547389

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 8 by Stafford Gordon

Comment 4: BanJolvie.

Try to acquire a copy of "Unholy Babylon" by Adel Darwish and Gregory Alexander; published by Gollancz.

Sun, 14 Nov 2010 19:06:37 UTC | #547392

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 9 by Stafford Gordon

I've repeatedly attempted to edit my comment six, after realizing that the last line makes no sense, but I am informed that I'm not "authorized to enter this page".

So, apologies to everyone who cares about logic; I suppose that's evryone on this site.

Stafford.

Sun, 14 Nov 2010 19:19:50 UTC | #547403

jameshogg's Avatar Comment 10 by jameshogg

... going to war, and getting no benefit whatsoever.

That's one regret I fear.

Sun, 14 Nov 2010 20:42:59 UTC | #547439

Ali Duncan's Avatar Comment 11 by Ali Duncan

Loss is my biggest regret.

Lots of people I have known are dead already, many to cancer. I admire Christopher Hitchens in his courage no more than one Don Martin, ex southern railwayman, who had the same disease, and approached it with a cynical stoicism I could never match.

My cat died. She had a fit at four in the morning, hyperglcaemic after years of insulin, and I put her down at mid day. I wish there was euthanasia for folk, because I swore the cat would not go natures way on dying. Too cruel for a friend. The same for Mr Hitchens.

It's very sad.

Sun, 14 Nov 2010 22:26:57 UTC | #547484

Burroughs's Avatar Comment 12 by Burroughs

It pains me to see Hitchens in this condition. Recently I finished Why Orwell matters for the second time and while it may be far from his best work I enjoyed it tremendously, his witty eloquence, his love for anecdotes, and lying in bed with the book on my chest the thought of his cancer saddened me deeply.

I love Hitchens yet I share BanJolvie's and Frax71's feelings when it comes to Hitchen's support of the Iraq war. To read his current thoughts, that all the deaths and blood was worth it troubles me. Finkelstein wrote a brilliant yet harsh article dissecting Hitchen's essays in "The Long Short War" and highlighting his many contradictions (Finkelstein attributed these also to sheer shock value so people would say "have you read his column this week?"). Excerpt from Finkelstein's article: "On one page he states that the U.S. seems committed to completely overhauling Iraq's political system, but on another page he states that replacing Saddam with "another friendly general…might be ideal from Washington's point of view." On one page he states that "Of course it's about oil, stupid" (emphasis in original), but on another page he states that "it was not for the sake of oil" that the U.S. went to war. ...that those questioning billions of dollars in postwar contracts going to Bush administration cronies must prefer them going to "some windmill-power concern run by Naomi Klein" - is this dry or desiccated wit?"

Still Hitchen's stance on the war in no way diminishes his work against the theofascists on this planet and I'll always savour his debates! Dawkins is right when he advises religious apologists to decline any debate with a master like Hitchens. And I will never forget Hitchen's commitment when it comes to show face against the religious bullies! Like when he showed up at the Danish Embassy in Washington DC (look his speech up on Youtube).

I hope Hitchens gets well again and goes on to debate for another 20 years! I do fear otherwise but maybe the writer is right with his pity he expresses for the tumour.

@Ali Duncan Sorry to hear your cat died (I lost my cat a couple years ago but own another one now) and that you seem so down right now. Fortunately where I live there is legal possibility of assisted suicide when one is terminally ill and I always carry my member card with me. But even without there is always an option to find a sympathetic doctor, they are out there.

"You may as well know you're a primate, but take heart, primates are capable of great things." Love it!

Sun, 14 Nov 2010 23:36:30 UTC | #547517

Alternative Carpark's Avatar Comment 13 by Alternative Carpark

Oh My...

Hitchens vs Blair.

Mon, 15 Nov 2010 00:53:35 UTC | #547556

Cook@Tahiti's Avatar Comment 14 by Cook@Tahiti

On Charlie Rose recently, Hitchens said Blair was the politician he most admired.

Mon, 15 Nov 2010 01:31:28 UTC | #547576

xmaseveeve's Avatar Comment 15 by xmaseveeve

11 - sorry about your cat. My Diva died last Christmas, with her seven beautiful Bengal kittens she was in labour with. She was a feline genius. I sympathise.

Margo MacDonald's assisted suicide bill is now before the Scottish Parliament, with heartless, meddling, patronising opposition from farts dressed in dog collars. 'Love thy neighbour,' they repeat. Yeah, constructive torture. The head of the BMA 'Ethics' ha ha Committee was the worst, clinging to doctors' don't ask, don't tell godlike power. I hope I've got an athiest doctor when I snuff it.

Did some people even read this article? About Iraq - Hitch said he didn't like the way the invasion was done. You don't have to agree with his opinion to see what he means. No one wants to believe it, but I'm only terrified that he may be right.

Goodnight.

Mon, 15 Nov 2010 01:34:30 UTC | #547577

Rob Schneider's Avatar Comment 16 by Rob Schneider

Google the "Munk Debates" to see how you can watch the Hitchens/Blair debate live, Nov. 26.

Mon, 15 Nov 2010 02:08:09 UTC | #547594

Agrajag's Avatar Comment 17 by Agrajag

Comment 12 by Burroughs

@Ali Duncan

Sorry to hear your cat died (I lost my cat a couple years ago but own another one now...)

As a long-time associate of several, I'm not sure anyone ever owns a cat.

Steve

Mon, 15 Nov 2010 03:44:44 UTC | #547625

Burroughs's Avatar Comment 18 by Burroughs

Steve

The cat owns me. Would that be pc enough?

Don't hurt my feelings so bad, after all English is not my first language.

Greetings

Henry

Mon, 15 Nov 2010 05:00:46 UTC | #547636

Rodger T's Avatar Comment 19 by Rodger T

and later this month he's taking on Tony Blair in Toronto.

Surely,for Hitch, this will be a battle of wits with an unarmed man.

Mon, 15 Nov 2010 06:25:31 UTC | #547656

Outfoxed's Avatar Comment 20 by Outfoxed

"It's a big subject, but it's essentially small talk, and Hitchens's style requires the elevated registers of the epic and the ironic. Anything less is like asking a high-wire artist to perform his act at ground level."

The sheer obsequiousness is dripping from the pages in that article. I'll admit to having some respect for Mr. Hitchens, but the writer here makes him sound like a Literary Messiah.

Mon, 15 Nov 2010 09:01:37 UTC | #547684

PrayForMe's Avatar Comment 21 by PrayForMe

The cat owns me. Would that be pc enough? Don't hurt my feelings so bad, after all English is not my first language.

I don't think Steve was being PC, he was just saying that cats are so wilful and independent, that they are never 'owned.' There's an expression, 'Dogs have owners, cats have staff,' I think that was Steve's sentiment (sorry, if I'm wrong, Steve!)

Matt

Mon, 15 Nov 2010 11:34:26 UTC | #547716

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 22 by Stafford Gordon

I'd forgotten about Hitchen's declared admiration for Blair. Although a fanciful notion, perhaps that's just a sprat to catch a mackrel?

However, I fundamentally disagree with Hitchens on this count; as I do on the invasion of Iraq. We, the West, put Saddam in place in the full knowledge that he was a maniac, because he served conveniently to fill the gap in the anti USSR bulwark left by the death of the Shah.

I believe that it was feasible to remove him without the blood bath caused by the invasion.

Mon, 15 Nov 2010 12:05:25 UTC | #547724

Agrajag's Avatar Comment 23 by Agrajag

@ Henry (#!8) and Matt (#21

I don't think Steve was being PC, he was just saying that cats are so wilful and independent, that they are never 'owned.' There's an expression, 'Dogs have owners, cats have staff,' I think that was Steve's sentiment (sorry, if I'm wrong, Steve!)

Me? PC? Sorry to disappoint. I was sort of channeling "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats" by T. S. Eliot. :-)

@ Roger T (#19) Keyboard, meet coffee.

Steve

Mon, 15 Nov 2010 14:56:14 UTC | #547791

gos's Avatar Comment 24 by gos

He's starting to look more and more like Gore Vidal :)

Mon, 15 Nov 2010 16:01:41 UTC | #547816

justinesaracen's Avatar Comment 25 by justinesaracen

A nice description of the man and his current state of mind - not far different from the state of mind he's always had. I admire him too, and rush to read anything he's said, but was unimpressed by his arguments favoring the Iraq war. For a man who makes so much sense on the subject of religion, he make a very lame (faintly John Wayne-ish)* argument for the invasion of Iraq.

  • by which I mean, if the bad guys are really REALLY bad, you don't have to abide by the law to remove them. You can just blast them, and walk away a hero.
  • Mon, 15 Nov 2010 16:18:46 UTC | #547825

    PrayForMe's Avatar Comment 26 by PrayForMe

    by which I mean, if the bad guys are really REALLY bad, you don't have to abide by the law to remove them. You can just blast them, and walk away a hero.

    Maybe this makes me look awful, but I struggle to see what's wrong with that. I'm not sure there's really anything such as an illegal war, anyway. International law is just a set of agreements between the most powerful nations. I'm not being deliberately simplistic here, but I'd want the UK to break the 'law' if it was of universal benefit.

    Mon, 15 Nov 2010 16:57:23 UTC | #547838

    HughCaldwell's Avatar Comment 27 by HughCaldwell

    International law is just a set of agreements between the most powerful nations. Comment 26 by PrayForMe

    An agreement between 'powerful nations' is not a law.

    The judgement by the International Court of Justice on the Israeli Wall is an example of international law.

    A. By fourteen votes to one, The construction of the wall being built by Israel, the occupying Power, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, and its associated régime, are contrary to international law; B. By fourteen votes to one, Israel is under an obligation to terminate its breaches of international law; it is under an obligation to cease forthwith the works of construction of the wall being built in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, to dismantle forthwith the structure therein situated, and to repeal or render ineffective forthwith all legislative and regulatory acts relating thereto, in accordance with paragraph 151 of this Opinion; C. By fourteen votes to one, Israel is under an obligation to make reparation for all damage caused by the construction of the wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem;

    Mon, 15 Nov 2010 20:48:35 UTC | #547948

    Ania's Avatar Comment 28 by Ania

    I really hope Hitchens will get lucky and become the improbable statistic that makes it out alive and lives to be a 100.

    I wonder if Christians would still call that a miracle? lol.

    Tue, 16 Nov 2010 08:06:38 UTC | #548173

    jez999's Avatar Comment 29 by jez999

    All you people who are suddenly excited at the news of Blair v Hitchens... you do realize this was announced like, over a month ago?

    Thu, 18 Nov 2010 10:30:54 UTC | #549206