Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011) was one of the greatest English-language commentators of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. His style was avuncular but this disguised a razor-sharp intellect and an incredibly wide base of knowledge.
Hitchens was a true man for all seasons; he could be funny, eloquent and incredibly gracious. But at the same time he was erudite and staggeringly well-read, with a brilliant mind. Enraged, as he often was by religious hypocrisy, he could focus a righteous anger on his adversary that was truly spectacular to watch.
Hitchens, throughout his life, was a passionate atheist. Not just convinced or committed, but passionate. He saw religion as fundamentally anti-human. His low opinion of it was fairly universal but he reserved his most scathing attacks for the Abrahamic cults of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, sparing or favouring none. They were, as far as Hitchens was concerned, offensive to the conditions of being human in general and to being a thinking individual in particular.
Christopher Hitchens was never cursed with false intellectual modesty and he suffered fools very badly indeed. He made no attempt to hide his own intellect or grasp of the subject to hand, in order to entrap his opponent. On the contrary, he adopted a thoroughly Nelsonic approach to debating which, like the great admiral’s view of the duty of a naval officer, was ‘to seek out the enemy and destroy him.’ Occasionally, you do have to love the English and producing a man like Hitchens is a good reason to. We shall but rarely see his like again.
So to celebrate the great man, journalist, raconteur, bon viveur and atheist, I give you Part One of a collection of his finest rapier-thrusts, posted on YouTube by Agatan Fnd. Part Two will surely follow.