It can be hard to be both a believer and an admirer of Christopher Hitchens. One cannot offend easily or this peculiar combination would do the trick. When his believing friends would visit his bedside in his final days (or in the days that Hitch was sure were final) and offered that "I will pray for you", he would immediately reply, "thanks… and I will think for you". But even to this believer, he was a hero. He was a hero of the enlightenment, reason, evidence, and of the ability to craft language into a weapon on their behalf. He was often drunk, but somehow was still always the most lucid mind in any room.
He has always been one of my two favorite contemporary writers on the left (of course Camille Paglia - who could not stand Hitch - is the other). People often use the word "controversial" on these two, but that is a pretty wimpy description. Miley Cyrus is controversial. Hitch and Paglia are brave. Neither courts controversy for its own sake; instead, they say things that are true and worth saying without reference to their popularity or safety. They think for themselves. It is great fun to be their putative political adversary because in both cases, they infuriate their supposed allies and delight their supposed opponents by never tying themselves down to an ideology. They are so good at being writers and so bad at being lefties.
Yes, I know. It has been two years and I have not yet given up the present tense.
Take the risk of thinking for yourself, much more happiness, truth, beauty, and wisdom will come to you that way.
- Christopher Hitchens (April 13, 1949 - December 1011)