Do not judge public figures on how “nice” they are
But I guess all that is why I want to put down for the record that in addition to all those things, Hitchens was incredibly kind and giving with his time. Every time I met him over the past seven years he greeted me like an old friend, and as far as I could see, every fan he met got his full attention. Even when he was dying, he had time to sit down with a little girl to figure out what books should be on her reading list.
Sometimes, Christopher Hitchens was a fucking asshole, and said and wrote things that were beneath him. Most of the time, he was brilliant. I’m deeply sorry that I never met him.
Every day of his declining life he demonstrated the falsehood of that most squalid of Christian lies: that there are no atheists in foxholes. Hitch was in a foxhole, and he dealt with it with a courage, an honesty and a dignity that any of us would be, and should be, proud to be able to muster. And in the process, he showed himself to be even more deserving of our admiration, respect, and love.
He helped get over 100K people killed (that’s the very conservative #, it’s probably over 500K). He worked really hard to do that. That is more than being “an asshole”. He could personally be an asshole, and I would not give a damn. He was a public figure, a public intellectual, and I do not judge public figures based on whether they are “nice” in person or died a good death or had beliefs about the supernatural which match mine. Anyone who does so is morally defective. That sort of “I’d like to have a beer with him” reasoning led directly to George Bush, Jr.
You get the pundits and leaders you deserve, example 5,242,176.
I don’t, personally, think Hitchens was brilliant most of the time, but let’s say he was. So what? He helped commit the same war crime Nazis were hung for. In a just world, he would have been hung or locked up for life, alongside Henry Kissinger, whom he hated and George Bush, whose policies he helped push.
Contemptible. If you knew him personally, I can forgive your love of him, I have loved evil people. But an intellectual has the responsibility to separate those personal feelings from judgement. Hitchens was an evil man. Helping kill large numbers of people in an unprovoked war is not just a war crime, it is, as was noted at Nuremburg, the crime from which all war crimes come — every rape, every death, every person who lost their home, every person tortured with power drills in Iraq, every dead child—those are Hitchens legacy.
The refusal to hold people responsible for the entirely forseeable results of policies they work hard to enable is also evil. It is at the root of why you no longer have functioning democracies.
Hitchens was a bad man whose legacy is enabling a war crime. If you do not think so, you are part of the reason why things like Iraq happen.