Hitchens – A true hero for 2010 and beyond 1


I have  a couple of items for you here now … I think you will find that they are two perfect gems, and they both fit snuggly together.

First up is the interview last weekend that Jeremy Paxman did with Christopher Hitchens. I could of course craft my own description, but I really prefer the description written by Richard Dawkins … its far better than any humble words that I might attempt to string together ….

I just watched the full interview of Christopher Hitchens by Jeremy Paxman and I was hugely impressed by both men: by Hitch’s indomitable courage and honesty, and by Paxo’s humanity and kindness. Two highly intelligent, decent, sincere men, talking honestly and frankly together about things that really matter. I found it especially good to see the obvious respect in Paxo’s eyes. So very different from the way he is when frying politicians. You sense that, for once, he feels he has met an equal, whom he can respect

The full interview is up on Youtube in two parts, you can see it here and then here.

Next, we have a second item that naturally follows. The Guardian is running a series of columns on hero’s and villains of 2010, and yesterday (Wed 1st Dec), Richard Dawkins wrote about his hero (and mine), Christopher Hitchens. Here is an extract, with a link at the end so that you can click and read it all.

A gentleman and a truly formidable debater, Christopher Hitchens is a giant of the mind and a model of courage

Eloquent, witty, literate, intelligent, knowledgeable, brave, erudite, hard-working, honest (who could forget his clean-through skewering of Mother Teresa’s hypocrisy?), arguably the most formidable debater alive today yet at the same time the most gentlemanly, Christopher Hitchens is a giant of the mind and a model of courage. A lesser man would have seized the excuse of a mortal illness to duck responsibility and take it easy. Not this soldier. He will not go gentle into that good night; but instead of a futile raging against the dying of the light he rages, with redoubled energy (and concentrated power in his vibrant, Richard Burton tones) against the same obscurantist, vicious or just plain silly targets as have long engaged him. But he never rants. His is a controlled, disciplined rage, and don’t get on the wrong side of it.

Like Bertrand Russell, Hitch “would scorn to shiver with terror at the thought of annihilation”. He laughs off the spiritual vultures eager for a death-bed conversion, and dismisses – but with unfailingly gracious courtesy – the many schadenfreudian prayers for his recovery. As Daniel Dennett said, in similar circumstances, “And did you also sacrifice a goat?”

I devoutly hope (not pray) that we shall see realised the 5% chance of recovery that modern doctors (not ancient gods) can offer. And if it is not to be – if, in his own gallantly insouciant words, he has to leave the party early – he will bequeath us an example worth following for centuries to come.

You can click here to read Richards Guardian article along with all the reader comments … enjoy.


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