Talk:Christopher Hitchens

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This Journalism related article has been awarded BRONZE status for quality. It's getting there, but could be better with improvement. See RationalWiki:Article rating for more information.


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Hitchens was:

He always felt, for example, that the British Empire had a progressive role in India. He wrote of Columbus Day that the extermination of the Native Americans should be celebrated as a fact of historical progress. By the end of his life, Hitchens was convinced that American capitalism was "the only revolution in town", and that it would be "a step up" for the countries exposed to it by armed occupation.

Richard Seymour in his book, Unhitched:

The function of [Hitchens’s] antitheism was structurally analogous to what Irving Howe characterized as Stalinophobia. . .the Bogey-Scapegoat of Stalinism justified a new alliance with the right, obliviousness towards the permanent injustices of capitalist society, and a tolerance for repressive practices conducted in the name of the “Free World”. In roughly isomorphic fashion Hitchens’s preoccupation with religion. . .authorized not just a blind eye to the injustices of capitalism and empire but a vigorous advocacy of the same.


On Afghanistan for instance – ‘one can so easily fall for a place where everybody thinks about sex, where bombing has blasted a society out of the Stone Age, and where opium is the religion of the people.’ Just take a few moments to reflect on that second clause, to register its sinister militaristic tenor – ‘where bombing has blasted a society out of the Stone Age’ – for this was the way Hitchens, in his later years, understood human emancipation to be unfolded – through the smoke and rubble and smouldering ruins Imperial power leaves in its wake.

Hitchens, after 9/11, was a devout and enthusiastic supporter of America employing its superpower-status to police the world.---Mona- (talk) 00:24, 16 November 2015 (UTC)

Yes, I did some undo's that left the "Imperialist" category standing - he became an imperialist even by self-definition, though one that - had he failed to embrace the term (as defined by himself) - could've stood a good chance of evading that label altogether, and without losing what I find to be the vast bulk of his work in the process. Still, it is something he called himself, in a somewhat contrarian sense, always injecting his own definition of the word when possible. So, in conclusion: I'm supporting that "Imperialist" is added permanently to the man. But "Islamophobia" is slanderous overkill of the highest degree when considering the man is already covered under "Atheist", "Imperialist" and "Critic of Islam". Those components added up do not amount to "Islamophobia" (as ableist as that term is) by any stretch of the imagination in the case of Hitchens. Reverend Black Percy (talk) 00:28, 16 November 2015 (UTC)
Just because you agree with him on some things and worship him on others doesn't mean he isn't a bigot. Hollow (talk) 02:33, 5 January 2016 (UTC)

Christopher Hitchens was a racist islamophobe. Here's proof[edit]

He didn't "justly criticise Islam" or something, he was a racist and an islamophobe. People on the left don't like him for a reason, and you all shouldn't be any different. I saw some videos by Philosophy Tube that convinced me that he deserves no respect for his racism. We should remove him from the criticism of Islam category and put him in Islamophobia. Catgrrl37-0 (talk) 07:17, 26 September 2020 (UTC)


I think the category "left of reason" and "right of reason" should be deleted themselves tbh. Oxyaena Harass 16:15, 12 January 2021 (UTC)

POV Vandalism by pious user.[edit]

So this user is trying to defend his pious stance as vehemently as humanly possible by reverting valid edits that add valid info with references and removing unreferenced, slanderous, original research from the article. Clearly an apologist, but that isn't an excuse to slither ones horrible POV over an encyclopedic article. If YOU want your POV to be in the article, you need CONSENSUS. RationalAdam (talk) 12:18, 25 November 2021 (UTC)

@RationalAdam I litterally just woke up to your multi-article tantrum. Also, congrats on proving that your too stupid to think. I'm an atheist, or more specifically an atheistic, apatheistic, anti-theist. ☭Comrade GC☭Ministry of Praise 12:30, 25 November 2021 (UTC)
@GrammarCommie That is NOT an excuse to revert back to text that was completely unreferenced such as "While he offered zero evidence, he must have been talking about..." which is an utterly pathetic sentence with at least 20 problems, such as being unreferenced, original research (he must have been...), and slanderous vandalism. I will report you for admin abuse right now. RationalAdam (talk) 12:36, 25 November 2021 (UTC)
@RationalAdam Really making smart choices today aren't ya... ☭Comrade GC☭Ministry of Praise 13:53, 25 November 2021 (UTC)
nothing you added brought anything to the article that wasnt already there and what you removed was tongue in cheek humour (smartarse — what every self-respecting gentleman aspires to be!) and far from 'slanderous vandalism'. and with regard to smoking and drinking, its what he readily admits himself. its friendly banter and not malicious or slanderous or vandalism. at worst its inoccuous. the section critiquing his vanity fair piece on women and humour is commentary (it would be a stretch to call original research, and this isnt wikipedia either. our focus is different) on that very piece referenced. so it isnt 'unsourced' and its again not slanderous vandalism.
arguments can be made about the use of snark and humour in articles (ive made them myself plenty of times) and could be done so here if so inclined, and you are free to question the commentary on the vanity fair piece if you disagree with the line it take. what you have done instead is overreact hysterically to the reverting of your edits, make idiotic assumptions as to the motives of the editor reverting, without really justifying your own edits while claiming faults with what you removed that are neither significant or accurate.
honestly, you were reverted once and went straight on the attack like its an affront to have justify your own actions. not after repeated edit warring or after attempts of reasonable dialogue had gone no where, but one mention of 'talk page' and you are straight out the gate with a fuck you and unearned arrogance. how dare we question your minor edits which make no functional difference either way to the article. AMassiveGay (talk) 15:45, 25 November 2021 (UTC)
We at the rationalwiki have a hierarchy that many disingenuously tend to deny exists. I don't see anything wrong with RA's edit of the first paragraph because "Christopher Eric Hitchens (1949–2011) was a chain-smoking, atheistic, British[note 1] drunken smartarse — what every self-respecting gentleman aspires to be!" is neither funny nor instructive and appears simply a shallow variety of malicious character attack. I would call a satirist a smartass if he had stung me with his repartee, but I wouldn't put it in the first sentence of a significant person's biograph, dead or alive, unless our intention were to demonstrate a serious disrespect for that person. If so, I don't agree. As for the text RA removed, I don't think it needed removal so much as rephrasing and could be put back as GC has done.Ariel31459 (talk) 21:50, 26 November 2021 (UTC)
@Bongolian Your edit does not really do anything well to advance the question of whether Hitchens can be described as "drunken". The expert you have cited does not answer his own question, probably out of a sense of decency, but rather begs his readers to decide for themselves, based upon Hitches' own written narratives of his alcoholism, or should I say adventures with drink? It's delightfully dishonest. Peele, himself not an MD, invites the reader to decide for himself in a relatively minor act of begging the question: So, dear reader -- tell me, is Christopher Hitchens alcoholic? Or is the answer so obvious it need not even be spoken? Now that's what I call a smartass. Ariel31459 (talk) 04:56, 27 November 2021 (UTC)
You're being ridiculous. Someone (Hitchens) who makes a joke about making rules for drinking being a sign of alcoholism, followed by making a list of rules obviously wouldn't be displeased at being called a drunk (Hitch-22, page 352). By his own admission, he drank enough "to kill or stun the average mule".[1] Bongolian (talk) 07:14, 27 November 2021 (UTC)
I am in no wise interested in defending drunkenness. There does seem to be an abiding social prejudice against people who can hold their liquor. That Hitchens was a drunk is debatable as the term drunken imposes a variety of interpretations including befuddlement, inebriation, seeing double, the want to reside under tables, etc. Certainly he was a heavy drinker. Probably right to call him a high-functioning alcoholic. Your argument is unfortunately based upon a prejudice against those who simply drink heavily which is not well described by the word "drunken." But that is just a side light. Go ahead and call him a drunk, but do it in a section that covers his habits and not in the introductory sentence that should reveal something of his stature rather than the malice of its author. Lots of people are chain smokers and heavy drinkers. The idea that those characteristics should be put forward in the first sentence describing any significant person is, in the sense that I think you mean the word, ridiculous.Ariel31459 (talk) 08:35, 27 November 2021 (UTC)
is there a prejudice at heavy drinkers? i think maybe this is a american thing because it sure isnt in the uk. liking a drink is applauded over here. so much so politicians will lie about it (and be ridiculed when those lies are uncovered) its being teetotalism thats viewed with suspicion over here. remove snark because its wank or not funny or you dont like it, im fine with. not an especially big fan of it myself. i dont however see anything disrespectful or prejudicial in whats currently in the article. it doesnt read as malicious or as tut tuting over liking a drink and smoke. if anything its celebratory and seems in keeping with hitchens own character as something he might have said himself.
keep or remove, it makes little difference to the article imho, i just dont think disrespectful is a particularly valid reason in this case. (and it isnt slander either) AMassiveGay (talk) 12:23, 27 November 2021 (UTC)
Certainly the Brits are known for not being weaklings ( a common German expression for one without a beer-belly). I have commented above as an intellectual exercise, and am trying not to irritate. It seems that some of us are intolerant to the expectation that much wrangling over articles is to be expected in controversial subjects. I don't particularly care what is said in the article. If it has bad style, which it most certainly does, I think it is worth pointing out. I don't think counterfactual arguments are useful as I don't believe Hitchens would have taken kindly to being referred to as habitually drunken as implied by the thumbnail sentence.. He was a writer, after all, with an extensive oeuvre of autobiographical writing, and he never did exactly that unless you accept narratives of heavy drinking as synonymous with being a drunkard.Ariel31459 (talk) 19:51, 27 November 2021 (UTC)
I used the search function on my iphone to locate a possible instances of "Christopher Hitchens was a drunk", and the first return was surprising: "Christopher Hitchens' ghost wants you to blow guys for science." When I tried to find this result on my desk top I believe safesearch prevented it. A regular google search of the former quoted sentence has zero results. Interesting.
If one examines the Guardian's obituary for Hitchens, after sufficient effort is applied, one finds that Hitchens' smoking and drinking are mentioned. The Guardian is not known to resist the temptation to apply censorious commentary when it sees fit to do so. The first brief paragraph in entirety is as follows: For most of his career, Christopher Hitchens, who has died of oesophageal cancer aged 62, was the left's biggest journalistic star, writing and broadcasting with wit, style and originality in a period when such qualities were in short supply among those of similar political persuasion. Nobody else spoke with such confidence and passion for what Americans called "liberalism" and Hitchens (regarding "liberal" as too "evasive") called "socialism".
The elements of style in this article were obvious enough. The obituary is quite long and, as I began to spelunk for the required citations concerning tobacco and alcohol, I paused from time to time and thought about obtaining a cocktail. Abstaining out of the desire to get the project done, I continued until the nineteenth paragraph: Hitchens's love affairs with alcohol and tobacco were equally constant. He smoked heavily, even on public occasions and even on TV, long after the habit – for everyone else – became unacceptable. Despite reports in 2008 that he had given up, a reporter found him getting through two packets of cigarettes in a morning in May 2010. As for alcohol, he drank daily, on his own admission, enough "to kill or stun the average mule". Technically, he was probably an alcoholic but, he pointed out, he never missed deadlines or appointments. Regardless of condition, he wrote fast and fluently, if with erratic punctuation. Only rarely did alcohol make him a bore, blunt his wit or cloud his arguments. The journalist Lynn Barber rated him "one of the greatest conversationalists of our age". Inebriated or sober, he could charm almost anybody. He could also, with what the New Yorker's Ian Parker called "the sudden, cutthroat withdrawal of charm", wound deeply and unnecessarily.
Ariel31459 (talk) 21:58, 27 November 2021 (UTC)
i honestly dont think anyone is going to lose too much sleep over its removal - its merely snark, i can take or leave that. it wasnt really the point of this little spat either really. it was an editor throwing a tantrum instead explaining themselves and people taking their vague claim of slanderous vandalism at face value and potential grave consequences. the edit in question wasnt one of slander and legal implications, wasnt about hitchen's alcoholism, wasnt about moral judgements on drinking or anyhing like that. do we want this bit of snark in the article is all that needed to be ask. the tantrum and the escalation to atim obscured all this.
just remove it and be done with it. nothing is lost with it gone and snark is a subjective thing at best, and the very start of the article as has been stated probs not the best place for it. (a one line explanation is all that was needed here - let that be a lesson to all) AMassiveGay (talk) 16:47, 28 November 2021 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Arguably, the smoking and drinking are both missional in Hitchens' case since he died of esophageal cancer, of which both smoking and drinking are known causes.[2] Both the alcoholic beverage industry[3] and the tobacco industry (more notoriously) have been involved in campaigns of obstructionism/denialism about this. Erasing this makes the later statement on the page ("He was 62 years old at the time of his death from esophageal cancer,[9] a cancer most often associated with drinking and smoking.") meaningless. Bongolian (talk) 18:27, 28 November 2021 (UTC)

If you had been resolute to keep the present text I would have stopped arguing. I pursued the above discussion as a demonstration for the new user. New users are often impatient, and old users are often intolerant. The question of when to use snark is an important question for me. What is snark if not contempt posing as satire? Some people are contemptible for sure. I love satire. The truth is any contemptuous statement can be excused as snark. I ask, rhetorically, of whom should we be utterly contemptuous? Ariel31459 (talk) 19:31, 28 November 2021 (UTC)
I don't really care about the snark or the exact wording, but the smoking/drinking need to stay in some form. The 'drunken' is actually in keeping with Hitchens' self-description in the last citation that I added.[4] Bongolian (talk) 19:51, 28 November 2021 (UTC)
I agree. The question is, as I see it, if the most progressive newspaper I can think of, the Guardian, takes it as of tertiary importance, why do we present his vices ahead of his profession as if it were of some real importance to know about the man rather than a third rank desideratum? Are we that sententious? I have previously disposed of similar claims to "The 'drunken' is actually in keeping with Hitchens' self-description ..." If you do not agree, so be it, however you have not answered the aforementioned argument, though I don't think it can be answered in a coherent manner. That's the rub of calling an appalling opening statement "snark." Now I think I've said enough, hoping to remain friends.Ariel31459 (talk) 20:21, 28 November 2021 (UTC)
EC thing is it isnt contemptuous, its celebratory. smoking and boozing to excess is what rock stars do. its what hell raising actors do. its what certain hard living writers do. for normal folk these addictions inspire pity and derision. for the famous, its part of their mystique. its romanticised as expressions of primal energy, of earthy pleasures and virility. its mythologised as part of their being or fueling their creativity, giving insights earned from living live. hitchens is given these associations the tongue in cheek we describe his addictions. we say drunken not because we think he was a drunken shambles, but because mere mortals would be he was not, he was sharp and in control. because he rocks. his eventual death is not alluded to here. it not really examined in the section on his cancer tbh. the only discussion on his drinking are the references attched to the word 'drunken', and they are of the type that add the myth of booze and fame detailed above. the snark of the opening isnt about mockery or contempt, its there to try and downplay how deeply and totally in love with hitchens the writers of this article are.
losing this opening snark wont make the later statement on his cancer and drinking and smoking meaningless, that would stay as it is now - unexamined. whatever is decided this needs expanding and a proper look at the nature of his vices is required. something that isnt just jokey way of saying hes legend. AMassiveGay (talk) 21:50, 28 November 2021 (UTC)
it seems that different people here have 3 different views on what it says/means. that should be enough reason to make changes. AMassiveGay (talk) 22:07, 28 November 2021 (UTC)
I have to say you are exactly right about the fact that a statement that is ambiguous isn't well written.Picking a famous person off the top of my head, say George Washington, a similar introduction might read: Gorge Washington (February 22, 1732 – December 14, 1799), was an American-born British menace with wooden teeth known for damaging orchards. Ariel31459 (talk) 23:01, 28 November 2021 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I don't care enough about this to edit it either way, but I'll note a very simple solution to everything brought up so far, except preservation of snark. Now that there are references for the smoking and drinking, simply move that down, while trimming the opening text, to the part mentioning the death, adding something short (maybe in parentheses) about Hitchens's habits. --ApooftGnegiol (talk) 21:25, 30 November 2021 (UTC)

Jewish ancestry[edit]

Should Hitchens be added to the Jews category? Obviously, Hitchens was an atheist, and he was raised Christian, but my understanding is that he identified as a Jew due to later discoveries about his ancestry. Monochroma (talk) 18:15, 27 December 2023 (UTC)