I won’t say Christopher Hitchens is a hero of mine—he believed having heroes to be a dangerous business—but I will say that he’s a person I think about every day. He was a brilliant writer, perhaps an even more brilliant orator.
It’s men and women like Hitch that make me feel lucky to exist in the years of YouTube. Though we never corresponded while he was alive, and I doubt that we ever will now that he’s dead, it’s as if we did. So much of my worldview comes from him.
The rebel. The contrarian. The freethinker. Defender of the little guy. The antitotalitarian. Champion of Orwell and Jefferson and Paine. A principled man, right till the very end. All of these monikers and more belong to him.
Today marks the fifth anniversary of his death. It pains me that he’s no longer here to offer his political commentary. How many times would Chancellor Trump have been Hitchslapped over the next few years if Christopher were alive? It’s cruel that we’ll never know the answer.
Hitch believed that his opinion deserved to be shouted just as loudly as anyone else’s. Who can argue with that? It was the opinions themselves that made him such a polarizing figure. Like the book he wrote which eviscerated Mother Teresa’s character. Or when he stepped out of William F. Buckley’s funeral when Henry Kissinger got up to speak. (He didn’t want to be counted as being among Kissinger’s audience.) The man hated his enemies, but never without reason. He told you why; he never dodged a question.
We should all strive to be more like Hitch—full of life, incredulous, freethinking, always willing to debate, unapologetic in our beliefs.
The closest I can get to knowing him is reading what he wrote and listening to what he said. And that’s fine with me. But I can’t help wishing for more; wishing that I could shake his hand one day.
Here’s a compilation of some of his best moments.