25
Jun
By declining to lie, even as far as possible to himself, and by his determination to seek elusive but verifiable truth, [Orwell] showed how much can be accomplished by an individual who unites the qualities of intellectual honesty and moral courage. And, permanently tempted though he was by cynicism and despair, Orwell also believed in the latent possession of these faculties by those we sometimes have the nerve to call “ordinary people.” Here, then, is some of the unpromising bedrock—hardscrabble soil in Scotland, gritty coal mines in Yorkshire, desert landscapes in Africa, soul-less slums and bureaucratic offices—combined with the richer soil and loam of ever renewing nature, and that tiny, irreducible core of the human personality that somehow manages to put up a resistance to deceit and coercion. Out of the endless attrition between them can come such hope as we may reasonably claim to possess.
- Christopher Hitchens, in his introduction to Orwell’s Diaries. Orwell was born 110 years ago today.
19
Feb

from "Firing Line with William F. Buckley," 12/11/1984

  • Emmett Tyrrell: You attack me for calling feminists misanthropes but...
  • Christopher Hitchens [quoting Tyrrell]: "Horrible to behold, uncouth, and unlovely."
  • Emmett Tyrrell: Yes, but what about the women on your side who refer to me as a chauvinist pig as a matter of course? I mean, that went on all the time!
  • Christopher Hitchens: Well, I think you obviously are one.
  • [audience laughs]
19
Feb

Christopher Hitchens debates William F. Buckley on Firing Line

Hitchens was really in top form here. He and Buckley spar on George McGovern, Richard Nixon, and the successes and failures of American liberalism.

Also, why are there so few respectable political talk shows nowadays? Buckley is so superior to Hannity, O’Reilly, et al. I almost feel embarrassed for today’s conservative pundits.

04
Feb

The most politically encouraging event on the horizon — which is a very bleak one politically — is the possibility of fusion or synthesis of some of the positions of what is to be called left and some of what is to be called libertarian. The critical junction could be, and in some ways already is, the War on Drugs.

The War on Drugs is an attempt by force, by the state, at mass behavior modification. Among other things, it is a denial of medical rights, and certainly a denial of all civil and political rights. It involves a collusion with the most gruesome possible allies in the Third World. It’s very hard for me to say that there’s an issue more important than that at the moment.

29
Aug
The sad conclusion to my little Hitch library.

The sad conclusion to my little Hitch library.

25
Jun
For many poor Americans of all colors, jail is the only place where doctors, lawyers, teachers, and chaplains are, however grudgingly, made available to them.
- Christopher Hitchens, “No One Left to Lie To”
24
Jun

Martin Amis discusses his new novel, Mitt Romney’s Mormonism, and Christopher Hitchens’ death. 

26
Apr
I say that homosexuality is not just a form of sex. It’s a form of love and it deserves our respect for that reason.
- Christopher Hitchens
22
Apr

Video: Martin Amis Delivers Eulogy at Christopher Hitchens Memorial

13
Apr
Christopher Hitchens sticking it to the man in 1968. 

Christopher Hitchens sticking it to the man in 1968. 

28
Mar

The Orwell Prize - 2012 Long List

Two of my favorite books from this year made the cut: Arguably by Christopher Hitchens and The Price of Civilization by Jeffrey Sachs. I’m also eager to read Douglas Murray’s Bloody Sunday.

06
Mar

A Brief Word on Christopher Hitchens

I don’t think most of us who admired him would say he was perfect or that he represents all of our views or that his opinions were always correct. I think most of us are just saying that the man wasn’t hellbent on killing every Muslim on the planet. 

05
Mar
I don’t think it’s possible to “kind of” call for genocide. Either someone wants to massacre an entire group of people or they don’t. Hitchens was hawkish in his foreign policy but he certainly wasn’t more extreme on the issue than most Republicans or Democrats. He also spent much of his life writing about and calling attention to actual genocides and war crimes, especially those committed by Henry Kissinger. God is Not Great lists many instances of unnecessary war and genocide as evidence of religion’s negative impact on society. Are we expected to believe that he found genocide revolting and morally abhorrent but also wanted to commit genocide himself?

I don’t think it’s possible to “kind of” call for genocide. Either someone wants to massacre an entire group of people or they don’t. Hitchens was hawkish in his foreign policy but he certainly wasn’t more extreme on the issue than most Republicans or Democrats. He also spent much of his life writing about and calling attention to actual genocides and war crimes, especially those committed by Henry Kissinger. God is Not Great lists many instances of unnecessary war and genocide as evidence of religion’s negative impact on society. Are we expected to believe that he found genocide revolting and morally abhorrent but also wanted to commit genocide himself?

04
Mar

A Brief Response

I’ve noticed that when confronted with any sort of criticism, libertarians will usually resort to one or more of these tactics: 

1. The complete dismissal of any data, statistics, or hard evidence that runs contrary to their beliefs as somehow being philosophically unsound. 

2. Historical revisionism (Abraham Lincoln was an evil tyrant, Calvin Coolidge was the greatest President ever, the founding fathers were all hardcore libertarians who wanted their policies to permanently govern America).

3. The use of case examples of government error or wrongdoing to attempt to prove that governments can never do anything right…ever.

4. The repetition of words like “logical,” “rational,” and “sound,” to give the appearance of a coherent thought. 

5. A reference to John Galt.

I don’t have much to say to the Ayn Rand acolytes criticizing my previous post because I know that they will never be convinced of any error in their beliefs (and it’s fair to say they are unlikely to convince me), so I’ll just close with a quote:

“I have always found it quaint and rather touching that there is a movement [Libertarians] in the US that thinks Americans are not yet selfish enough.” 
― Christopher Hitchens