Christopher Hitchens, British writer, journalist, intellectual and atheist, was renowned for his feisty political and religious commentary. After a battle with esophageal cancer, which cut his tour of his 2010 memoir Hitch-22 short, Hitchens died on Thursday at the age of 62. Vanity Fair, where he'd written since 1992, remembered him as an "incomparable critic, masterful rhetorician, fiery wit, and fearless bon vivant."
In his writing and speeches, Hitchens was fearless in his commentary on everyone from George Bush to Mother Teresa to God. Here, we remember his ten most poignant (and often scathing!) quotes about global affairs.
On Mother Teresa:
"[Mother Theresa] was a fanatic, a fundamentalist, and a fraud, and a church that officially protects those who violate the innocent has given us another clear sign of where it truly stands on moral and ethical questions."
— From "Mommie Dearest", published in Slate, 2003
On the Iraq War:
"Will an Iraq war make our Al Qaeda problem worse? Not likely."
— From "A Long Short War: The Postponed Liberation of Iraq", 2003
On Obama receiving the Nobel Peace Prize:
"[Giving Obama a Nobel Peace Prize] would be like giving someone an Oscar in the hope that it would encourage them to make a decent motion picture."
"'Bombing Afghanistan back into the Stone Age' was quite a favorite headline for some wobbly liberals. The slogan does all the work. But an instant's thought shows that Afghanistan is being, if anything, bombed OUT of the Stone Age."
— From "The War on Terror", published in the Daily Mirror, 2001
On the human race:
"My own view is that this planet is used as a penal colony, lunatic asylum and dumping ground by a superior civilization, to get rid of the undesirable and unfit. I can't prove it, but you can't disprove it either."
— From God Is Not Great, 2007
"Where would you like to live? In a state of conflict or a conflicted state?"
— From Hitch-22, 2010
On the future of democracy in Egypt:
"This doesn’t mean that the Arab world is doomed indefinitely to remain immune from the sort of democratic wave that has washed other regions clean of despotism. Germinal seeds have surely been sown. But the shudder of conception is some considerable way off from the drama of birth, and this wouldn’t be the first revolution in history to be partially aborted."
— From "What I Don't See at the Revolution", published in Vanity fair in 2011
On American conservative politics:
The ancients taught us to fear “hubris,” and the Bible teaches the sin of pride. I am always amazed that American conservatives are not more suspicious of self-proclaimed historical uniqueness. But proclaim it they do, as if trying to reassure themselves against the blasts of what looks like a very bad season.
— From "In God They Trust", published in Slate November 21, 2011
On the New York Times:
"Every day, the New York Times carries a motto in a box on its front page. "All the News That's Fit to Print," it says. It's been saying it for decades, day in and day out. I imagine most readers of the canonical sheet have long ceased to notice this bannered and flaunted symbol of its mental furniture. I myself check every day to make sure that the bright, smug, pompous, idiotic claim is still there. Then I check to make sure that it still irritates me. If I can still exclaim, under my breath, why do they insult me and what do they take me for and what the hell is it supposed to mean unless it's as obviously complacent and conceited and censorious as it seems to be, then at least I know I still have a pulse. You may wish to choose a more rigorous mental workout but I credit this daily infusion of annoyance with extending my lifespan."
— From Letters to a Young Contrarian, 2011
On homosexuality and adultery, etc.:
“Nothing optional—from homosexuality to adultery—is ever made punishable unless those who do the prohibiting (and exact the fierce punishment) have a repressed desire to participate.”
— From God Is Not Great, 2007