My recent observations on Christopher Hitchens received impressively varied responses. Most, however, or most of those I’ve read so far, acknowledge the vitally important test of a human being’s honesty: the presence or absence of hypocrisy.
I attribute the vitality of the comments entirely to the power of Christopher Hitchens. Such lively discourse is the fruit of Hitchens’ indisputable right to be taken seriously by anyone with any common sense at all.
Though the speed of his eloquence and the size of his vocabulary, not to mention the impeccable King’s English he can wrap it in, are intimidating, the sincerity of his insights into this American Epoch of Progressive Lies and Hypocrisies are most welcome.
This demands the greatest respect, even from Hitchens’ enemies.
There are actually only two British-trained intellects living today I respect more than Christopher Hitchens and they are Paul Johnson and Mark Steyn.
When you consider how Hitchens’ body of work contains a bit of both Johnson and Steyn, in both historical range and humor, that achievement alone is worthy of tribute, particularly given the circumstances Christopher Hitchens now finds himself in.
I’m turning 71 next Spring. After a bout of heart failure and subsequent surgery, I find myself much closer to the end of my life than I had ever imagined. However, I do not face Death’s Door with such close proximity as Mr. Hitchens.
Then again, who knows?
Life, or in my case, God may have other plans than I do.
I’m presently staring at a rather savage looking wolf on my computer screen. His eyes are “in the hunt” and visions of my helplessness before his teeth possibly locking around my throat?
Just a thought.
But then again there are the wolves of the intellect, equally as savage and merciless. I’ve met a few.
One in particular, Tom Wolfe, author and owner of many “mounted heads on his hunting wall”. He might not even remember the luncheon meeting arranged by a mutual acquaintance.
Conversation was cut short before the appetizer.
One remark of mine received such immediate contempt and damnation from Tom Wolfe that I received my shrimp cocktail with the silence of a fellow crustacean. I remained in that reincarnation throughout the rest of an utterly pointless lunch meeting.
I suspect my erstwhile hero in the enemy camp, Christopher Hitchens, wouldn’t endure such a crude lack of manners. Alas, Mr. Hitchens wasn’t there. I don’t know if the two, Hitchens and Wolfe, ever crossed paths or swords but that would be an encounter worth recording.
This meeting, The Left and the Right, between Hitchens and William F. Buckley Jr. on Peter Robinson’s Uncommon Knowledge is worth more than one viewing. In it, Hitchens admits openly that, during the Sixties, he had been “a dedicated Marxist”.
Peter Robinson presses him on what in that period does he regret. He admits to the “hedonistic utopianism” of the Left in the Sixties.
Buckley is also asked for his regret, and he says he wished he had demanded an earlier exit from the Vietnam War. Both Hitchens and Buckley agree that American involvement in the Vietnam War was a disaster from the beginning.
“You regret trusting,” offers Peter Robinson, “the government of the United States.”
Buckley responds that he regrets trusting “individuals” in the government.
After viewing this debate, how can any sane conservative possibly not come to respect Christopher Hitchens? Please realize that he knowingly entered Peter Robinson’s Uncommon Coliseum aware that both his host and his opponent were among America’s Conservative Elite.
Another, similarly high profile but less distinguished scribbler, Bob Woodward, took a similarly dismissive disdain for my thought that Washington, D. C. visually embodied the ideals of American democracy but New York City was the brawling reality.
Admittedly even we poor Tea Partiers at Big Hollywood know the name of Bob Woodward because of All The President’s Men. At that other lunch in D.C., an intensely well-known, female friend of Woodward’s at the time, whose name I joyously forget … uh … no … now it unfortunately comes to me … Diane Sawyer, was silently but contemptuously as dismissive of my offerings.
Though a Liberal at the time, I’m also an act-or!
What could I possibly have to offer?
A place to hold the September 7, 2011 Republican debate in?
The election of Ronald Reagan, of course, hadn’t happened yet.
The last time I encountered Miss Sawyer was at the Russian Tea Room and she was in the company of actor Michael York. Both Mr. York and I had been summarily fired by another equally regal Brit, Ridley Scott. Mr. York took the dismissal as if he had expected it.
Obviously the Irish like myself and the Brits I’ve grown to dislike are still congenitally at war with one another. The Irish/British, mutually shared but entirely different prejudice and distrust of one another … and of Life itself … are equally mystifying but locked in granite since the creation of Stonehenge and Gaelic
However, with the likes of even Christopher Hitchens, I must lay down the “business end” of my Irish whiskey and bow before this man as a gentleman and a courageously rare source of eloquent sincerity.
Now, as we all watch his … uh … yes … Dance of Death … and I recall Strindberg’s version of that ballet as performed by the Guthrie Theater, I see only Hitchens’ immensely moving isolation as the lights dim or the curtain falls.
Not to mention memories of his bravery.
Such courage arising out of what I’ve come to recognize as a Divinely Sad Bunny Rabbit?
I know for certain that the God Christopher Hitchens denies is watching over the writer with love. With a milder but still poignant version of divine love. The same love our Almighty God has lavished upon His own Son, Jesus of Nazareth, post Crucifixion.
In short, Hitchens is the only honorable member of an army I call The Progressively Hypocritical New World Order.
Then again, Christopher Hitchens might not be a Progressive at all.
Only he could tell us that.