Christopher Hitchens: Requiescat In Pace
Christopher Hitchens has died of pneumonia, a complication of his throat cancer treatment, and I take this moment to offer my respects. I enjoyed reading his views as he expressed them, not because I always agreed but because he expressed himself so well, with such style, verve, nerve, and flair. Martin Kramer observes that "[t]here was much to admire and dislike about the late Christopher Hitchens," and I am put in mind of a stanza from Auden's poem "In Memory of W. B. Yeats," his tribute to that poet upon learning of his passing:
Time that with this strange excuseCurious what his enemies might have to say about him, I went to Christianity Today to read the tribute there by Douglas Wilson, who had debated Hitchens in 2007 on the question "Is Christianity Good for the World?" Wilson had these kind words for the man:
Pardoned Kipling and his views,
And will pardon Paul Claudel,
Pardons him for writing well.
He was actually an affable and pleasant dinner companion, and fully capable of being the perfect gentleman. He was fully aware of the authority an enfant terrible could have, provided he played his cards right, and this was a strategy that Hitchens employed very well indeed. One man who delivers a terrible insult is banned from television for life, and another man, who does the same thing, has people lining up with invitations and microphones. In case anyone is wondering, Christopher was that second man.I found Wilson's parting words rather gracious as well:
We therefore commend Christopher to the Judge of the whole earth, who will certainly do right. Christopher Eric Hitchens (1949-2011). R.I.P."Well, I say amen to that, sir," though in my pride and my prejudice, perhaps with a touch of sincere irony . . .