On December 15th 2011, Christopher Hitchens was gone. Oesophageal cancer had completed its wickedly destructive objective. Just over two years later I often find myself thinking about Christopher and the enormous admiration I have and held for him, his writing and particularity his vehement atheism. Author, polemicist, social commentator, debater, journalist and contributing editor to a long list of publications, particularly Vanity Fare, he was somewhat of a personal hero.
If you know anything about Hitch you’ll know that he was no stranger to controversy and that he didn’t suffer fools gladly. To that end, he was an extremely dangerous debater who daringly dismantled arguments with devastating effect, served with a Hitch-salad of candour, irony and wit. His ruthless approach most often did not call for even the slightest increase in the volume of his voice, embodying the picture of pure composure and unfaltering calm, while articulating his arguments and criticisms beyond the highest echelons of the spoken (and written) word. It was both captivating and inimitable.
Christopher’s most powerful weapon were undoubtedly his words and his opponents knew it, ironically he had a ‘god-like’ command of them and performed the most beautiful linguistic ballet you could wish to hear. He never shied away from a debate. Tony Blair, John Lennox (for me the best apologist alive today by far) and William Lane Craig all received a lashing of the Hitch tongue which I’m sure they will remember admiringly. Nobody made Hitch look the fool. He was way too good for that. I was particularly struck (and completely in awe) by the truth that even during his last days, when the cancer was finalising its work, where many would have packed up their tents and gone home, he continued to debate, write and make public appearances, continuing to inspire and explore his ideas constantly.
Someone once described being with Hitch as ‘never without a dull moment’ and my experience of reading some of his work, listening to him speak and watching his debates, this rings true above all else. When it came to argument, he was fearless. When it came to cancer he was brave. And when it came to writing he was genius. I miss him dearly.