Dec 16, 2011


Christopher Hitchens died recently. Much has been written about him, before and after his death, and by him, and you can easily find these pieces so I won't bore you with too many links.

One of my favorite Hitchens pieces was about Jesse Helms:
I make no apology for calling him a provincial redneck, because that, to be fair to him once more, was how he thought of himself and even described himself. It was a scandal that a man with so little knowledge of the outside world should have had such a stranglehold on American foreign policy for so long. He once introduced Benazir Bhutto as the prime minister of India. All right, that could have happened to anybody. But what about the hearings on North Korea in which he made repeated references to "Kim Jong the Second"? In order to prevent any repetition of this idiotic gaffe, Helms' staff propped up a piece of card on which was clearly written the pronunciation "Kim Jong ILL." The senator from North Carolina duly made the adjustment, referring thenceforth to the North Korean despot as "Kim Jong the Third."
Participating in one of Hitchens' dinner, conversational, drinking, debating spectacles (one gets the impression they can't be called anything but spectacles) is something all his friends mention they'll miss. Speaking of a more serious debate:
I never saw the legendary program when Hitch appeared with Charlton Heston, who, for some unaccountable reason was representing the first Bush administration in his capacity as an all-purpose hawk. As they were being introduced by the presenter, Hitch cut in: “We all know who Charlton Heston is. I just want to ask him one question. [Pause. Smile.] Which countries border Iraq?” Heston, of course, had no idea.

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