December 20, 2011


I mean “bad” in the cool-bad kinda way here, as opposed to the Stalin/Hitler type of bad, which we’ll get to in a moment. Like anyone who prides themselves on being a contrarian, Hitchens was a loose cannon who within the space of seconds could be heroically defiant and articulate, then infuriatingly self-important and pompous. A lot depends on whether you agreed or disagreed with his take on a topic. Some prefer the early “Trotskyite popinjay” and detest his latter-day warmongering neocon persona. Oddly enough, it was his wildly divergent (some would say inconsistent) views that allowed him to feel at home among all ideological types. Some conservative commentators would enlist him as one of the most articulate defenders of the Bush regime while they politely ignore his strident atheism. Others who wanted a gleefully unapologetic opponent of religion on their side might have been happy to ignore his pro-war or generally more conservative sentiments. There were plenty of sides to choose from: some to like, others to hate.

On one hand he was British, but on the other, he can be forgiven for that because he was resolutely pro-American. He could be an undeniably entertaining debater—funny, aggressive, and sharp-witted. But he had the sort of petulant, tediously argumentative, high-school-debate-club personality of a man who thinks that even the subject of whether chocolate is tastier than vanilla can be settled by argumentative means, with a firm winner declared at the end.

Love him or hate him, I think most would agree that he could be an enlivening change of pace from mainstream journalism’s conformist, platitude-wielding hordes. And if you’ll allow me to modify W. C. Fields: Any man who hated Mother Teresa and Michael Moore equally couldn’t have been all bad.

Memorable Quotes:
“Terrorism is the tactic of demanding the impossible, and demanding it at gunpoint.”

“The four most overrated things in life are champagne, lobster, anal sex and picnics.”


God bless the Guardian—only the UK’s premiere left-wing paper could bring themselves to describe the thuggish Li’l Kim with flattering adjectives such as “mercurial” and “enigmatic” in their obituary piece. I’m only somewhat disappointed they didn’t add something nice about his stylishly coiffed hair.

Kim Jong-Il was in many respects the anti-Havel. One did tremendous good while seeming to have little interest in the world’s spotlight or the trappings of power; the other presided over endless military parades in his laughingstock, basket-case, Stalinist dirt-heap of a country while placidly watching vast swaths of his population starve to death.

Memorable Quotes:
“We oppose the reactionary policies of the US government but we do not oppose the American people. We want to have many good friends in the United States.”

“You are worthress, Arec Barrwin!”



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