The pugnacious British author, scholar and atheist finally succumbed to cancer Friday, dying at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
Hitchens was a man who was not afraid to make his views known, and he fought tenaciously on behalf of his favored causes as well as against those he deplored. Despite (or perhaps due to) being an atheist, he was passionate in his beliefs, and supported them with a missionary zeal.
Although Hitchens had a tendency to ruffle feathers, his intellectual power and outspoken, engaging style won him many admirers. He tended to focus his most scathing attacks on fundamentalists of various religions, but no dogma was immune to his criticism, and nothing holy.
The following video is an amusing example of Hitchens at his irreverent best, arguing that women aren’t very funny:
I do not by any means agree with all Christopher Hitchens has said and written over the years, but that’s never stopped me from reading one of his articles or watching him argue his point on TV. There’s something about a man who takes on all comers and stands his ground that is worthy of respect and admiration — especially when he does so with such skill.
Additionally, and although it may be something of a cultural conceit, I like to think that Hitchens embodied the true spirit of our Anglo-American civilization. He was never afraid to speak his mind, he was a fierce defender of liberty, and he knelt before no man.