Christopher Hitchens Quotes

/ Author List / Christopher Hitchens

1. “Owners of dogs will have noticed that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they will think you are god. Whereas owners of cats are compelled to realize that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they draw the conclusion that they are gods.”

Tags : Affection Atheism Cats Dogs Food God Pets Religion Shelter Water
Source : The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever

2. “As the many male victims of rape in the regime's disgusting jails can testify, this state-run pathology of sexual repression and sexual sadism is not content to degrade women only.”

Tags : Homosexuality Iran Prison Rape Rape Sexual Repression Sodomy Women S Rights
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

3. “We keep on being told that religion, whatever its imperfections, at least instills morality. On every side, there is conclusive evidence that the contrary is the case and that faith causes people to be more mean, more selfish, and perhaps above all, more stupid.”

Tags : Atheism Cruelty Ethics Ethics In Religion Morality Morality Without Religion Religion Selfishness Stupidity

4. “What is it you most dislike? Stupidity, especially in its nastiest forms of racism and superstition.”

Tags : Atheism Dislikes Racism Religion Scepticism Stupidity Superstition
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

5. “Very often the test of one's allegiance to a cause or to a people is precisely the willingness to stay the course when things are boring, to run the risk of repeating an old argument just one more time, or of going one more round with a hostile or (much worse) indifferent audience. I first became involved with the Czech opposition in 1968 when it was an intoxicating and celebrated cause. Then, during the depressing 1970s and 1980s I was a member of a routine committee that tried with limited success to help the reduced forces of Czech dissent to stay nourished (and published). The most pregnant moment of that commitment was one that I managed to miss at the time: I passed an afternoon with Zdenek Mlynar, exiled former secretary of the Czech Communist Party, who in the bleak early 1950s in Moscow had formed a friendship with a young Russian militant with an evident sense of irony named Mikhail Sergeyevitch Gorbachev. In 1988 I was arrested in Prague for attending a meeting of one of Vaclav Havel's 'Charter 77' committees. That outwardly exciting experience was interesting precisely because of its almost Zen-like tedium. I had gone to Prague determined to be the first visiting writer not to make use of the name Franz Kafka, but the numbing bureaucracy got the better of me. When I asked why I was being detained, I was told that I had no need to know the reason! Totalitarianism is itself a cliché (as well as a tundra of pulverizing boredom) and it forced the cliché upon me in turn. I did have to mention Kafka in my eventual story. The regime fell not very much later, as I had slightly foreseen in that same piece that it would. (I had happened to notice that the young Czechs arrested with us were not at all frightened by the police, as their older mentors had been and still were, and also that the police themselves were almost fatigued by their job. This was totalitarianism practically yawning itself to death.) A couple of years after that I was overcome to be invited to an official reception in Prague, to thank those who had been consistent friends through the stultifying years of what 'The Party' had so perfectly termed 'normalization.' As with my tiny moment with Nelson Mandela, a whole historic stretch of nothingness and depression, combined with the long and deep insult of having to be pushed around by boring and mediocre people, could be at least partially canceled and annealed by one flash of humor and charm and generosity.”

Tags : 1950S 1968 1970S 1980S 1988 Arrest Bureaucracy Charm Communism Detention Dissent Gorbachev History Humour Irony Kafka Moscow Nelson Mandela Police Totalitarianism Vaclav Havel Zdenek Mlynar
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

6. “As a convinced atheist, I ought to agree with Voltaire that Judaism is not just one more religion, but in its way the root of religious evil. Without the stern, joyless rabbis and their 613 dour prohibitions, we might have avoided the whole nightmare of the Old Testament, and the brutal, crude wrenching of that into prophecy-derived Christianity, and the later plagiarism and mutation of Judaism and Christianity into the various rival forms of Islam. Much of the time, I do concur with Voltaire, but not without acknowledging that Judaism is dialectical. There is, after all, a specifically Jewish version of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, with a specifically Jewish name—the Haskalah—for itself. The term derives from the word for 'mind' or 'intellect,' and it is naturally associated with ethics rather than rituals, life rather than prohibitions, and assimilation over 'exile' or 'return.' It's everlastingly linked to the name of the great German teacher Moses Mendelssohn, one of those conspicuous Jewish hunchbacks who so upset and embarrassed Isaiah Berlin. (The other way to upset or embarrass Berlin, I found, was to mention that he himself was a cousin of Menachem Schneerson, the 'messianic' Lubavitcher rebbe.) However, even pre-enlightenment Judaism forces its adherents to study and think, it reluctantly teaches them what others think, and it may even teach them how to think also.”

Tags : 18Th Century Antisemitism Assimilation Atheism Dialectics Education Enlightenment Evil Exile Free Thought Germans Haskalah Isaiah Berlin Judaism Life Menachem Mendel Schneerson Messianism Moses Mendelssohn Old Testament Plagiarism Prophecy Rabbis Return Rituals Study Voltaire
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

7. “One of the questions asked by al-Balkhi, and often repeated to this day, is this: Why do the children of Israel continue to suffer? My grandmother Dodo thought it was because the goyim were jealous. The seder for Passover (which is a shame-faced simulacrum of a Hellenic question-and-answer session, even including the wine) tells the children that it's one of those things that happens to every Jewish generation. After the Shoah or Endlösung or Holocaust, many rabbis tried to tell the survivors that the immolation had been a punishment for 'exile,' or for insufficient attention to the Covenant. This explanation was something of a flop with those whose parents or children had been the raw material for the 'proof,' so for a time the professional interpreters of god's will went decently quiet. This interval of ambivalence lasted until the war of 1967, when it was announced that the divine purpose could be discerned after all. How wrong, how foolish, to have announced its discovery prematurely! The exile and the Shoah could now both be understood, as part of a heavenly if somewhat roundabout scheme to recover the Western Wall in Jerusalem and other pieces of biblically mandated real estate.I regard it as a matter of self-respect to spit in public on rationalizations of this kind. (They are almost as repellent, in their combination of arrogance, masochism, and affected false modesty, as Edith Stein's 'offer' of her life to expiate the regrettable unbelief in Jesus of her former fellow Jews.) The sage Jews are those who have put religion behind them and become in so many societies the leaven of the secular and the atheist.”

Tags : Arrogance Atheism Bible Biblical Covenant Children Christianity Divine Retribution Exile False Modesty Gentiles Grandmothers Hellenism Jealousy Judaism Martyrdom Masochism Passover Punishment Rationalisation Religion Self Respect Survivors War Will Of God
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

8. “There's a certain amount of ambiguity in my background, what with intermarriages and conversions, but under various readings of three codes which I don’t much respect (Mosaic Law, the Nuremberg Laws, and the Israeli Law of Return) I do qualify as a member of the tribe, and any denial of that in my family has ceased with me. But I would not remove myself to Israel if it meant the continuing expropriation of another people, and if anti-Jewish fascism comes again to the Christian world—or more probably comes at us via the Muslim world—I already consider it an obligation to resist it wherever I live. I would detest myself if I fled from it in any direction. Leo Strauss was right. The Jews will not be 'saved' or 'redeemed.' (Cheer up: neither will anyone else.) They/we will always be in exile whether they are in the greater Jerusalem area or not, and this in some ways is as it should be. They are, or we are, as a friend of Victor Klemperer's once put it to him in a very dark time, condemned and privileged to be 'a seismic people.' A critical register of the general health of civilization is the status of 'the Jewish question.' No insurance policy has ever been devised that can or will cover this risk.”

Tags : Ambiguity Ancestry Antisemitism Atheism Christendom Christianity Christians Civilisation Exile Fascism Honour Intermarriages Islam Israel Israeli Palestinian Conflict Jerusalem Jewish Question Law Of Return Leo Strauss Mosaic Law Muslims Nuremberg Laws Redemption Religious Conversions Victor Klemperer
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

9. “In the aftermath of the recent wave action in the Indian Ocean, even the archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williamson [sic], proved himself a latter-day Voltairean by whimpering that he could see how this might shake belief in a friendly creator. Williamson is of course a notorious fool, who does an almost perfect imitation of a bleating and frightened sheep, but even so, one is forced to rub one's eyes in astonishment. Is it possible that a grown man could live so long and still have his personal composure, not to mention his lifetime job description, upset by a large ripple of seawater?”

Tags : 2004 2004 Earthquake And Tsunami 2005 Archbishop Of Canterbury Atheism Church Of England Earthquakes Indian Ocean Insults Natural Disasters Religion Rowan Williams Sheep Stupidity Theodicy Tsunamis Voltaire

10. “The sad thing is that so many people, in the belief that the universe is organized to suit and influence them, are willing to sacrifice even the slight cranial capacity with which evolution has equipped us.”

Tags : 1997 Atheism Evolution Religion Stupidity

11. “We have known for a long time that Prince Charles' empty sails are so rigged as to be swelled by any passing waft or breeze of crankiness and cant. He fell for the fake anthropologist Laurens van der Post. He was bowled over by the charms of homeopathic medicine. He has been believably reported as saying that plants do better if you talk to them in a soothing and encouraging way.”

Tags : Charles Prince Of Wales Credulity Frauds Gullibility Homeopathy Laurens Van Der Post Scepticism Stupidity

12. “When the Washington Post telephoned me at home on Valentine's Day 1989 to ask my opinion about the Ayatollah Khomeini's fatwah, I felt at once that here was something that completely committed me. It was, if I can phrase it like this, a matter of everything I hated versus everything I loved. In the hate column: dictatorship, religion, stupidity, demagogy, censorship, bullying, and intimidation. In the love column: literature, irony, humor, the individual, and the defense of free expression. Plus, of course, friendship—though I like to think that my reaction would have been the same if I hadn't known Salman at all. To re-state the premise of the argument again: the theocratic head of a foreign despotism offers money in his own name in order to suborn the murder of a civilian citizen of another country, for the offense of writing a work of fiction. No more root-and-branch challenge to the values of the Enlightenment (on the bicentennial of the fall of the Bastille) or to the First Amendment to the Constitution, could be imagined. President George H.W. Bush, when asked to comment, could only say grudgingly that, as far as he could see, no American interests were involved…”

Tags : Bastille Bullying Censorship Demagogy Dictatorship Fascism First Amendment Free Speech Friendship George Hw Bush Humor Individualism Intimidation Iran Irony Khomeini Love Religion Rushdie Satanic Verses Stupidity Theocracy United States United States Constitution Washington Post
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

13. “So this is where all the vapid talk about the 'soul' of the universe is actually headed. Once the hard-won principles of reason and science have been discredited, the world will not pass into the hands of credulous herbivores who keep crystals by their sides and swoon over the poems of Khalil Gibran. The 'vacuum' will be invaded instead by determined fundamentalists of every stripe who already know the truth by means of revelation and who actually seek real and serious power in the here and now. One thinks of the painstaking, cloud-dispelling labor of British scientists from Isaac Newton to Joseph Priestley to Charles Darwin to Ernest Rutherford to Alan Turing and Francis Crick, much of it built upon the shoulders of Galileo and Copernicus, only to see it casually slandered by a moral and intellectual weakling from the usurping House of Hanover. An awful embarrassment awaits the British if they do not declare for a republic based on verifiable laws and principles, both political and scientific.”

Tags : 2010 Atheism British Monarchy British Royal Family British Scientists Charles Prince Of Wales Credulity Darwin Enlightenment Ernest Rutherford Francis Crick Fundamentalism Islam Joseph Priestley Khalil Gibran Law Monarchy Newton Principles Reason Revelation Science Scientists Stupidity Universe

14. “To 'choose' dogma and faith over doubt and experience is to throw out the ripening vintage and to reach greedily for the Kool-Aid.”

Tags : Atheism Dogma Doubt Experience Faith Kool Aid Religion Scepticism
Source : God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything

15. “And here is the point, about myself and my co-thinkers. Our belief is not a belief. Our principles are not a faith. We do not rely solely upon science and reason, because these are necessary rather than sufficient factors, but we distrust anything that contradicts science or outrages reason. We may differ on many things, but what we respect is free inquiry, openmindedness, and the pursuit of ideas for their own sake.”

Tags : Atheism Belief Faith Principles Reason Religion Scepticism Science
Source : God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything

16. “In the controversy that followed the prince's remarks, his most staunch defender was professor John Taylor, a scholar whose work I had last noticed when he gave good reviews to the psychokinetic (or whatever) capacities of the Israeli conjuror and fraud Uri Geller. The heir to the throne seems to possess the ability to surround himself—perhaps by some mysterious ultramagnetic force?—with every moon-faced spoon-bender, shrub-flatterer, and water-diviner within range.”

Tags : 2010 British Monarchy British Royal Family Charles Prince Of Wales Controversy Credulity Frauds Gullibility John G Taylor Monarchy Psychics Scepticism Uri Geller

17. “About once or twice every month I engage in public debates with those whose pressing need it is to woo and to win the approval of supernatural beings. Very often, when I give my view that there is no supernatural dimension, and certainly not one that is only or especially available to the faithful, and that the natural world is wonderful enough—and even miraculous enough if you insist—I attract pitying looks and anxious questions. How, in that case, I am asked, do I find meaning and purpose in life? How does a mere and gross materialist, with no expectation of a life to come, decide what, if anything, is worth caring about?Depending on my mood, I sometimes but not always refrain from pointing out what a breathtakingly insulting and patronizing question this is. (It is on a par with the equally subtle inquiry: Since you don't believe in our god, what stops you from stealing and lying and raping and killing to your heart's content?) Just as the answer to the latter question is: self-respect and the desire for the respect of others—while in the meantime it is precisely those who think they have divine permission who are truly capable of any atrocity—so the answer to the first question falls into two parts. A life that partakes even a little of friendship, love, irony, humor, parenthood, literature, and music, and the chance to take part in battles for the liberation of others cannot be called 'meaningless' except if the person living it is also an existentialist and elects to call it so. It could be that all existence is a pointless joke, but it is not in fact possible to live one's everyday life as if this were so. Whereas if one sought to define meaninglessness and futility, the idea that a human life should be expended in the guilty, fearful, self-obsessed propitiation of supernatural nonentities… but there, there. Enough.”

Tags : Afterlife Atheism Debate Ethics Existence Existentialism Faith God Life Materialism Meaning Of Life Morality Naturalism Religion Respect Secular Ethics Self Respect Supernaturalism
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

18. “That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.”

Tags : Atheism Reason Science Skeptic

19. “To terrify children with the image of hell, to consider women an inferior creation—is that good for the world?”

Tags : Atheism Child Abuse Children Feminism Hell Religion Religion And Children Rhetorical Questions Sexism Women Women And Religion

20. “Human decency is not derived from religion. It precedes it.”

Tags : Atheism Decency Humanism Religion
Source : God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything

21. “Since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, historians have become both more accurate and more honest—fractionally more brave, one might say—about that 'other' cleansing of the regions and peoples that were ground to atoms between the upper and nether millstones of Hitlerism and Stalinism. One of the most objective chroniclers is Professor Timothy Snyder of Yale University. In his view, it is still 'Operation Reinhardt,' or the planned destruction of Polish Jewry, that is to be considered as the centerpiece of what we commonly call the Holocaust, in which of the estimated 5.7 million Jewish dead, 'roughly three million were prewar Polish citizens.' We should not at all allow ourselves to forget the millions of non-Jewish citizens of Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, and other Slav territories who were also massacred. But for me the salient fact remains that anti-Semitism was the regnant, essential, organizing principle of all the other National Socialist race theories. It is thus not to be thought of as just one prejudice among many.”

Tags : 1989 Accuracy Antisemitism Belarus Berlin Wall Bravery Historians History Holocaust Honesty Massacre National Socialism Nazism Operation Reinhard Poland Polish Jews Prejudice Racism Russia Slavic Peoples Stalinism Timothy D Snyder Yale University
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

22. “A sure sign of ineptitude and malice is manifested when one's attacker is willing to cover himself with mud in order to try and make some of it adhere to his target.”

Tags : Argumentation Debate Ineptitude Malice Norman G Finkelstein Smear Campaigns
Source : Christopher Hitchens and His Critics: Terror, Iraq, and the Left

23. “The essence of the independent mind lies not in what it thinks, but in how it thinks.”

Tags : Critical Thinking Independent Thought Opinions Skepticism Thinking
Source : Letters to a Young Contrarian

24. “The struggle for a free intelligence has always been a struggle between the ironic and the literal mind.”

Tags : Censorship Free Inquiry Free Speech Irony

25. “[Said during a debate when his opponent asserted that atheism and belief in evolution lead to Nazism:]Atheism by itself is, of course, not a moral position or a political one of any kind; it simply is the refusal to believe in a supernatural dimension. For you to say of Nazism that it was the implementation of the work of Charles Darwin is a filthy slander, undeserving of you and an insult to this audience. Darwin’s thought was not taught in Germany; Darwinism was so derided in Germany along with every other form of unbelief that all the great modern atheists, Darwin, Einstein and Freud were alike despised by the National Socialist regime.Now, just to take the most notorious of the 20th century totalitarianisms – the most finished example, the most perfected one, the most ruthless and refined one: that of National Socialism, the one that fortunately allowed the escape of all these great atheists, thinkers and many others, to the United States, a country of separation of church and state, that gave them welcome – if it’s an atheistic regime, then how come that in the first chapter of Mein Kampf, that Hitler says that he’s doing God’s work and executing God’s will in destroying the Jewish people? How come the fuhrer oath that every officer of the Party and the Army had to take, making Hitler into a minor god, begins, “I swear in the name of almighty God, my loyalty to the Fuhrer?” How come that on the belt buckle of every Nazi soldier it says Gott mit uns, God on our side? How come that the first treaty made by the Nationalist Socialist dictatorship, the very first is with the Vatican? It’s exchanging political control of Germany for Catholic control of German education. How come that the church has celebrated the birthday of the Fuhrer every year, on that day until democracy put an end to this filthy, quasi-religious, superstitious, barbarous, reactionary system?Again, this is not a difference of emphasis between us. To suggest that there’s something fascistic about me and about my beliefs is something I won't hear said and you shouldn't believe.”

Tags : Adolf Hitler Albert Einstein Barbaric Catholicism Charles Darwin Darwinism Einstein Evolution Fascism Fascistic Freud Germany Hitler Jewish Mein Kampf Nazi Nazism Pope Science Separation Of Church And State Sigmund Freud Superstitious United States Vatican

26. “I think I have a very good idea why it is that anti-Semitism is so tenacious and so protean and so enduring. Christianity and Islam, theistic though they may claim to be, are both based on the fetishizing of human primates: Jesus in one case and Mohammed in the other. Neither of these figures can be called exactly historical but both have one thing in common even in their quasi-mythical dimension. Both of them were first encountered by the Jews. And the Jews, ravenous as they were for any sign of the long-sought Messiah, were not taken in by either of these two pretenders, or not in large numbers or not for long.If you meet a devout Christian or a believing Muslim, you are meeting someone who would give everything he owned for a personal, face-to-face meeting with the blessed founder or prophet. But in the visage of the Jew, such ardent believers encounter the very figure who did have such a precious moment, and who spurned the opportunity and turned shrugging aside. Do you imagine for a microsecond that such a vile, churlish transgression will ever be forgiven? I myself certainly hope that it will not. The Jews have seen through Jesus and Mohammed. In retrospect, many of them have also seen through the mythical, primitive, and cruel figures of Abraham and Moses. Nearer to our own time, in the bitter combats over the work of Marx and Freud and Einstein, Jewish participants and protagonists have not been the least noticeable. May this always be the case, whenever any human primate sets up, or is set up by others, as a Messiah.”

Tags : Abraham Antisemitism Atheism Christianity Christians Einstein Freud Humans Islam Jesus Jews Marx Messiah Moses Muhammad Muslims Myth Prophets Religion Theism
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

27. “So I close this long reflection on what I hope is a not-too-quaveringly semi-Semitic note. When I am at home, I will only enter a synagogue for the bar or bat mitzvah of a friend's child, or in order to have a debate with the faithful. (When I was to be wed, I chose a rabbi named Robert Goldburg, an Einsteinian and a Shakespearean and a Spinozist, who had married Arthur Miller to Marilyn Monroe and had a copy of Marilyn’s conversion certificate. He conducted the ceremony in Victor and Annie Navasky's front room, with David Rieff and Steve Wasserman as my best of men.) I wanted to do something to acknowledge, and to knit up, the broken continuity between me and my German-Polish forebears. When I am traveling, I will stop at the shul if it is in a country where Jews are under threat, or dying out, or were once persecuted. This has taken me down queer and sad little side streets in Morocco and Tunisia and Eritrea and India, and in Damascus and Budapest and Prague and Istanbul, more than once to temples that have recently been desecrated by the new breed of racist Islamic gangster. (I have also had quite serious discussions, with Iraqi Kurdish friends, about the possibility of Jews genuinely returning in friendship to the places in northern Iraq from which they were once expelled.) I hate the idea that the dispossession of one people should be held hostage to the victimhood of another, as it is in the Middle East and as it was in Eastern Europe. But I find myself somehow assuming that Jewishness and 'normality' are in some profound way noncompatible. The most gracious thing said to me when I discovered my family secret was by Martin, who after a long evening of ironic reflection said quite simply: 'Hitch, I find that I am a little envious of you.' I choose to think that this proved, once again, his appreciation for the nuances of risk, uncertainty, ambivalence, and ambiguity. These happen to be the very things that 'security' and 'normality,' rather like the fantasy of salvation, cannot purchase.”

Tags : Antisemitism Arthur Miller Budapest Damascus Debate Eritrea Germany Iraq Jewish Question Jews Martin Amis Morocco Poland Rabbis Religion Religious Conversion Spinoza Steve Wasserman Synagogues Temples Victor Saul Navasky
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

28. “People spoke to foreigners with an averted gaze, and everybody seemed to know somebody who had just vanished. The rumors of what had happened to them were fantastic and bizarre though, as it turned out, they were only an understatement of the real thing. Before going to see General Videla […], I went to […] check in with Los Madres: the black-draped mothers who paraded, every week, with pictures of their missing loved ones in the Plaza Mayo. (‘Todo mi familia!’ as one elderly lady kept telling me imploringly, as she flourished their photographs. ‘Todo mi familia!’) From these and from other relatives and friends I got a line of questioning to put to the general. I would be told by him, they forewarned me, that people ‘disappeared’ all the time, either because of traffic accidents and family quarrels or, in the dire civil-war circumstances of Argentina, because of the wish to drop out of a gang and the need to avoid one’s former associates. But this was a cover story. Most of those who disappeared were openly taken away in the unmarked Ford Falcon cars of the Buenos Aires military police. I should inquire of the general what precisely had happened to Claudia Inez Grumberg, a paraplegic who was unable to move on her own but who had last been seen in the hands of his ever-vigilant armed forces [….]I possess a picture of the encounter that still makes me want to spew: there stands the killer and torturer and rape-profiteer, as if to illustrate some seminar on the banality of evil. Bony-thin and mediocre in appearance, with a scrubby moustache, he looks for all the world like a cretin impersonating a toothbrush. I am gripping his hand in a much too unctuous manner and smiling as if genuinely delighted at the introduction. Aching to expunge this humiliation, I waited while he went almost pedantically through the predicted script, waving away the rumored but doubtless regrettable dematerializations that were said to be afflicting his fellow Argentines. And then I asked him about Senorita Grumberg. He replied that if what I had said was true, then I should remember that ‘terrorism is not just killing with a bomb, but activating ideas. Maybe that’s why she’s detained.’ I expressed astonishment at this reply and, evidently thinking that I hadn’t understood him the first time, Videla enlarged on the theme. ‘We consider it a great crime to work against the Western and Christian style of life: it is not just the bomber but the ideologist who is the danger.’ Behind him, I could see one or two of his brighter staff officers looking at me with stark hostility as they realized that the general—El Presidente—had made a mistake by speaking so candidly. […] In response to a follow-up question, Videla crassly denied—‘rotondamente’: ‘roundly’ denied—holding Jacobo Timerman ‘as either a journalist or a Jew.’ While we were having this surreal exchange, here is what Timerman was being told by his taunting tormentors:Argentina has three main enemies: Karl Marx, because he tried to destroy the Christian concept of society; Sigmund Freud, because he tried to destroy the Christian concept of the family; and Albert Einstein, because he tried to destroy the Christian concept of time and space.[…] We later discovered what happened to the majority of those who had been held and tortured in the secret prisons of the regime. According to a Navy captain named Adolfo Scilingo, who published a book of confessions, these broken victims were often destroyed as ‘evidence’ by being flown out way over the wastes of the South Atlantic and flung from airplanes into the freezing water below. Imagine the fun element when there’s the surprise bonus of a Jewish female prisoner in a wheelchair to be disposed of… we slide open the door and get ready to roll her and then it’s one, two, three… go!”

Tags : Argentina Christianity Death Squads Einstein Freud Jacobo Timerman Jorge Rafael Videla Marx
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

29. “Hitherto, the Palestinians had been relatively immune to this Allahu Akhbar style. I thought this was a hugely retrograde development. I said as much to Edward. To reprint Nazi propaganda and to make a theocratic claim to Spanish soil was to be a protofascist and a supporter of 'Caliphate' imperialism: it had nothing at all to do with the mistreatment of the Palestinians. Once again, he did not exactly disagree. But he was anxious to emphasize that the Israelis had often encouraged Hamas as a foil against Fatah and the PLO. This I had known since seeing the burning out of leftist Palestinians by Muslim mobs in Gaza as early as 1981. Yet once again, it seemed Edward could only condemn Islamism if it could somehow be blamed on either Israel or the United States or the West, and not as a thing in itself. He sometimes employed the same sort of knight's move when discussing other Arabist movements, excoriating Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath Party, for example, mainly because it had once enjoyed the support of the CIA. But when Saddam was really being attacked, as in the case of his use of chemical weapons on noncombatants at Halabja, Edward gave second-hand currency to the falsified story that it had 'really' been the Iranians who had done it. If that didn't work, well, hadn't the United States sold Saddam the weaponry in the first place? Finally, and always—and this question wasn't automatically discredited by being a change of subject—what about Israel's unwanted and ugly rule over more and more millions of non-Jews?I evolved a test for this mentality, which I applied to more people than Edward. What would, or did, the relevant person say when the United States intervened to stop the massacres and dispossessions in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo? Here were two majority-Muslim territories and populations being vilely mistreated by Orthodox and Catholic Christians. There was no oil in the region. The state interests of Israel were not involved (indeed, Ariel Sharon publicly opposed the return of the Kosovar refugees to their homes on the grounds that it set an alarming—I want to say 'unsettling'—precedent). The usual national-security 'hawks,' like Henry Kissinger, were also strongly opposed to the mission. One evening at Edward's apartment, with the other guest being the mercurial, courageous Azmi Bishara, then one of the more distinguished Arab members of the Israeli parliament, I was finally able to leave the arguing to someone else. Bishara [...] was quite shocked that Edward would not lend public support to Clinton for finally doing the right thing in the Balkans. Why was he being so stubborn? I had begun by then—belatedly you may say—to guess. Rather like our then-friend Noam Chomsky, Edward in the final instance believed that if the United States was doing something, then that thing could not by definition be a moral or ethical action.”

Tags : Andalusia Antisemitism Ariel Sharon Baath Party Bill Clinton Bosnia And Herzegovina Catholics Christians Cia Fanaticism Fascism Fatah Hamas Imperialism Iran Islamism Kosovo Leftists National Security Nazism Oil Plo Politics Of Israel Religious Extremism Spain Takbir United States War Crimes
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

30. “I resolutely refuse to believe that the state of Edward's health had anything to do with this, and I don't say this only because I was once later accused of attacking him 'on his deathbed.' He was entirely lucid to the end, and the positions he took were easily recognizable by me as extensions or outgrowths of views he had expressed (and also declined to express) in the past. Alas, it is true that he was closer to the end than anybody knew when the thirtieth anniversary reissue of his Orientalism was published, but his long-precarious condition would hardly argue for giving him a lenient review, let alone denying him one altogether, which would have been the only alternatives. In the introduction he wrote for the new edition, he generally declined the opportunity to answer his scholarly critics, and instead gave the recent American arrival in Baghdad as a grand example of 'Orientalism' in action. The looting and destruction of the exhibits in the Iraq National Museum had, he wrote, been a deliberate piece of United States vandalism, perpetrated in order to shear the Iraqi people of their cultural patrimony and demonstrate to them their new servitude. Even at a time when anything at all could be said and believed so long as it was sufficiently and hysterically anti-Bush, this could be described as exceptionally mendacious. So when the Atlantic invited me to review Edward's revised edition, I decided I'd suspect myself more if I declined than if I agreed, and I wrote what I felt I had to.Not long afterward, an Iraqi comrade sent me without comment an article Edward had contributed to a magazine in London that was published by a princeling of the Saudi royal family. In it, Edward quoted some sentences about the Iraq war that he off-handedly described as 'racist.' The sentences in question had been written by me. I felt myself assailed by a reaction that was at once hot-eyed and frigidly cold. He had cited the words without naming their author, and this I briefly thought could be construed as a friendly hesitance. Or as cowardice... I can never quite act the stern role of Mr. Darcy with any conviction, but privately I sometimes resolve that that's 'it' as it were. I didn't say anything to Edward but then, I never said anything to him again, either. I believe that one or two charges simply must retain their face value and not become debauched or devalued. 'Racist' is one such. It is an accusation that must either be made good upon, or fully retracted. I would not have as a friend somebody whom I suspected of that prejudice, and I decided to presume that Edward was honest and serious enough to feel the same way. I feel misery stealing over me again as I set this down: I wrote the best tribute I could manage when he died not long afterward (and there was no strain in that, as I was relieved to find), but I didn't go to, and wasn't invited to, his funeral.”

Tags : Baghdad Cowardice Edward Said Fitzwilliam Darcy George W Bush House Of Saud Imperialism Iraq Iraq War Iraqis Jane Austen London Mendacity National Museum Of Iraq Orientalism Book Prejudice Pride And Prejudice Race Card The Atlantic United States Vandalism
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

31. “I have always found it quaint and rather touching that there is a movement [Libertarians] in the US that thinks Americans are not yet selfish enough.”

Tags : Ayn Rand Individualism Libertarianism Objectivism Selfishness

32. “Many things in this period have been hard to bear, or hard to take seriously. My own profession went into a protracted swoon during the Reagan-Bush-Thatcher decade, and shows scant sign of recovering a critical faculty—or indeed any faculty whatever, unless it is one of induced enthusiasm for a plausible consensus President. (We shall see whether it counts as progress for the same parrots to learn a new word.) And my own cohort, the left, shared in the general dispiriting move towards apolitical, atonal postmodernism. Regarding something magnificent, like the long-overdue and still endangered South African revolution (a jagged fit in the supposedly smooth pattern of axiomatic progress), one could see that Ariadne’s thread had a robust reddish tinge, and that potential citizens had not all deconstructed themselves into Xhosa, Zulu, Cape Coloured or ‘Eurocentric’; had in other words resisted the sectarian lesson that the masters of apartheid tried to teach them. Elsewhere, though, it seemed all at once as if competitive solipsism was the signifier of the ‘radical’; a stress on the salience not even of the individual, but of the trait, and from that atomization into the lump of the category. Surely one thing to be learned from the lapsed totalitarian system was the unwholesome relationship between the cult of the masses and the adoration of the supreme personality. Yet introspective voyaging seemed to coexist with dull group-think wherever one peered about among the formerly ‘committed’.Traditionally then, or tediously as some will think, I saw no reason to discard the Orwellian standard in considering modern literature. While a sort of etiolation, tricked out as playfulness, had its way among the non-judgemental, much good work was still done by those who weighed words as if they meant what they said. Some authors, indeed, stood by their works as if they had composed them in solitude and out of conviction. Of these, an encouraging number spoke for the ironic against the literal mind; for the generously interpreted interest of all against the renewal of what Orwell termed the ‘smelly little orthodoxies’—tribe and Faith, monotheist and polytheist, being most conspicuous among these new/old disfigurements. In the course of making a film about the decaffeinated hedonism of modern Los Angeles, I visited the house where Thomas Mann, in another time of torment, wrote Dr Faustus. My German friends were filling the streets of Munich and Berlin to combat the recrudescence of the same old shit as I read:This old, folkish layer survives in us all, and to speak as I really think, I do. not consider religion the most adequate means of keeping it under lock and key. For that, literature alone avails, humanistic science, the ideal of the free and beautiful human being. [italics mine]The path to this concept of enlightenment is not to be found in the pursuit of self-pity, or of self-love. Of course to be merely a political animal is to miss Mann’s point; while, as ever, to be an apolitical animal is to leave fellow-citizens at the mercy of Ideolo’. For the sake of argument, then, one must never let a euphemism or a false consolation pass uncontested. The truth seldom lies, but when it does lie it lies somewhere in between.”

Tags : Apartheid Apoliticism Berlin Cold War Communism Enlightenment Euphemism Film German People Germany Groupthink Hedonism Journalism Lies Literary Criticism Margaret Thatcher Orthodoxy Politics Postmodernism Potus Progress Right Wing Politics Ronald Reagan Self Love Socialism Solipsism Soviet Union Truth
Source : For the Sake of Argument: Essays and Minority Reports

33. “Edward had a personal horror of violence and never endorsed or excused it, though in a documentary he made about the conflict he said that actions like the bombing of pilgrims at Tel Aviv airport 'did more harm than good,' which I remember thinking was (a) euphemistic and (b) a slipshod expression unworthy of a professor of English.”

Tags : Edward Said Euphemism Tel Aviv Violence
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

34. “As he once wrote of Kipling, his own enduring influence can be measured by a number of terms and phrases—doublethink, thought police, 'Some animals are more equal than others'—that he embedded in our language and in our minds. In Orwell's own mind there was an inextricable connection between language and truth, a conviction that by using plain and unambiguous words one could forbid oneself the comfort of certain falsehoods and delusions. Every time you hear a piece of psychobabble or propaganda—'people's princess,' say, or 'collateral damage,' or 'peace initiative'—it is good to have a well-thumbed collection of his essays nearby. His main enemy in discourse was euphemism, just as his main enemy in practice was the abuse of power, and (more important) the slavish willingness of people to submit to it.”

Tags : Animals Collateral Damage Conviction Delusion Diana Princess Of Wales Doublethink Equality Euphemism George Orwell Influence Language Lies Mind Peace Phrases Plain Language Power Propaganda Rudyard Kipling Submission Terms Thought Police Truth

35. “I have not been able to discover whether there exists a precise French equivalent for the common Anglo-American expression 'killing time.' It's a very crass and breezy expression, when you ponder it for a moment, considering that time, after all, is killing us.”

Tags : Death English Language French Time
Source : Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays

36. “Long before it was known to me as a place where my ancestry was even remotely involved, the idea of a state for Jews (or a Jewish state; not quite the same thing, as I failed at first to see) had been 'sold' to me as an essentially secular and democratic one. The idea was a haven for the persecuted and the survivors, a democracy in a region where the idea was poorly understood, and a place where—as Philip Roth had put it in a one-handed novel that I read when I was about nineteen—even the traffic cops and soldiers were Jews. This, like the other emphases of that novel, I could grasp. Indeed, my first visit was sponsored by a group in London called the Friends of Israel. They offered to pay my expenses, that is, if on my return I would come and speak to one of their meetings.I still haven't submitted that expenses claim. The misgivings I had were of two types, both of them ineradicable. The first and the simplest was the encounter with everyday injustice: by all means the traffic cops were Jews but so, it turned out, were the colonists and ethnic cleansers and even the torturers. It was Jewish leftist friends who insisted that I go and see towns and villages under occupation, and sit down with Palestinian Arabs who were living under house arrest—if they were lucky—or who were squatting in the ruins of their demolished homes if they were less fortunate. In Ramallah I spent the day with the beguiling Raimonda Tawil, confined to her home for committing no known crime save that of expressing her opinions. (For some reason, what I most remember is a sudden exclamation from her very restrained and respectable husband, a manager of the local bank: 'I would prefer living under a Bedouin muktar to another day of Israeli rule!' He had obviously spent some time thinking about the most revolting possible Arab alternative.) In Jerusalem I visited the Tutungi family, who could produce title deeds going back generations but who were being evicted from their apartment in the old city to make way for an expansion of the Jewish quarter. Jerusalem: that place of blood since remote antiquity. Jerusalem, over which the British and French and Russians had fought a foul war in the Crimea, and in the mid-nineteenth century, on the matter of which Christian Church could command the keys to some 'holy sepulcher.' Jerusalem, where the anti-Semite Balfour had tried to bribe the Jews with the territory of another people in order to seduce them from Bolshevism and continue the diplomacy of the Great War. Jerusalem: that pest-house in whose environs all zealots hope that an even greater and final war can be provoked. It certainly made a warped appeal to my sense of history.”

Tags : Ancestry Antisemitism Arabs Armageddon Bedouin Bolshevism Britain Colonialism Crimea Diplomacy Fanaticism History House Arrest Jerusalem London Palestine Philip Roth Russia Territory Torture War
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

37. “The neo-cons, or some of them, decided that they would back Clinton when he belatedly decided for Bosnia and Kosovo against Milosevic, and this even though they loathed Clinton, because the battle against religious and ethnic dictatorship in the Balkans took precedence. This, by the way, was partly a battle to save Muslims from Catholic and Christian Orthodox killers. That impressed me. The neo-cons also took the view, quite early on, that coexistence with Saddam Hussein was impossible as well as undesirable. They were dead right about that. They had furthermore been thinking about the menace of jihadism when most people were half-asleep.And then I have to say that I was rather struck by the way that the Weekly Standard and its associated voices took the decision to get rid of Trent Lott earlier this year, thus removing an embarrassment as well as a disgrace from the political scene. And their arguments were on points of principle, not 'perception.' I liked their ruthlessness here, and their seriousness, at a time when much of the liberal Left is not even seriously wrong, but frivolously wrong, and babbles without any sense of responsibility. (I mean, have you read their sub-Brechtian stuff on Halliburton....?) And revolution from above, in some states and cases, is—as I wrote in my book A Long Short War—often preferable to the status quo, or to no revolution at all.”

Tags : A Long Short War Balkans Bertolt Brecht Bill Clinton Bosnia Bosnian War Catholicism Christianity Ethnicity Halliburton Islam Jihad Kosovo Kosovo War Leftism Liberalism Neoconservatism Persecution Of Muslims Religion Revolution Saddam Hussein Slobodan Milosevic The Weekly Standard Trent Lott War
Source : Christopher Hitchens and His Critics: Terror, Iraq, and the Left

38. “Faith is the surrender of the mind, it's the surrender of reason, it's the surrender of the only thing that makes us different from other animals. It's our need to believe and to surrender our skepticism and our reason, our yearning to discard that and put all our trust or faith in someone or something, that is the sinister thing to me. ... Out of all the virtues, all the supposed virtues, faith must be the most overrated”

Tags : Animal Atheism Faith Mammals Religion Virtue

39. “An old joke has an Oxford professor meeting an American former graduate student and asking him what he's working on these days. 'My thesis is on the survival of the class system in the United States.' 'Oh really, that's interesting: one didn't think there was a class system in the United States.' 'Nobody does. That's how it survives.”

Tags : Class Humour Joke United States
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

40. “[E]xceptional claims demand exceptional evidence.”

Tags : Atheism Atheist Evidence God Noremorse Science
Source : God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything

41. “What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.”

Tags : Evidence Skepticism
Source : God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything

42. “She's got no charisma of any kind [but] I can imagine her being mildly useful to a low-rank porn director.”

Tags : Charisma Pornography Sarah Palin Sex Appeal

43. “1. Bangladesh.... In 1971 ... Kissinger overrode all advice in order to support the Pakistani generals in both their civilian massacre policy in East Bengal and their armed attack on India from West Pakistan.... This led to a moral and political catastrophe the effects of which are still sorely felt. Kissinger’s undisclosed reason for the ‘tilt’ was the supposed but never materialised ‘brokerage’ offered by the dictator Yahya Khan in the course of secret diplomacy between Nixon and China.... Of the new state of Bangladesh, Kissinger remarked coldly that it was ‘a basket case’ before turning his unsolicited expertise elsewhere.2. Chile.... Kissinger had direct personal knowledge of the CIA’s plan to kidnap and murder General René Schneider, the head of the Chilean Armed Forces ... who refused to countenance military intervention in politics. In his hatred for the Allende Government, Kissinger even outdid Richard Helms ... who warned him that a coup in such a stable democracy would be hard to procure. The murder of Schneider nonetheless went ahead, at Kissinger’s urging and with American financing, just between Allende’s election and his confirmation.... This was one of the relatively few times that Mr Kissinger (his success in getting people to call him ‘Doctor’ is greater than that of most PhDs) involved himself in the assassination of a single named individual rather than the slaughter of anonymous thousands. His jocular remark on this occasion—‘I don’t see why we have to let a country go Marxist just because its people are irresponsible’—suggests he may have been having the best of times....3. Cyprus.... Kissinger approved of the preparations by Greek Cypriot fascists for the murder of President Makarios, and sanctioned the coup which tried to extend the rule of the Athens junta (a favoured client of his) to the island. When despite great waste of life this coup failed in its objective, which was also Kissinger’s, of enforced partition, Kissinger promiscuously switched sides to support an even bloodier intervention by Turkey. Thomas Boyatt ... went to Kissinger in advance of the anti-Makarios putsch and warned him that it could lead to a civil war. ‘Spare me the civics lecture,’ replied Kissinger, who as you can readily see had an aphorism for all occasions.4. Kurdistan. Having endorsed the covert policy of supporting a Kurdish revolt in northern Iraq between 1974 and 1975, with ‘deniable’ assistance also provided by Israel and the Shah of Iran, Kissinger made it plain to his subordinates that the Kurds were not to be allowed to win, but were to be employed for their nuisance value alone. They were not to be told that this was the case, but soon found out when the Shah and Saddam Hussein composed their differences, and American aid to Kurdistan was cut off. Hardened CIA hands went to Kissinger ... for an aid programme for the many thousands of Kurdish refugees who were thus abruptly created.... The apercu of the day was: ‘foreign policy should not he confused with missionary work.’ Saddam Hussein heartily concurred.5. East Timor. The day after Kissinger left Djakarta in 1975, the Armed Forces of Indonesia employed American weapons to invade and subjugate the independent former Portuguese colony of East Timor. Isaacson gives a figure of 100,000 deaths resulting from the occupation, or one-seventh of the population, and there are good judges who put this estimate on the low side. Kissinger was furious when news of his own collusion was leaked, because as well as breaking international law the Indonesians were also violating an agreement with the United States.... Monroe Leigh ... pointed out this awkward latter fact. Kissinger snapped: ‘The Israelis when they go into Lebanon—when was the last time we protested that?’ A good question, even if it did not and does not lie especially well in his mouth.It goes on and on and on until one cannot eat enough to vomit enough.”

Tags : 1971 1975 Bangladesh Bangladesh Liberation War China Pakistan Relations Civil War Coup D État India International Law Iran Iraq War Kurdish Iraqi Conflict Kurdish People Kurdistan Lebanon Makarios Iii Military Of Chile Morality Murder Pakistan Portugual Salvador Allende Second Kurdish Iraqi War Sino American Relations Slaughter Turkey Turkish Invasion Of Cyprus Walter Isaacson War Yahya Khan

44. “Actually—and this was where I began to feel seriously uncomfortable—some such divine claim underlay not just 'the occupation' but the whole idea of a separate state for Jews in Palestine. Take away the divine warrant for the Holy Land and where were you, and what were you? Just another land-thief like the Turks or the British, except that in this case you wanted the land without the people. And the original Zionist slogan—'a land without a people for a people without a land'—disclosed its own negation when I saw the densely populated Arab towns dwelling sullenly under Jewish tutelage. You want irony? How about Jews becoming colonizers at just the moment when other Europeans had given up on the idea?”

Tags : Arabs Britain Colonialism Europe Holy Land Irony Israel Israeli Palestinian Conflict Jews Land Palestine Religion Turkey Zionism
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

45. “Suppose that a man leaps out of a burning building—as my dear friend and colleague Jeff Goldberg sat and said to my face over a table at La Tomate in Washington not two years ago—and lands on a bystander in the street below. Now, make the burning building be Europe, and the luckless man underneath be the Palestinian Arabs. Is this a historical injustice? Has the man below been made a victim, with infinite cause of complaint and indefinite justification for violent retaliation? My own reply would be a provisional 'no,' but only on these conditions. The man leaping from the burning building must still make such restitution as he can to the man who broke his fall, and must not pretend that he never even landed on him. And he must base his case on the singularity and uniqueness of the original leap. It can't, in other words, be 'leap, leap, leap' for four generations and more. The people underneath cannot be expected to tolerate leaping on this scale and of this duration, if you catch my drift. In Palestine, tread softly, for you tread on their dreams. And do not tell the Palestinians that they were never fallen upon and bruised in the first place. Do not shame yourself with the cheap lie that they were told by their leaders to run away. Also, stop saying that nobody knew how to cultivate oranges in Jaffa until the Jews showed them how. 'Making the desert bloom'—one of Yvonne's stock phrases—makes desert dwellers out of people who were the agricultural superiors of the Crusaders.”

Tags : Agriculture Analogies Arabs Colonialism Crusades Europe History Injustice Israel Israeli Palestinian Conflict Jaffa Jeff Goldberg Jews Palestine Palestinians Victims Washington
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

46. “I regard anti-Semitism as ineradicable and as one element of the toxin with which religion has infected us. Perhaps partly for this reason, I have never been able to see Zionism as a cure for it. American and British and French Jews have told me with perfect sincerity that they are always prepared for the day when 'it happens again' and the Jew-baiters take over. (And I don't pretend not to know what they are talking about: I have actually seen the rabid phenomenon at work in modern and sunny Argentina and am unable to forget it.) So then, they seem to think, they will take refuge in the Law of Return, and in Haifa, or for all I know in Hebron. Never mind for now that if all of world Jewry did settle in Palestine, this would actually necessitate further Israeli expansion, expulsion, and colonization, and that their departure under these apocalyptic conditions would leave the new brownshirts and blackshirts in possession of the French and British and American nuclear arsenals. This is ghetto thinking, hardly even fractionally updated to take into account what has changed. The important but delayed realization will have to come: Israeli Jews are a part of the diaspora, not a group that has escaped from it. Why else does Israel daily beseech the often-flourishing Jews of other lands, urging them to help the most endangered Jews of all: the ones who rule Palestine by force of arms? Why else, having supposedly escaped from the need to rely on Gentile goodwill, has Israel come to depend more and more upon it? On this reckoning, Zionism must constitute one of the greatest potential non sequiturs in human history.”

Tags : American Jews Argentina Atheism Britain British Jews Colonialism Expansionism Fascism France French Jews Gentiles Haifa Hebron History Israel Israeli Palestinian Conflict Israelis Jewish Diaspora Jews Law Of Return Nuclear Weapons Palestine Religion United States Zionism
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

47. “During the Bosnian war in the late 1990s, I spent several days traveling around the country with Susan Sontag and her son, my dear friend David Rieff. On one occasion, we made a special detour to the town of Zenica, where there was reported to be a serious infiltration of outside Muslim extremists: a charge that was often used to slander the Bosnian government of the time. We found very little evidence of that, but the community itself was much riven as between Muslim, Croat, and Serb. No faction was strong enough to predominate, each was strong enough to veto the other's candidate for the chairmanship of the city council. Eventually, and in a way that was characteristically Bosnian, all three parties called on one of the town's few Jews and asked him to assume the job. We called on him, and found that he was also the resident intellectual, with a natural gift for synthesizing matters. After we left him, Susan began to chortle in the car. 'What do you think?' she asked. 'Do you think that the only dentist and the only shrink in Zenica are Jewish also?' It would be dense to have pretended not to see her joke.”

Tags : 1990S Bosnia Bosnian War City Councils Croats David Rieff Extremism Humour Intellectuals Islamic Extremism Jews Muslims Religion Religious Extremism Serbs Sontag Zealotry Zenica
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

48. “Trotsky was so much an intellectual that in the final analysis, Marxism was not quite enough for him.”

Tags : Intellectuals Leon Trotsky Marxism Trotskyism
Source : Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays

49. “MT [Mother Teresa] was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction.”

Tags : Birth Control Empowerment Of Women Mother Teresa Poverty Poverty Alleviation

50. “Periclean Greeks employed the term idiotis, without any connotation of stupidity or subnormality, to mean simply 'a person indifferent to public affairs.' Obviously, there is something wanting in the apolitical personality. But we have also come to suspect the idiocy of politicization—of the professional pol and power broker. The two idiocies make a perfect match, with the apathy of the first permitting the depredations of the second.”

Tags : Ancient Greece Apolitical Athens Pericles Politics Politics Of The United States
Source : Prepared for the Worst: Selected Essays and Minority Reports

51. “The only people truly bound by campaign promises are the voters who believe them.”

Tags : Election Promises Elections Politics Politics Of The United States
Source : The Quotable Hitchens from Alcohol to Zionism: The Very Best of Christopher Hitchens

52. “I used to call myself a single-issue voter on the essential question of defending civilization against its terrorist enemies and their totalitarian protectors, and on that 'issue' I hope I can continue to expose and oppose any ambiguity.”

Tags : 2008 Islam Islamism Politics Politics Of The United States Terrorism Totalitarianism United States United States Elections 2008 War On Terror

53. “Don't write in to ask whether I would prefer Gingrich to Clinton. Ask, rather, whether Clinton prefers Gingrich to you. Go triangulate yourself.”

Tags : 1997 Bill Clinton Newt Gingrich Politics Politics Of The United States Triangulation Politics United States

54. “The important but delayed realization will have to come: Israeli Jews are a part of the diaspora, not a group that has escaped from it. Why else does Israel daily beseech the often-flourishing Jews of other lands, urging them to help the most endangered Jews of all: the ones who rule Palestine by force of arms? Why else, having supposedly escaped from the need to rely on Gentile goodwill, has Israel come to depend more and more upon it? On this reckoning, Zionism must constitute one of the greatest potential non sequiturs in human history.”

Tags : Diaspora Israel Jews
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

55. “Call no man lucky until he is dead, but there have been moment of rare satisfaction in the often random and fragmented life of the radical freelance scribbler. I have lived to see Ronald Reagan called “a useful idiot for Kremlin propaganda” by his former idolators; to see the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union regarded with fear and suspicion by the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (which blacked out an interview with Miloš Forman broadcast live on Moscow TV); to see Mao Zedong relegated like a despot of antiquity. I have also had the extraordinary pleasure of revisiting countries—Greece, Spain, Zimbabwe, and others—that were dictatorships or colonies when first I saw them. Other mini-Reichs have melted like dew, often bringing exiled and imprisoned friends blinking modestly and honorably into the glare. E pur si muove—it still moves, all right.”

Tags : 20Th Century Cold War Colonialism Communism Czechoslovakia Despotism Dictatorship Freedom Greece Journalism Liberation Mao Zedong Milos Forman Moscow Postcolonialism Propaganda Ronald Reagan Russia Soviet Union Spain Television United States Zimbabwe
Source : Prepared for the Worst: Selected Essays and Minority Reports

56. “It would not be an exaggeration to say that the land question in Zimbabwe is the single most decisive one.”

Tags : 1979 Land Land Reform Land Reform In Zimbabwe Politics Prescience Zimbabwe
Source : Inequalities in Zimbabwe

57. “Remaining for a moment with the question of legality and illegality: United Nations Security Council Resolution 1368, unanimously passed, explicitly recognized the right of the United States to self-defense and further called upon all member states 'to bring to justice the perpetrators, organizers and sponsors of the terrorist attacks. It added that 'those responsible for aiding, supporting or harboring the perpetrators, organizers and sponsors of those acts will be held accountable.' In a speech the following month, the United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan publicly acknowledged the right of self-defense as a legitimate basis for military action. The SEAL unit dispatched by President Obama to Abbottabad was large enough to allow for the contingency of bin-Laden's capture and detention. The naïve statement that he was 'unarmed' when shot is only loosely compatible with the fact that he was housed in a military garrison town, had a loaded automatic weapon in the room with him, could well have been wearing a suicide vest, had stated repeatedly that he would never be taken alive, was the commander of one of the most violent organizations in history, and had declared himself at war with the United States. It perhaps says something that not even the most casuistic apologist for al-Qaeda has ever even attempted to justify any of its 'operations' in terms that could be covered by any known law, with the possible exception of some sanguinary verses of the Koran.”

Tags : Abbottabad Al Qaeda Assassination Barack Obama Death Of Osama Bin Laden International Law Islamism Justice Kofi Annan Law Osama Bin Laden Pakistan Quran Right To Self Defense Self Defense September 11 Attacks United Nations United Nations Security Council United States United States Navy Seals War
Source : The Enemy

58. “Should I, too, prefer the title of 'non-Jewish Jew'? For some time, I would have identified myself strongly with the attitude expressed by Rosa Luxemburg, writing from prison in 1917 to her anguished friend Mathilde Wurm:What do you want with these special Jewish pains? I feel as close to the wretched victims of the rubber plantations in Putamayo and the blacks of Africa with whose bodies the Europeans play ball… I have no special corner in my heart for the ghetto: I am at home in the entire world, where there are clouds and birds and human tears.An inordinate proportion of the Marxists I have known would probably have formulated their own views in much the same way. It was almost a point of honor not to engage in 'thinking with the blood,' to borrow a notable phrase from D.H. Lawrence, and to immerse Jewishness in other and wider struggles. Indeed, the old canard about 'rootless cosmopolitanism' finds a perverse sort of endorsement in Jewish internationalism: the more emphatically somebody stresses that sort of rhetoric about the suffering of others, the more likely I would be to assume that the speaker was a Jew. Does this mean that I think there are Jewish 'characteristics'? Yes, I think it must mean that.”

Tags : Africa Africans Compassion Dh Lawrence Empathy Europeans Internationalism Jewish Question Jews Marxism Mathilde Verne Plantations Prison Race Racism Rootless Cosmopolitanism Rosa Luxemburg Suffering Victims
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

59. “Mrs. Clinton, speaking to a black church audience on Martin Luther King Day last year, did describe President George W. Bush as treating the Congress of the United States like 'a plantation,' adding in a significant tone of voice that 'you know what I mean ...'She did not repeat this trope, for some reason, when addressing the electors of Iowa or New Hampshire. She's willing to ring the other bell, though, if it suits her. But when an actual African-American challenger comes along, she rather tends to pout and wince at his presumption (or did until recently).”

Tags : 2008 African Americans Barack Obama George W Bush Hillary Clinton Hypocrisy Iowa Martin Luther King Jr New Hampshire Plantation Politics Racism United States United States Elections 2008

60. “It doesn't happen to me anymore, because a fresh generation of Africans and Asians has arisen to take over the business, but in my early years in Washington, D.C., I would often find myself in the back of a big beat-up old cab driven by an African-American veteran. I became used to the formalities of the mise-en-scène: on some hot and drowsy Dixie-like afternoon I would flag down a flaking Chevy. Behind the wheel, leaning wa-aay back and relaxed, often with a cigar stub in the corner of his mouth (and, I am not making this up, but sometimes also with a genuine porkpie hat on the back of his head) would be a grizzled man with the waist of his pants somewhere up around his armpits. I would state my desired destination. In accordance with ancient cabdriver custom, he would say nothing inresponse but simply engage the stickshift on his steering wheel and begin to cruise in a leisurely fashion. There would be a pause. Then: 'You from England?' I would always try to say something along the lines of 'Well, I'm in no position to deny it.' This occasionally got me a grin; in any case, I always knew what was coming next. 'I was there once.' 'Were you in the service?' 'I sure was.' 'Did you get to Normandy?' 'Yes, sir.' But it wasn't Normandy or combat about which they wanted to reminisce. (With real combat veterans, by the way, it almost never is.) It was England itself. 'Man did it know how to rain… and the warm beer. Nice people, though. Real nice.' I would never forget to say, as I got out and deliberately didn't overtip (that seeming a cheap thing to do), how much this effort on their part was remembered and appreciated.”

Tags : African American England United States World War Ii
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

61. “Thus, though I dislike to differ with such a great man, Voltaire was simply ludicrous when he said that if god did not exist it would be necessary to invent him. The human invention of god is the problem to begin with.”

Tags : Atheism Atheist Existence Humor Invention Inventions No Remorse Problem Voltaire
Source : God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything

62. “To be the father of growing daughters is to understand something of what Yeats evokes with his imperishable phrase 'terrible beauty.' Nothing can make one so happily exhilarated or so frightened: it's a solid lesson in the limitations of self to realize that your heart is running around inside someone else's body. It also makes me quite astonishingly calm at the thought of death: I know whom I would die to protect and I also understand that nobody but a lugubrious serf can possibly wish for a father who never goes away.”

Tags : Atheism Daughters Death Fatherhood Fathers God Mortality Religion Yeats
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

63. “The anti-life of [Jerry Falwell] proves only one thing: that you can get away with the most extraordinary offenses to morality and truth in this country if you'll just get yourself called Reverend. People like that should be out in the street, shouting and hollering with a cardboard sign and selling pencils from a cup.”

Tags : Abortion Christian Church Crime Dogma Eye Opening Faith Free Thinkers Freedom Genius Morality Offenses Pastor Pro Choice Pro Life Religion Religious Republican Reverend Sad Truth Separation Of Church And State Spirituality Terrorism Truth

64. “Alcohol makes other people less tedious, and food less bland, and can help provide what the Greeks called entheos, or the slight buzz of inspiration when reading or writing. The only worthwhile miracle in the New Testament—the transmutation of water into wine during the wedding at Cana—is a tribute to the persistence of Hellenism in an otherwise austere Judaea. The same applies to the seder at Passover, which is obviously modeled on the Platonic symposium: questions are asked (especially of the young) while wine is circulated. No better form of sodality has ever been devised: at Oxford one was positively expected to take wine during tutorials. The tongue must be untied. It's not a coincidence that Omar Khayyam, rebuking and ridiculing the stone-faced Iranian mullahs of his time, pointed to the value of the grape as a mockery of their joyless and sterile regime. Visiting today's Iran, I was delighted to find that citizens made a point of defying the clerical ban on booze, keeping it in their homes for visitors even if they didn't particularly take to it themselves, and bootlegging it with great brio and ingenuity. These small revolutions affirm the human.”

Tags : Ancient Greeks Atheism Boredom Brotherhood Cana Christianity Entheos Food Hellenism Inspiration Judaea Marriage At Cana Miracles Mullahs New Testament Omar Khayyam Oxford Passover Passover Seder Reading Religion Symposia Wine Writing
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

65. “Who are your favorite heroines in real life? The women of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran who risk their lives and their beauty to defy the foulness of theocracy. Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Azar Nafisi as their ideal feminine model.”

Tags : Afghanistan Ayaan Hirsi Ali Azar Nafisi Feminism Heroes Heroines Iran Iraq Islam Religion Role Models Taliban Treatment Of Women Theocracy Women Women And Religion Women In Afghanistan Women In Iran Women In Iraq Women In Islam Women S Rights In Iran Women S Rights Movement In Iran
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

66. “[I]f you think that American imperialism and its globalised, capitalist form is the most dangerous thing in the world, that means you don't think the Islamic Republic of Iran or North Korea or the Taliban is as bad.”

Tags : Afghanistan American Imperialism Anti Americanism Capitalism Globalisation Iran Islamic Republic North Korea Taliban United States

67. “As he defended the book one evening in the early 1980s at the Carnegie Endowment in New York, I knew that some of what he said was true enough, just as some of it was arguably less so. (Edward incautiously dismissed 'speculations about the latest conspiracy to blow up buildings or sabotage commercial airliners' as the feverish product of 'highly exaggerated stereotypes.') Covering Islam took as its point of departure the Iranian revolution, which by then had been fully counter-revolutionized by the forces of the Ayatollah. Yes, it was true that the Western press—which was one half of the pun about 'covering'—had been naïve if not worse about the Pahlavi regime. Yes, it was true that few Middle East 'analysts' had had any concept of the latent power of Shi'ism to create mass mobilization. Yes, it was true that almost every stage of the Iranian drama had come as a complete surprise to the media. But wasn't it also the case that Iranian society was now disappearing into a void of retrogressive piety that had levied war against Iranian Kurdistan and used medieval weaponry such as stoning and amputation against its internal critics, or even against those like unveiled women whose very existence constituted an offense?”

Tags : 1980S Amputation Carnegie Endowment Covering Islam Edward Said Human Rights Iran Iranian Kurdistan Iranian Revolution Khomeini Media Middle East Mohammed Reza Pahlavi New York September 11 Attacks Shiism Stoning Theocracy Women Women And Religion Women In Iran Women In Islam Womens Rights
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

68. “When the day comes that Tehran can announce its nuclear capability, every shred of international law will have been discarded. The mullahs have publicly sworn—to the United Nations and the European Union and the International Atomic Energy Agency—that they are not cheating. As they unmask their batteries, they will be jeering at the very idea of an 'international community.' How strange it is that those who usually fetishize the United Nations and its inspectors do not feel this shame more keenly.”

Tags : European Union International Law Iran Iran And Wmds Mullahs Nuclear Program Of Iran Nuclear Weapons Tehran United Nations

69. “I am not one of those who believes—as Obama is said to believe—that a solution to the Palestinian statehood question would bring an end to Muslim resentment against the United States. (Incidentally, if he really does believe this, his lethargy and impotence in the face of Netanyahu's consistent double-dealing is even more culpable.) The Islamist fanatics have their own agenda, and, as in the case of Hamas and its Iranian backers, they have already demonstrated that nothing but the destruction of Israel and the removal of American influence from the region will possibly satisfy them. No, it is more the case that justice—and a homeland for the Palestinians—is a good and necessary cause in its own right. It is also a special legal and moral responsibility of the United States, which has several times declared a dual-statehood outcome to be its objective.”

Tags : Atheism Barack Obama Benjamin Netanyahu Foreign Policy Hamas Iran Islam Islamism Israel Israeli Palestinian Conflict Middle East Obama Foreign Policy Obama Middle East Policy Palestine Religion United States Us Foreign Policy

70. “Attempts to locate oneself within history are as natural, and as absurd, as attempts to locate oneself within astronomy. On the day that I was born, 13 April 1949, nineteen senior Nazi officials were convicted at Nuremberg, including Hitler's former envoy to the Vatican, Baron Ernst von Weizsacker, who was found guilty of planning aggression against Czechoslovakia and committing atrocities against the Jewish people. On the same day, the State of Israel celebrated its first Passover seder and the United Nations, still meeting in those days at Flushing Meadow in Queens, voted to consider the Jewish state's application for membership. In Damascus, eleven newspapers were closed by the regime of General Hosni Zayim. In America, the National Committee on Alcoholism announced an upcoming 'A-Day' under the non-uplifting slogan: 'You can drink—help the alcoholic who can't.' ('Can't'?) The International Court of Justice at The Hague ruled in favor of Britain in the Corfu Channel dispute with Albania. At the UN, Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko denounced the newly formed NATO alliance as a tool for aggression against the USSR. The rising Chinese Communists, under a man then known to Western readership as Mao Tze-Tung, announced a limited willingness to bargain with the still-existing Chinese government in a city then known to the outside world as 'Peiping.'All this was unknown to me as I nuzzled my mother's breast for the first time, and would certainly have happened in just the same way if I had not been born at all, or even conceived. One of the newspaper astrologists for that day addressed those whose birthday it was:There are powerful rays from the planet Mars, the war god, in your horoscope for your coming year, and this always means a chance to battle if you want to take it up. Try to avoid such disturbances where women relatives or friends are concerned, because the outlook for victory upon your part in such circumstances is rather dark. If you must fight, pick a man!Sage counsel no doubt, which I wish I had imbibed with that same maternal lactation, but impartially offered also to the many people born on that day who were also destined to die on it.”

Tags : Alcohol Antisemitism Astronomy Birth Birthdays Breastfeeding Censorship Czechoslovakia Damascus Flushing Meadows Gods Hitler Horoscopes Hosni Zayim Jews Mao Mars Nato Newspapers Nuremberg Passover Seder Prohibition The Hague United Nations United States
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

71. “I was taken to a villa to meet Sabri al-Banna, known as 'Abu Nidal' ('father of struggle'), who was at the time emerging as one of Yasser Arafat's main enemies. The meeting began inauspiciously when Abu Nidal asked me if I would like to be trained in one of his camps. No thanks, I explained. From this awkward beginning there was a further decline. I was then asked if I knew Said Hammami, the envoy of the PLO in London. I did in fact know him. He was a brave and decent man, who in a series of articles in the London Times had floated the first-ever trial balloon for a two-state solution in Israel/Palestine. 'Well tell him he is a traitor,' barked my host. 'And tell him we have only one way with those who betray us.' The rest of the interview passed as so many Middle Eastern interviews do: too many small cups of coffee served with too much fuss; too many unemployed heavies standing about with nothing to do and nobody to do it with; too much ugly furniture, too many too-bright electric lights; and much too much faux bonhomie. The only political fact I could winnow, from Abu Nidal's vainglorious claims to control X number of 'fighters' in Y number of countries, was that he admired the People's Republic of China for not recognizing the State of Israel. I forget how I got out of his office.”

Tags : Abu Nidal Arafat China Interviews Iraq Israel London Middle East Military Training Palestine Plo Politics Said Hammami The Times Two State Solution War
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

72. “It would be nice to think that the menacing aspects of North Korea were for display also, that the bombs and reactors were Potemkin showcases or bargaining chips. On the plane from Beijing I met a group of unsmiling Texan types wearing baseball caps. They were the 'in-country' team from the International Atomic Energy Agency, there to inspect and neutralize North Korea's plutonium rods. Not a nice job, but, as they say, someone has to do it. Speaking of the most controversial reactor at Yongbyon, one of the guys said, 'No sweat. She's shut down now.' Nice to know. But then, so is the rest of North Korean society shut down—animation suspended, all dead quiet on the set, endlessly awaiting not action (we hope) or even cameras, but light.”

Tags : 2000 Baseball Caps Beijing Bombs China Iaea North Korea North Korea And Wmd Nuclear Weapons Nyongbyon Plutonium Texas
Source : Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays

73. “[P]erhaps you notice how the denial is so often the preface to the justification.”

Tags : Denial Justification Lies Torture
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

74. “One also, in our milieu, simply didn't meet enough Americans to form an opinion. And when one did—this was in the days of crew-cuts and short-legged pants—they, too, often really did sport crew-cuts and trousers that mysteriously ended several inches short of the instep. Why was that? It obviously wasn't poverty. A colleague of my father's had a daughter who got herself married and found that an American friend she had met on holiday had offered to pay the whole cost of the nuptial feast. I forget the name of this paladin, but he had a crew-cut and amputated trouser-bottoms and a cigar stub and he came from a place called Yonkers, which seemed to me a ridiculous name to give to a suburb. (I, who had survived Crapstone… ) Anyway, once again one received a Henry Jamesian impression of brash generosity without overmuch refinement. There was a boy at my boarding school called Warren Powers Laird Myers, the son of an officer stationed at one of the many U.S. Air Force bases in Cambridgeshire. Trousers at The Leys School were uniform and regulation, but he still managed to show a bit of shin and to buzz-cut his hair. 'I am not a Yankee,' he informed me (he was from Norfolk, Virginia). 'I am a CON-federate.' From what I was then gleaning of the news from Dixie, this was unpromising. In our ranks we also had Jamie Auchincloss, a sprig of the Kennedy-Bouvier family that was then occupying the White House. His trousers managed to avoid covering his ankles also, though the fact that he shared a parent with Jackie Kennedy meant that anything he did was accepted as fashionable by definition. The pants of a man I'll call Mr. 'Miller,' a visiting American master who skillfully introduced me to J.D. Salinger, were also falling short of their mark. Mr. Miller's great teacher-feature was that he saw sexual imagery absolutely everywhere and was slightly too fond of pointing it out [...]. Meanwhile, and as I mentioned much earlier, the dominant images projected from the United States were of the attack-dog-and-firehose kind, with swag-bellied cops lying about themselves and the political succession changed as much by bullets as by ballots.”

Tags : Americans Trousers World War Ii
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

75. “What is your idea of earthly happiness? To be vindicated in my own lifetime.”

Tags : Happiness Vindication
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

76. “The last time I heard an orthodox Marxist statement that was music to my ears was from a member of the Rwanda Patriotic Front, during the mass slaughter in the country. 'The terms Hutu and Tutsi,' he said severely, 'are merely ideological constructs, describing different relationships to the means and mode of production.' But of course!”

Tags : Hutus Ideology Marxism Rwanda Rwandan Genocide Rwandan Patriotic Front Tutsis
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

77. “I once spoke to someone who had survived the genocide in Rwanda, and she said to me that there was now nobody left on the face of the earth, either friend or relative, who knew who she was. No one who remembered her girlhood and her early mischief and family lore; no sibling or boon companion who could tease her about that first romance; no lover or pal with whom to reminisce. All her birthdays, exam results, illnesses, friendships, kinships—gone. She went on living, but with a tabula rasa as her diary and calendar and notebook. I think of this every time I hear of the callow ambition to 'make a new start' or to be 'born again': Do those who talk this way truly wish for the slate to be wiped? Genocide means not just mass killing, to the level of extermination, but mass obliteration to the verge of extinction. You wish to have one more reflection on what it is to have been made the object of a 'clean' sweep? Try Vladimir Nabokov's microcosmic miniature story 'Signs and Symbols,' which is about angst and misery in general but also succeeds in placing it in what might be termed a starkly individual perspective. The album of the distraught family contains a faded study of Aunt Rosa, a fussy, angular, wild-eyed old lady, who had lived in a tremulous world of bad news, bankruptcies, train accidents, cancerous growths—until the Germans put her to death, together with all the people she had worried about.”

Tags : Angst Anonymity Born Again Clean Slate Extinction Family Genocide Germans Misery Nabokov Nazis Rwanda Rwandan Genocide Short Stories Signs And Symbols Survivors
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

78. “I became a journalist because I did not want to rely on newspapers for information.”

Tags : Information Journalism Mainstream Media Newspapers

79. “Then all at once our personal and political quarrels were made very abruptly to converge. In the special edition of the London Review of Books published to mark the events of September 11, 2001, Edward painted a picture of an almost fascist America where Arab and Muslim citizens were being daily terrorized by pogroms, these being instigated by men like Paul Wolfowitz who had talked of 'ending' the regimes that sheltered Al Quaeda. Again, I could hardly credit that these sentences were being produced by a cultured person, let alone printed by a civilized publication.”

Tags : 2001 Al Quaeda Arabs Edward Said Fascism Friendship Lrb Muslims Paul Wolfowitz Pogroms Politics Quarrel September 11 Attacks United States
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

80. “Like the Nazis, the cadres of jihad have a death wish that sets the seal on their nihilism. The goal of a world run by an oligarchy in possession of Teutonic genes, who may kill or enslave other 'races' according to need, is not more unrealizable than the idea that a single state, let alone the globe itself, could be governed according to the dictates of an allegedly holy book. This mad scheme begins by denying itself the talents (and the rights) of half the population, views with superstitious horror the charging of interest, and invokes the right of Muslims to subject nonbelievers to special taxes and confiscations. Not even Afghanistan or Somalia, scenes of the furthest advances yet made by pro-caliphate forces, could be governed for long in this way without setting new standards for beggary and decline.”

Tags : Afghanistan Caliphate Death Of Osama Bin Laden Fascism Islam Islamic Banking Jihad Nazis Nazism Nihilism Osama Bin Laden Racism Somalia Theocracy
Source : The Enemy

81. “As to the 'Left' I'll say briefly why this was the finish for me. Here is American society, attacked under open skies in broad daylight by the most reactionary and vicious force in the contemporary world, a force which treats Afghans and Algerians and Egyptians far worse than it has yet been able to treat us. The vaunted CIA and FBI are asleep, at best. The working-class heroes move, without orders and at risk to their lives, to fill the moral and political vacuum. The moral idiots, meanwhile, like Falwell and Robertson and Rabbi Lapin, announce that this clerical aggression is a punishment for our secularism. And the governments of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, hitherto considered allies on our 'national security' calculus, prove to be the most friendly to the Taliban and Al Qaeda.Here was a time for the Left to demand a top-to-bottom house-cleaning of the state and of our covert alliances, a full inquiry into the origins of the defeat, and a resolute declaration in favor of a fight to the end for secular and humanist values: a fight which would make friends of the democratic and secular forces in the Muslim world. And instead, the near-majority of 'Left' intellectuals started sounding like Falwell, and bleating that the main problem was Bush's legitimacy. So I don't even muster a hollow laugh when this pathetic faction says that I, and not they, are in bed with the forces of reaction.”

Tags : Afghanistan Al Qaeda Algeria Central Intelligence Agency Daniel Lapin Democracy Egypt Federal Bureau Of Investigation George W Bush Humanism Islam Islamism Jerry Falwell Jihad Leftism National Security Pakistan Pat Robertson Saudi Arabia Secularism September 11 Attacks Taliban Terrorism Working Class
Source : Christopher Hitchens and His Critics: Terror, Iraq, and the Left

82. “There was a time in my life when I did a fair bit of work for the tempestuous Lucretia Stewart, then editor of the American Express travel magazine, Departures. Together, we evolved a harmless satire of the slightly driveling style employed by the journalists of tourism. 'Land of Contrasts' was our shorthand for it. ('Jerusalem: an enthralling blend of old and new.' 'South Africa: a harmony in black and white.' 'Belfast, where ancient meets modern.') It was as you can see, no difficult task. I began to notice a few weeks ago that my enemies in the 'peace' movement had decided to borrow from this tattered style book. The mantra, especially in the letters to this newspaper, was: 'Afghanistan, where the world's richest country rains bombs on the world's poorest country.'Poor fools. They should never have tried to beat me at this game. What about, 'Afghanistan, where the world's most open society confronts the world's most closed one'? 'Where American women pilots kill the men who enslave women.' 'Where the world's most indiscriminate bombers are bombed by the world's most accurate ones.' 'Where the largest number of poor people applaud the bombing of their own regime.' I could go on. (I think number four may need a little work.) But there are some suggested contrasts for the 'doves' to paste into their scrapbook. Incidentally, when they look at their scrapbooks they will be able to re-read themselves saying things like, 'The bombing of Kosovo is driving the Serbs into the arms of Milosevic.”

Tags : Afghanistan Antiwar Movement Apartheid Kosovo Kosovo War Pacifism Racism Slobodan Milosevic South Africa War War In Afghanistan 2001 Present
Source : Christopher Hitchens and His Critics: Terror, Iraq, and the Left

83. “Some readers may have noticed an icy little missive from Noam Chomsky ["Letters," December 3], repudiating the very idea that he and I had disagreed on the "roots" of September 11. I rush to agree. Here is what he told his audience at MIT on October 11:I'll talk about the situation in Afghanistan.... Looks like what's happening is some sort of silent genocide.... It indicates that whatever, what will happen we don't know, but plans are being made and programs implemented on the assumption that they may lead to the death of several million people in the next—in the next couple of weeks.... very casually with no comment.... we are in the midst of apparently trying to murder three or four million people.Clever of him to have spotted that (his favorite put-down is the preface 'Turning to the facts...') and brave of him to have taken such a lonely position. As he rightly insists, our disagreements are not really political.”

Tags : 2001 Afghanistan Debate Genocide Leftism Morality Noam Chomsky Politics September 11 Attacks Terrorism The Nation War War In Afghanistan 2001 Presen

84. “Many governments employ torture but this was the first time that the element of Saturnalia and pornography in the process had been made so clear to me. If you care to imagine what any inadequate or cruel man might do, given unlimited power over a woman, then anything that you can bring yourself to suspect was what became routine in ESMA, the Navy Mechanics School that became the headquarters of the business. I talked to Dr. Emilio Mignone, a distinguished physician whose daughter Monica had disappeared into the precincts of that hellish place. What do you find to say to a doctor and a humanitarian who has been gutted by the image of a starving rat being introduced to his daughter's genitalia? Like hell itself the school was endorsed and blessed by priests, in case any stray consciences needed to be stilled.”

Tags : Argentina Esma Hell Sadism Sexual Abuse Torture
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

85. “Pettiness often leads both to error and to the digging of a trap for oneself. Wondering (which I am sure he didn't) 'if by the 1990s [Hitchens] was morphing into someone I didn’t quite recognize”, Blumenthal recalls with horror the night that I 'gave' a farewell party for Martin Walker of the Guardian, and then didn't attend it because I wanted to be on television instead. This is easy: Martin had asked to use the fine lobby of my building for a farewell bash, and I'd set it up. People have quite often asked me to do that. My wife did the honors after Nightline told me that I’d have to come to New York if I wanted to abuse Mother Teresa and Princess Diana on the same show. Of all the people I know, Martin Walker and Sidney Blumenthal would have been the top two in recognizing that journalism and argument come first, and that there can be no hard feelings about it. How do I know this? Well, I have known Martin since Oxford. (He produced a book on Clinton, published in America as 'The President We Deserve'. He reprinted it in London, under the title, 'The President They Deserve'. I doffed my hat to that.) While Sidney—I can barely believe I am telling you this—once also solicited an invitation to hold his book party at my home. A few days later he called me back, to tell me that Martin Peretz, owner of the New Republic, had insisted on giving the party instead. I said, fine, no bones broken; no caterers ordered as yet. 'I don't think you quite get it,' he went on, after an honorable pause. 'That means you can't come to the party at all.' I knew that about my old foe Peretz: I didn't then know I knew it about Blumenthal. I also thought that it was just within the limit of the rules. I ask you to believe that I had buried this memory until this book came out, but also to believe that I won't be slandered and won't refrain—if motives or conduct are in question—from speculating about them in my turn.”

Tags : 1990S Argumentation Betrayal Bill Clinton Diana Princess Of Wales England Friendship Journalism London Martin Walker Reporter Marty Peretz Mother Teresa New York Nightline Oxford Pettiness Politics Presidency Of Bill Clinton Sidney Blumenthal Television The Guardian The New Republic United States University Of Oxford

86. “I was near-delirious. Gazing up at the pillared skyline, I knew that I was surveying a tremendous work of man. Buying myself a drink in the smaller warrens below, in all their ethnic variety (and willingness to keep odd and late hours, and provide plentiful ice cubes, and free matchbooks in contrast to English parsimony in these matters), I felt the same thing in a different way. The balance between the macro and the micro, the heroic scale and the human scale, has never since ceased to fascinate and charm me. Evelyn Waugh was in error when he said that in New York there was a neurosis in the air which the inhabitants mistook for energy. There was, rather, a tensile excitement in that air which made one think—made me think for many years—that time spent asleep in New York was somehow time wasted. Whether this thought has lengthened or shortened my life I shall never know, but it has certainly colored it.”

Tags : Evelyn Waugh New York
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

87. “Inevitably came the time when he angrily repudiated his former paladin Yasser Arafat. In fact, he described him to me as 'the Palestinian blend of Marshal Petaín and Papa Doc.' But the main problem, alas, remained the same. In Edward's moral universe, Arafat could at last be named as a thug and a practitioner of corruption and extortion. But he could only be identified as such to the extent that he was now and at last aligned with an American design. Thus the only truly unpardonable thing about 'The Chairman' was his readiness to appear on the White House lawn with Yitzhak Rabin and Bill Clinton in 1993. I have real knowledge and memory of this, because George Stephanopoulos—whose father's Orthodox church in Ohio and New York had kept him in touch with what was still a predominantly Christian Arab-American opinion—called me more than once from the White House to help beseech Edward to show up at the event. 'The feedback we get from Arab-American voters is this: If it's such a great idea, why isn't Said signing off on it?' When I called him, Edward was grudging and crabby. 'The old man [Arafat] has no right to sign away land.' Really? Then what had the Algiers deal been all about? How could two states come into being without mutual concessions on territory?”

Tags : 1993 Arabs Arafat Bill Clinton Christians Corruption Edward Said Extortion Francois Duvalier George Stephanopoulos Israeli Palestinian Conflict New York Ohio Philippe Petain Territory United States Vox Populi White House Yitzhak Rabin
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

88. “Nihil humanum a me alienum puto, said the Roman poet Terence: 'Nothing human is alien to me.' The slogan of the old Immigration and Naturalization Service could have been the reverse: To us, no aliens are human.”

Tags : Immigration Naturalisation United States
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

89. “I have often noticed that nationalism is at its strongest at the periphery. Hitler was Austrian, Bonaparte Corsican. In postwar Greece and Turkey the two most prominent ultra-right nationalists had both been born in Cyprus. The most extreme Irish Republicans are in Belfast and Derry (and Boston and New York). Sun Yat Sen, father of Chinese nationalism, was from Hong Kong. The Serbian extremists Milošević and Karadžić were from Montenegro and their most incendiary Croat counterparts in the Ustashe tended to hail from the frontier lands of Western Herzegovina.”

Tags : Hitler Karadzic Milosevic Napoleon Nationalism Sun Yat Sen
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

90. “It was as easy as breathing to go and have tea near the place where Jane Austen had so wittily scribbled and so painfully died. One of the things that causes some critics to marvel at Miss Austen is the laconic way in which, as a daughter of the epoch that saw the Napoleonic Wars, she contrives like a Greek dramatist to keep it off the stage while she concentrates on the human factor. I think this comes close to affectation on the part of some of her admirers. Captain Frederick Wentworth in Persuasion, for example, is partly of interest to the female sex because of the 'prize' loot he has extracted from his encounters with Bonaparte's navy. Still, as one born after Hiroshima I can testify that a small Hampshire township, however large the number of names of the fallen on its village-green war memorial, is more than a world away from any unpleasantness on the European mainland or the high or narrow seas that lie between. (I used to love the detail that Hampshire's 'New Forest' is so called because it was only planted for the hunt in the late eleventh century.) I remember watching with my father and brother through the fence of Stanstead House, the Sussex mansion of the Earl of Bessborough, one evening in the early 1960s, and seeing an immense golden meadow carpeted entirely by grazing rabbits. I'll never keep that quiet, or be that still, again.This was around the time of countrywide protest against the introduction of a horrible laboratory-confected disease, named 'myxomatosis,' into the warrens of old England to keep down the number of nibbling rodents. Richard Adams's lapine masterpiece Watership Down is the remarkable work that it is, not merely because it evokes the world of hedgerows and chalk-downs and streams and spinneys better than anything since The Wind in the Willows, but because it is only really possible to imagine gassing and massacre and organized cruelty on this ancient and green and gently rounded landscape if it is organized and carried out against herbivores.”

Tags : 1960S Countryside Cruelty England Europe Gassing Hampshire Literary Criticism Literature Mansions Massacre Meadow Myxomatosis Napoleon Persuasion Novel Quiet Rabbits Silence Theatre Of Ancient Greece Townships Wind In The Willows Women World War Ii
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

91. “It can certainly be misleading to take the attributes of a movement, or the anxieties and contradictions of a moment, and to personalize or 'objectify' them in the figure of one individual. Yet ordinary discourse would be unfeasible without the use of portmanteau terms—like 'Stalinism,' say—just as the most scrupulous insistence on historical forces will often have to concede to the sheer personality of a Napoleon or a Hitler. I thought then, and I think now, that Osama bin Laden was a near-flawless personification of the mentality of a real force: the force of Islamic jihad. And I also thought, and think now, that this force absolutely deserves to be called evil, and that the recent decapitation of its most notorious demagogue and organizer is to be welcomed without reserve. Osama bin Laden's writings and actions constitute a direct negation of human liberty, and vent an undisguised hatred and contempt for life itself.”

Tags : 2011 Adolf Hitler Cults Of Personality Death Of Osama Bin Laden Evil History Islam Islamism Jihad Liberty Napoleon Osama Bin Laden Religion September 11 Attacks Stalinism Terrorism Theocracy
Source : The Enemy

92. “This is what you get when you found a political system on the family values of Henry VIII. At a point in the not-too-remote future, the stout heart of Queen Elizabeth II will cease to beat. At that precise moment, her firstborn son will become head of state, head of the armed forces, and head of the Church of England. In strict constitutional terms, this ought not to matter much. The English monarchy, as has been said, reigns but does not rule. From the aesthetic point of view it will matter a bit, because the prospect of a morose bat-eared and chinless man, prematurely aged, and with the most abysmal taste in royal consorts, is a distinctly lowering one.”

Tags : 2009 Anglican Church Britain British Monarchy British Royal Family Charles Prince Of Wales Elizabeth Ii Family Values Foreign Policy Henry Viii Kings Monarchy Politics Thatcher Ugliness

93. “Seeing the name Hillary in a headline last week—a headline about a life that had involved real achievement—I felt a mouse stirring in the attic of my memory. Eventually, I was able to recall how the two Hillarys had once been mentionable in the same breath. On a first-lady goodwill tour of Asia in April 1995—the kind of banal trip that she now claims as part of her foreign-policy 'experience'—Mrs. Clinton had been in Nepal and been briefly introduced to the late Sir Edmund Hillary, conqueror of Mount Everest. Ever ready to milk the moment, she announced that her mother had actually named her for this famous and intrepid explorer. The claim 'worked' well enough to be repeated at other stops and even showed up in Bill Clinton's memoirs almost a decade later, as one more instance of the gutsy tradition that undergirds the junior senator from New York.Sen. Clinton was born in 1947, and Sir Edmund Hillary and his partner Tenzing Norgay did not ascend Mount Everest until 1953, so the story was self-evidently untrue and eventually yielded to fact-checking. Indeed, a spokeswoman for Sen. Clinton named Jennifer Hanley phrased it like this in a statement in October 2006, conceding that the tale was untrue but nonetheless charming: 'It was a sweet family story her mother shared to inspire greatness in her daughter, to great results I might add.'Perfect. It worked, in other words, having been coined long after Sir Edmund became a bankable celebrity, but now its usefulness is exhausted and its untruth can safely be blamed on Mummy.”

Tags : 1947 1953 1995 2006 2008 Asia Bill Clinton Celebrity Edmund Hillary First Lady First Lady Of The United States Foreign Policy Hillary Clinton Jennifer Hanley Lies Mount Everest Nepal New York Politics Tenzing Norgay United States United States Elections 2008 United States Senate

94. “One might come up with other and kinder distinctions (I shall not be doing so) but the plain fact about the senator from New York is surely that she is a known quantity who has already been in the White House purely as the result of a relationship with a man, and not at all a quixotic outsider who represents the aspirations of an 'out' group, let alone a whole sex or gender.”

Tags : 2008 21St Century Bill Clinton Feminism First Lady Of The United States Hillary Clinton New York Politics United States United States Elections 2008 White House

95. “Those of us who follow politics seriously rather than view it as a game show do not look at Hillary Clinton and simply think 'first woman president.' We think—for example—'first ex-co-president' or 'first wife of a disbarred lawyer and impeached former incumbent' or 'first person to use her daughter as photo-op protection during her husband's perjury rap.”

Tags : Bill Clinton First Lady First Lady Of The United States Hillary Clinton Perjury Politics Potus United States United States Elections 2008

96. “Every November of my boyhood, we put on red poppies and attended highly patriotic services in remembrance of those who had 'given' their lives. But on what assurance did we know that these gifts had really been made? Only the survivors—the living—could attest to it. In order to know that a person had truly laid down his life for his friends, or comrades, one would have to hear it from his own lips, or at least have heard it promised in advance. And that presented another difficulty. Many brave and now dead soldiers had nonetheless been conscripts. The known martyrs—those who actually, voluntarily sought death and rejoiced in the fact—had been the kamikaze pilots, immolating themselves to propitiate a 'divine' emperor who looked (as Orwell once phrased it) like a monkey on a stick. Their Christian predecessors had endured torture and death (as well as inflicted it) in order to set up a theocracy. Their modern equivalents would be the suicide murderers, who mostly have the same aim in mind. About people who set out to lose their lives, then, there seems to hang an air of fanaticism: a gigantic sense of self-importance unattractively fused with a masochistic tendency to self-abnegation. Not wholesome.The better and more realistic test would therefore seem to be: In what cause, or on what principle, would you risk your life?”

Tags : Boyhood Causes Childhood Christian Martyrs Christianity Comrades Conscription Death Fanaticism Kamikaze Martyrdom Martyrs Masochism Memorials November Orwell Patriotism Poppies Principles Sacrifice Self Abnegation Self Importance Soldiers Suicide Suicide Attack Theocracy Torture Ugliness War
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

97. “Now is as good a time as ever to revisit the history of the Crusades, or the sorry history of partition in Kashmir, or the woes of the Chechens and Kosovars. But the bombers of Manhattan represent fascism with an Islamic face, and there's no point in any euphemism about it. What they abominate about 'the West,' to put it in a phrase, is not what Western liberals don't like and can't defend about their own system, but what they do like about it and must defend: its emancipated women, its scientific inquiry, its separation of religion from the state. Loose talk about chickens coming home to roost is the moral equivalent of the hateful garbage emitted by Falwell and Robertson, and exhibits about the same intellectual content.”

Tags : Extremism Falwell Islamism Jihad Masochism Pat Robertson September 11 Attacks Terrorism

98. “Since I speak and write about this a good deal, I am often asked at public meetings, in what sometimes seems to me a rather prurient way, whether I myself or my family have 'ever been threatened' by jihadists. My answer is that yes, I have, and so has everyone else in the audience, if they have paid enough attention to the relevant bin-Ladenist broadcasts to notice the fact.”

Tags : Death Threats Islamism Jihadism Osama Bin Laden Personal Questions Terrorism
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

99. “Shrouded as he was for a decade in an apparent cloak of anonymity and obscurity, Osama bin Laden was by no means an invisible man. He was ubiquitous and palpable, both in a physical and a cyber-spectral form, to the extent that his death took on something of the feel of an exorcism. It is satisfying to know that, before the end came, he had begun at least to guess at the magnitude of his 9/11 mistake. It is essential to remember that his most fanatical and militant deputy, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, did not just leave his corpse in Iraq but was isolated and repudiated even by the minority Sunnis on whose presumed behalf he spilled so much blood and wrought such hectic destruction. It is even more gratifying that bin Laden himself was exposed as an excrescence on the putrid body of a bankrupt and brutish state machine, and that he found himself quite unable to make any coherent comment on the tide—one hopes that it is a tide, rather than a mere wave—of demand for an accountable and secular form of civil society. There could not have been a finer affirmation of the force of life, so warmly and authentically counterposed to the hysterical celebration of death, and of that death-in-life that is experienced in the stultifications of theocracy, where womanhood and music and literature are stifled and young men mutated into robotic slaughterers.”

Tags : 2011 Abu Musab Al Zarqawi Al Qaeda Al Qaeda In Iraq Arab Spring Death Death Of Osama Bin Laden Exorcism Feminism Iraq Islamism Life Literature Music Osama Bin Laden Pakistan Secularism September 11 Attacks Sunni Islam Terrorism Theocracy
Source : The Enemy

100. “Rolf Ekeus came round to my apartment one day and showed me the name of the Iraqi diplomat who had visited the little West African country of Niger: a statelet famous only for its production of yellowcake uranium. The name was Wissam Zahawi. He was the brother of my louche gay part-Kurdish friend, the by-now late Mazen. He was also, or had been at the time of his trip to Niger, Saddam Hussein's ambassador to the Vatican. I expressed incomprehension. What was an envoy to the Holy See doing in Niger? Obviously he was not taking a vacation. Rolf then explained two things to me. The first was that Wissam Zahawi had, when Rolf was at the United Nations, been one of Saddam Hussein's chief envoys for discussions on nuclear matters (this at a time when the Iraqis had functioning reactors). The second was that, during the period of sanctions that followed the Kuwait war, no Western European country had full diplomatic relations with Baghdad. TheVatican was the sole exception, so it was sent a very senior Iraqi envoy to act as a listening post. And this man, a specialist in nuclear matters, had made a discreet side trip to Niger. This was to suggest exactly what most right-thinking people were convinced was not the case: namely that British intelligence was on to something when it said that Saddam had not ceased seeking nuclear materials in Africa.I published a few columns on this, drawing at one point an angry email from Ambassador Zahawi that very satisfyingly blustered and bluffed on what he'd really been up to. I also received—this is what sometimes makes journalism worthwhile—a letter from a BBC correspondent named Gordon Correa who had been writing a book about A.Q. Khan. This was the Pakistani proprietor of the nuclear black market that had supplied fissile material to Libya, North Korea, very probably to Syria, and was open for business with any member of the 'rogue states' club. (Saddam's people, we already knew for sure, had been meeting North Korean missile salesmen in Damascus until just before the invasion, when Kim Jong Il's mercenary bargainers took fright and went home.) It turned out, said the highly interested Mr. Correa, that his man Khan had also been in Niger, and at about the same time that Zahawi had. The likelihood of the senior Iraqi diplomat in Europe and the senior Pakistani nuclear black-marketeer both choosing an off-season holiday in chic little uranium-rich Niger… well, you have to admit that it makes an affecting picture. But you must be ready to credit something as ridiculous as that if your touching belief is that Saddam Hussein was already 'contained,' and that Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair were acting on panic reports, fabricated in turn by self-interested provocateurs.”

Tags : Aq Khan Baath Party Baathism Baathist Iraq Corruption Diplomacy George W Bush Gordon Correa Journalism Kim Jong Il Kuwait Libya Military Intelligence Niger Nuclear Proliferation Rogue States Saddam Hussein Sanctions Terrorism Tony Blair United Nations Uranium West Africa Wissam Zahawi
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

101. “Even if it were possible to cast my horoscope in this one life, and to make an accurate prediction about my future, it would not be possible to 'show' it to me because as soon as I saw it my future would change by definition. This is why Werner Heisenberg's adaptation of the Hays Office—the so-called principle of uncertainty whereby the act of measuring something has the effect of altering the measurement—is of such importance. In my case the difference is often made by publicity. For example, and to boast of one of my few virtues, I used to derive pleasure from giving my time to bright young people who showed promise as writers and who asked for my help. Then some profile of me quoted someone who disclosed that I liked to do this. Then it became something widely said of me, whereupon it became almost impossible for me to go on doing it, because I started to receive far more requests than I could respond to, let alone satisfy. Perception modifies reality: when I abandoned the smoking habit of more than three decades I was given a supposedly helpful pill called Wellbutrin. But as soon as I discovered that this was the brand name for an antidepressant, I tossed the bottle away. There may be successful methods for overcoming the blues but for me they cannot include a capsule that says: 'Fool yourself into happiness, while pretending not to do so.' I should actually want my mind to be strong enough to circumvent such a trick.”

Tags : Antidepressants Assistance Bupropion Depression Future Happiness Hays Office Horoscopes Life Measurement Mentorship Perception Publicity Reality Self Delusion Smoking Soothsaying Uncertainty Principle Virtues Werner Heisenberg Writers
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

102. “I certainly didn't concur with Edward on everything, but I was damned if I would hear him abused without saying a word. And I think this may be worth setting down, because there are other allegiances that can be stress-tested in comparable ways. It used to be a slight hallmark of being English or British that one didn't make a big thing out of patriotic allegiance, and was indeed brimful of sarcastic and critical remarks about the old country, but would pull oneself together and say a word or two if it was attacked or criticized in any nasty or stupid manner by anybody else. It's family, in other words, and friends are family to me. I feel rather the same way about being an American, and also about being of partly Jewish descent. To be any one of these things is to be no better than anyone else, but no worse. When confronted by certain enemies, it is increasingly the 'most definitely no worse' half of this unspoken agreement on which I tend to lay the emphasis. (As with Camus’s famous 'neither victim nor executioner,' one hastens to assent but more and more to say 'definitely not victim.')”

Tags : Americanism Britain Britishness Camus Edward Said Family Friendship Jewishness Loyalty Patriotism
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

103. “The quality you most admire in a man? Courage moral and physical: 'anima'—the ability to think like a woman. Also a sense of the absurd.The quality you most admire in a woman? Courage moral and physical: “anima”—the ability to visualize the mind and need of a man. Also a sense of the absurd.”

Tags : Absurdity Courage Empathy Men Sensitivity Women
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

104. “If you were offered the chance to live your own life again, would you seize the opportunity? The only real philosophical answer is automatically self-contradictory: 'Only if I did not know that I was doing so.' To go through the entire experience once more would be banal and Sisyphean—even if it did build muscle—whereas to wish to be young again and to have the benefit of one's learned and acquired existence is not at all to wish for a repeat performance, or a Groundhog Day. And the mind ought to, but cannot, set some limits to wish-thinking. All right, same me but with more money, an even sturdier penis, slightly different parents, a briefer latency period… the thing is absurd. I seriously would like to know what it was to be a woman, but like blind Tiresias would also want the option of re-metamorphosing if I wished. How terrible it is that we have so many more desires than opportunities.”

Tags : Absurdity Conundrums Desire Groundhog Day Life Money Old Age Opportunity Parents Philosophy Self Contradiction Tiresias Wishful Thinking Women Youth
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

105. “I was to grow used to hearing, around New York, the annoying way in which people would say: 'Edward Said, such a suave and articulate and witty man,' with the unspoken suffix 'for a Palestinian.' It irritated him, too, naturally enough, but in my private opinion it strengthened him in his determination to be an ambassador or spokesman for those who lived in camps or under occupation (or both). He almost overdid the ambassadorial aspect if you ask me, being always just too faultlessly dressed and spiffily turned out. Fools often contrasted this attention to his tenue with his membership of the Palestine National Council, the then-parliament-in-exile of the people without a land. In fact, his taking part in this rather shambolic assembly was a kind of noblesse oblige: an assurance to his landsmen (and also to himself) that he had not allowed and never would allow himself to forget their plight. The downside of this noblesse was only to strike me much later on.”

Tags : Ambassadors Bigotry Dress Edward Said New York Palestinian National Council Palestinians Snobbishness
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

106. “What struck me, in reading the reports from Sri Lanka, was the mild disgrace of belonging to our imperfectly evolved species in the first place. People who had just seen their neighbors swept away would tell the reporters that they knew a judgment had been coming, because the Christians had used alcohol and meat at Christmas or because ... well, yet again you can fill in the blanks for yourself. It was interesting, though, to notice that the Buddhists were often the worst. Contentedly patting an image of the chubby lord on her fencepost, a woman told the New York Times that those who were not similarly protected had been erased, while her house was still standing. There were enough such comments, almost identically phrased, to make it seem certain that the Buddhist authorities had been promulgating this consoling and insane and nasty view. That would not surprise me.”

Tags : 2004 Earthquake And Tsunami Alcohol Atheism Buddhism Christian Vegetarianism Christianity Christianity And Alcohol Christmas Earthquakes Evolution Human Race Natural Disasters Religion Sri Lanka The New York Times Tsunami Vegetarianism

107. “Incidentally, I have also learned a bit about the importance of avoiding feminine embarrassment ('Daddy,' wrote Sophia when she enrolled at the New School where I teach, 'people will ask "why is old Christopher Hitchens kissing that girl?"') and shall now cease and desist.”

Tags : Daughters Fatherhood Fathers And Daughters Kisses Parenthood The New School Women
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

108. “I suppose that one reason I have always detested religion is its sly tendency to insinuate the idea that the universe is designed with 'you' in mind or, even worse, that there is a divine plan into which one fits whether one knows it or not. This kind of modesty is too arrogant for me.”

Tags : Antitheism Arrogance Atheism Modesty Religion Solipsism
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

109. “I have met some highly intelligent believers, but history has no record to say that [s]he knew or understood the mind of god. Yet this is precisely the qualification which the godly must claim—so modestly and so humbly—to possess. It is time to withdraw our 'respect' from such fantastic claims, all of them aimed at the exertion of power over other humans in the real and material world.”

Tags : Arrogance Atheism Belief Fantasy God Humility Inspirational Modesty Power Religion Respect
Source : The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever

110. “I have been called arrogant myself in my time, and hope to earn the title again, but to claim that I am privy to the secrets of the universe and its creator — that's beyond my conceit. I therefore have no choice but to find something suspect even in the humblest believer. Even the most humane and compassionate of the monotheisms and polytheisms are complicit in this quiet and irrational authoritarianism: they proclaim us, in Fulke Greville's unforgettable line, "Created sick — Commanded to be well." And there are totalitarian insinuations to back this up if its appeal should fail. Christians, for example, declare me redeemed by a human sacrifice that occurred thousands of years before I was born. I didn't ask for it, and would willingly have foregone it, but there it is: I'm claimed and saved whether I wish it or not. And if I refuse the unsolicited gift? Well, there are still some vague mutterings about an eternity of torment for my ingratitude. That is somewhat worse than a Big Brother state, because there could be no hope of its eventually passing away.”

Tags : Arrogance Authoritarianism Religion
Source : Letters to a Young Contrarian

111. “The enduring rapture with magic and fable has always struck me as latently childish and somehow sexless (and thus also related to childlessness).”

Tags : Childishness Childlessness Fable Fantasy Literature Literary Criticism Literature Magic Sex Sexuality
Source : Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays

112. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him will believeth in anything. - Hitchens 3:16”

Tags : Brainwashing Critical Thinking Humor Independent Thought Truth Wisdom

113. “Which natural gift would you most like to possess? The ability to master other languages (which would have hugely enhanced the scope of these answers).How would you like to die? Fully conscious, and either fighting or reciting (or fooling around).What do you most dislike about your appearance? The way in which it makes former admirers search for neutral words.”

Tags : Consciousness Death Languages Polyglots Questionnaires Talents Ugliness
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

114. “It comes as no surprise to find [Norman] Mailer embracing [in the book On God] a form of Manicheanism, pitting the forces of light and darkness against each other in a permanent stand-off, with humanity as the battlefield. (When asked if Jesus is part of this battle, he responds rather loftily that he thinks it is a distinct possibility.) But it is at points like this that he talks as if all the late-night undergraduate talk sessions on the question of theism had become rolled into one. 'How can we not face up to the fact that if God is All-Powerful, He cannot be All-Good. Or She cannot be All-Good.'Mailer says that questions such as this have bedevilled 'theologians', whereas it would be more accurate to say that such questions, posed by philosophers, have attempted to put theologians out of business. A long exchange on the probability of reincarnation (known to Mailer sometimes as “karmic reassignment”) manages to fall slightly below the level of those undergraduate talk sessions. The Manichean stand-off leads Mailer, in closing, to speculate on what God might desire politically and to say: 'In different times, the heavens may have been partial to monarchy, to communism, and certainly the Lord was interested in democracy, in capitalism. (As was the Devil!)'I think it was at this point that I decided I would rather remember Mailer as the author of Harlot's Ghost and The Armies of the Night.”

Tags : Book Review Capitalism Communism Democracy Devil God Good And Evil Jesus Monarchy Norman Mailer Omnibenevolence Omnipotence Philosophy Politics Reincarnation Religion Theism Theology

115. “Who but the sports-mad [Norman] Mailer would liken the battle between God and the Devil to a game of American football? The contest, for sure, has with [sic] own laws (so that after God and the Devil 'tackle a guy, they don't kick him in the head'), but each side is not above cheating—with God breaking the rules occasionally by throwing in 'a miracle'. Strangely, Mailer doesn’t mention Jesus in this agonising analogy, but then the notion of the 'super-sub' may be an image too far even for him.”

Tags : American Football Book Review Devil God Jesus Miracles Norman Mailer Religion Sport

116. “Sooner or later, all talk among foreigners in Pyongyang turns to one imponderable subject. Do the locals really believe what they are told, and do they truly revere Fat Man and Little Boy? I have been a visiting writer in several authoritarian and totalitarian states, and usually the question answers itself. Someone in a café makes an offhand remark. A piece of ironic graffiti is scrawled in the men's room. Some group at the university issues some improvised leaflet. The glacier begins to melt; a joke makes the rounds and the apparently immovable regime suddenly looks vulnerable and absurd. But it's almost impossible to convey the extent to which North Korea just isn't like that. South Koreans who met with long-lost family members after the June rapprochement were thunderstruck at the way their shabby and thin northern relatives extolled Fat Man and Little Boy. Of course, they had been handpicked, but they stuck to their line.There's a possible reason for the existence of this level of denial, which is backed up by an indescribable degree of surveillance and indoctrination. A North Korean citizen who decided that it was all a lie and a waste would have to face the fact that his life had been a lie and a waste also. The scenes of hysterical grief when Fat Man died were not all feigned; there might be a collective nervous breakdown if it was suddenly announced that the Great Leader had been a verbose and arrogant fraud. Picture, if you will, the abrupt deprogramming of more than 20 million Moonies or Jonestowners, who are suddenly informed that it was all a cruel joke and there's no longer anybody to tell them what to do. There wouldn't be enough Kool-Aid to go round. I often wondered how my guides kept straight faces. The streetlights are turned out all over Pyongyang—which is the most favored city in the country—every night. And the most prominent building on the skyline, in a town committed to hysterical architectural excess, is the Ryugyong Hotel. It's 105 floors high, and from a distance looks like a grotesquely enlarged version of the Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco (or like a vast and cumbersome missile on a launchpad). The crane at its summit hasn't moved in years; it's a grandiose and incomplete ruin in the making. 'Under construction,' say the guides without a trace of irony. I suppose they just keep two sets of mental books and live with the contradiction for now.”

Tags : Architecture Authoritarianism Death Doublethink Drinking The Kool Aid Graffiti Grief Indoctrination Irony Jokes Jonestown Kim Il Sung Kim Jong Il Koreans Mind Control Moonies North Korea Propaganda Pyongyang Ryugyong Hotel South Korea Surveillance Totalitarianism Tourism In North Korea University
Source : Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays

117. “What do you most value in your friends?Their continued existence.”

Tags : Death Friends Friendship Life Proust Questionnaire Rushdie
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

118. “I try to deny myself any illusions or delusions, and I think that this perhaps entitles me to try and deny the same to others, at least as long as they refuse to keep their fantasies to themselves.”

Tags : Atheism Delusions Fantasy Illusions Religion
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

119. “Everybody does have a book in them, but in most cases that's where it should stay.”

Tags : Books Christopher Hitchens Humour Literature Writing

120. “Many religions now come before us with ingratiating smirks and outspread hands, like an unctuous merchant in a bazaar. They offer consolation and solidarity and uplift, competing as they do in a marketplace. But we have a right to remember how barbarically they behaved when they were strong and were making an offer that people could not refuse.”

Tags : Atheism Fundamentalism Religion
Source : God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything

121. “We owe a huge debt to Galileo for emancipating us all from the stupid belief in an Earth-centered or man-centered (let alone God-centered) system. He quite literally taught us our place and allowed us to go on to make extraordinary advances in knowledge.”

Tags : Anthropocentrism Atheism Enlightenment Galileo Geocentricism God Heliocentricism Nature Reason Religion Science Souls

122. “The finest fury is the most controlled.”

Tags : Anger Bob Dylan Control Fury Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll Music
Source : Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays

123. “On my desk is an appeal from the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia. It asks me to become a sponsor and donor of this soon-to-be-opened institution, while an accompanying leaflet has enticing photographs of Bob Dylan, Betty Friedan, Sandy Koufax, Irving Berlin, Estee Lauder, Barbra Streisand, Albert Einstein, and Isaac Bashevis Singer. There is something faintly kitsch about this, as there is in the habit of those Jewish papers that annually list Jewish prize-winners from the Nobel to the Oscars. (It is apparently true that the London Jewish Chronicle once reported the result of a footrace under the headline 'Goldstein Fifteenth.') However, I think I may send a contribution. Other small 'races' have come from unpromising and hazardous beginnings to achieve great things—no Roman would have believed that the brutish inhabitants of the British Isles could ever amount to much—and other small 'races,' too, like Gypsies and Armenians, have outlived determined attempts to eradicate and exterminate them. But there is something about the persistence, both of the Jews and their persecutors, that does seem to merit a museum of its own.”

Tags : Albert Einstein American Jews Antisemitism Armenian Genocide Armenians Barbra Streisand Betty Friedan Bigotry Bob Dylan British Isles Britons Estee Lauder Gypsies Irving Berlin Isaac Bashevis Singer Jews Philadelphia Race Romans Sandy Koufax United States
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

124. “Your favorite virtue? An appreciation for irony.”

Tags : Irony Virtues
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

125. “Your least favorite virtue, or nominee for the most overrated one? Faith. Closely followed—in view of the overall shortage of time—by patience.”

Tags : Atheism Death Faith Life Patience Religion Virtues
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

126. “In Sarajevo in 1992, while being shown around the starved, bombarded city by the incomparable John Burns, I experienced four near misses in all, three of them in the course of one day. I certainly thought that the Bosnian cause was worth fighting for and worth defending, but I could not take myself seriously enough to imagine that my own demise would have forwarded the cause. (I also discovered that a famous jaunty Churchillism had its limits: the old war-lover wrote in one of his more youthful reminiscences that there is nothing so exhilarating as being shot at without result. In my case, the experience of a whirring, whizzing horror just missing my ear was indeed briefly exciting, but on reflection made me want above all to get to the airport. Catching the plane out with a whole skin is the best part by far.) Or suppose I had been hit by that mortar that burst with an awful shriek so near to me, and turned into a Catherine wheel of body-parts and (even worse) body-ingredients? Once again, I was moved above all not by the thought that my death would 'count,' but that it would not count in the least.”

Tags : 1992 Bosnia Bosnian War Bullets Causes Churchill Death John Burns Martyrdom Mortars Near Death Experience Sarajevo Siege Of Sarajevo War
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

127. “Wars, wars, wars': reading up on the region I came across one moment when quintessential Englishness had in fact intersected with this darkling plain. In 1906 Winston Churchill, then the minister responsible for British colonies, had been honored by an invitation from Kaiser Wilhelm II to attend the annual maneuvers of the Imperial German Army, held at Breslau. The Kaiser was 'resplendent in the uniform of the White Silesian Cuirassiers' and his massed and regimented infantry...reminded one more of great Atlantic rollers than human formations. Clouds of cavalry, avalanches of field-guns and—at that time a novelty—squadrons of motor-cars (private and military) completed the array. For five hours the immense defilade continued. Yet this was only a twentieth of the armed strength of the regular German Army before mobilization.Strange to find Winston Churchill and Sylvia Plath both choosing the word 'roller,' in both its juggernaut and wavelike declensions, for that scene.”

Tags : 1906 British Empire British Overseas Territories Cars Cavalry Churchill Englishness German Army German Empire Germany Infantry Kaiser Kaiser Wilhelm Ii Poetry Silesia Sylvia Plath Upper Silesia War Wroclaw
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

128. “Our belief is not a belief. Our principles are not a faith. We do not rely soley upon science and reason, because these are necessary rather than sufficient factors, but we distrust anything that contradicts science or outrages reason. We may differ on many things, but what we respect is free inquiry, openmindedness, and the pursuit of ideas for their own sake.”

Tags : Atheism Atheist God Noremorse Science
Source : God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything

129. “The Bible may, indeed does, contain a warrant for trafficking in humans, for ethnic cleansing, for slavery, for bride-price, and for indiscriminate massacre, but we are not bound by any of it because it was put together by crude, uncultured human mammals.”

Tags : Atheism Atheist God Noremorse
Source : God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything

130. “Why do humans exist? A major part of the answer: because Pikaia Gracilens survived the Burgess decimation.”

Tags : Atheism Atheist God Noremorse Science
Source : God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything

131. “How dismal it is to see present day Americans yearning for the very orthodoxy that their country was founded to escape.”

Tags : Atheism Fundamentalism Religion Secularism Separation Of Church And State United States United States Constitution

132. “At least two important conservative thinkers, Ayn Rand and Leo Strauss, were unbelievers or nonbelievers and in any case contemptuous of Christianity. I have my own differences with both of these savants, but is the Republican Party really prepared to disown such modern intellectuals as it can claim, in favor of a shallow, demagogic and above all sectarian religiosity?Perhaps one could phrase the same question in two further ways. At the last election, the GOP succeeded in increasing its vote among American Jews by an estimated five percentage points. Does it propose to welcome these new adherents or sympathizers by yelling in the tones of that great Democrat bigmouth William Jennings Bryan? By insisting that evolution is 'only a theory'? By demanding biblical literalism and by proclaiming that the Messiah has already shown himself? If so, it will deserve the punishment for hubris that is already coming its way. (The punishment, in other words, that Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson believed had struck America on Sept. 11, 2001. How can it be that such grotesque characters, calling down divine revenge on the workers in the World Trade Center, are allowed a respectful hearing, or a hearing at all, among patriotic Republicans?)”

Tags : 2000 2001 2003 American Jews Atheism Biblical Literalism Christian Fundamentalism Christian Right Christianity Evolution Fundamentalism Jerry Falwell Jews Leo Strauss Pat Robertson Politics Republican Party United States Sectarianism September 11 Attacks United States Us Elections 2000 William Jennings Bryan World Trade Center

133. “Sarah Palin appears to have no testable core conviction except the belief (which none of her defenders denies that she holds, or at least has held and not yet repudiated) that the end of days and the Second Coming will occur in her lifetime. This completes the already strong case for allowing her to pass the rest of her natural life span as a private citizen.”

Tags : Atheism Christianity End Time Fundamentalism Politics Sarah Palin Second Coming Of Christ United States
Source : The Quotable Hitchens from Alcohol to Zionism: The Very Best of Christopher Hitchens

134. “One notorious apikoros named Hiwa al-Balkhi, writing in ninth-century Persia, offered two hundred awkward questions to the faithful. He drew upon himself the usual thunderous curses—'may his name be forgotten, may his bones be worn to nothing'—along with detailed refutations and denunciations by Abraham ibn Ezra and others. These exciting anathemas, of course, ensured that his worrying 'questions' would remain current for as long as the Orthodox commentaries would be read. In this way, rather as when Maimonides says that the Messiah will come but that 'he may tarry,' Jewishness contrives irony at its own expense. If there is one characteristic of Jews that I admire, it is that irony is seldom if ever wasted on them.”

Tags : Abraham Ibn Ezra Atheism Curses Heretics Hiwi Al Balkhi Irony Jewishness Jews Judaism Maimonides Messiah Orthodox Judaism Religion Self Deprecation
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

135. “I had become too accustomed to the pseudo-Left new style, whereby if your opponent thought he had identified your lowest possible motive, he was quite certain that he had isolated the only real one. This vulgar method, which is now the norm and the standard in much non-Left journalism as well, is designed to have the effect of making any noisy moron into a master analyst.”

Tags : Ad Hominem Argumentation Fallacy Journalism Leftism
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

136. “Let's just go in and enjoy ourselves,' Yvonne had said after a long moment when the Hitchens family had silently reviewed the menu—actually of the prices not the courses—outside a restaurant on our first and only visit to Paris. I knew at once that the odds against enjoyment had shortened (or is it lengthened? I never remember).”

Tags : Enjoyment Family Menus Odds Paris Price Restaurants
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

137. “You should be nicer to him,' a schoolmate had once said to me of some awfully ill-favored boy. 'He has no friends.' This, I realized with a pang of pity that I can still remember, was only true as long as everybody agreed to it.”

Tags : Bullying Friends Pity School Schoolmates
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

138. “If the Bahreini royal family can have an embassy, a state, and a seat at the UN, why should the twenty-five million Kurds not have a claim to autonomy? The alleviation of their suffering and the assertion of their self-government is one of the few unarguable benefits of regime change in Iraq. It is not a position from which any moral retreat would be allowable.”

Tags : Al Khalifa Family Autonomy Bahrain Iraq Iraq War Kurdish People Kurdistan Morality Royalty Statehood
Source : A Matter of Principle: Humanitarian Arguments for War in Iraq

139. “Many writers, especially male ones, have told us that it is the decease of the father which opens the prospect of one's own end, and affords an unobstructed view of the undug but awaiting grave that says 'you're next.' Unfilial as this may seem, that was not at all so in my own case. It was only when I watched Alexander [my own son] being born that I knew at once that my own funeral director had very suddenly, but quite unmistakably, stepped onto the stage. I was surprised by how calmly I took this, but also by how reluctant I was to mention it to my male contemporaries.”

Tags : Death Fathers Mortality Sons Writers
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

140. “As he grew older, which was mostly in my absence, my firstborn son, Alexander, became ever more humorous and courageous. There came a time, as the confrontation with the enemies of our civilization became more acute, when he sent off various applications to enlist in the armed forces. I didn't want to be involved in this decision either way, especially since I was being regularly taunted for not having 'sent' any of my children to fight in the wars of resistance that I supported. (As if I could 'send' anybody, let alone a grown-up and tough and smart young man: what moral imbeciles the 'anti-war' people have become.)”

Tags : Antiwar Civilisation Courage Enemies Fathers Humour Iraq Iraq War Morality Resistance Sons War War On Terror
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

141. “He's a man [George W. Bush] who is lucky to be governor of Texas. He is a man who is unusually incurious, abnormally unintelligent, amazingly inarticulate, fantastically uncultured, extraordinarily uneducated, and apparently quite proud of all these things.”

Tags : Anti Intellectualism George W Bush Governor Of Texas President Uneducated Mind

142. “And I wonder, therefore, how James Atlas can have been so indulgent in his recent essay ‘The Changing World of New York Intellectuals.’ This rather shallow piece appeared in the New York Times magazine, and took us over the usual jumps. Gone are the days of Partisan Review, Delmore Schwartz, Dwight MacDonald etc etc. No longer the tempest of debate over Trotsky, The Waste Land, Orwell, blah, blah. Today the assimilation of the Jewish American, the rise of rents in midtown Manhattan, the erosion of Village life, yawn, yawn. The drift to the right, the rediscovery of patriotism, the gruesome maturity of the once iconoclastic Norman Podhoretz, okay, okay! I have one question which Atlas in his much-ballyhooed article did not even discuss. The old gang may have had regrettable flirtations. Their political compromises, endlessly reviewed, may have exhibited naivety or self-regard. But much of that record is still educative, and the argument did take place under real pressure from anti-semitic and authoritarian enemies. Today, the alleged ‘neo-conservative’ movement around Jeane Kirkpatrick, Commentary and the New Criterion can be found in unforced alliance with openly obscurantist, fundamentalist and above all anti-intellectual forces. In the old days, there would at least have been a debate on the proprieties of such a united front, with many fine distinctions made and brave attitudes struck. As I write, nearness to power seems the only excuse, and the subject is changed as soon it is raised. I wait for the agonised, self-justifying neo-conservative essay about necessary and contingent alliances. Do I linger in vain?”

Tags : Americans Anti Intellectualism Anti Semitism Authoritarianism Cold War Commentary Magazine Debate Delmore Schwartz Dwight Macdonald Fundamentalism George Orwell Intellectuals James Atlas Jeane Kirkpatrick Jews Leon Trotsky Manhattan Neoconservativism New Criterion New York Norman Podhoretz Obscurantism Partisan Review Power Right Wing Politics Ts Eliot
Source : Prepared for the Worst: Selected Essays and Minority Reports

143. “The usual duty of the “intellectual” is to argue for complexity and to insist that phenomena in the world of ideas should not be sloganized or reduced to easily repeated formulae.”

Tags : Complexity Debate Intellectual

144. “Without Thomas Jefferson and his Declaration of Independence, there would have been no American revolution that announced universal principles of liberty. Without his participation by the side of the unforgettable Marquis de Lafayette, there would have been no French proclamation of The Rights of Man. Without his brilliant negotiation of the Louisiana treaty, there would be no United States of America. Without Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, there would have been no Virginia Statute on Religious Freedom, and no basis for the most precious clause of our most prized element of our imperishable Bill of Rights - the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.”

Tags : 1St Amendment American Revolution Bill Of Rights Declaration Of Independence Freedom Of Religion James Madison Liberty Marquis De Lafayette Thomas Jefferson United States Us Constitution

145. “Let's say that the consensus is that our species, being the higher primates, Homo Sapiens, has been on the planet for at least 100,000 years, maybe more. Francis Collins says maybe 100,000. Richard Dawkins thinks maybe a quarter-of-a-million. I'll take 100,000. In order to be a Christian, you have to believe that for 98,000 years, our species suffered and died, most of its children dying in childbirth, most other people having a life expectancy of about 25 years, dying of their teeth. Famine, struggle, bitterness, war, suffering, misery, all of that for 98,000 years.Heaven watches this with complete indifference. And then 2000 years ago, thinks 'That's enough of that. It's time to intervene,' and the best way to do this would be by condemning someone to a human sacrifice somewhere in the less literate parts of the Middle East. Don't lets appeal to the Chinese, for example, where people can read and study evidence and have a civilization. Let's go to the desert and have another revelation there. This is nonsense. It can't be believed by a thinking person.Why am I glad this is the case? To get to the point of the wrongness of Christianity, because I think the teachings of Christianity are immoral. The central one is the most immoral of all, and that is the one of vicarious redemption. You can throw your sins onto somebody else, vulgarly known as scapegoating. In fact, originating as scapegoating in the same area, the same desert. I can pay your debt if I love you. I can serve your term in prison if I love you very much. I can volunteer to do that. I can't take your sins away, because I can't abolish your responsibility, and I shouldn't offer to do so. Your responsibility has to stay with you. There's no vicarious redemption. There very probably, in fact, is no redemption at all. It's just a part of wish-thinking, and I don't think wish-thinking is good for people either.It even manages to pollute the central question, the word I just employed, the most important word of all: the word love, by making love compulsory, by saying you MUST love. You must love your neighbour as yourself, something you can't actually do. You'll always fall short, so you can always be found guilty. By saying you must love someone who you also must fear. That's to say a supreme being, an eternal father, someone of whom you must be afraid, but you must love him, too. If you fail in this duty, you're again a wretched sinner. This is not mentally or morally or intellectually healthy.And that brings me to the final objection - I'll condense it, Dr. Orlafsky - which is, this is a totalitarian system. If there was a God who could do these things and demand these things of us, and he was eternal and unchanging, we'd be living under a dictatorship from which there is no appeal, and one that can never change and one that knows our thoughts and can convict us of thought crime, and condemn us to eternal punishment for actions that we are condemned in advance to be taking. All this in the round, and I could say more, it's an excellent thing that we have absolutely no reason to believe any of it to be true.”

Tags : Atheism Atheist Belief Christianity Is Immoral Christopher Hitchens Crime Dawkins Divine Dictatorship Ethics Evidence Fear Guilt Health Hitchens Hitchslap Love Love Your Neighbor Morality Richard Dawkins Supreme Being Wishful Thinking

146. “Terrorism works better as a tactic for dictatorships, or for would-be dictators, than for revolutionaries.”

Tags : Dictatorship Revolution Revolutionary State Terrorism Terrorism

147. “I got hold of a copy of the video that showed how Saddam Hussein had actually confirmed himself in power. This snuff-movie opens with a plenary session of the Ba'ath Party central committee: perhaps a hundred men. Suddenly the doors are locked and Saddam, in the chair, announces a special session. Into the room is dragged an obviously broken man, who begins to emit a robotic confession of treason and subversion, that he sobs has been instigated by Syrian and other agents. As the (literally) extorted confession unfolds, names begin to be named. Once a fellow-conspirator is identified, guards come to his seat and haul him from the room. The reclining Saddam, meanwhile, lights a large cigar and contentedly scans his dossiers. The sickness of fear in the room is such that men begin to crack up and weep, rising to their feet to shout hysterical praise, even love, for the leader. Inexorably, though, the cull continues, and faces and bodies go slack as their owners are pinioned and led away. When it is over, about half the committee members are left, moaning with relief and heaving with ardent love for the boss. (In an accompanying sequel, which I have not seen, they were apparently required to go into the yard outside and shoot the other half, thus sealing the pact with Saddam. I am not sure that even Beria or Himmler would have had the nerve and ingenuity and cruelty to come up with that.)”

Tags : Ba Ath Party Ba Athism Ba Athist Iraq Beria Conspiracy Cull Dictatorship Execution Film Himmler Saddam Hussein Syria Torture
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

148. “The one thing that the racist can never manage is anything like discrimination: he is indiscriminate by definition.”

Tags : Discrimination Racism
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

149. “How is the United States at once the most conservative and commercial AND the most revolutionary society on Earth?”

Tags : Commercialism Conservatism Radicalism United States
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

150. “Today I want to puke when I hear the word 'radical' applied so slothfully and stupidly to Islamist murderers; the most plainly reactionary people in the world.”

Tags : Conservatism Islamism Radicalism
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

151. “Gore Vidal, for instance, once languidly told me that one should never miss a chance either to have sex or to appear on television. My efforts to live up to this maxim have mainly resulted in my passing many unglamorous hours on off-peak cable TV. It was actually Vidal's great foe William F. Buckley who launched my part-time television career, by inviting me on to Firing Line when I was still quite young, and giving me one of the American Right's less towering intellects as my foil. The response to the show made my day, and then my week. Yet almost every time I go to a TV studio, I feel faintly guilty. This is pre-eminently the 'soft' world of dream and illusion and 'perception': it has only a surrogate relationship to the 'hard' world of printed words and written-down concepts to which I've tried to dedicate my life, and that surrogate relationship, while it, too, may be 'verbal,' consists of being glib rather than fluent, fast rather than quick, sharp rather than pointed. It means reveling in the fact that I have a meretricious, want-it-both-ways side. My only excuse is to say that at least I do not pretend that this is not so.”

Tags : Advice Cable Television Cable Television In The Us Conservatism Conservatism In The Us Gore Vidal Guilt Illusion Literature Perception Sex Television United States William F Buckley
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

152. “And I'll close by saying this. Because anti-Semitism is the godfather of racism and the gateway to tyranny and fascism and war, it is to be regarded not as the enemy of the Jewish people, I learned, but as the common enemy of humanity and of civilisation, and has to be fought against very tenaciously for that reason, most especially in its current, most virulent form of Islamic Jihad. Daniel Pearl's revolting murderer was educated at the London School of Economics. Our Christmas bomber over Detroit was from a neighboring London college, the chair of the Islamic Students' Society. Many pogroms against Jewish people are being reported from all over Europe today as I'm talking, and we can only expect this to get worse, and we must make sure our own defenses are not neglected. Our task is to call this filthy thing, this plague, this—this pest, by its right name; to make unceasing resistance to it, knowing all the time that it's probably ultimately ineradicable, and bearing in mind that its hatred towards us is a compliment, and resolving (some of the time, at any rate) to do a bit more to deserve it. Thank you.”

Tags : Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh Anti Semitism Christmas Civilisation Daniel Pearl Detroit Europe Fascism Islam Jews Jihad London Murder Northwest Airlines Flight 253 Pogroms Racism Speeches Tyranny Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab War

153. “As the cleansing ocean closes over bin Laden's carcass, may the earth lie lightly on the countless graves of those he sentenced without compunction to be burned alive or dismembered in the street.”

Tags : 2011 Death Of Osama Bin Laden Fascism Mass Murder Obituary Osama Bin Laden September 11 Attacks
Source : The Enemy

154. “So, whenever the subject of Iraq came up, as it did keep on doing through the Clinton years, I had no excuse for not knowing the following things: I knew that its one-party, one-leader state machine was modeled on the precedents of both National Socialism and Stalinism, to say nothing of Al Capone. I knew that its police force was searching for psychopathic killers and sadistic serial murderers, not in order to arrest them but to employ them. I knew that its vast patrimony of oil wealth, far from being 'nationalized,' had been privatized for the use of one family, and was being squandered on hideous ostentation at home and militarism abroad. (Post-Kuwait inspections by the United Nations had uncovered a huge nuclear-reactor site that had not even been known about by the international community.) I had seen with my own eyes the evidence of a serious breach of the Genocide Convention on Iraqi soil, and I had also seen with my own eyes the evidence that it had been carried out in part with the use of weapons of mass destruction. I was, if you like, the prisoner of this knowledge. I certainly did not have the option of un-knowing it.”

Tags : Al Capone Ba Ath Party Ba Athist Iraq Bill Clinton Crime Family Fascism Genocide Genocide Convention Invasion Of Kuwait Iraq Iraq War Kuwait Militarism National Socialism Nationalisation Nuclear Reactor Technology Oil Privatisation Psychopaths Serial Killers Stalinism United Nations Wmd
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

155. “I picked up the large lapel button richly worked in purple, green and yellow plastic. 'January 1997,' it announced, 'Day of Visionaries.' Beneath the slogan was a portrait of Dr Martin Luther King Jr. And next to him, sharing the billing as it were, was a same-size picture of our newly elected President. And below was the official logo of the inauguration committee. I’m sorry, but that’s too much. Much too much. I can tune out the Chief Executive when he drivels on about building a bridge to Newt Gingrich. I can be shaking a cocktail or grilling a lobster when he intones that 'nothing big ever came from being small.' I can be receiving a telephone call in a foreign language and still keep up with him when he says that the future lies before us, and the past behind, and that we must light the torch of knowledge from the fountain of wisdom (or whatever). As Orwell once remarked, after a point you stop noticing that you have said things like 'The jackboot is thrown into the melting pot,’ or 'The fascist octopus has sung its swansong.' Motor-mouth and automatic pilot and sheer flatulence and conceit supply their own mediocre, infinitely renewable energy. But this cheap, cheery little button turned the scale. It’s one thing to be bored, or subjected to boredom. It’s another to be insulted. This is a pot of piss flung in the face. What does it take to get people disgusted these days?”

Tags : Bill Clinton Disgust Martin Luther King Jr Opportunism Politics Tact United States Vulgarity

156. “Question: Which Mediterranean government shares all of Ronald Reagan's views on international terrorism, the present danger of Soviet advance, the hypocrisy of the United Nations, the unreliability of Europe, the perfidy of the Third World and the need for nuclear defense policy? Question: Which Mediterranean government is Ronald Reagan trying, with the help of George Shultz and Caspar Weinberger, to replace with a government led by a party which professes socialism and which contains extreme leftists?If you answered 'the government of Israel' to both of the above, you know more about political and international irony than the President does.”

Tags : 1980S Caspar Weinberger Cold War Europe George P Shultz Israel Israel United States Relations Leftism Mediterranean Sea National Missile Defense Presidency Of Ronald Reagan Ronald Reagan Socialism Soviet Union Terrorism Third World United Nations United States

157. “It is truth, in the old saying, that is 'the daughter of time,' and the lapse of half a century has not left us many of our illusions. Churchill tried and failed to preserve one empire. He failed to preserve his own empire, but succeeded in aggrandizing two much larger ones. He seems to have used crisis after crisis as an excuse to extend his own power. His petulant refusal to relinquish the leadership was the despair of postwar British Conservatives; in my opinion this refusal had to do with his yearning to accomplish something that 'history' had so far denied him—the winning of a democratic election.”

Tags : American Imperialism Britain British Empire Cold War Conservative Party Uk Crisis Democracy Elections History Imperialism Power Russia Soviet Union Time Truth United States Winston Churchill
Source : Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays

158. “I dispute the right of conservatives to be automatically complacent on these points. My own Marxist group took a consistently anti-Moscow line throughout the 'Cold War,' and was firm in its belief that that Soviet Union and its European empire could not last. Very few people believed that this was the case: The best known anti-Communist to advance the proposition was the great Robert Conquest, but he himself insists that part of the credit for such prescience goes to Orwell. More recently, a very exact prefiguration of the collapse of the USSR was offered by two German Marxists, one of them from the West (Hans Magnus Enzensberger) and one from the East (Rudolf Bahro, the accuracy of whose prediction was almost uncanny). I have never met an American conservative who has even heard of, let alone read, either of these authors.”

Tags : Cold War Communism Dissent Left Wing Politics Soviet Union Totalitarianism
Source : Christopher Hitchens and His Critics: Terror, Iraq, and the Left

159. “British diplomats and Anglo-American types in Washington have a near-superstitious prohibition on uttering the words 'Special Relationship' to describe relations between Britain and America, lest the specialness itself vanish like a phantom at cock-crow.”

Tags : Anglo Americans Britain Diplomacy Foreign Relations Foreign Relations Of The Us Superstition Uk Us Relations United States Washington
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

160. “And thus to my final and most melancholy point: a great number of Stalin's enforcers and henchmen in Eastern Europe were Jews. And not just a great number, but a great proportion. The proportion was especially high in the secret police and 'security' departments, where no doubt revenge played its own part, as did the ideological attachment to Communism that was so strong among internationally minded Jews at that period: Jews like David Szmulevski. There were reasonably strong indigenous Communist forces in Czechoslovakia and East Germany, but in Hungary and Poland the Communists were a small minority and knew it, were dependent on the Red Army and aware of the fact, and were disproportionately Jewish and widely detested for that reason. Many of the penal labor camps constructed by the Nazis were later used as holding pens for German deportees by the Communists, and some of those who ran these grim places were Jewish. Nobody from Israel or the diaspora who goes to the East of Europe on a family-history fishing-trip should be unaware of the chance that they will find out both much less and much more than the package-tour had promised them. It's easy to say, with Albert Camus, 'neither victims nor executioners.' But real history is more pitiless even than you had been told it was.”

Tags : Antisemitism Camus Communism Czechoslovakia David Szmulevski East Germany Eastern Europe Germans History Hungary Ideology Israel Jewish Diaspora Jews Nazis Poland Red Army Revenge Secret Police Stalin
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

161. “I have had my mother's wing of my genetic ancestry analyzed by the National Geographic tracing service and there it all is: the arrow moving northward from the African savannah, skirting the Mediterranean by way of the Levant, and passing through Eastern and Central Europe before crossing to the British Isles. And all of this knowable by an analysis of the cells on the inside of my mouth.I almost prefer the more rambling and indirect and journalistic investigation, which seems somehow less… deterministic.”

Tags : Africa Ancestry British Isles Central Europe Determinism Eastern Europe Genealogy Genetics History Investigation Journalism Levant Mediterranean Sea National Geographic Savanna Sub Saharan Africa
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

162. “What people still do not like to admit is that there were two crimes in the form of one. Just as the destruction of Jewry was the necessary condition for the rise and expansion of Nazism, so the ethnic cleansing of Germans was a precondition for the Stalinization of Poland. I first noticed this point when reading an essay by the late Ernest Gellner, who at the end of the war had warned Eastern Europeans that collective punishment of Germans would put them under Stalin's tutelage indefinitely. They would always feel the guilty need for an ally against potential German revenge.”

Tags : Antisemitism Eastern European Ernest Gellner Ethnic Cleansing Genocide Germans Holocaust Jews Nazism Poland Revenge Stalin Stalinism War World War Ii
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

163. “Though he never actually joined it, he was close to some civilian elements of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which was the most Communist (and in the rather orthodox sense) of the Palestinian formations. I remember Edward once surprising me by saying, and apropos of nothing: 'Do you know something I have never done in my political career? I have never publicly criticized the Soviet Union. It’s not that I terribly sympathize with them or anything—it's just that the Soviets have never done anything to harm me, or us.' At the time I thought this a rather naïve statement, even perhaps a slightly contemptible one, but by then I had been in parts of the Middle East where it could come as a blessed relief to meet a consecrated Moscow-line atheist-dogmatist, if only for the comparatively rational humanism that he evinced amid so much religious barking and mania. It was only later to occur to me that Edward's pronounced dislike of George Orwell was something to which I ought to have paid more attention.”

Tags : Atheism Communism Dflp Dogmatism Edward Said Humanism Liberation Middle East Moscow Orwell Palestine Palestinians Politics Rationality Religion Religious Extremism Soviet Union
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

164. “The North Korean capital, Pyongyang, is a city consecrated to the worship of a father-son dynasty. (I came to think of them, with their nuclear-family implications, as 'Fat Man and Little Boy.') And a river runs through it. And on this river, the Taedong River, is moored the only American naval vessel in captivity. It was in January 1968 that the U.S.S. Pueblo strayed into North Korean waters, and was boarded and captured. One sailor was killed; the rest were held for nearly a year before being released. I looked over the spy ship, its radio antennae and surveillance equipment still intact, and found photographs of the captain and crew with their hands on their heads in gestures of abject surrender. Copies of their groveling 'confessions,' written in tremulous script, were also on show. So was a humiliating document from the United States government, admitting wrongdoing in the penetration of North Korean waters and petitioning the 'D.P.R.K.' (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) for 'lenience.' Kim Il Sung ('Fat Man') was eventually lenient about the men, but not about the ship. Madeleine Albright didn't ask to see the vessel on her visit last October, during which she described the gruesome, depopulated vistas of Pyongyang as 'beautiful.' As I got back onto the wharf, I noticed a refreshment cart, staffed by two women under a frayed umbrella. It didn't look like much—one of its three wheels was missing and a piece of brick was propping it up—but it was the only such cart I'd see. What toothsome local snacks might the ladies be offering? The choices turned out to be slices of dry bread and cups of warm water.Nor did Madeleine Albright visit the absurdly misnamed 'Demilitarized Zone,' one of the most heavily militarized strips of land on earth. Across the waist of the Korean peninsula lies a wasteland, roughly following the 38th parallel, and packed with a titanic concentration of potential violence. It is four kilometers wide (I have now looked apprehensively at it from both sides) and very near to the capital cities of both North and South. On the day I spent on the northern side, I met a group of aging Chinese veterans, all from Szechuan, touring the old battlefields and reliving a war they helped North Korea nearly win (China sacrificed perhaps a million soldiers in that campaign, including Mao Anying, son of Mao himself). Across the frontier are 37,000 United States soldiers. Their arsenal, which has included undeclared nuclear weapons, is the reason given by Washington for its refusal to sign the land-mines treaty. In August 1976, U.S. officers entered the neutral zone to trim a tree that was obscuring the view of an observation post. A posse of North Koreans came after them, and one, seizing the ax with which the trimming was to be done, hacked two U.S. servicemen to death with it. I visited the ax also; it's proudly displayed in a glass case on the North Korean side.”

Tags : 1968 2000 2001 China Chinese People Kim Il Sung Kim Jong Il Korean Demilitarized Zone Korean Peninsula Korean War Land Mines Madeleine Albright Nuclear Weapons Politics Seoul Sichuan South Korea Taedong River United States United States And Wmd Uss Pueblo Ager 2 Washington Dc
Source : Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays

165. “When I went back to Iraq again, after the liberation was complete, I was myself engaged on a sort of "dig", and I decided to travel with Paul Wolfowitz. It was in its own way an archaeological and anthropological expedition. Here are some of the things we unearthed or observed. Unnoticed by almost everybody, and unreported by most newspapers, Saddam Hussein's former chief physicist Dr. Mahdi Obeidi had waited until a few weeks after the fall of Baghdad to accost some American soldiers and invite them to excavate his back garden. There he showed them the components of a gas centrifuge--the crown jewels of uranium enrichment--along with a two-foot stack of blueprints. This burial had originally been ordered by Saddam's younger son Qusay, who had himself been in charge of the Ministry of Concealment, and had outlasted many visits by "inspectors". I myself rather doubt that Hans Blix would ever have found the trove on his own.”

Tags : Iraq Weapons Of Mass Destruction
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

166. “[T]he very multiculturalism and multiethnicity that brought Salman to the West, and that also made us richer by Hanif Kureishi, Nadeem Aslam, Vikram Seth, Monica Ali, and many others, is now one of the disguises for a uniculturalism, based on moral relativism and moral blackmail (in addition to some more obvious blackmail of the less moral sort) whereby the Enlightenment has been redefined as 'white' and 'oppressive,' mass illegal immigration threatens to spoil everything for everybody, and the figure of the free-floating transnational migrant has been deposed by the contorted face of the psychopathically religious international nihilist, praying for the day when his messianic demands will coincide with possession of an apocalyptic weapon. (These people are not called nihilists for nothing.) Of all of this we were warned, and Salman was the messenger. Mutato nomine et de te fabula narrator: Change only the name and this story is about you.”

Tags : Islamism Multiculturalism Relativism Rushdie
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

167. “It is often said, inside the Church and out of it, that there is something grotesque about lectures on the sexual life when delivered by those who have shunned it. Given the way that the Church forbids women to preach, this point is usually made about men. But given how much this Church allows the fanatical Mother Teresa to preach, it might be added that the call to go forth and multiply, and to take no thought for the morrow, sounds grotesque when uttered by an elderly virgin whose chief claim to reverence is that she ministers to the inevitable losers in this very lottery.”

Tags : Celibacy Church Mother Teresa Sexual Life
Source : The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice

168. “The Auden/Kallman relationship had this to be said for it: It affirmed that it's better to be blatant than latent.”

Tags : Chester Kallman Coming Out Homosexuality Relationships The Closet Wh Auden

169. “Reading his autobiography many years later, I was astonished to find that Edward since boyhood had—not unlike Isaiah Berlin—often felt himself ungainly and ill-favored and awkward in bearing. He had always seemed to me quite the reverse: a touch dandyish perhaps but—as the saying goes—perfectly secure in his masculinity. On one occasion, after lunch in Georgetown, he took me with him to a renowned local tobacconist and asked to do something I had never witnessed before: 'try on' a pipe. In case you ever wish to do this, here is the form: a solemn assistant produces a plastic envelope and fits it over the amber or ivory mouthpiece. You then clamp your teeth down to feel if the 'fit' and weight are easy to your jaw. If not, then repeat with various stems until your browsing is complete. In those days I could have inhaled ten cigarettes and drunk three Tanqueray martinis in the time spent on such flaneur flippancy, but I admired the commitment to smoking nonetheless. Taking coffee with him once in a shopping mall in Stanford, I saw him suddenly register something over my shoulder. It was a ladies' dress shop. He excused himself and dashed in, to emerge soon after with some fashionable and costly looking bags. 'Mariam,' he said as if by way of explanation, 'has never worn anything that I have not bought for her.' On another occasion in Manhattan, after acting as a magnificent, encyclopedic guide around the gorgeous Andalusia (Al-Andalus) exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, he was giving lunch to Carol and to me when she noticed that her purse had been lost or stolen. At once, he was at her service, not only suggesting shops in the vicinity where a replacement might be found, but also offering to be her guide and advisor until she had selected a suitable new sac à main. I could no more have proposed myself for such an expedition than suggested myself as a cosmonaut, so what this says about my own heterosexual confidence I leave to others.”

Tags : Andalusia Autobiography Carol Blue Edward Said Georgetown Washington Heterosexuality Manhattan Masculinity Museum Of Modern Art Pipes Purses Self Confidence Shyness Smoking Stanford
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

170. “We inherited these principles and these freedoms and we here highly resolve that we shall pass them on, as we will pass on an undivided Republic purged of racism and slavery, to our descendants. The popgun discharges of a few pathetic sectarians and crackpot revisionists are negligible, and will be drowned by the mounting chorus that demands: 'Mr Jefferson! BUILD UP THAT WALL'.”

Tags : Atheism Freedom Of Religion Religion Thomas Jefferson

171. “Religion is a totalitarian belief. It is the wish to be a slave. It is the desire that there be an unalterable, unchallengeable, tyrannical authority who can convict you of thought crime while you are asleep, who can subject you to total surveillance around the clock every waking and sleeping minute of your life, before you're born and, even worse and where the real fun begins, after you're dead. A celestial North Korea. Who wants this to be true? Who but a slave desires such a ghastly fate? I've been to North Korea. It has a dead man as its president, Kim Jong-Il is only head of the party and head of the army. He's not head of the state. That office belongs to his deceased father, Kim Il-Sung. It's a necrocracy, a thanatocracy. It's one short of a trinity I might add. The son is the reincarnation of the father. It is the most revolting and utter and absolute and heartless tyranny the human species has ever evolved. But at least you can fucking die and leave North Korea!”

Tags : Atheism Atheist Argument Christianity Funny Funny And Random Funny And True Funny Quotes Humor Intellectual Philosophy Religion Religious Freedom Religious Quote Spirituality

172. “There is no such thing as notoriety in the United States these days, let alone infamy. Celebrity is all.”

Tags : 1989 Andy Warhol Celebrity Notoriety United States
Source : For the Sake of Argument: Essays and Minority Reports

173. “[I]n a place with absolutely no private or personal life, with the incessant worship of a mediocre career-sadist as the only culture, where all citizens are the permanent property of the state, the highest form of pointlessness has been achieved.”

Tags : Culture Deification Kim Jong Il North Korea Personal Life Privacy Sadism Worship
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

174. “Authors who moan with praise for their editors always seem to reek slightly of the Stockholm syndrome.”

Tags : Acknowledgments Authorship Editing
Source : Blood, Class and Empire: The Enduring Anglo-American Relationship

175. “Every article and review and book that I have ever published has constituted an appeal to the person or persons to whom I should have talked before I dared to write it. I never launch any little essay without the hope—and the fear, because the encounter may also be embarrassing—that I shall draw a letter that begins, 'Dear Mr. Hitchens, it seems that you are unaware that…' It is in this sense that authorship is collaborative with 'the reader.' And there's no help for it: you only find out what you ought to have known by pretending to know at least some of it already.It doesn't matter how obscure or arcane or esoteric your place of publication may be: some sweet law ensures that the person who should be scrutinizing your work eventually does do so.”

Tags : Articles Authorship Book Reviews Books Collaboration Essays Readers Writers Writing
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

176. “I am often described to my irritation as a 'contrarian' and even had the title inflicted on me by the publisher of one of my early books. (At least on that occasion I lived up to the title by ridiculing the word in my introduction to the book's first chapter.) It is actually a pity that our culture doesn't have a good vernacular word for an oppositionist or even for someone who tries to do his own thinking: the word 'dissident' can't be self-conferred because it is really a title of honor that has to be won or earned, while terms like 'gadfly' or 'maverick' are somehow trivial and condescending as well as over-full of self-regard. And I've lost count of the number of memoirs by old comrades or ex-comrades that have titles like 'Against the Stream,' 'Against the Current,' 'Minority of One,' 'Breaking Ranks' and so forth—all of them lending point to Harold Rosenberg's withering remark about 'the herd of independent minds.' Even when I was quite young I disliked being called a 'rebel': it seemed to make the patronizing suggestion that 'questioning authority' was part of a 'phase' through which I would naturally go. On the contrary, I was a relatively well-behaved and well-mannered boy, and chose my battles with some deliberation rather than just thinking with my hormones.”

Tags : Authority Contrarianism Dissent Dissidents Free Thought Harold Rosenberg Honorifics Hormones Independence Memoirs Oppositionism Rebellion Words Youth
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

177. “How ya doin'?' I always think, What kind of a question is that?, and I always reply, 'A bit early to tell.”

Tags : Greetings Irony Questions
Source : Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays

178. “It is notorious that the news of the Emancipation Proclamation was kept from the people of Texas and not celebrated until 'Juneteenth'. There may be those in Texas now who believe they can insulate their state—a state that had its own courageous revolution—from the news of evolution and from the writing in 1786 of a Constitution that refuses to mention religion except when demarcating and limiting its role in the public square. But we promise them today that they will join their fore-runners in the flat-earth community, and in the mad clerical clique of those who believed that the sun revolved around the earth. Yes, they will be in schoolbooks—as a joke on the epic scale of William Jennings Bryan. We shall be fair, and take care to ensure that their tale is told.”

Tags : Atheism Education Religion Texas United States William Jennings Bryan

179. “The search for Nirvana, like the search for Utopia or the end of history or the classless society, is ultimately a futile and dangerous one. It involves, if it does not necessitate, the sleep of reason. There is no escape from anxiety and struggle.”

Tags : Anxiety Class Irrationality Nirvana Reason Society Struggle Utopia
Source : Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays

180. “The governor of Texas, who, when asked if the Bible should also be taught in Spanish, replied that ‘if English was good enough for Jesus, then it’s good enough for me’.”

Tags : Dumb English Translations

181. “A melancholy lesson of advancing years is the realisation that you can't make old friends.”

Tags : Ageing Friendship
Source : Unacknowledged Legislation: Writers in the Public Sphere

182. “Hardest of all, as one becomes older, is to accept that sapient remarks can be drawn from the most unwelcome or seemingly improbable sources, and that the apparently more trustworthy sources can lead one astray.”

Tags : Age Ageing Henry Kissinger Old Age Sources Wisdom
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

183. “Cheap booze is a false economy.”

Tags : Alcohol Economy Value Wisdom
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

184. “What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? (Just to give you an idea, Proust's reply was 'To be separated from Mama.') I think that the lowest depth of misery ought to be distinguished from the highest pitch of anguish. In the lower depths come enforced idleness, sexual boredom, and/or impotence. At the highest pitch, the death of a friend or even the fear of the death of a child.”

Tags : Anguish Children Death Fear Friends Idleness Impotence Misery Mothers Proust Proust Questionnaire Sex
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

185. “Not since North Korean media declared Kim Jong-il to be the reincarnation of Kim Il Sung has there been such a blatant attempt to create a necrocracy, or perhaps mausolocracy, in which a living claimant assumes the fleshly mantle of the departed.”

Tags : Bolivarianism Death Exhumation Hugo Chavez Kim Il Sung Kim Jong Il Media Media Of North Korea North Korea Reincarnation Simon Bolivar

186. “There is a noticeable element of the pathological in some current leftist critiques, which I tend to attribute to feelings of guilt allied to feelings of impotence. Not an attractive combination, because it results in self-hatred.”

Tags : Antiwar Movement Guilt Impotence Iraq War Leftism Pathology Psychology Self Hatred War On Terror
Source : Christopher Hitchens and His Critics: Terror, Iraq, and the Left

187. “The noble old synagogue had been profaned and turned into a stable by the Nazis, and left open to the elements by the Communists, at least after they had briefly employed it as a 'furniture facility.' It had then been vandalized and perhaps accidentally set aflame by incurious and callous local 'youths.' Only the well-crafted walls really stood, though a recent grant from the European Union had allowed a makeshift roof and some wooden scaffolding to hold up and enclose the shell until further notice. Adjacent were the remains of a mikvah bath for the ritual purification of women, and a kosher abattoir for the ritual slaughter of beasts: I had to feel that it was grotesque that these obscurantist relics were the only ones to have survived. In a corner of the yard lay a pile of smashed stones on which appeared inscriptions in Hebrew and sometimes Yiddish. These were all that remained of the gravestones. There wasn't a Jew left in the town, and there hadn't been one, said Mr. Kichler, since 1945.”

Tags : 1945 Animal Sacrifice Animals Communism Desecration European Union Hebrew Jerzy Kichler Jews Judaism Mikvahs Nazis Obscurantism Religion Synagogues Tombstones Vandalism White Stork Synagogue Women And Religion Women In Judaism World War Ii Wroclaw Yiddish
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

188. “[O]ne has to have endured a few decades before wanting, let alone needing, to embark on the project of recovering lost life. And I think it may be possible to review 'the chronicles of wasted time.' William Morris wrote in The Dream of John Ball that men fight for things and then lose the battle, only to win it again in a shape and form that they had not expected, and then be compelled again to defend it under another name. We are all of us very good at self-persuasion and I strive to be alert to its traps, but a version of what Hegel called 'the cunning of history' is a parallel commentary that I fight to keep alive in my mind.”

Tags : Age Battles Hegel History Life Reminiscence Self Delusion Self Persuasion William Morris
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

189. “Edward genially enough did not disagree with what I said, but he didn't seem to admit my point, either. I wanted to press him harder so I veered close enough to the ad hominem to point out that his life—the life of the mind, the life of the book collector and music lover and indeed of the gallery-goer, appreciator of the feminine and occasional boulevardier—would become simply unlivable and unthinkable in an Islamic republic. Again, he could accede politely to my point but carry on somehow as if nothing had been conceded. I came slowly to realize that with Edward, too, I was keeping two sets of books. We agreed on things like the first Palestinian intifadah, another event that took the Western press completely off guard, and we collaborated on a book of essays that asserted and defended Palestinian rights. This was in the now hard-to-remember time when all official recognition was withheld from the PLO. Together we debated Professor Bernard Lewis and Leon Wieseltier at a once-celebrated conference of the Middle East Studies Association in Cambridge in 1986, tossing and goring them somewhat in a duel over academic 'objectivity' in the wider discipline. But even then I was indistinctly aware that Edward didn't feel himself quite at liberty to say certain things, while at the same time feeling rather too much obliged to say certain other things. A low point was an almost uncritical profile of Yasser Arafat that he contributed to Interview magazine in the late 1980s.”

Tags : 1980S 1986 Ad Hominem Arafat Art Bernard Lewis Books Cambridge Debate Edward Said Feminism First Intifada Intellectualism Interview Magazine Intifada Islamic Republic Israeli Palestinian Conflict Leon Wieseltier Middle East Middle Eastern Studies Music Palestine Palestinians Theocracy
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

190. “There is almost no country in Africa where it is not essential to know to which tribe, or which subgroup of which tribe, the president belongs. From this single piece of information you can trace the lines of patronage and allegiance that define the state.”

Tags : Africa Allegiance Loyalty Patronage Politics Tribalism

191. “One also hears a great deal about how this awful joint tenure of the executive mansion was a good thing in that it conferred 'experience' on the despised and much-deceived wife. Well, the main 'experience' involved the comprehensive fouling-up of the nation's health-care arrangements, so as to make them considerably worse than they had been before and to create an opening for the worst-of-all-worlds option of the so-called HMO, combining as it did the maximum of capitalist gouging with the maximum of socialistic bureaucracy. This abysmal outcome, forgiven for no reason that I can perceive, was the individual responsibility of the woman who now seems to think it entitles her to the presidency.”

Tags : 2008 Bill Clinton Bureaucracy Capitalism Clinton Health Care Plan Of 1993 Experience Health Care Health Care In The United States Health Maintenance Organization Hillary Clinton Politics Socialism United States United States Elections 2008 White House

192. “The people who must never have power are the humorless. To impossible certainties of rectitude they ally tedium and uniformity.”

Tags : Humor Power Totalitarianism Tyranny
Source : Arguably: Selected Essays

193. “I saw exactly one picture of Marx and one of Lenin in my whole stay, but it's been a long time since ideology had anything to do with it. Not without cunning, Fat Man and Little Boy gradually mutated the whole state belief system into a debased form of Confucianism, in which traditional ancestor worship and respect for order become blended with extreme nationalism and xenophobia. Near the southernmost city of Kaesong, captured by the North in 1951, I was taken to see the beautifully preserved tombs of King and Queen Kongmin. Their significance in F.M.-L.B. cosmology is that they reigned over a then unified Korea in the 14th century, and that they were Confucian and dynastic and left many lavish memorials to themselves. The tombs are built on one hillside, and legend has it that the king sent one of his courtiers to pick the site. Second-guessing his underling, he then climbed the opposite hill. He gave instructions that if the chosen site did not please him he would wave his white handkerchief. On this signal, the courtier was to be slain. The king actually found that the site was ideal. But it was a warm day and he forgetfully mopped his brow with the white handkerchief. On coming downhill he was confronted with the courtier's fresh cadaver and exclaimed, 'Oh dear.' And ever since, my escorts told me, the opposite peak has been known as 'Oh Dear Hill.'I thought this was a perfect illustration of the caprice and cruelty of absolute leadership, and began to phrase a little pun about Kim Jong Il being the 'Oh Dear Leader,' but it died on my lips.”

Tags : 14Th Century Absolutism Caprice Communism Confucianism Cruelty Farce Ideology Karl Marx Kim Il Sung Kim Jong Il Korea Nationalism North Korea Queen Noguk Religion Tomb Of King Kongmin Totalitarianism Veneration Of The Dead Vladimir Lenin Xenophobia
Source : Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays

194. “I was hungry when I left Pyongyang. I wasn't hungry just for a bookshop that sold books that weren't about Fat Man and Little Boy. I wasn't ravenous just for a newspaper that had no pictures of F.M. and L.B. I wasn't starving just for a TV program or a piece of music or theater or cinema that wasn't cultist and hero-worshiping. I was hungry. I got off the North Korean plane in Shenyang, one of the provincial capitals of Manchuria, and the airport buffet looked like a cornucopia. I fell on the food, only to find that I couldn't do it justice, because my stomach had shrunk. And as a foreign tourist in North Korea, under the care of vigilant minders who wanted me to see only the best, I had enjoyed the finest fare available.”

Tags : 2000 Airports Books Cinema Cults Food Hero Worship Hunger Kim Il Sung Kim Jong Il Literature Manchuria Music Newspapers North Korea Propaganda Pyongyang Shenyang Television Theatre Totalitarianism Tourism Tourism In North Korea
Source : Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays

195. “It was sometimes feebly argued, as the political and military war against this enemy ran into difficulties, that it was 'a war without end.' I never saw the point of this plaintive objection. The war against superstition and the totalitarian mentality is an endless war. In protean forms, it is fought and refought in every country and every generation. In bin Ladenism we confront again the awful combination of the highly authoritarian personality with the chaotically nihilist and anarchic one. Temporary victories can be registered against this, but not permanent ones. As Bertold Brecht's character says over the corpse of the terrible Arturo Ui, the bitch that bore him is always in heat. But it is in this struggle that we develop the muscles and sinews that enable us to defend civilization, and the moral courage to name it as something worth fighting for.”

Tags : Al Qaeda Authoritarianism Bertold Brecht Islamism Nihilism Osama Bin Laden Superstition Totalitarianism War War In Afghanistan 2001 War On Terror
Source : The Enemy

196. “Die Judenfrage,' it used to be called, even by Jews. 'The Jewish Question.' I find I quite like this interrogative formulation, since the question—as Gertrude Stein once famously if terminally put it—may be more absorbing than the answer. Of course one is flirting with calamity in phrasing things this way, as I learned in school when the Irish question was discussed by some masters as the Irish 'problem.' Again, the word 'solution' can be as neutral as the words 'question' or 'problem,' but once one has defined a people or a nation as such, the search for a resolution can become a yearning for the conclusive. Endlösung: the final solution.”

Tags : Antisemitism Gertrude Stein Holocaust Irish Question Jewish Question Jews Problems Questions Solutions
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

197. “One of my first reservations about Zionism was and is that, semiconsciously at least, it grants the anti-Semite's first premise about the abnormality of the Jew.”

Tags : Antisemitism Jews Zionism
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

198. “There must be some connection between the general nullity of Christie's prose and the tendency of her detectives to take Jewishness as a symptom of crime.”

Tags : Agatha Christie Antisemitism
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

199. “If my mother's intention in whole or in part was to ensure that I never had to suffer any indignity or embarrassment for being a Jew, then she succeeded well enough. And in any case there were enough intermarriages and 'conversions' on both sides of her line to make me one of those many mischling hybrids who are to be found distributed all over the known world. And, as someone who doesn't really believe that the human species is subdivided by 'race,' let alone that a nation or nationality can be defined by its religion, why should I not let the whole question slide away from me? Why—and then I'll stop asking rhetorical questions—did I at some point resolve that, in whatever tone of voice I was asked 'Are you a Jew?' I would never hear myself deny it?”

Tags : Antisemitism Intermarriage Jews Mothers Nationality Race Religion Religious Conversions Rhetorical Questions
Source : Hitch-22: A Memoir

200. “The little boats cannot make much difference to the welfare of Gaza either way, since the materials being shipped are in such negligible quantity. The chief significance of the enterprise is therefore symbolic. And the symbolism, when examined even cursorily, doesn't seem too adorable. The intended beneficiary of the stunt is a ruling group with close ties to two of the most retrograde dictatorships in the Middle East, each of which has recently been up to its elbows in the blood of its own civilians. The same group also manages to maintain warm relations with, or at the very least to make cordial remarks about, both Hezbollah and al-Qaida. Meanwhile, a document that was once accurately described as a 'warrant for genocide' forms part of the declared political platform of the aforesaid group. There is something about this that fails to pass a smell test.”

Tags : Activism Al Qaeda Antisemitism Dictatorship Freedom Flotilla Ii Gaza Gaza War Genocide Hamas Hezbollah Human Rights Israel Israeli Palestinian Conflict Middle East Palestine Politics Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion Symbolism