Hiya there, Ankur here.
Sometimes, people turn a blind eye to dogmatism, cruelty and oppression. Hitchens wasn’t one of them. I shall remember his for the passionate and indomitable demeanour with which he stood up for the oppressed, and for his clarion calls against the evils of dogmatism and all the misery it wrought.
I shall remember him for his sharp and acerbic wit, his dulcet tones he brought forth as he spoke, his lucid analysis of situations and events, and for his immense courage, for he countered first hand, fascists in Lebanon and ended up being assaulted for standing up to them, and underwent waterboarding personally and revised his stance on the technique, acknowledging that it is torture and nothing less and because he exposed the sinister facade of the appalling, inhuman attitudes that were espoused by “Mother” Teresa and her contemptible Missionaries of “Charity”. I know that no words that I express shall be able to express the magnitude of the influence he’s had on me, or to express how much I admire him and his work, but I shall try nonetheless, for words must flow and resisting is futile; as should tears, plentiful that they are. I shall remember him for the way he promptly, with wit and the wielding of facts as they comprised a razor, ripped apart the Catholic Church’s pretensions to being a force for good in that famous debate.
His demise is sadder than anything else, but it is also a moment to reflect upon what he brought to the table, his writings, his oratory, and pursuit of freedom were, and are, a joy to behold still, and it is a slight consolation, perhaps, that he will live on through his works and that he will live on through the thoughts and spirits of the people he influenced through his work, which was always marked by finesse, elegance and utter class.
I am slightly glad that I had the opportunity to write to him thanking him for his work with fellow comrades-in-free-thought, and I shall let an excerpt from that letter do my bidding here insofar the significance of his life to me is concerned. “We thank you by avowing our own commitments to critical thought and analysis combined with fearless free speech, which represent humanity at its very best and which have led to some of our biggest leaps as a species in terms of genuine progress. We will carry on defending those values which each of us shares with you and which you have so effectively expounded throughout your inspiring career.”
Here’s to a celebration of his life and to pensive mourning of his passing. It was a life well lived, courageous, influential, and one that has left behind a strong legacy. I can only fervently hope that it will live on, as we seek to earn for the oppressed the freedoms we enjoy but they do not, and to free people from the irrational shackles of society that constrain their freedoms so that they may live full, happy lives free of oppression and suffering.
Christopher, my good fellow, here’s a toast to you, you will be remembered.