A very different Hitchens

I am listening to an episode of the podcast Decoding the Gurus, a podcast I have some issues with, especially their both-side bullshit. In this episode, they have Matt Johnson on. Matt Johnson is the author of How Hitchens Can Save the Left: Rediscovering Fearless Liberalism in an Age of Counter-Enlightenment.

It is an interesting episode, because the Hitchens that Matt Johnson talks about is not the same Hitchens that I saw back when Hitchens was alive. He has a glorified picture of Hitchens as a pure fighter for international rights and free speech, ignoring the very real damage that Hitchens helped push on the world (e.g. through his promoting of the Iraq War and his promotion of bigots and far-right monsters). I have in the past written somewhat positive about Hitchens, when I reviewed his autobiography Hitch-22, but I am not blind for his flaws – flaws that has only gotten bigger when looking back through the lenses of time.

Hitchens did fight for a number of good causes, but he also helped promote cover for bigotry against Muslims and was friends with a number of right-winged people who have caused real damage in the US and in Europe.

In order to use Hitchens as shining light, you have to have to just accept him at his words, ignoring his actions in the real word.

Unsurprisingly, the hosts of the podcast are not giving anything more than the mildest of push-backs.



  1. says

    literally, he said “drain the swamp… and by which I mean, kill them.” He was referring to vaguely-defined ‘jihadis’ which could range from anti-israeli palestinians to iraqi freedom fighters, ISIL, or anything in between – unfortunately he didn’t live much longer past calling Blair “reactionary.”

    I’m sad to say that Hitchens’ main legacy is to make me slightly more careful to make my phrasing as clever as I can, and my grammar correct and neatly arched. He let us all down at the end, but must of all, himself.