It has come to my attention that Christopher Hitchens has passed away five years ago on this day. I would like to share my relationship with Christopher Hitchens’ legacy.
Most atheists watch Christopher Hitchens debate theists eloquently and enjoy the thrill of debating and debunking as a result of it. I do feel that this is reflected in the Youtube Atheist community where there is a high quantity of “response videos” in which content creators attempt to argue with one another.
While I do enjoy the art of debate, it is not my highest priority nor my largest takeaway from Christopher Hitchens. Whether you agree with the man or not, he was able to quote several different works of literature on command, synthesize their content, and make an argument using that synthesis while being witty. When people compliment me for skills of articulation and rationality, I look to him and think”I have a long way to go.”
I have read Christopher Hitchens’ “Letters to a Young Contrarian” not too long ago. In that book, I felt as if he was speaking directly to me and my personal experiences. As an Ex-Muslim in a religious Muslim family, and a liberal centrist in an extremely polarized political environment, I find myself inherently skeptical of the claims of those around me. It is through The Secular Brownie that I speak up and express my thoughts on these matters.
My takeaway from Christopher Hitchens is not the fetishization for winning debates, but the longing for rationality, the thirst for knowledge, and the desire to spread reason among the masses.
I do wonder how Christopher Hitchens would react in today’s political context: with a President Donald Trump, the rise of ISIS, The Regressive Left defending Islam from criticism, Social Justice Warriors, the Alt Right and their conflicting identity politics, Brexit, the rise of far right nationalism in the Western world, Hillary Clinton running for president, etc. Some might say he predicted many of these in his works (Ie: Christopher Hitchens warned us about identity politics back in 2001).
As life progresses, I seek to read extensively and develop an understanding of the world around me. I do hope that one day my own works can have a profound effect on a young contrarian after me. This is the legacy of Christopher Hitchens. It is the legacy I strive for: one of rationality, contrarian bravery, and dialogue.
As I finish my quick tribute. I’d like to leave you all with a passage from Christopher Hitchens’ Letters to a Young Contrarian that inspired me to continue learning, and engaging with ideas/experiences of others:
Rest in Peace, Christopher Hitchens. The impact of your legacy lives on.
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