He was an atheist (or more accurately by his definition an antitheist) and an asshole (two of my favorite traits), an enigma, a provocateur, a satirist, an intellectual elitist, a bon viveur; he was someone I disagreed with nearly as often as I agreed but he was always eloquent and interesting and relevant. As he said, he was friends with Salman Rushdie, was nearly scratched by Mother Theresa and nearly spanked by Margaret Thatcher.
My own opinion is enough for me, and I claim the right to have it defended against any consensus, any majority, anywhere, any place, any time. And anyone who disagrees with this can pick a number, get in line and kiss my ass.To those of us who wish we could be writers, he is both a goal and the reason we don't even try. Why bother if your best isn't even half as good as he was at his worst?
True, he was an egomaniac -- how could anyone who condemned Bll Clinton, Henry Kissinger and Ghandi, amongst many others, not be? But he was conversely very modest. You couldn't help but be fascinated listening to him argue a point as eloquently as anyone ever, much like his idols Paine and Jefferson and Orwell, even a point or issue that you vehemently disagreed with.
Hitchens is very, very high on my list of people who are the answer to the question, "If you could 'come back' as anyone who ever lived, who would it be? That is due in large part to his success as a philosopher and provocateur obviously but in equal measure due to the way he lived life and approached his intellectual discoveries and defense thereof...he didn't give a shit whether you agreed or not. Where we almost always agreed is the subject of anti-totalitarianism, which includes religion.
From The Wiki:
Identified as a champion of the "New Atheism" movement, Hitchens described himself as an antitheist and a believer in the philosophical values of the Enlightenment. Hitchens said that a person "could be an atheist and wish that belief in god were correct," but that "an antitheist, a term I'm trying to get into circulation, is someone who is relieved that there's no evidence for such an assertion." He argued that the concept of god or a supreme being is a totalitarian belief that destroys individual freedom, and that free expression and scientific discovery should replace religion as a means of teaching ethics and defining human civilization. He wrote at length on atheism and the nature of religion in his 2007 book God Is Not Great.
Anti-war British politician George Galloway, on his way to testify in front of a United States Senate sub-committee investigating the scandals in the U.N. Oil for Food program, called Hitchens a "drink-sodden ex-Trotskyist popinjay", to which Hitchens quickly replied, "only some of which is true". Later, in a column for Slate promoting his debate with Galloway which was to take place on 14 September 2005, he elaborated on his prior response: "He says that I am an ex-Trotskyist (true), a 'popinjay' (true enough, since the word's original Webster's definition is a target for arrows and shots), and that I cannot hold a drink (here I must protest)."
There are many video interviews of Hitchens on shows like "The Daily Show," where you can get glimpses of the large intellect, ego and humor of the man; but where you really get insight into who he was and what he believed was in the many interviews he did with Charlie Rose. Unfortunately, the Charlie Rose website does not offer embeds. So I'll invite you to this link, which is the last of the 13 appearances by Christopher Hitchens with Charlie Rose, a whole hour from 2010.