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Christopher Hitchens, 1949-2011

12:24 AM, Dec 16, 2011 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
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Christopher Hitchens, arguably one of the most rhetorically gifted writers in the English language and occasional WEEKLY STANDARD contributor, has passed away at age 62. I say "arguably," because if there's one thing he was good at, it was provoking arguments over his very public opinions on everything from atheism to whether women could be as funny as men. Beyond the label "contrarian," he was hard to pin down politically, except to say that in his last decade he was staunch defender of classical liberal values, particularly insofar as they were threatened by radical Islam. He also had a hard time stomaching what he saw as hypocrisy from figures as diverse as Mother Teresa and Bill Clinton.

Christopher Hitchens crop

I can definitively say he will be missed; I had a small handful of personal interactions with the man, and like most who got to meet him, came away awed. Of course, I'm not unique in this respect. It's a testament to Hitch's generosity of spirit that many, many people on several continents could say the same thing about him.

I'm sure there will be much said about his death in the coming days. In the meantime, I'm off to pray for one of the world's most famous atheists. Hitchens rarely shied away from his own beliefs, and I imagine that if pressed on the matter, he'd extend his grudging respect that I refuse to to back down on mine.

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