June 27, 2017

"Nobody asked me to do this and it would not be the same thing I do if they had asked me."

"One is sometimes asked 'by what right' one presumes to offer judgement. Quo warranto? is a very old and very justified question. But the right and warrant of an individual critic does not need to be demonstrated in the same way as that of a holder of power. It is in most ways its own justification. That is why so many irritating dissidents have been described by their enemies as 'self-appointed.' (Once again, you see, the surreptitious suggestion of elitism and arrogance.) 'Self-appointed' suits me fine. Nobody asked me to do this and it would not be the same thing I do if they had asked me. I can’t be fired any more than I can be promoted. I am happy in the ranks of the the self-employed. If I am stupid or on poor form, nobody suffers but me. To the question, Who do you think you are? I can return the calm response: Who wants to know?"

From "Letters to a Young Contrarian" by Christopher Hitchens.

30 comments:

Black Bellamy said...

I devoured everything the man wrote.

Birkel said...

I prefer Thomas Sowell's locution: self annointed.

Lem said...

Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

William Chadwick said...

I've been thinking of Hitchens recently, and what he said about Hillary Clinton during Hugh Hewitt's interview with him. Hewitt asked him who the next POTUS would be and Hitchens replied without hesitation: "Hillary Clinton." Hitchens went on:

"I’ve feared it for a long time, and there’s something horrible and undefeatable about people who have no life except the worship of power. . . . …people who don’t want the meeting to end, the people who just are unstoppable, who only have one focus, no humanity, no character, nothing but the worship of money and power. They win in the end."

I was and am not a Trump fan, but I was overjoyed when the November election seemed to prove Hitchens wrong about this, and I hoped the Wicked Witch would just melt away. But who knows? She may be back, especially if all other political rivals disappear under mysterious circumstances.

Earnest Prole said...

See also the delightful youtube video where the insufferable sack of hammers Joan Walsh attempts to rebut Hitchens' indictment of the Clintons by saying, approximately, "That's just your opinion," and Hitchens responds, roughly, "Well of course. Guess who's saying it? What a fatuous remark. Would you prefer I offer your opinion?"

Etienne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tcrosse said...

Self-appointed is better than so-called.

tcrosse said...

Hitchens wrote a love-letter to the Clintons called "No One Left to Lie To: The Triangulations of William Jefferson Clinton". It's available on our Hostess' Amazon Portal

Quayle said...

The right question can be like a splash of acid which takes on its own reactive energy, independent of who splashed it.

Jesus was such a questioner.

And lots of such questioners end up dead at the hands of the powerful who want to stop the catalytic force of truth or reason or love.

Truth cuts its own way. Which is why strict management of the message and the channels of communication is so vital to the powerful.

Gahrie said...

I disagreed with rather a lot of what Hitchens had to say, but I did love to hear him say it.

having a debate with Hitchens (about anything) was once on my bucket list.

Bay Area Guy said...

Hitchens was definitely intelligent and entertaining. He wrote a book trashing God -- "God is Not Great-- and he wrote an article trashing Mother Theresa.

So, he gets pugilistic points for fighting well above his weight class. He was wrong about many things, but I liked him and respected him.

The Left needs many more Hitchens-types, and many less Pussy-hat wearing, Pajama Boys, and unshaven hairy feminists.

traditionalguy said...

Hitch was incorrigible whenever the Muslim double talker on with him tried acting a smidgen like a moderate, while still demanding that all Blasphemy of their Prophet cease or else you are gonna get it.

n.n said...

Conservation of principles.

n.n said...

He wrote a book trashing God

He should have refrained from assertions about topics outside the scientific logical domain. The conflation of logical domains establishes atheism as a faith-based ideology, prone to narcissistic indulgence.

Friendo said...

I miss his voice and writing dearly

Ann Althouse said...

"See also the delightful youtube video where the insufferable sack of hammers Joan Walsh attempts to rebut Hitchens' indictment of the Clintons by saying, approximately, "That's just your opinion," and Hitchens responds, roughly, "Well of course. Guess who's saying it? What a fatuous remark. Would you prefer I offer your opinion?""

Yeesh. He is so cantankerous. I loved when he corrected her for saying "Chris" when it turned out she was addressing Chris Matthews.

The guy loathed the Clintons. Here's another bit from the part of the book I read today:

"A few years ago, I decided in my own mind that the then-president of the United States was even more of a crook and a liar than his most dogmatic ideological opponents had claimed. Some but not all of this question turned on his own “private” morality, which combined the frigid and the sleazy in a rare combination. One day in California, not long after a freshet of disgusting revelations about this president, I heard on my car radio the results of an “instant poll.” In the light of the new disclosures, people were invited to say whether they thought their own moral standards were (a) higher than those of the chief executive or (b) about the same as his or (c) lower. Perhaps 20 percent said “higher,” and I remember thinking, well, even at my most self-critical I could have managed to say the same. A broad band in the middle in the middle reported themselves as no better but no worse; rightly is this the country that gave us the term “nonjudgmental.” And then some 20 percent were announced as saying that they thought their own morals were inferior to Clinton’s! (By the way, that was this president’s name.) My first thought was of the unguessed-at extent of masochism and servility among the electorate. My second thought—which turned out to be accidentally prescient—was of the genius it had taken, in a discussion of the moral fitness of the leader, to turn it into a plebiscite on the morals of his subjects."

Hitchens, Christopher (2009-04-28). Letters to a Young Contrarian (Art of Mentoring) (pp. 75-76). Perseus Books Group. Kindle Edition.

Ann Althouse said...

Isn't that a fabulous paragraph! So hard-hitting and angry, yet delightful and funny.

sodal ye said...

I miss Hitch a lot. Many times recently I wish he was here shining his painfully bright light on hypocrites and liars, his specialty. He'd be in his element right now. RIP.

Bad Lieutenant said...


If he would have written for Hot Rod magazine, I might have read some of his stuff...


C'mon, as if you could read. 😜

Bad Lieutenant said...

I might actually have to buy that sucker, if the NYPL hasn't got it. If so will give you the sale, if allowed.

Char Char Binks said...

"He should have refrained from assertions about topics outside the scientific logical domain. "

Nonsense. Did he violate the concept of "overlapping magisterial"? Was he being too logical? How much illogic does it take to convince you.

Sebastian said...

"Isn't that a fabulous paragraph! So hard-hitting and angry, yet delightful and funny." Indeed.

Sure, he was unique, etc. etc., but the decline of the left can be measured by the absence of any similar voices today. "Delightful and funny" don't cut it in the grim culture war.

sodal ye said...

Writing The Missionary Position, the hit piece on Mother Teresa was Hitch at his most bold. Man, he was unafriad.

Fernandinande said...

Char Char Binks said...
"He should have refrained from assertions about topics outside the scientific logical domain. "

Nonsense. Did he violate the concept of "overlapping magisteria[l]"? Was he being too logical? How much illogic does it take to convince you.


"Outside the scientific logical domain" means "magical", so logic is irrelevant.

n.n said...

Char Char Binks:

Convince me of what? A separation of logical domains, and refraining from statements about matters outside the narrow limits of the scientific domain?

Hitchens was not wholly logical. His success was in exposing other people's conflation of logical domains. His failure was in conflating logical domains in order to advance his cause and that oversight was born in emotion.

n.n said...

Fernandinande:

Not magical. The scientific domain is narrow because human perception and skill is limited in time and space. Thus the need for the scientific method, which was the best tool to constrain people's speculation. Today, it is routinely disregarded as people with a pretense to godhood or who possess ulterior motives speculate about topics in distant space and time.

n.n said...

The Missionary Position, the hit piece on Mother Teresa

It was Hitchens at his most boorish.

Earnest Prole said...

Yeesh. He is so cantankerous.

Agreed. There are far more eloquent (and less drunken) Hitchens clips; I chose this one because it matched the subject matter of your post (“my opinion is my own”).

Yancey Ward said...

The man had balls of brass and the intellect to back it up that few do. I often disagreed with what he believed and said, but the measure of his loss is this- who on the left filled his shoes after his death?

No one.

Rusty said...

He is a yard stick to measure the current crop of so called "liberals". he was a brutally honest man and no more so when being honest with himself. I did not agree with him about a lot but the range of his understanding was breathtaking.
He is what the usual suspects wish to be and will always be out of their grasp. Why? Honesty.