Is There Anyone to Replace Christopher Hitchens?

Even if I didn’t always agree with him, I always used to enjoy reading Hitchens’ columns because they were well-reasoned, grounded in reality (rather than cliched ideas), and generally took a centrist position I find appealing. And he was passionate about social justice in a way that felt very authentic…

Any suggestions for other writers who fit those criteria?

Not exactly the same, but Neil deGrasse Tyson seems to have a large atheist following these days.

No where near the same. For one thing, Hitchens never conspired to off Pluto. And Tyson’s never going to take a principled stand on anything that involves risk.

Andrew Sullivan is not completely dissimilar, except he’s gay and Catholic.

There’s always Dawkins and Harris for the atheist apologetics, but they don’t really touch politics.

I take it your looking for political thinkers that are atheist and acerbic? And maybe drink and/or smoke too much? Do we get bonus points for Brits or is that optional?

Take it back. YOU TAKE IT BACK! Tell me what you mean, at least. Expound.

I think James Wolcott is a very intellectual, ascerbic social-critic type writer along similar lines. I don’t know what his religious views are, but he often writes critiques of the religious right.

Tyson is associated with the misbegotten conspiracy to deprive Pluto of its rightful status as a planet. Hitchens had no participation in that calumny that I know of.

Tyson is now attempting to migrate from his role as nerd spokesman to political pundit. But so far he has done that in front of friendly audiences. Hitchens, though 9/11 drove him quite mad, had the guts to reveal that Mother Teresa was selling indulgences and contributing to the poverty of those she was given credit for serving. That took real guts, and certainly wasn’t driven by a narcissistic desire for public adoration.

Oh! You’re honestly pissed about Pluto! Ok. Get over it. It’s not a planet.

It’s a planet. It has been all my life. You, Tyson, and all the misguided astronomers on Earth are not the boss of the planets. Get over it.

ETA: I guess I should give him some credit for taking the heat about Pluto, but he’s on the wrong side of that one, so I won’t.

Hard to shake those beliefs and constructs you’ve grown up with, isn’t it?

Ya, what do they know about it??

I can’t wait to be accused of being a troll, since clearly my question on Hitchens was a ruse to rile people up about Pluto.

Making fun of TriPolar is, in part, a roundabout way of saying that Tyson does essentially meet the description set out in the OP.

Thanks, NojNoj, for reminding me that Hitchens is dead and making me depressed. I don’t think deGrasse Tyson comes remotely close (though I think he’s a decent and intelligent fellow). I also don’t think Hitchens’ legacy owes all that much to being a notable Atheist, so I’m not sure why that keeps getting brought up.

I think both of them said they were republicans. :mad:

Incidentally there is always Christopher Hitchens’ brother, Peter Hitchens who is however a complete opposite to his brother in politics.

I agree, although i think it got him a considerably larger audience in the last decade of his life, and gave him much more public notoriety.

I think Hitchens went completely bonkers politically after 9/11. His departure from The Nation had all the class and self-control of a toddler throwing a tantrum over a cookie, and the vitriol he launched against anyone who disagreed with him was pretty pathetic. To be fair, there were plenty of people who were just as vitriolic in their criticisms of him.

What really disappointed me was that, in his discussion of the politics surrounding 9/11 and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, he actually became dishonest, which was something he had never been before, and which he still wasn’t in his literary criticism. His review of Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 was an exercise in disingenuousness and mendacity.

I still found him one of the most compelling reviewers and essayists around, especially in the many areas where he really understood his subject. His writing was beautiful, and he had a great ability to analyze both the intellectual and the aesthetic. It’s his essays and reviews that i miss the most, and that are, i think, the most striking aspects of his work. I don’t mind his stuff on atheism, but it’s not as compelling or as original as his other work.

Douglas Murray, unquestionably. He is atheist (“Mohammed made me an atheist”), hard on Islam, is pro-gay marriage, pro- Iraq War, and very much for free speech. He is an Oxford-educated historian and author.

Debating alongside Ayaan Hirsi Ali against Islam:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TChhWlM8LsE

“‘Gays for Palestine’? Give me a break. If ‘Gays for Palestine’ were in Palestine, they’d have to go Israel.”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gy-0PJxVnQA

I’ve gone on record before and I’ll do so again - I miss that brilliant cantankerous bastard.

What was unique about Hitchens was, no matter WHO you were or what you believed in, he would infuriate you at least some of the time. Maybe even a LOT of the time. Then, just when you were ready to write him off, he’d write something genuinely witty, brilliant and insiughtful, and you’d think, “Whoa… he’s on my side after all”

Until the next time he infuriated you.

Now, are there writers as funny as Hitchens, or even much funnier? Sure. Guys I find much more persuasive? Sure. But I can’t think of anyone else who was as unpredictable as Hitchens, or as quick to flip the bird (sometimes literally) to people who thought of themselves as his friends.

I mean, think of that night on Bill Maher’s show where he irritated the liberal Maher crowd, who began to boo and hiss at him. He extended the middle finger to them, and went back to the point he was making.

Those folks probably went home loathing him… until the next time he wrote a salient anti-religion article, at which point they figured he’d come abck to his senses and rejoined the right side!

Who else is there like that? Nobody, really.

I don’t think Hitchens would say anything as glib and simplistic as that. He collaborated with Edward Said on a book about Palestine. Of course it’s possible to theoretically support Palestinian statehood and bemoan the dominance of Islamic fundamentalism in the country, which he did.

In answer to the OP, no. :frowning:

mhendo, have you read his autobiography? I was dreading the chapter about Iraq. But it’s actually kind of nuanced. A lot of acknowledgement of what went wrong.

I agree with Astorian regarding the unigue, in my experience, Hitchens. James Wolcott, as mentioned, is to me wittier and my favorite, but Hitchens had an intensity which I have never experienced with another public figure. Does anyone remember his fervor during the Clinton impeachment period. My god, you would have thought the life of the Lindberg baby was in the balance. At the end he appeared on tv to critique that days testimony in hearings by Lewinsky appearing disheveled ( and drunk?) demanding Clintons impeachment with a list of at least ten justifications.