Christopher Hitchens, 62, died last night from esophageal cancer.
The outspoken atheist was, in my opinion, one of the world's most talented writers and public intellectuals. I respect him for the way he fearlessly voiced his opinions, and the way he seemed to write in order to genuinely work through his own moral philosophy; a philosophy that admittedly changed over time. I do not agree with every argument Hitchens has put forth. His position on Islam and the way he spoke about women who wear the veil, in particular, made me uncomfortable at times. But even though I disagreed with him at times, and think he might have just gotten certain things wrong, I will miss his intellect, his writing, and the comically ruthless way he tore apart the arguments of his opponents in debates. Moreover, despite claims that he was a misogynist, I've heard him speak quite eloquently on the myriad ways religion harms women (including the below quote) and the way the cult of Mother Theresa fosters a belief that women don't have rights. He was not a traditional feminist, by any means, but I think his writing frequently promoted a feminist political project.
Rest in peace Mr. Hitchens. You will be missed!
"The cure for poverty has a name, in fact: it's called the empowerment of women. If you give women some control over the rate at which they reproduce, if you give them some say, take them off the animal cycle of reproduction to which nature and some doctrine—religious doctrine condemns them, and then if you'll throw in a handful of seeds perhaps and some credit, the floor of everything in that village, not just poverty, but education, health, and optimism will increase. It doesn't matter; try it in Bangladesh, try it in Bolivia, it works—works all the time. Name me one religion that stands for that, or ever has. Wherever you look in the world and you try to remove the shackles of ignorance and disease stupidity from women, it is invariably the clericy that stands in the way, or in the case of—now, furthermore, if you are going to grant this to Catholic charities, say, which I would hope are doing a lot of work in Africa, if I was a member of a church that had preached that AIDS was not as bad as condoms, I'd be putting some conscience money into Africa too, I must say." --Christopher Hitchens