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Topic: Culture and traditions
Christopher Eric Hitchens, nicknamed "Hitch", (13 April 1949 - 15 December 2011) was an English American author, essayist and journalist, whose books, essays, and journalistic career spanned more than four decades. He was a columnist and literary critic for The Atlantic, Free Inquiry, The Nation, Salon, Slate, Vanity Fair, World Affairs, and became a media fellow at the Hoover Institution in September 2008. He was a staple of talk shows and lecture circuits and in 2005 was voted the world's fifth top public intellectual in a Prospect/Foreign Policy poll.
Hitchens was known for his admiration of George Orwell, Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson and for his excoriating critiques of Mother Teresa, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Henry Kissinger and Britain's royal family, among others. His confrontational style of debate made him both a lauded and controversial figure. As a political observer, polemicist and self-defined radical, he rose to prominence as a fixture of the left-wing publications in his native Britain and in the United States. His departure from the established political left began in 1989 after what he called the "tepid reaction" of the Western left following Ayatollah Khomeini's issue of a fatwā calling for the murder of Salman Rushdie. The September 11 attacks strengthened his internationalist embrace of an interventionist foreign policy, and his vociferous criticism of what he called "fascism with an Islamic face." His numerous editorials in support of the Iraq War caused some to label him a neoconservative, although Hitchens insisted he was not "a conservative of any kind."
Hitchens tried to write from first-hand experience. To write his essays, he braved gunfire in Sarajevo, he was jailed in Czechoslovakia, and in 2008, he was brutally beaten in Beirut, Lebanon. In 2009, Hitchens agreed to be waterboarded. He wrote in Vanity Fair magazine, "If waterboarding does not constitute torture then there is no such thing as torture".
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." According to Hitchens, the concept of a 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.
Though Hitchens retained his British citizenship, he became a United States citizen on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial on 13 April 2007, his 58th birthday. Asteroid 57901 Hitchens is named after him. His memoir, Hitch-22, was published in June 2010. Touring for the book was cut short later in the same month so he could begin treatment for newly diagnosed esophageal cancer. On 15 December 2011, Hitchens died from pneumonia, a complication of his cancer, in the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. (...)
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