Christopher Hitchens, one of the country’s most trenchant political thinkers and literary essayists, is seriously ill with stage 4 esophageal cancer, but that didn't prevent him from receiving the Freethinker of the Year Award at the annual convention of the Atheist Alliance of America last weekend in Texas.
Hitchens, probably the best-known atheist in the United States, told The New York Times
that he made the extra effort to accept the award in Texas, where he is receiving treatment, because of that state’s well known Bible Belt devotion.
“I think being an atheist is something you are, not something you do,” he explained, adding: “I’m not sure we need to be honored. We don’t need positive reinforcement. On the other hand, we do need to stick up for ourselves, especially in a place like Texas, where they have laws, I think, that if you don’t believe in Jesus Christ you can’t run for sheriff.”
But Hitchens, a left-leaning independent thinker who doesn’t fit easily into any political category, has over the last decade found common cause with conservatives on the issues of the war on terrorism, the invasion of Iraq, and the “long war” against radical Islam.
His newest book, published last month, is “Arguably,” which deals with political subjects and especially on the danger posed to the West by Islamic terrorism and totalitarianism. Hitchens dedicates the book to the brave revolutionaries who sacrificed their lives during the Arab Spring in Tunisia, Libya and elsewhere.
“If you can talk, you can write,” he told the Times. “You have to be careful to keep your speech as immaculate as possible. That’s what I’m most afraid of. I’m terrified of losing my voice.” He added: “Writing is something I do for a living, all right — it’s my livelihood. But it’s also my life. I couldn’t live without it.”
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