I first got involved in politics around my junior year in college when I decided to join the Conservatives Club on campus. In the fall of 2004, the club invited Christopher Hitchens to speak on campus and give his rebuttal to the film Fahrenheit 9/11 by Micheal Moore. As a new member, I was fortunate enough to be invited to eat dinner with Mr. Hitchens at a local restaurant (which, we had to ensure in advance, served Johnny Walker Black). In attendance were about 20-25 club members.
At the time I had just heard of Hitchens and was not familiar with his work. Purely by chance, my seat at dinner was right next to him. As he consumed his glasses of whiskey, I remember briefly engaging him in conversation about some trivial topic… I believe it was something like how technology was changing the world and how today’s children would never know a time without computers. Silly, I now know in retrospect, but nonetheless he was perfectly engaging to a young 21-year-old computer science major.
I don’t recall much about the speech itself. And looking back, I’m not sure why he spoke on such a trivial topic. I highly doubt Hitchens himself remembered much about his brief visit to Lewisburg, PA, especially considering his likely blood alcohol content during the presentation. As I recall this brief encounter I feel like, though I did not appreciate it fully at the time, he was certainly an interesting person to meet.
Hitchens was a remarkable fellow, as I’m sure will be communicated by the numerous obituaries popping up from nearly every major news site. He pissed off almost everyone at some point. I don’t think anyone ever shared, or will share, his particular blend of opinions. But they were all unified by his absolute persistence in stating his opinion, no matter what it might be. Let us all take that from him and learn to stick up for our beliefs, even when they may offend.