LABOUR councillors are blocking plans to honour campaigning journalist Christopher Hitchens with a statue, with one of them branding the late writer as a “pro-war Islamophobe”.
A trail of emails leaked to the New Journal show a sharp exchange between the British Humanist Association (BHA), which wants the statue to be erected in Red Lion Square, Holborn, and politicians representing the ward.
I am also, as one of the councillors quoted says, unsure about Hitchens being considered one of the world’s great minds. He was good at riling people up, but particularly when it came to the Iraq War, his level of intellectual honesty dropped into the sub-basement. And while his writings about religion weren’t always that bad, they also weren’t anything I would generally recommend either. Even when I agreed with his positions, his tone and phrasing tended to repulse me, and I can’t say that he ever said anything others hadn’t said before or better. He was at best a muckraker, and I don’t think that is enough on its own to be memorialized.
Still, I can’t help but laugh at this defense of Hitchens Iraq War views by the BHA’s digital strategist:
Mr Ollington added: “Hitch wasn’t ‘pro-war’. Supporting a war doesn’t make someone pro-war.
"Many people supported WW2 but that doesn’t make them pro-war.
If ever anyone needed further proof that being an atheist doesn’t by itself lead to rational thinking in any other area, that statement can act as exhibit A. Hitchens’ full-throated cheerleading of the invasion, his venomous attacks at those who cautioned against the attack due to the possible consequences, and his continued defense of the war long past the point every other rational individual had seen that those consequences were far, far worse than the status quo had ever been makes him the very definition of “pro-war”. Anyone who says otherwise is lying, to themselves as well as everyone else.