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The world according to Christopher Hitchens

On religion

"The main source of hatred in the world is religion, and organised religion."

On Mother Teresa

"A lying, thieving Albanian dwarf.... She was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty.... She has gigantically increased the amount of poverty and misery in the world. The vast sums of money she raised were spent mainly on building convents in her own honour."

On the Bible

"The Bible may, indeed does, contain a warrant for trafficking in humans, for ethnic cleansing, for slavery, for bride-price and for indiscriminate massacre, but we are not bound by any of it because it was put together by crude, uncultured human mammals."

On drinking and smoking

"Cheap booze is a false economy."

"My keystone addiction is to cigarettes, without which cocktails and caffeine (and food) are meaningless."

On Henry Kissinger:

"Henry Kissinger should have the door shut in his face by every decent person and should be shamed, ostracised and excluded. No more dinners in his honour; no more respectful audiences for his absurdly overpriced public appearances; no more smirking photographs with hostesses and celebrities; no more soliciting of his worthless opinions by sycophantic editors and producers.... Let this character at last be treated like the reeking piece of ordure that he is."

On George Galloway

"A thug and a demagogue, the type of working-class-wideboy-and-proud-of-it who is too used to the expenses account, cars and hotels – all cigars and back-slapping. He is a very cheap character and a short-arse like a lot of them are, puffed up like a turkey. He has managed to fuse being a Baathist with being a Muslim sectarian and a carpet-bagger in the East End."

This came shortly after the then-MP had responded to a Hitchens question by calling him "a drink-soaked former Trotskyist popinjay". He added: "Your hands are shaking. You badly need another drink."

On George W Bush

"He is unusually incurious, abnormally unintelligent, amazingly inarticulate, fantastically uncultured, extraordinarily uneducated and apparently quite proud of all these things."

On Bill Clinton

"A habitual and professional liar."

On the royal family

"The House of Windsor has achieved the near-impossible by way of its own negation. Its misery and frustration, which are inseparable from the hereditary principle of random selection – the same principle that undid the Cromwells and will undo Kim Il-sung – are such as to make Britain look more like a banana republic, not less."

On torture

"If waterboarding does not constitute torture, then there is no such thing as torture."

(After submitting himself to waterboarding to see what it was like.)

On cluster bombs

"Cluster bombs are perhaps not good in themselves, but when they are dropped on identifiable concentrations of Taliban troops, they do have a heartening effect."

On the execution of Saddam Hussein

"To watch this abysmal spectacle as a neutral would be bad enough. To know that the US government had even a silent, shamefaced part in it is to feel something well beyond embarrassment."

On writing

"Everybody does have a book in them, but in most cases that's where it should stay."

"Being a writer is what I am, rather than what I do."

On Christmas

"A moral and aesthetic nightmare."

On having cancer

"Sobering in one way and exhilarating in another... it has given me a more vivid idea of what makes life worth living, and defending."

On his atheism

"No evidence or argument has yet been presented which would change my mind. But I like surprises."

On death

"Death is certain, replacing both the siren-song of paradise and the dread of hell. Life on this earth, with all its mystery and beauty and pain, is then to be lived far more intensely: we stumble and get up, we are sad, confident, insecure, feel loneliness and joy and love. There is nothing more; but I want nothing more."

On himself

"I burned the candle at both ends... it often gave a lovely light."

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