Evan: Y’know, you died on the very day the Iraq War ended.
Hitch: I am the Iraq War.
Hitch: I am the very reason it happened.
Evan: What the fuck does that mean?
Hitch: It means that I was raised from the cradle to believe that democracy and freedom were things worth preserving at all costs. And if liberty’s caretakers were inadequate to the task of freedom, then they would have to be replaced. If it meant supporting George W. Bush, I stay with George W. Bush through all. If it meant supporting the Sandistas and Arafat, then one does not waver or falter in the pursuit of liberty’s tree.
Evan: But isn’t that precisely the sort of liberal tradeoff you abhor?
Hitch: Of course. But nobody needs to acknowledge the flaws of reality when moral absolutes are at stake.
Evan: But shouldn’t you care about how these things work in reality?
Hitch: Why should I? If my life meant anything to people, it means that it’s possible to feel enormous moral indignation without actually being affected by it.
Evan: Does this mean that your rage at the moral failings of political figures was manufactured?
Hitch: No. But rage is an overrated emotion to begin with. I could summon it at will to whatever target I wished.
Evan: That’s a talent I should like to have.
Hitch: There are those who would argue...
Evan: Let’s stop that right there, shall we?
Hitch: Suit yourself.
Evan: In any event, you were telling me about how you are the Iraq War itself?
Hitch: Indeed, I am.
Evan: And how is that possible?
Hitch: Because there is no cause in my lifetime in which I did not take the most extreme possible position on the side of liberty’s defense. Extremism in the pursuit of virtue is my great contribution to modern society.
Evan: Shouldn’t you be a little worried about where that could lead you if you took the wrong position?
Hitch: That’s nothing a few shots of Maker’s Mark can’t fix.
Evan: And that’s ultimately why you were such a terrible fit in the Obama era.
Hitch: Indeed. At a time when America is thoroughly gripped by a plague of thoughtful uncertainty, my rhetorical bromides are far too strong stuff.
Evan: The last five years of your life, you were for all intents and purposes a political irrelevance.
Hitch: I was lucky that I found a larger target.
Evan: So...is there a God?
Hitch: Does it matter? If He exists, He’s very thankful that I paid Him the ultimate tribute?
Evan: You died for His sins?
Hitch: I like the ironies there, but no. A lifetime spent grappling with increasingly large questions of the world’s upside down morality finally centered on our one enormous explanation that allows us to commit every evil.
Evan: But even if religion is as bad as you say. Isn’t it just a symptom of human nature’s badness? Not the root?
Hitch: If you eliminate religion, you eliminate the sanction for people to commit evil disguised as good.
Evan: Couldn’t humans simply find another way to bless evil acts?
Hitch: We’ll never know until we get rid of the existing system.
Evan: Didn’t they do that in Russia?
Hitch: Yes. And religion made Bolshevism possible.
Evan: This is going in circles.
Hitch: You eliminate the circle if you get rid of religion.
Evan: No you don’t.
Hitch: When I was a student at Oxford, I began to realize something important that has never left me.
Evan: And what was that?
Hitch: That ever so gradually, we are getting better.
Evan: As a society?
Hitch: As a species.
Evan: How do you figure?
Hitch: Once again, I’m my own best evidence.
Evan: It’s amazing that some fan of yours didn’t kill you before cancer did.
Hitch: Gradually, mankind is getting better. And it’s up to the better specimen of mankind like myself to ensure that progress continues to be made.
Evan: And what sort of progress is that?
Hitch: Freedom, openness, tolerance.
Evan: And aren’t you afraid of what might be found out in comparison to mankind’s worse specimens?
Hitch: Not in the slightest. It’s by openly showing how much more attractive my view of the world is than theirs that we will make them understand how much better their lives can be.
Evan: Aren’t you afraid it might not work out the way you’d hoped?
Hitch: I’ll take that risk.
Evan: So in spite of all this romanticizing conflict and the forces of good vs. evil, you really do consider yourself an enlightenment guy.
Hitch: Oh yes. I believe that writing like mine will lead to the betterment of mankind.
Evan: You see, I could never really get behind that.
Hitch: Why not?
Evan: Maybe I’m just not political enough, maybe I just don’t have that high an opinion of myself.
Hitch: I highly doubt that.
Evan: Me too. But even so, the thought that anything I ever did could contribute much one way or the other to the betterment of mankind seems kind of ridiculous. And even if I could I’m not sure I’d want to.
Hitch: Well, then I feel a bit of contempt for you Mr. Tucker.
Evan: Suit yourself.
Hitch: Don’t you think that it’s important to have oneself recognized as being on the right side in the great march of conflict between the forces of good and evil?
Evan: Not really. I find these questions interesting, and of course I’d rather people do well and be happy. But most of us adults have to give up on the idea of always being able to do the right thing.
Hitch: That’s simple laziness.
Evan: Perhaps. It’s also maturity.
Hitch: If that’s maturity, then I’m glad I tried to stay immature for the whole of my life.
Evan: And you succeeded at that quite well.
Franz Kafka Prize
29 minutes ago