Arguments For & Against


New revision of the page, by Lukas Dufka:

All arguments against the statue that I have so far seen can be split into two categories:
1. It contradicts everything that Hitchens stood for – idolatry and hero worship.
2. That Hitchens would loathe the idea.

Rebuttal:

1.Do all those statues of Thomas Paine, Mark Twain or Charles Dickens amount to hero worship?!!!

2.Would Christopher ever protest a statue – essentially, a piece of art – of any of these people being sculpted or erected? No!!

Would he protest against his own? Well, he would not, most likely – he didn’t even protest against people praying for him to get well! He would of course stress there are more deserving people or causes, but essentially he would always leave it up to other people to decide for themselves, because they have the liberty to do so, and that is what he would care about. For sure, he wouldn’t have any false modesty to protest against it.

It seems to me that the first point completely refutes any claim of hero worship or idolatry. The second, I feel does only partly refutes the claim that Hitch would not appreciate it personally. But the second claim is IMMATERIAL – his personal feelings are something that we will never know, and more importantly, something he’d himself never let interfere with logic and personal liberty – and these are present abundantly in our arguments for the statue.

Furthermore, one of the last Christopher’s photos taken was him and Salman Rushdie, standing side by side and in between of them was… a bust of Voltaire! Does that suggest Hitchens being a worshiper of “the evil cult of Voltaire”? I think there couldn’t be anything more ridiculous.

Concluding, let me ask – why is the statue of George Orwell in front of the BBC is being opposed by the corporation? Answer: Not because of the man, his personal or literary qualities – but because of his left-wing views. Well, there’s a similarity to our cause – even though we love and respect the man, we want the statue, I believe, because of what worldview it represents. Our goal is a secular society – a statue of Christopher Hitchens cannot possibly harm that goal, on the contrary. Whoever says the opposite, is a fool.

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  The Older Arguments:

  The Idol Issue

I just thought I ought to clarify something due to a little negativity I’ve received (Only one of which from religious folk so far, surprisingly… there’s a £5 bet I have with this chap, for him to win I will be struck down by lightning if the statue goes up… presumably by God, I feel I have good odds to win this).

No in-fact a couple of people have pointed out that Christopher may well not have wanted this. Being the humble man he was they might well be right. However, I’m thankful to a gent on Facebook who then pointed out the following (which I very much agree with):

Christopher neither knows nor cares right now, by his own assertions he no longer can. Really, this isn’t for Christopher. It’s for us. It’s for the people who loved him despite never having met him, the people whose lives he changed (such as mine), the people who he inspired, and the people who are yet to even be born who might well have better lives living in a better world because of things he wrote and said that had great influence.

We, his many adoring fans want this for us, because we want to know the statue is there and that we can visit it. We want to pay our respects to him in that way, and something I feel Christopher would agree to is that if that’s what we want, then we have a right to try for it!

To anybody who is against this, or finds it offensive I would say this. It’s surely a victimless offense, and need only affect those who want it in a positive way for themselves, not affecting anybody in a negative way as it need not encroach onto their lives other than make them walk around the monument instead of over where it might be stood if they happen to be going that way. So if you don’t like it, fine, don’t sign… but let us have it because we do like it and it’s not hurting anybody but makes some of us happy.

Finally, there are a lot of comments to read through so it’s understandable than some may chose not to. Because of this I’ve made a page with some I believe show the argument “For” this, from people’s perspectives… they sum up who we are (feel free to let me know if there are others that should be here too). –> Highlighted Comments

    Mstr Blonde’s Blog Post

A blog post was made politely objecting this idea. The blog post is at: http://www.mstrblonde.com/atheism/why-a-memorial-to-hitchens-is-a-bad-idea/

I’ve copied the responses below too, in case they disappear… I just think they address the whole thing quite well, especially the chap named Lukas’ points:

Steve Ollington

Hiya,

First of all, thank you for being decent about it. It is of course good to critique, and that is very much what you have done instead of outright attack. You’ve posted up arguments from our side too and we appreciate that :)

You did (unintentionally) miss what’s probably the most important part of the argument though. You see that page is, well a sort of primer, I suppose. It then asks you to click through to see who the “We” I was talking about relates to, with some examples of comments left.

I think that it’s the comments that make the clearest statement. You can really see from many of them how much this would mean to some people, with very heartfelt messages that are emotional to read.

But aside from that, it’s the messages that say things such as “For the children will ask, who was he?”

And it’s that which makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck… could each time that happen, a child be about to embark on a journey of discovery of critical thinking and questioning that he may not have done otherwise? How many school trips each year go through to look at the statues… many, very many. I don’t just see it as a statue, I see it also as advertising of thinking.

Not only that but, whilst Hitch was incredible to us that knew and followed his works, there are still many who don’t know of him (and plenty who only know little and therefore completely misunderstand him). Could such a statue be just the beginning for what could happen? Could it provide that bit of extra awareness and credibility in other circles that his works are taken more into account in terms of education? Could one of his books even become a part of the national curriculum somewhere down the line in part because there is a statue of the man… and therefore, people should know why…

I see it that there are many possibilities, many that we couldn’t think of. But even if one were to come about, then wouldn’t that make it worth it?

What about in 100 years when our memories of him are gone because we are gone. I like to know that the statue will be still there, peaking an interest from some who might not otherwise have discovered him.

But anyway… please, read as many of the comments as you can. For every 30 or so, a little more understanding from my view point will seep in I’m sure.

Thanks again :)

Steve.

PS. I’ve altered the petition text due to requests from people, only slightly but it now says the signatures are for use in DC as well as London, and that we’ll raise the money to pay for it, we just want the permission and a small plot of land for it to go… oh and that there should be room left for the other three horsemen when the time comes (which hopefully won’t be for a very long time).

Lukas Dufka

A very good critique! I think one important distinction needs to be made here, however. Do we want a statue of Hitchens so that we could remember and praise THE MAN, or is it because we want to remember and promote that WHAT HE STOOD FOR.

Personally, if I should ever pass the statue of Christopher Hitchens on the street, among the memories of many things I’d always be reminded of what he once wrote “The essence of the independent mind lies not in what it thinks, but in how it thinks.” I believe that to whomever Christopher meant anything in their lives, who knows his works and understands him – to such a person, the statue cannot seem to be a bad idea.

Also, there is a very rare thing about Christopher. I don’t quite understand how it happened, but it’s a fact – people had, well, they still do, real feelings for him. People who never met him would say they love him and they’d mean it. After all, he ‘freed’ many people and came to symbolize ‘liberty’ (of reason, but physical too) in a similar way that Nelson Mandela or Martin Luther King have.

One or two statues don’t amount to hero worship. Ultimately it’s about what every individual makes of it. To me personally, it would be both a memorial to a great man, and reminder of the work that needs to be continued and of which he was a pioneer. I’d not so much want the statue for the first reason – I have his books, his clips are on youtube, and he’s in my heart as well as in my mind.

But the second reason, that to me makes it worthwhile – it is a sort of ‘taking advantage’ of his person, but it’s meant to further the cause that he’s been devoted to – so I think in the light of this reasoning, even Christopher would be in the end reconciled with the idea. Unfortunately, we’ll never know. As long as he was alive, there was no need to talk about it and indeed, nobody would even think of it – and we didn’t need a statue, because he was there.