The wrong Hitchens brother died
After last night's Q&A on the ABC, I saw this tweet ...
After watching #qanda I am convinced that the wrong Hitchens brother died.
— terryfrost (@terryfrost)
@terryfrost was referring to Peter Hitchens, brother of the late Christopher Hitchens. Christopher, a renowned journalist and atheist, died in 2011. Peter was appearing on Q&A as part of The Festival of Dangerous Ideas. He was the only conservative on a panel that included feminist Germaine Greer and gay activist Dan Savage.
No doubt @terryfrost was expressing his devotion to one brother, and his disdain for the other. But he's also put his finger on our problem with death. There's no justice in it, and there's no hope in it. It doesn't care if it takes the "wrong brother".
If this tweet was a criticism of Peter's performance on Q&A, then I have to disagree strongly. Of all the panellists, Peter was the one who systematically and lucidly defended his position. Germaine Greer was incoherent and unable to answer questions; Dan Savage was rude and spoke in slogans; and Hanna Rosin was non-committal and refused to take a position.
And Peter's closing remarks were brilliant. The panellists were asked at the end of the session which "dangerous idea" has the greatest potential to change the world for the better. Peter's response was ...
The most dangerous idea in human history and philosophy remains the belief that Jesus Christ was the Son of God and rose from the dead, and that is the most dangerous idea you will ever encounter.
When asked "Why is it dangerous?", Peter continued ...
It alters the whole of human behaviour and all our responsibilities. It turns the universe from a meaningless chaos into a designed place in which there is justice and there is hope and therefore we all have a duty to discover the nature of that justice and work towards that hope. It alters us all. If we reject it, it alters us as well. It is incredibly dangerous: it is why so many people will turn against it.
A similar point was made by the first-century Christian leader Paul of Tarsus, who said ...
In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead. (Acts 17.30-31)
A dangerous idea, indeed!.
I did not see that Tweet, which has a cruel & vindictive overtone - implicitly hateful of Peter Hitchens. By contrast to that sentiment, I regarded Hitchens as the most gracious member of the panel, while others "up front" and a noisy majority of the large audience were derisory, heckling and most undignified in their lack of courtesy and respect. Hitchens made the point very well, that to silence (by drowning out) voices that express opinions different from your own is both shameful and unworthy.
Here's a link to a good piece on this Q&A episode.
Christopher was a genious.
Peter is full of absolute tosh and knee-jerk reactions to complex issues.
It is harsh but true. If a Hitchens had to die, the wrong one did.