Alex Gibney—In the name of bigotry
Director Alex Gibney recently accepted the first Hitchens Prize, an award issued in the name of the late Christopher Hitchens.
A loud atheist/socialist voice, Hitchens wrote for Vanity Fair from 1992 until his death in 2011. His VF article “Mother Teresa and Me” in 1995 incensed many by branding her “a tough-minded ideologue” and positioning her as a lapdog to dictators. A favorite drinking partner of Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter, Hitchens was magazine’s go-to antireligious zealot, once referring to Pope Benedict XVI as “an overdressed little ponce.” While drinking himself to death, Hitchens charged that “there is conclusive evidence that faith causes people to be more mean, more selfish, and perhaps above all, more stupid.” His merciless bashings of the Catholic Church and anyone of faith in the pages of Vanity Fair were constant and transparently biased.
Hitchens’ 1995 now-infamous takedown of Mother Teresa so incensed the Catholic League that it bought a full-page ad in The New York Times in protest. The ad included such descriptions as the “profane marriage between tawdry media hype and medieval superstition [which] gave birth to an icon which few have had the poor taste to question.” Noting her tireless work for the poor and her Nobel Peace Prize, the Catholic League declared in bold type, “THERE IS NO DOUBT CONDÉ NAST HAS A PROBLEM WITH CATHOLICISM. IT WOULD BE MOST HELPFUL IF VANITY FAIR EXPLAINED WHY.”
It is only fitting that the first Hitchens Prize would go to Hitchens’ friend Alex Gibney, a director whose work reflects the same biased one-sidedness that infected all of Hitchens’ writings. In his acceptance speech, Gibney echoed Hitchens’ anti-Catholicism by retelling one of the author’s offensive anti-Catholic jokes involving a bottle of vermouth and the Virgin Mary.
Proudly announcing that he considered himself a friend of the late essayist, Gibney evidently was unaware of the type of people Hitchens selected for his companionship. Earlier this year, Gawker contributor Alex Pareene observed that Hitchens “was a man who purposefully cultivated a lot of friends of a certain type—rich, self-important, generally dimwitted and hence easy for a well-spoken Oxbridge debater to impress.”
Congratulations, Alex. You are in good company.