As I’m sure you’re all aware by now, yesterday marked the loss of one of the world’s most notable and polemic non-believers and surveyors of the human condition. Christopher Hitchens could be simultaneously vulgar in his eloquence, insulting in his insightfulness and was as incorrigible to his detractors as he was encouraging to those he supported. Our thoughts are with those who were fortunate enough to have shared his too short a life with him and our glasses are raised in memory of the man who, as Kipling would have said, filled ‘the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run’.
I will leave further eulogising of this titanic personality to those who knew the man beyond his works. This post is about Hitchens’ final vindication. Namely, the reaction of those he criticised upon hearing of his death. As the frail and broken body that had borne the mind we knew as Hitch was still cooling, fundamentalists and apologists were tripping over each other to prove him exactly right is his disdain for their pettiness, charlatanism and fundamental lack of human decency.
Rick Warren, evangelical snake-oil salesman extraordinaire had the nerve to tweet “My friend Christopher Hitchens has died. I loved and prayed for him constantly and grieve his loss. He knows the Truth now.” This was followed by many of Warrens sheep baaing commiserations for the loss of his “friend”. The ‘Truth’ Hitch knew long before his death. That this man was a despicable, money grubbing buffoon and Hitch described him as “vulgar”, a “bigot” and a “tree-shaking huckster” on the occasion of his officiating President Obama’s inauguration.
Another front runner in this race of poor taste and poorly concealed happiness at another’s misfortunes was the infamous ‘Banana Man’, Ray Comfort. Ray, as he is want to do, strode straight in to where he didn’t belong with a blog on his Living Waters website that proclaimed “Christopher Hitchens is no longer an atheist”. Taking pride or pleasure in the idea that a thinking being has been or is about to be thrown into an eternal state of torture shows exactly why Hitch railed against the laziness and depravity of religious constructs. The duplicitous moralisations and hypocritical piety of the world’s monotheistic cults both infuriated and invigorated Hitchens.
However, one cannot help but imagine that if Hitch had seen these pathetic attempts to use his death in the defense of religion, he would have smirked at how ignorant they were to the harm they were inflicting upon themselves in making his point in his absence. Especially grin-worthy was the outpouring of near rabid rage from the ever so Christ-like (meek and mild how are you) Christians on Twitter when the title of Hitchens’ most famous book, God Is Not Great, began trending and appeared on the sites homepage.
I didn’t agree with him on a great many things, but I cannot resist admiring a man for whom no longer existing is no impediment to winning an argument. Hitch, we salute you.