In the end, life isn’t a fucking Authority comic book. I can’t, as a person who found himself thrilling to the burning of the churches in Homage to Catalonia, say that Hitchens’ infamous delight in cluster bomb fragments that will tear right through a Koran on the way to some benighted al-Qaeda fuck’s heart is alien to me. But those bombs found a lot of other people as well. Hundreds and hundreds of thousands of them. And in dropping them we also unleashed an atavistic tide of brutality, torture, state surveillance and oppression, and endless global warfare waged by an unaccountable executive branch; those bullets tore through not just Korans, but nearly every document we enlightened Westerners hold dear back through the Magna Carta. I’m no longer capable of performing the elaborate mental arithmetic necessary to excuse all this, and to excuse the deceptive and criminal way it was ushered in, because other people are bad. This is bad! When you’re primarily animated by hatred, as Hitchens was — and even though he generally hated genuinely hateful things — making the bastards pay is paramount. But the bastardry gazes also.
So Hitchens went to his grave quite literally praising endless war — a morally shameful philosophy that if adhered to would basically ruin civilization. But you don’t need to take my word for it. You can take the word of Hitchens’ hero, George Orwell, who wrote a book you may have heard of in which perpetual war was the core evil. Or you can take the word of Hitchens himself. I remember vividly his definition of terrorism: Demanding the impossible, and demanding it at gunpoint. How else to describe Hitchens’ call for a state of unceasing violence as some sort of curative for the other, wrong kind of violence?
I would only add that those who laud him now seem to mostly be those who got drunk with him, members of his own profession and class who have their own callowness in regard to Iraq & Afghanistan to justify and are doing so via him, as though Hitchens' own slime justifies their lack of journalistic integrity--indeed, embosses it in dignified stone. And anyone who calls him out as just what he was, a career character assassin who made money off of slaughter, gets attacked. A lot of the ones who object do so on the basis of Hitchens' atheism.
Which is what Hitchens wanted, I think: by flattering the egos of left-wing atheists he somehow made them forget how he betrayed them in every other respect. Between Clinton and Bush, and his frequent appearances on Fox, Hitchens, like, strangely, many former Trotskyists, found the right a more convenient home than the left, and did more to help them than anyone else. He was throwing the left a bone, while giving cover to right-wing neocons, who could say, "Here's this left-wing intellectual, and HE loves our war!" No more left than Dick Morris and exactly the same kind of Fox tool.
And on his atheism: so what? If you've read God Is Not Great, you realize: neither is this book. The entire thing, like Dawkins' God Delusion, is merely calling believers stupid and preaching to the choir in a way that only makes believers double down; it's a totally useless book except for atheists who want to feel smug. It changed no minds not already inclined to. And frankly, atheists who spend their lives obsessed with religion are no better than any religious fanatic. Same waste of time on a pointless idea but from a different angle, that is all. (I mean here just the subject of God's existence; religious institutions, which DO exist and many of whom DO harm, are totally legitimate targets for criticism) If you're done with God, be DONE with him. How sad he wasted so much of what remained of his life on this subject, along with trying to justify his support of the wars. But how appropriate he died the same day as his beloved Iraq War.
But more than that, Hitchens spent his whole career as a character assassin. And now people are supposed to canonize him? This is the man(and I agree with him here) who on the day Falwell died said that if he was given an enema you could bury him in a matchbox. True. And you could say the same of Hitchens. Cruelty begets cruelty.
Do not praise Hitchens. Just bury and forget him.