Friday, December 16, 2011

RIP Christopher Hitchens

He was maddening at times, but I always went back for more because he was a mental drug I needed in a world that oftentimes seemed dominated by the idiocy of  the Palins, Bachmanns, Perrys, Trumps, and other members of the terminally stupid club. I knew that even if I completely disagreed with him, as I did many times, especially over the Iraq War,  the way he presented his side of the story was always a satisfying and  infuriating read. He was able to do something many people who feel passionately about a subject were unable to do: he was able to engage those who thought differently in the conversation. That is what made his intellect so addicting in a world increasingly populated by morons who wouldn't give an inch and expected you to swallow the whole mile.

But one area where we completely agreed was Atheism.  There was no maybe there. There was no taking the side of it with one hand and holding out skepticism with the other. He brilliantly described what I always knew about religion, that it flourished by destroying individual freedom, that it grew by creating followers instead of leaders, that it destroyed the humanity in people because it gave them an excuse to be evil. He saw religion as a wedge to divide people, a tool to control and manipulate them mentally, and a weapon to use on them if they dared to stray too far from conformity.

He took on Mother Teresa,  a woman who horrified my sense of decency when she stood outside the chemical plant in Bhopal and screamed for the world to forgive them for poisoning and killing all those people--while the bodies were still warm. He rightly attacked her for supporting the thieves and thugs in the Keating Scandal, for taking the side of the ugly underbelly of corporate greed over the innocent victims of that greed.

MT was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction. And she was a friend to the worst of the rich, taking misappropriated money from the atrocious Duvalier family in Haiti (whose rule she praised in return) and from Charles Keating of the Lincoln Savings and Loan. READ MORE

I continue to profoundly respect  his courage in taking on the ultimate sacred cow and exposing her for the self-serving and religion-addled tool that she was. And it gives me great pleasure knowing that he outlived her, that he was able to dig deep into the roots that created her and educated many in the world about the dangers of being a tool for the ultimate wealthy and uncaring corporation: the Catholic Church. And while it is probably true that George Bush's disgusting use of religion to perpetuate his sadism and ignorance on the world created a backlash that converted many people to Atheism, and exposed Christianity as just another political tool, I am profoundly grateful to Christopher Hitchens for giving Atheism a validity it very much needed to counteract the ignorance and danger of that kind of  blind religious fervor.

May the worms nibble gently and may we all learn from the legacy of his maddening, intellectually satisfying assholiness. His life was worth the space it took on the earth. Not many can die with that accomplishment as their legacy.


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