Christopher Hitchens’ Death and Conservative Blogs

R.I.P.

As almost everyone living in the West and able to read already knows, Christopher Hitchens (1949 – 2011) died yesterday at the age of sixty-two. Conservative fairness toward and even appreciation of Agnostics,  Atheists and others with whom many disagree has long been a conservative energizer. The extent of this ability to agree as well as to disagree without rancor was again shown by the treatment of Mr. Hitchens’ death in the various conservative blogs I frequent.

Ron Radosh, writing at PJ Media, recalled at length their association, agreements and disagreements over many years.  The main point that comes across is that Hitchens was his own man, held his own views and defended them well.  He could also change them when he decided that he had been wrong.

Christopher was a bundle of contradictions, a “contrarian” for life as he put it himself, a man who was charming, witty, a wonderful guest and raconteur, and a man who simply could not put up with hypocrisy and tyranny. I miss him greatly, and like so many others who knew him only from his writing, mourn his loss. R.I.P. And if you meet St. Peter and he asks you why you were not a believer, like the late Sidney Hook, you can tell him: “You didn’t give me enough evidence.”

This, written by Richard Fernandez, also appeared at PJ Media:

All there is to say about his life, Hitchens has already said himself.  His facility at expression was such that it is presumptuous to try and add to his account.  Nevertheless, he would probably appreciate being remembered by those who knew him; and I did slightly. Even the most modest of people like to think the world has shifted, even ever so slightly, because they lived, spoke and wrote.

And Hitchens lived, and spoke and wrote.

We might quarrel about the extent to which he or anyone has made a difference.  But in one matter we are agreed; and he will surely pass over any differences if I raise a glass in his memory. As he explained to an Arab waiter once in Beirut about the virtues of whiskey, “all you have to do is pour it. My problem is to drink it.”  Perhaps he was talking about life as much as Johnny Walker.  So for those who are so inclined, please raise a glass of whatever you please, and down one for Christopher Hitchens.

Well alright, Christopher. One is not enough. Maybe two is better.

An article at the Daily Caller notes,

The world has lost not only one of the finest polemicists and essayists of his era, but one of the brightest wits and clearest and most resolute voices against tyranny.

Michelle Malkin wrote,

Agree or disagree with him (and we certainly did, jovially so, on some of his extreme atheist stunts), Hitchens was a trenchant analyst and a naturalized American original. His writings on Muslim jihadists, Islamic rage boy syndrome, and sharia law were especially compelling — and his fearless work on those topics was cited here numerous times over the years.

She also related what happened when she, a stranger, asked Mr. Hitchens to autograph one of his books for an Atheist friend writing at her blog, Hot Air:

Mr. Hitchens -

It’s odd and last-minute, but what the hell: I have a fabulous atheist blogger at HotAir.com who goes by the nom de plume “Allahpundit.” Last Christmas, Ayaan Hirsi Ali was kind enough to send an autographed copy of Infidel for me to pass along as a secular, end-of-the-year token of appreciation.

Might it be possible for me to FedEx you a copy of “God Is Not Great” for a signature in time for the holidays? It’s the only way I can top last year.

He responded,

Surely you may. I shall be in California over the “holidays”, so ship it to me at [address and phone number redacted].

Meanwhile, “compliments of the season”, as Mr Jefferson used to say.

Thanks for asking.
CH

There was also a post at Free Republic, (“America’s exclusive site for God, Family, Country, Life & Liberty conservatives!”). Many of those who commented on the post professed to be Christians and often showed fairness and appreciation. True, there were many who lamented Hitchens’ failure to find their savior even on his deathbed. There were also many who disagreed with them. One observed,

Now comes the march of those who absolutely cannot stand anyone who can’t be bullied into kow-towing to their Imaginary Friend. How dare the man have the dignity to ignore all those threats of Hell — the spiritual equivalent of “pass on this chain letter or you’ll have bad luck.” But some people just can’t be intimidated by the myths of any culture, and it really galls those who are.

Some took issue, others agreed.  Here’s one in the latter category:

Excellent post. He represented what is best in Western society (Freedom of Speech and Thought). His was a formidable intellect. RIP.

When relevant to a topic, I identify myself as an Agnostic on the theory that to do otherwise would be disingenuous. Last Christmas, I wrote an article at PJ Media entitled Christmas Greetings, and the World is Insane with the lede “This agnostic has had just about enough of PC Christmastime.” It began,

Last year at about this time I ranted about attempts to eliminate the vestiges of Christmas from Western society lest the easily offended be offended. I am an agnostic and these efforts and their successes then offended me; they still do. The long Judeo-Christian history and culture of the United States have contributed greatly to our heritage and behavior. As they are progressively diminished we all suffer.

There were many comments, few acerbic. Here’s one I found encouraging:

Here in the San Blas Islands of Panama, everyone was wishing all other boaters a merry Christmas this morning. While most are agnostic/atheist like me, we very much enjoy the holiday season because it is part of our American, Canadian, and European culture. It is a fun time to share with family and friends. Progressives just can’t stand seeing conservatives having a good time. Are they aware that the word holiday, which they prefer to use, is a derivative of the two words holy, and day? Maybe someone should tell them, then we can watch them squirm while inventing a new absolutely PC word.

While many conservatives are “born again Christians,” many are not. There is great diversity of thought because conservatives are rarely hesitant to follow where their own minds lead them.  That is one of the greatest strengths of conservatism. Unless guided principally by our own minds and therefore free to consider and to accept, reject or modify ideas on their own merits rather than based on dogma or the biases of others, we would be lost in the woods and unable to find our various and often different ways. Having — and more importantly using — our freedom to debate ideas with those holding different views is a tremendous asset. Long may free thought thrive; long also may those of us who enjoy wishing others a politically incorrect “Merry Christmas” continue to do so.

Merry Christmas!

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About danmillerinpanama

I was graduated from Yale University in 1963 with a B.A. in economics and from the University of Virginia School of law, where I was the notes editor of the Virginia Law Review in 1966. Following four years of active duty with the Army JAG Corps, with two tours in Korea, I entered private practice in Washington, D.C. specializing in communications law. I retired in 1996 to sail with my wife, Jeanie, on our sailboat Namaste to and in the Caribbean. In 2002, we settled in the Republic of Panama and live in a very rural area up in the mountains. I have contributed to Pajamas Media and Pajamas Tatler. In addition to my own blog, Dan Miller in Panama, I an an editor of Warsclerotic and contribute to China Daily Mail when I have something to write about North Korea.
This entry was posted in Agnosticism, Conservatives, Hitchens, Merry Christmas!, Religion and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Christopher Hitchens’ Death and Conservative Blogs

  1. Bob Row says:

    Daniel: I appreciate your response and comment to my post. In spite of being a Marxist and atheist from my youth, I understand agnosticism as a transitional skeptic epistemological stand. I even prefer the Spanish word “ateo”, as it lacks the militant nuances of the English word.
    As a longtime History reader, I don’t neglect the role religions had in the organization of societies, but I value each one in connection with the role accomplished by each one at its specific time. I refuse to accord any religion any transcendent value and find fixed formulae dysfunctional when blocks necessary and progressive social changes. So it was with Christianity in face of the nascent modern science in Europe and so is with radical Islam today. But the Imperialistic foreign intervention usually have the effect of turning a sectarian, militant group into a popular defensive movement. If something, the War on Terror in Iraq proved so. I don’t think the hundreds of thousands Iraqis victimized by the chaotic violence that ensued would regard the American intervention as a “mixed bag” of benefits and inconveniences; besides the illegality and hypocrisy of its foundations. How can I believe Hitchens’ passion for Freedom when he sided decidedly with such a crime against Humanity?

    • Rob, as seems to have become our pattern, I shall replicate this comment at your blog, perhaps with an addition or two.

      You say,

      I don’t think the hundreds of thousands Iraqis victimized by the chaotic violence that ensued would regard the American intervention as a “mixed bag” of benefits and inconveniences. . .

      Probably not; many now seem quite happy to see the U.S. forces leaving and I rather doubt that there will be more freedom after we have left than there was before we arrived. Will they eventually be happier under the Iranian domination that seems likely? I doubt it but will lurk with interest. Still, it should be noted that Saddam Hussein managed to slaughter many in Iraq and, when the U.S. had a significant presence, that slaughter was at least tempered for a brief, in historical terms, time.

      As to religion in the United States, our Jewish and Christian traditions have been important and, I think, generally beneficial during my lifetime. As an Agnostic for well over than half a century, I felt quite free to behave and to speak as I pleased while there. Even as a student at an Episcopalian high school (1957 – 1959), where I had made my views known to the headmaster, an Episcopalian priest, and often commented during the mandatory sacred studies class he conducted, I felt no need to shut up. We had some quite enjoyable discussions. The same remains true at the conservative blogs where I now write. It may well have been different at different times.

      Fortunately, here in the Republic of Panama — ostensibly a Roman Catholic country where my wife and I have lived since 2002 — I feel that I have comparable freedoms. I neither make an issue of, nor intentionally conceal, my views on religion and sense no reason to do so.

      Your situation in Argentina may be different or similar; never having had the pleasure of traveling there, I don’t know. Venezuela, when we were there often between 1998 and 2001, was not greatly different from Panama now — although Venezuela was then perhaps more advanced in medical technology. I understand that there have been many changes for the worse under Chavez, though not particularly affecting religious matters.

  2. Bob Row says:

    So, conservatives value Hitchens’ arguments and his particular defense of Occident, after all. Why is it that I’m not so surprised? May it be that both shared the benefits of colonial expansion over the rest of the world?. Here’s my perspective from my Latin American point of view: http://wp.me/psnoA-9A

    • Bob, thanks for commenting.

      I think it a mistake to say that “conservatives value Hitchens’ arguments and his particular defense of Occident, after all.” Some do, some don’t. My reference was only to “the various conservative blogs I frequent.” There is at least as much diversity of opinion among conservatives as among other groups; sometimes I think there is more than among many others.

      At your linked blog, which I enjoyed visiting and shall doubtless revisit, you contend with reference to Hitchens and other “New Atheists” that

      The failure of the “New Atheists” is that of those who want to eat cake while keeping it whole. That is: to enjoy the privileges of Global Capitalism without losing their own freedom of thinking in the process.

      A mere Agnostic rather than an Atheist, new or otherwise, I can’t speak to the views of anyone other than myself. Some religious groups have enriched our cultures and our lives, some have harmed them. The Roman Catholic Church engaged in some pretty brutal stuff but also preserved useful aspects of former cultures. Radical Islam, today, has far more malign influences on freedom than do Roman Catholicism or any other religions of which I am aware.

      Imperialism too has been a mixed bag. Some nations have become too big for their britches and have attempted, by military force, to conquer others — not due to perceptions that the nations sought to be conquered were dangerous to them, but rather to annex their territories, natural resources and people. Germany, during the late 1930s and forward into the next decade, tried to do just that. Only through the perhaps “imperialist” actions of the United States and much of Western Europe were those advances successfully resisted and further such advances in the future at least postponed. The imperialist advances of Europeans into South, Central and North America indeed brought hardship to the indigenous populations. Still, I wonder how much better or worse off those populations might be now had such advances not occurred.

      From my perspective, freedom is the most important quality we can have. It trumps democracy; they are often allied but often opposed. “Democratically” incinerated witches and adherents to “false” religions are neither more free nor otherwise better off than those murdered undemocratically. Take this if you will as a metaphor for the current Middle East situation. Perhaps it is imperialistic, as you might define it, to seek the advantages of freedom for others lacking it. If so, it strikes me as a quite benign and worthwhile sort of imperialism.

      I shall take the liberty of posting the bulk of this comment at your blog; I hope you don’t mind.

      Dan

  3. Another good article on the death of Christopher Hitchens.

  4. Lloyd Cripe says:

    Thanks for this post. A great thinker and writer. He is gone but his writings live on.

  5. Pingback: Opinion Forum » Christopher Hitchens’ Death and Conservative Blogs

  6. Here’s another remembrance of Mr. Hitchens posted at PJ Media today. It’s long and deals with a bloody encounter in which the author, Michael Totten, and Mr. Hitchens were involved in Beirut. Mr. Hitchens adhered to his principles, even when doing so was likely to, and did, endanger him physically.

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