Christopher Hitchens’ Death and Conservative Blogs

December 16th, 2011

By Dan Miller

Christopher Hitchens, 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 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.

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!

 (This article was also posted at Dan Miller’s Blog.)

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3 Responses to “Christopher Hitchens’ Death and Conservative Blogs”

  1. Tom Carter |

    I agree with all the good words about Hitchens. At the sites you referred to and others, many people who disagreed fundamentally with him lauded his intelligence, openmindedness, wit, and kind treatment of adversaries.

    Like you, I’m an agnostic, mainly because being an atheist requires pretty much the same degree of certainty about the unknowable as being a religious believer, but with less absurdity.

    Agnostic that I am, when I read of his death I couldn’t help a wry thought about where he is now, if anywhere, and if he was surprised….

  2. Dan Miller |

    Perhaps Hitchens’ ultimate murmur on his deathbed was to recite the last sentence quoted here, from Bertrand Russel’s An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish:

    Orthodox Christianity, in the Ages of Faith, laid down very definite rules for salvation. First, you must be baptized; then, you must avoid all theological error; last, you must, before dying, repent of your sins and receive absolution. All this would not save you from purgatory, but it would insure your ultimate arrival in heaven. It was not necessary to know theology. An eminent cardinal stated authoritatively that the requirements of orthodoxy would be satisfied if you murmured on your death-bed: “I believe all that the Church believes; the Church believes all that I believe.” (Emphasis added)

    I rather doubt it, but if Hitchens did murmur those words he probably had a better understanding of what the Church believes and what it does not believe than would most who might murmur them.

    As to Purgatory, Heaven and Hell, I haven’t yet found anything to persuade me that there is any necessary nexus with the existence or non existence of a deity. The thesis that there is such a nexus is probably related to the notion that a deity created the Earth and other things the physical existence of which we accept and must therefore have something to do with them. Unaware of any rational basis for acceptance of a deity – Earth nexus, I am also unaware of any rational basis for belief in such a nexus between a deity and a place where deceased critters go. It is claimed that patience is a virtue, so I suppose I shall simply have to be virtuous to that small degree and wait patiently.

  3. Dan Miller |

    Another good article on the death of Christopher Hitchens.

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