The Bare Bodkin

The Atheist’s Redemption

In my last appearance in this space, I wrote erroneously that Christopher Hitchens had favored both Anglo-American wars on Iraq.  In fact, he strongly opposed the first one, back in 1991.  I remember this so vividly (I was delighted with him at the time) that I can’t understand how I could be so embarrassingly forgetful when I wrote as I did.  I owe him an apology, which I cheerfully offer.

Still, I can’t help suspecting that the current war, which he does support, may help explain his newly aggressive atheism.  By applauding Bush’s war, a quasi-Trotskyite venture in “global democratic revolution,” Hitch, as his friends call him, has lost a lot of face among his old comrades on the left.  Attacking “religion” was the perfect way to recoup.  So Michael Kinsley was probably right to praise his book god is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything as a shrewd career move.

However, as Dr. Johnson said of Rous-seau, “A man who talks nonsense so well must know he is talking nonsense.”  Is Hitch (or should we, by analogy with “god,” call him “hitch”?) pulling the public’s leg just a bit?  When he speaks of religion as belief in a “celestial dictatorship,” he betrays the Trotskyite reduction of all relations to raw power; surely, he is aware that...

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