The philosopher Voltaire once said, “He was a great patriot, a humanitarian, a loyal friend; provided, of course, he really is dead.”
There is perhaps no better way to express the opinion one might have of the famous (or infamous) polemicist. In his life as the world renowned essayist, author, speaker, and commentator the man was someone who was loathed by many and those who called him friend were probably quite hesitant in their announcement of it.
As someone who called himself a Marxist, he said that he believed that Capitalism had its beauty. As the anti-war Baby Boomer, he later called for intervention into Iraq and against Islamic Fascism. A fan of the same Thomas Jefferson who obtained the Virginia Statue for Religious Freedom, he showed little tolerance for anyone who believed in a deity.
With this mongrel of ideology, the very verbal Hitchens assailed those on the Right and the Left. To him neither Reagan nor Mother Teresa were above his assaults. When asked in one interview what he thought of the death of Reverend Jerry Falwell he answered, “It’s a pity there isn't a hell for him to go to.”
Perhaps an act of cosmic irony, Hitchens developed cancer of the esophagus a year ago. Now, he is dead. Reverence is not something that I believe him deserving; he didn’t grant that even to the families of the dead he attacked.
As Gore Vidal’s “heir”, he made the clown Vidal desirable. As an author, he made illiteracy respectable. And as a human being, he made the animals seem civilized. If there is any emotion that we should shed for the man, it should be pity. For it is a pity that he ever spoke at all.