Update: KKK paypal and friend of the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens, Tony Perkins, has orchestrated the hacking of this post. In doing so, he has drawn greater attention to his links to and ideological support for white supremacists. The photo of Christopher Hitchens posing with the Family Research Council's Witherspoon Fellows was scrubbed from FRC's site today out of fear that I would link to it again. Not only does the FRC want to suppress Perkins' links to white supremacists, it wants to suppress its own association with Hitchens. This begs the question: who embarrasses Perkins more, the Klan or Christopher Hitchens?
Christopher Hitchens has made a career out of offending polite society. Among his greatest hits are his observation that women aren't funny, his pooh-poohing of the Haditha massacre, and his defense of the jailed Holocaust denier David Irving, who he hailed as a "great historian." More recently, Hitchens has volunteered himself as the licker of Wolfowitz's comb, claiming that the corrupt World Bank president "did nothing wrong."
Hitchens has cast these seemingly untenable positions as "contrarian," lending himself not only an air of intellectual bravado, but a veneer of integrity as well. Despite his myriad personal flaws and political contradictions, Hitchens has managed to appear principled by trafficking in opinions that consistently outrage conservatives and liberals alike. He poses as a maverick, an intellectually macho literary gun-slinger who loves nothing more than provoking the indignant howls of the madding crowd. For Hitchens, everything is sacred, and therefore, everything is fair game.
Those who have followed the trajectory of Hitchens' career knew it was only a matter of time before he set his sights on religion. What better way to piss off (and on) the masses than to unleash a full-frontal assault on God himself? So to great fanfare and perhaps nobody's surprise, Hitchens has produced "God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything," an atheist manifesto intended to supplement Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion, and (New Age torture fanatic) Sam Harris' The End of Faith.
Hitchens spares no sacred cows in his latest work. He blasts religion as a form of child abuse, claims Jesus Christ never lived, and declares that those who give their children bar mitzvahs are "planning your and my destruction and the destruction of all hard-won human attainments." The requisite attacks on Islam, so satisfying to his newfound neo-con pals, are also featured at length.
Hitchens' book might be mean-spirited and even bigoted; little more than a barely legible screed larded with predictable arguments and a scattershot of pretentious literary references, but who can say its author is unprincipled? This is contrarianism, right?
God Is Not Great represents little more than the disingenous posturings of a certified fraudmeister who has openly cavorted with the most reactionary elements of the Christian right. If Hitchens had any principles at all - if he truly feared the cultural and political consequences of the encroachment of religion into public life - he would have used his still-considerable influence to support organizations and causes that shore up the wall between church and state and which defend the rights of non-believers. Instead, Hitchens has done exactly the opposite.
In the fall of 2005, Hitchens gladly accepted the invitation of the Family Research Council to speak before its Witherspoon Fellows. Hitchens subsequently regaled an audience of young Christian right cadres with excerpts from his book, Thomas Jefferson: Author of America. For attending Hitchens' lecture and participating in several similar events, the FRC's Witherspoon Fellows received academic credit for study at Pat Robertson's Regent University, a school that has placed 150 of its graduates in Bush administration posts.
Presumably Hitchens was aware of the mission of the James Dobson-founded Family Research Council. How could such an intellectual giant be unaware of the FRC's charge to "promote the Judeo-Christian worldview as the basis for a just, free, and stable society?" How could Hitchens have missed the FRC's many "Justice Sunday" rallies staged at mega-churches and telecast across America to advance the confirmation of George W. Bush's most theocracy-minded judicial picks? (To my knowledge, these rallies occured well after happy hour) And how could Hitchens have been ignorant to the FRC's vitriolic crusade to ban abortion and undermine gay rights?
Regarding FRC President Tony Perkins' ties to white supremacists, I would like to paraphrase Scripture and say, forgive Hitchens for he knows not what the hell he is doing. My well-publicized report detailing how Perkins once purchased the phone bank list of former Klan leader David Duke for the price of $82,500 and how he headlined a 2001 fundraiser for the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens had only been out for a few months. Maybe Hitchens was too busy dancing with Wolfowitz to read it.
But there is no excuse for Hitchens' hypocrisy. With the release of God Is Not Great, Hitchens owes his readers an explanation for his appearance at the Family Research Council, the nerve center of a theocratic movement determined to weaken the foundations of constitutional democracy. Hitchens must explain why he accepted the FRC's invitation to speak and whether he was paid for his appearance.
While awaiting Hitchens' response, I will pray that in the future his version of the Straight Talk Express designates a driver.