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More On "Unhitched"

When I went on a trip to the used bookstore with a friend, I took a look at Unhitched again. I couldn't help myself - Hitchens is really critical to the way I think, my outlook and the way I form opinions. I'm nowhere near on the page he was on when he died but I did adopt his dialectical thinking. It's very easy for me to adopt views that might seem diametrically opposed if I think they both are valid on their own, something he did alot. I have no doubt that if I had read someone like, say, C.S. Lewis in my formative years, I'd have a harder time doing that.

I read a couple portions and unsurprisingly, it was all stuff I already knew about him. However, the way Richard Seymour put together Hitchens' various triangular thinking is very damning. As Seymour notes, Hitch wasn't an ex-leftist, he continued on with Palestinian solidarity and his anti-Vietnam war past as he became an apologist for the Iraq war. However, even if he really believed that the Kurds and other oppressed groups of Iraq were being liberated by the invasion of Iraq, the way that he campaigned for the war - doing various special debates with the like of George Galloway in support of it - and being in serious denial of what was actually happening in Iraq and not in his theoretical brain was so damning. Hitchens was believing his own checking account and wanted to be George Orwell, an advocate for wars of democracy (Orwell was in favor of more than a few wars and even fought in Spain against Franco, as I learned from Hitchens' book Why Orwell Matters).

In his own brain, Hitchens' various positions may have made sense but, as I said when I posted previously, the end result was a very sloppy writer who was reporting more on his ego than on the world around him. god is not Great was a sloppy book and it seemed sloppy when I read it in 2007, despite being pretty sympathetic with the subject matter at the time. There were no footnotes in his book and the arguments made little sense. It became clear in debates, like this clip about how religion lies to children, that he was driven emotionally (possibly by the suicide of his mother) on the subject and was not looking at it rationally:



It is hard to seem that angry not to think that he is thinking about his late mother. I can certainly sympathize but I would think it'd be a mistake to damn entire systems of belief based on my own individual loss. The most analogous institution to what religion was to Hitchens would be drugs - I lost a fiance to opiods and went through hell from psych meds. Nevertheless, I understand that it's not that simple and to throw out something that improves lives as much as it harms them is immature and foolish. Hitchens was smart enough to know that but a title like "Religion Poisons Everything" is much spicier than "When Religion Goes Wrong."

Even if I don't agree with much of what he wrote at this point, Hitchens is still very important. I have alot of books on my plate and I may have to wait until they're through to do a very thorough review of Unhitched but I think I may be unable to resist.

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Michael Orion is a blogger, writer, artist and photographer based in the Bay Area. Besides his maintenance and promotion of Radical Second Things, he contributes to the San Francisco newspaper SF Western Edition, where he writes about local non-profit organizations.

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Radical Second Things is a liberation theology themed blog that has clear cut goals - we see the structural decline of the United States and much of the west and hope to present alternatives that will offer "a preferential option for the poor" as more become vulnerable.

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