I woke up this morning and logged onto the internet and the first news I encountered was the death of Christopher Hitchens. Newspapers, magazines, and websites are overflowing with obituaries for him, and they will be for the next few days. All of them will mention that he was a headstrong atheist who proudly attacked religious believers with whatever insults came into his head. They will also praise him for his intellectual skill, principles, and writing talent. None, at least among the ones that I’ve written, will mention that he spent almost his whole life promoting communism.
When I was a child, my family subscribed to The Nation. From its pages, along with a few other sources and some assists from family members, I picked up the fact that communism was a pretty good system. That Lenin and Trotsky and Castro were decent fellows, that Stalin may have had a few flaws, but that Che Guevara was awesome. It was quite a surprise to learn, over the course of my college and graduate school years, that this was all false, and that all these men along with countless other communist dictators were actually brutal mass murderers. But that’s the truth.
Here’s another truth: Christopher Hitch was the number one proponent of communism in the USA for decades and he was durn proud of it. In his book Koba the Dread, Martin Amis mentions the odd truth that it American society it’s unacceptable to say anything nice about Hiter and the Nazis, but quite all right to praise Lenin and the Soviet communists. Exhibit A for this strange phenomenon is Christopher Hitchens. He spent many years at The Nation rolling out support for the Soviet Union as well as Red China and communist regimes all over the world. He obviously knew full well that these regimes were responsible for killing tens of millions of innocent people, yet he celebrated and promoted them anyway. He also viciously lashed out at anyone who supported peace and freedom anywhere. While the people of Poland struggled valiantly for freedom against the Soviet oppressors, Hitchens savagely attacked them for being Catholic, and he had nothing but insults for Pope John Paul II, the world’s leading freedom fighter. After communism fell apart, he ended up jumping to the neo-conservative’s flagship magazine, The Weekly Standard, where he helped drum up support for a war in Iraq that’s killed over a million civilians. It would seems that the only principle Hitchens clung to throughout his life was to always support whoever was doing the most mass slaughter.
We are, of course, ordered by Jesus to love and pray for our enemies. I will pray for Mr. Hitchens but I won’t feel all that much sympathy. That’s more reserved for the millions of people who were killed, tortured, or imprisoned by the regimes that he proudly supported.