Thursday, April 4, 2013

Unhitched: The Trial of Christopher HitchensUnhitched: The Trial of Christopher Hitchens by Richard Seymour
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I don't believe in sacred cows, so a book that purports to be a critique of the political and anti-theistic positions of the late Christopher Hitchens, despite the negative reviews I was seeing on atheist websites, became a must read for me. The book fell to the bottom of my pile, so I just got around to finishing it tonight.

I can't say I am disappointed in the book, because there have been many reviews that have taken it to task for being unfair and for using language that is obtuse (in the sense of using too many three dollar words) at the expense of clarity, as though the author didn't just want to smear Hitchens, he wanted to prove he was smarter than Hitchens.

Hitchens can justifiably, in my opinion, be criticized for his war hawkishness in the lead up to Bush II's disastrous Iraq war, And I also think there can be detected in some of his writings a certain amount of Islamaphobia and perhaps even some downright anti-Islamism bordering on hate speech. Though Hitchens was a critic of all religion, he was exceptionally hard on Islam at a time when members of that religion were being vilified. Painting all Muslims with the same brush is unfair.

Instead of a responsible critique, though, this book is a hatchet job by a second thinker hiding behind obscurantist and technical sounding language. Where a plain spoken examination of Hitchens writings and public pronouncements might have served as a useful tool in reexamining the legacy of Hitchens, this book is simply useless.

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