“Author and outspoken atheist” Christopher Hitchens went off on the late Reverend Jerry Falwell to Anderson Cooper last night, beginning his interview by saying, “I think it’s a pity there isn’t a hell for him to go to.” He ended it by condemning the theocratic sensibility that has taken over conservative American politics and the White House.
You certainly don’t have to be an atheist to agree with his points.
Here are some excerpts from the rest of the interview…
“The empty life of this ugly little charlatan proves only one thing, that you can get away with the most extraordinary offenses to morality and to truth in this country if you will just get yourself called reverend. Who would, even at your network, have invited on such a little toad to tell us that the attacks of September the 11th were the result of our sinfulness and were God’s punishment if they hadn’t got some kind of clerical qualification?
People like that should be out in the street, shouting and hollering with a cardboard sign and selling pencils from a cup. The whole consideration of this — of this horrible little person is offensive to very, very many of us who have some regard for truth and for morality, and who think that ethics do not require that lies be told to children by evil old men, that we’re — we’re not told that people who believe like Falwell will be snatched up into heaven, where I’m glad to see he skipped the rapture, just found on the floor of his office, while the rest of us go to hell.
How dare they talk to children like this? How dare they raise money from credulous people on their huckster-like (INAUDIBLE) radio stations, and fly around in private jets, as he did, giggling and sniggering all the time at what he was getting away with?
How dare he say, for example, that the Antichrist is already present among us and is an adult male Jew, while, all the time, fawning on the worst elements in Israel, with his other hand pumping anti-Semitic innuendoes into American politics, along with his friends Robertson and Graham…encouraging — encouraging — encouraging the most extreme theocratic fanatics and maniacs on the West Bank and in Gaza not to give an inch of what he thought of was holy land to the people who already live there, undercutting and ruining every democratic and secularist in the Jewish state in the name of God?
I think he was a conscious charlatan and bully and fraud.
And I think, if he read the Bible at all — and I would doubt that he could actually read any long book of — at all — that he did so only in the most hucksterish, as we say, Bible-pounding way.
I’m going to repeat what I said before about the Israeli question. It’s very important. Jerry Falwell kept saying to his own crowd, yes, you have got to like the Jews, because they can make more money in 10 minutes than you can make in a lifetime. He was always full, as his friends Robertson and Graham are and were, of anti- Semitic innuendo.
Yet, in the most base and hypocritical way, he encouraged the worst elements among Jewry. He got Menachem Begin to give him the Jabotinsky Medal, celebrating an alliance between Christian fundamentalism and Jewish fanaticism that has ruined the chances for peace in the Middle East.
Lots of people are going to die and are already leading miserable lives because of the nonsense preached by this man, and because of the absurd way that we credit anyone who can say they’re a person of faith.
Look, the president endangers us this way. He meets a KGB thug like Vladimir Putin, and, because he is wearing a crucifix around his neck, says, I’m dealing with a man of faith. He’s a man of goodwill.
Look what Putin has done to American and European interests lately. What has the president said to take back this absurd remark? It’s time to stop saying that, because someone preaches credulity and credulousness, and claims it as a matter of faith, that we should respect them.”