I often disagreed with his politics, and sometimes with his approach to engaging with believers in nonsense, although in both cases from a staggeringly less informed position. But the guy was brilliant, and did enough good work for the public face of atheism and critical thinking that his values deserve to be respected after his death.
To which end, don’t let’s pretend for a moment that he’s somewhere else now, smiling down on us, or shame-facedly admitting his error, or even blusteringly haranguing St Peter with demands to know just what the fuck God thinks he’s playing at.
Hitch deserves better than that. (Even if he sometimes was a fucking asshole.)
And, while we’re remembering him appropriately, don’t let’s spare the scorn and contempt for the inevitable religious reactions to this sad news. Some fanatics are smugly rejoicing in whatever fate they imagine he’s now facing. Some are pretending he may have “seen the light” and repented his sinful ways before the end, as if the delirium of one’s last, desperate, addled moments are any place to find meaning or importance. Fuck that. The man himself made his position on such “deathbed conversions” abundantly clear, on many occasions, while in complete control of his remarkable faculties. If people need to lie to themselves to maintain their fragile fantasy, we needn’t feel obliged to respect these lies any more than Hitch did.
He’s been well eulogised in, among other places, the Guardian, the New Statesman, and Vanity Fair, as well as a collection of obituaries being collated at Richard Dawkins’s website. If you didn’t get to know the man well while he lived, there’s plenty of opportunity to catch up.