Speaking of Hitch, I read this today and it was like a simultaneous punch to the gut and flying fist pump into the sky.
While dying of cancer, he addresses rumors and jokes made by his detractors about a possible imminent conversion to religion: "If I convert, it's because it's better that a believer dies than that an atheist does."
This made me want to scream and clap like a baby. Why? Because no one is ever unapologetic or relentless or consistent when it matters. Because so many truths are blurred, diluted and softened in worried anticipation of interpersonal conflict. WHO CARES.
All of the time that is spent pussyfooting and apology-making for offending the religious has become imperceptible (and therefore, undiscussed) to the American because it is so ubiquitous that it's become the baseline, the very atmosphere.
This courtesy is, of course, never extended to the other extremist religious groups, and certainly not to the unreligious. This is like a one-sided moral relativism that, when you think about it, is wildly ironic considering the fact that most Christians believe in a sort of bastardized moral universality, that is, that there is one generally correct way to live, regardless of your circumstance or culture. That the religious right are allowed to run roughshod over laws and freedoms is a result of constantly applied moral relativity or misplaced tolerance. What these groups do is often wrong by western moral standards, and frequently by our laws too, but it is continually allowed because somehow (not somehow - through tradition, corruption, and the ravages of a flagging economy and poverty on society), the religious freedoms of one group have become more important than the legal freedoms of all.
I think this happens in part because non-believers can't let go of their rote understanding of what tolerance means, furthering the irony in that intolerant groups become overly protected by the concept. That inability to reinterpret rigid definitions is the downfall of both the religious and the non-religious.
That's why I love the Hitchensian manner so much.