Hitchens is one of those die hard lefties who turn to the right in later years. Though unlike many such types he's actually worth reading and grounds his opinions in fact. I disagree with a lot he has to say but I respect the fact he's articulate and his opinions are by and large linked to reality. Unlike fuckwits and friends on Fox.
Anyway, his essay in Spectrum in the SMH (can't find it online), is well worth a read. Essentially his thrust is atheism is the only logical and moral choice, and that religion in itself is poison to mankind.
That's one of the things I disagree with him on. His argument that 'religion produces inflexible dogmatists that kill in the name of a man made belief structure therefore all religion bad' is in itself an inflexible dogma. For the simple fact that man can kill in an organised dogmatic fashion irrespective of religion - eg communism, fascism, white supremacists etc.
Religion at its base at least offers a moral code. Sure some of it is whacked like all gays should die, adulterers should be stoned, and wearing cotton mixed with wool is a Neddy no no. But by and large 'let's all get on and here are some rules to live by' is a plus for civilisation - despite some of the massive fuckups along the way.
Hitchens points out of course that moral codes are not dependent on religion any more. And he's right. You don't need religion to point out that 'do good, be just' is essentially the only way humanity should live. We're smart enough now that we don't need to believe in an afterlife where the sins of the past are revisited upon us to work out that fucking on someone is a bad thing.
But it's a massive stretch to claim all of those who have faith in something bigger, something beyond them, that gives them hope, and peace, and a sense of duty and spirit are poisonous to mankind. It's just the hard core intolerant fuckwit types within those belief structures who think 'my way or the highway' and who actively hurt others in a pious belief that only they are right that do the damage to the faith as a whole. Some faiths struggle with this more, and those in a region of the planet soaked in violence and discord, do so more violently than others.
Anyway, it's a good thought provoking essay from an intelligent thought provoking man. Like I said I don't agree with many of his views, and I think his own road to Damascus conversion to neocon land is simply weird, but it makes a lot more sense after reading this why he fears the rise of so called Islamists. Even if as a result of it he's cozying up to inflexible dogmatic 'my way or the highway' types who, for some, support Israel not because they feel they deserve to exist as a nation state despite the violence of its birth, but because they'd rather have the hooknoses in charge than the towelheads when the messiah comes.
UPDATE: See comments to a link to an earlier version of the essay courtesy of MB.