By Jonathon Van Maren
For those who are tempted to see journalist-turned-parrot Michael Coren as a man who saw the light and decided that support for gay marriage was more consistent with Christianity than his previous position was, consider the number of things Coren has done an about-face on since he was outed as no longer attending the Catholic Church (while accepting money from Catholic groups): Abortion, euthanasia, suicide, homosexuality, sexuality, contraception, economics, the Conservative Party of Canada, the Liberal Party of Canada, marriage, and now, Mother Teresa. Someone who thought Coren had simply come ‘round to the Rainbow Party might be forgiven for asking: Well, what does that leave?
In keeping with his attempt to still appear contrarian while agreeing with secular progressives on everything, Coren has decided to join the campaign for the secular canonization of Christopher Hitchens, the witty atheist raconteur who first decided he didn’t like Mother Teresa, referring to her as a “thieving Albanian dwarf.” Coren’s two columns on Mother Teresa are essentially a lazy rip-off of Hitchens’ tired arguments combined with fawning appeals to “the exquisite Hitch” and “the shockingly clever Christopher Hitchens, whom I had the privilege of knowing in my first days as a journalist.”
Having joined the secularist party late and having nothing new to say, Coren’s strategy is to position himself as the perennial victim of traditionalist Christians by saying something he knows will offend them, scanning social media for particularly disgusted commenters, and then promptly posting their comments with statements regarding how “unloving” they are. When he posted his Mother Teresa article, he rather gave the game away by posting it with the tagline “Cue the hate mail…” It’s a strategy so obvious one can only feel sorry for him.
The first paragraph of Coren’s Toronto Star column actually made me laugh out loud. “Christopher Hitchens,” Coren writes intimately, “he didn’t like ‘Chris’—was as generous as he was gifted.” The reason this is amusing is because when Coren was eulogizing Christopher Hitchens on Sun News in 2011, my friends and I noticed something: As Coren talked about Hitchens, who he presented as having been his friend, he repeatedly referred to him as “Chris.” I had just finished his autobiography Hitch-22, in which Hitchens actually has a chapter titled “Chris or Christopher?” as well as dozens of obituaries by various Hitchens friends who remembered that whenever someone called him Chris, he always responded, “Christopher, if you please.” Coren obviously didn’t know this, but it was quite hilarious to watch him talk about “Chris” when anyone who had picked up Hitchens’ autobiography from an airport bookstore knew that Hitchens’ friends didn’t call him Chris. Apparently Coren has read Hitch-22 since then, and included that little detail in his new column.
Even more humorously, Michael Coren hosted a segment later on his Sun New show complaining that “Chris Hitchens” was being deified, and that Hitchens himself would hate “Chrissianity” as Coren called it. He even states that Hitchens’ insults of Mother Teresa were “inelegant, rude and crude.” But that was then, and this is now. To those who are upset by Coren’s Catholic-baiting, I’d say the attitude Coren ascribes to Hitchens would be in order: “he didn’t suffer fools or frauds.”
Because from moral issues to politics, from religion to Christopher Hitchens, Coren’s record screams fraud.