I was aware, from a short passage in "Hitch-22," that Christopher Hitchens considered Mother Theresa a fraud and an inhuman proponent of mutiplied human suffering; but I never inquired further, as I know plenty already about the Catholic church and its despicable record regarding the poor.
However, today, on the occasion of her canonization I watched his full indictment made over 20 years ago. I had no idea what an evil woman she was.
FURTHER THOUGHTS ABOUT THERESA
As I watched the Hitchens expose, little of it surprised me, but one incident shocked me: when Theresa laid flowers on the tomb of Hoxha. There was a stalinist murderer that even other stalinists could not stand. Out of 7 billion people in the world, only one could be found to give him flowers.
And then I thought further about the hospices that Theresa founded in Calcutta, where the poor die alone and untended on the streets. Or do they?
Visitors are shocked by the poor workers sleeping in culverts and on the streets in Calcutta and they are right to be appalled by the way the Indian economy works, but to some extent the sleeping on the streets is customary. It is a way for migrants from the countryside to save more money to send home. A local custom, you could call it, and not impractical in a place as hot as Calcutta, at least in the dry months.
It is not necessarily the case, either, that the poor are dying alone. Their situation is miserable but poor people in cities have their own networks, hard for a passerby to detect. I will bet that, in some cases at least, the squalid sick are being visited by neighbors with water and a chapatty or two.
Dying, as living, on the streets is a way of life.
So what does Theresa do? Carries the sick away from their homes to die alone and untended in bleak warehouses. They get water and a little food and, obviously, no other nursing or medical care to speak of.
How do I know this, who have never been to Calcutta? Because in the video all the dying people are wearing brown clothes. The garments of a poor Bengali are white. The poor wear brown because their garments have not been washed.
It would cost nothing, but sympathy and work, to bathe the dying and wash their garments. A bit of delousing would cost little more in trouble or money but would ease the discomfort of the dying considerably. One of the things that First World people tend not to realize is how irritated poor people are by the parasites, vermin and skin diseases they spend their lives with.
If Theresa and her pious friends really cared even a little about the sick, they would not dump them in a warehouse to die but would, at least, wash and tend them and perhaps bring a little dignity to the last days of people who were accorded none of that during their working years.
Finally, something was nagging at the back of my head while watching the videos of Theresa hobnobbing with people who were notoriously uninterested in the state of poor people, like the Reagans. Later I realized what it was; Theresa acted just like that other pious fraud from India, Gandhi.
Real problems, unreal solutions.