"As an example of C's utter hostility toward safe development..."
Am I misreading or does this author fail to see any distinction between a. programming language and b. functions in a "standard" library, e.g. gets(), authored by particular C programmers?
The most "secure" programs I have ever seen are written in C. The reason they are so "secure" is not because of the language chosen, but because of the competence of the person who wrote them. He writes his own basic functions and uses very few from the "standard" C library. (Not necessarily "reimplement". He may implement basic functions that have no equivalent in the C "standard" libraries.)
Secure is not in quotes to be "sarcastic". It is because there is always the chance someone will expose a serious flaw in these programs. It is a subjective assessment of security. However it has been roughly 20 years and no one has done so yet.