@RichardDawkins… We Are Not Allies


This was first posted here on December 18, 2013. I’m reposting it, with a few small additions.

I was 21 when I first realized I was an atheist, and the same age when I told my mom and brother. I told my dad only a few months later, but after I turned 22.

During this period, it was all I was. I was just an atheist. I wasn’t anything else. I lived and breathed atheism, searched for atheists and atheist stuff online, and my antitheism came screaming out like never before. Because I was an antitheist first. Bill Hicks indulged my antitheism long before I realized I didn’t even believe in a higher power or powers. I realized I was an antitheist when I was 16 and started hating authority. It was only natural that I’d abhor religion, while still believing in a living god who’d talk directly to you, without the aid of some pathetic book or middle-man (clergy).

But then I read The God Delusion, and then the Bible. And I was an atheist.

And for years, I was happy with anyone who was an atheist. I didn’t care if they were feminists or misogynists. I didn’t care if they tried to fight patriarchy and rape culture or denied their existence. But I would only fight alongside atheists and I would never fight alongside a theist, because theists were crazy/delusional and faith was a virus… and “The God Delusion” was my bible.

So it’s safe to say I did the whole “critical thinking” thing wrong.

Because the longer I’ve been part of the atheist and skeptic communities, the more I’ve realized how absolutely screwed up that way of thinking is.

In short: atheism is no longer enough. It’s not even essential, anymore. Just because you don’t believe in god doesn’t mean you and I will get along.

And that, right there, is the crux of the issue, now.

There is a phrase that popular atheists have been using that makes me cringe… even moreso because I’ve used it myself in the past:

“Atheists are the last minority it’s still okay to hate.”

The problem with this statement is simple: it’s a lie! Atheists are not the last minority it’s still okay to hate, because if you’re aware of society even a little bit, then you’ll realize that it’s still okay to hate all minorities!

I should probably note now that I’m talking about political minorities, not numbers minorities. I say that because if we go by numbers alone, then straight, white, cis-gendered, able-bodied, Christian, wealthy males are clearly a minority. But when talking about the balance of power, that minority holds the balance of power almost completely in Western Society. So when I say “minority”, I mean political minority, not numbers minority.

It’s still okay to hate anyone on the LGBTQ spectrum, no matter where they might fall. It’s still okay to hate people of color. It’s still okay to hate women. And yes, it’s still okay to hate atheists, as well.

It’s also okay in this country to hate vegans, and Jews, and Muslims, and fat people, and skinny people, and Sikhs, and Hindus, and Buddhists, and people who are physically and/or mentally disabled… in short… bigoted intolerance is still acceptable in western society.

So when people say that atheists are the last minority it’s still okay to hate, it makes me wonder if they’re paying attention… at all.

You see… acceptance of atheists simply isn’t enough for me anymore. I want acceptance of all people, regardless of worldview, race, gender, sexuality, etc. This is why I’m a progressive.

This is why I’m a feminist.

And I’m no longer above working alongside religious people to achieve those goals. Malala Yousafzai is a Muslim. John Fugelsang believes in Jesus. Melissa Harris-Perry is a Unitarian Universalist. bell hooks is very spiritual. Kelly Barnhill is Catholic. Nelson Mandela was a Methodist.

And yet I would rather fight alongside all of them for social justice than Michael Shermer and Penn Jillette and Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris for even just atheism.

I also no longer accept the idea that faith is a delusion. I’m still thinking about the idea that faith is a virus, but if that’s the case, then memes should be considered cultural viruses, as well… in fact, if we’re taking the basic definition of a virus minus the negative baggage, anything you’re taught through education qualifies as a cultural virus. Which sort of makes the term “virus” rather useless. Calling faith a disability of any kind is offensive, but Miri Mogilevsky has already covered this one wonderfully, and since she is always right, you should read what she has to say on it.

For the record, this isn’t “faitheism” or “accomodationism”. I still think religion is a net bad in society and that the entire world would be better off without it. I do think that the idea of a higher power is ridiculous on the face of it. And if they give me the chance (that is, they question my atheism), I will gladly question Malala’s, John’s, Melissa’s, bell hooks’s, and Kelly’s faith. I do not like Christianity (including Mormonism, Catholicism, Quaker, Methodist, Amish, and all other iterations of Jesus-believing faiths) at all. I like Islam even less. I love Judaism as a culture, but hate the religious aspects of it, and I am very critical of Zionism. I’m not even a fan of Hinduism and Buddhism!

And I still hate the bad thinking that can go along with faith, like pseudoscience, alternative medicine, using God as a stop-gap, etc.

I’m also still pretty sure I’d have trouble being married to (or otherwise in a long-term, committed relationship with) a theist… but that’s another blog post for another time (and is actually not as certain as it once was).

So this is not about accomodationism or faitheism in any way, shape, or form. It’s about what matters.

And so we get to the point of this post.

If you do not think bigotry is a problem…

If you are against shining a critical light onto atheist and skeptic communities…

If you think Ayn Rand was a great, or even good, thinker…

If you don’t think harassment of women is a problem…

If you are skeptical of privilege and patriarchy and rape culture…

If you’re first thought when you see a picture of a 15-year-old girl with her new book by Carl Sagan given to her by her deeply religious mom is “tears are nature’s lubricant”, or you would defend someone posting that on the picture with “it was just a joke!”…

If you think making fun of victims of rape because they were raped is even remotely funny…

If you think a woman saying “guys, don’t do that” is the worst thing to ever happen to men ever…

If you think that a lonely hotel elevator at 4:00am in a foreign country is the only possible setting for you to “pick up chicks”…

If you (as a white person) think it’s okay to call a woman of color out because she calls out very clear and very obvious racism, and then try to explain to her why she (someone who has experiences you will never have) is wrong…

If you think that getting a woman so drunk she can’t even consent is not rape…

If you wouldn’t believe a rape victim just because she was drunk…

If you really do think that false rape accusations are so prevalent that it’s helpful to even suggest that a victim is lying…

And in that vein… if you think “innocent until proven guilty” is a legitimate concept outside a court of law…

If you think the free speech clause in the first amendment is a “FREEDOM TO SAY WHATEVER I WANT TO WHOMEVER I WANT WITHOUT FACING THE CONSEQUENCES” clause that applies even to private spaces, such as private blogs (instead of a clause protecting you from government persecution if you happen to dislike the government and thus only protects you in government-owned spaces)…

If you think that men are an oppressed minority who need activists to fight for our rights…

If you’ve managed to replace God with “The Invisible Hand of the Market”, or if you’ve ever used that phrase non-ironically or uncritically…

If you think “no” is just a yes that needs coaxing…

If you think that mansplaining is not a thing…

If you think misandry is equivalent to misogyny…

Another note, here… I do in fact think misandry is a thing, but I think misandry is perpetuated far more by Men’s Rights Activists, Nice GuysTM, and as a side-effect of our patriarchal society, than by feminists… and it is clearly not an institutionalized bigotry like misogyny is…

If you use the term Social Justice Warrior as a derogatory term…

If you are Pro-Life…

If you think people of color can be racist like white people have been and are racist…

If you “don’t get” trans people…

Then I really don’t care how much of an atheist you are. I really don’t care how much you hate religion. I really don’t care how badly you want to see atheists accepted in society.

I have no interest in fighting alongside you for anything… not even for atheism.

So yeah… simply being an atheist isn’t good enough any more. You need to be more than that. You need to be better than that. Or I’m simply not interested in forming an alliance with you.

It really is that simple. I don’t believe that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”, because the enemy of my enemy may in fact be my enemy, as well, and may ultimately stab me in the back. Why should I extend that trust when I have no idea if you’ll extend the same trust to me? You have to prove yourself, first, and if we can’t even agree on basic social justice issues, then we aren’t allies.

Period.

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About Nathan Hevenstone

I hate straight, white, cis-gendered, able-bodied men. I also play guitar and sing, and I'm an atheist and anti-theist. What now?
This entry was posted in Allies, Atheist Bigotry, Bullying, Feminism, Misandry, Misogyny, Religion, Social Justice and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to @RichardDawkins… We Are Not Allies

  1. Arctic says:

    So, any atheist movement that would like your collaboration and all of its members need to have the exact-same political view you have. Well that’s definitely not worth the effort, seriously. Also I don’t agree with 90% of what you consider your ethical maxims, does that make me jerk or a bigot? I don’t think so, maybe you are just being too picky on the issue.

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  3. Tony says:

    I also no longer accept the idea that faith is a delusion

    What made you change your mind on this?

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