The 2017 Third Quarter issue of American Atheist magazine has an op-ed by David Silverman condemning bigotry, and rejecting white supremacism and other kinds of discrimination — it’s a good, powerful, article… but isn’t it’s timing funny, though?
Allow me to elaborate. In his piece, Silverman states:
The current tolerance for bigotry has exposed the fact that although the largest roadblock to equality is religion, not all bigots are religious. Some of them are atheists. If you are an atheist who believes that it is possible to march with Nazis and still be a good person, we don’t want you. If you are an atheist who believes that the white supremacist point of view may sometimes be reasonable, then we don’t want you. If you are an atheist who believes that discrimination because of race, gender, or sexual orientation is sometimes acceptable, then we don’t want you.
We don’t want your membership, we don’t want your money, and we don’t want your support. Your cause is not our cause. American Atheists exists to eliminate bigotry against our community, so we will never tolerate bigotry from our community.
I wholeheartedly agree with the words here… which kind of leads to my main point: why are we reading about this just now? We’ve been denouncing atheist bigots for years now, yet American Atheists has systematically —and complicitly— remained silent when we express our disgust at atheists going after Richard Dawkins just because he is white, or grave-dancing after the suicide of Robin Williams (once again, due to the color of his skin), or celebrating a religiously-motivated terrorist attack because its hostages were “rich privileged coffee sippers“. How’s that for “bigotry from our community”?
Where was Silverman’s rejection of atheists’ bigotry when even daring to criticize the Mohammedan set of ideas (without attacking anyone) warranted the spurious and intellectually dishonest Islamophobia charge? I would’ve thought that pretending Muslims are incapable of being civilized when their faith is under scrutiny and suggesting we should lower the intellectual bar for them would clearly land someone on American Atheists’ “we don’t want your money” camp. Since American Atheists claims to be against discrimination on religious grounds, I would also think they would be more interested in making sure that such an accusation has some kind of evidence backing it up (and no, disguising religious privilege as “punching up” is not evidence). Apparently, I’m wrong.
For years, ‘prominent’ atheists hate-bloggers have been at it, yet we never got a word from Silverman or his team disavowing such a behavior. They were happy looking the other way. In some atheists blogging networks it is standard practice to just say someone is male and/or white, and/or cis-gendered to have a list of insults ensue and consider that a post. What about their money and their support? Is American Atheists happily taking money from this people? If not, why have they remained silent?
If it is true that American Atheists “will never tolerate bigotry from our community”, they have been doing a crappy job for most of the last decade, then.
Rejecting white supremacism and Nazism is great. I just think that’s a low-hanging fruit — both sides of the atheist rift are already against white supremacism and Nazis. Us, for we embrace the Enlightenment values; the Regressive side, for their fascism is a different flavor than the Third Reich scum’s.
And this is not a partisan issue: I am against all kinds of bigotry because I understand that be it right-wing or left-wing, people from a minority group being bigots against people from a majority group or the other way around, bigotry breeds bigotry. Forgive me if I’m skeptical of Silverman’s sincerity, but if you’ve been systematically failing to call out the bigotry inside the community for over seven years, and when you get the chance to address that particular topic, you fail to even mention it, maybe you’re not interested in fighting bigotry at all; and maybe you just seized the moment for scoring cheap, easy points, giving up money and support that were not that massive anyways —there are, after all, not that many Nazi atheists… unlike Regressive atheists, you see—.