The Friendly Atheist – Not So Friendly Guest Blogger

Sometimes an atheist does something bad.

We don’t have a moral high ground. The moral high ground that religious people claim to hold doesn’t exist because in order to have a moral high ground you need to demonstrate that your ethos is the path of least harm.

I am a fan of Hemant’s work. To me he was one of the first non-white atheists I read online. So it is with sadness that I notice this piece from Terry. It’s not bad to begin with but it just pushes some ideas that are distasteful and it’s in the comment section that things get ugly.

It would be unseemly to laugh, wouldn’t it? From the Telegraph:

I can see the draw. It’s black humour.

I come from a culture which has a dark sense of humour. It is best described by Stephen Fry. The British Comic hero seeks to be dignified and fails to do so due to his own flaws or the flaws of others. In some cases this is very dark humour such as the finale of Blackadder where his survival impinges upon convincing everyone that he is mad but then he realises that it’s WW I.

What’s another lunatic in the trenches? They are all crazy fighting over pieces of land. It would be cheaper to just go home and kill a million men every few months…

And we laughed. We laughed because it was laughing at war and death and the sacrifices of millions during WW I. And British Asian culture also gave us the phenomenal Four Lions based on speaking to actual Jihadis and realising that the Jihadi education system is designed to churn out idiots.

So I can see what the attraction is of laughing at a case where 2 Islamic Jihadis accidentally killing someone from their side.

Stories have come out of Afghanistan and Iraq. The majority of Jihadis while undoubtedly brave and driven youung men aren’t all that smart. The system of education that produces them does not create the breadth of thought we associate with ourselves and many a case of “hilarious” self defeating behaviour has been seen. There have been Jihadis who forgot that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction in a terminal way when they fired RPGs indoors (the rocket wash indoors can quickly cause massive burns) or who before going on missions hugged each other a bit too hard detonating their suicide vests. Oh don’t look so smug? How many of us would know that rocket launchers shouldn’t really be used indoors unless they had one of the newer ones?

When Jihadis tried to set fire to Glasgow airport we joked about it. Trying to burn Scots? Listen mates! These are Ginger people going on holiday to Barcelona. That was the plan anyways! or They should have aimed at the Arrivals section. The number of us coming back from the Duty Free with cheap booze and perfume? It would have gone up like fucking Hiroshima. or when we found out that the first thing someone did when one of the Jihadis tried to run away after failing to set fire to a massive concrete structure filled with fire fighting equipment was to kick him in the crotch so hard it broke the man’s patella… people wanted to put the photo up on the road to Glasgow with the caption “Scotland Welcomes Careful Drivers”.

Hell we even had people telling Al-Qaeda not to bring Religious Warfare to Scotland until they had a damn football team.

Basically what it boils down to is “Violent Islamic Jihadis make a mistake! Teee Hee Hee!”. And it is funny. No one’s denying it.

But it’s also sad. It’s also the death of a human being albeit a terrible one. The world won’t change if he lived and it won’t change if he died.

Militant Islamist rebels in Syria linked to al-Qaeda have asked for “understanding and forgiveness” for cutting off and putting on display the wrong man’s head.

They accidentally killed one of their own lads. Whoops. Friendly Beheading… Happens in wars though. I mean how is this any different from Uncle Sam’s finest accidentally shooting more of Uncle Sam’s finest? Hell there is even a little dictim in the army that friendly fire is always more accurate than the enemy.

In a public appearance filmed and posted online, members of Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham [ISIS], one brandishing a knife, held up a bearded head before a crowd in Aleppo. They triumphantly described the execution of what they said was a member of an Iraqi Shia militia fighting for President Bashar al-Assad. It wasn’t, the beheaders soon discovered to their not inconsiderable chagrin. An ISIS spokesman admitted he was Mohammed Fares, an Ahrar commander reported missing some days ago. Ahrar refers to Ahrar al-Sham, a violent Sunni Islamist band of rebels aligned with ISIS. The men responsible for the misdirected noggin-chopping will not have to fear for their souls:

And there is a tendency to look at this and go “Hah! Couldn’t have happened to a more deserving person” but let’s think carefully about it. I don’t think anyone should deserve death for their actions. The sad fact is that sometimes people go to war and need to fight. It is not glorious to fight and die and kill it is a tragedy. It is with a heavy heart you pull the trigger.

[ISIS spokesman Omar] al-Qahtani made reference to a story in which Mohammed saidAllah would forgive a man who killed a believer in error.

Yeah it sounds barbaric to us but remember in Christianity’s absolute view that such accidents are punished by death. Islam merely has people acting upon it’s ideas and concepts without thinking them through. That’s the major problem with the Jihadi mindset. The education is designed to reduce individuality and effectively narrows their range of thinking. They see the view blinkered by the Koran while at the same time calling upon their moderate ancestors as evidence for their enlightenment. A Jihadi may be proud of Ibn Sina or Omar Khayyam and Kabir, but wouldn’t realise that such luminaries would be disappointed at best or disgusted at worst. Ibn Sina hated fundies to the point he claimed that a man is either born with wisdom or faith. Omar Khayyam was pretty close to agnostic and Kabir preached universal love.

Indiscriminate cruelty and slaughter has long been a way of life for these types. I guess I’m supposed to be sad when it becomes a way of death for them too, but for once I’ll nod along in agreement with Jesus, who is said to have stated the inevitability of violence begetting violence pretty succinctly: “He who lives by the sword shall die by the sword.”

This is where things go wrong.

These Types? I am going to assume Jihadis rather than Muslims and give him the benefit of the doubt.

It is a tragedy. To Je Skoda. It is a waste. A terrible waste of potential. The Greatest Victims of Islam are Muslims and no where is it more clear than here. These young men anywhere else would have been something better than violent thugs who kill because they think that’s what is acceptable behaviour. Islam is the mechanism by which their entire world view has been twisted into honour and glory and revenge and death.

It is a waste. It is a total waste of life. I weep for those killed by typhoons or cyclones, imagine how I weep when I know those deaths were created by faith in imaginary beings being used to excuse and control people?

Mohammed Fares was another Islamist boil on the ass of humanity. It’s an unpleasant procedure, but boils need to be lanced. Or beheaded — same thing.

No. Just No.

How can we sit on any high horse when we call for the random deaths of Fundies? Mohammed Fares may have been a total wanker, but know this. If he was sick or dying I would STILL treat him.

It is sad but in some cases we have had to kill people. Sometimes to stop great injustice, sometimes in self defence and sometimes to prevent something bad from happening.

And it is sad. But ultimately Mohammed Fares death means absolutely nothing. In a nation filled with angry men who’s angry lies and angry faith twists the lives of young boys into more angry men the loss of one angry man means nothing. Sure you may save some lives but all that will happen is another angry man will rise up in his place and more lives will be lost.

We are gloating over the death of an absolute no-body. A man who is famous only and only because he died in an ironic way. His actions may have made others suffered but his death changes nothing. It doesn’t help the lives of those in Syria. Duci Novo, Similis Duci Seneci.

But this is where things diverge. The comments section unfortunately shows the problem caused by atheists not knowing anything about Islamic Culture or the Middle East.

We all look like him when we’re wearing these bloody teatowels! (Greta Tells me This Was There Before But Was Removed)

Unlike the hipsters who wear the keffiyah as a scarf.

Tea towels…. Not only is “towelhead” a major racist insult to both Middle Easterners and Sikhs but “they all look alike” is one of the major hallmarks of racism. It unites the appearance of entire ethnicities so it’s easier to tar them all with the same brush and dismiss differences and indeed dehumanises them.

If you cannot tell the difference between people who aren’t pale as the driven snow because they wear a “tea towel” on their head then you clearly are telling the difference between people based on their hair. I know that is not the case and you are either saying that to mock the cultural outfits of a group of people or genuinely don’t know any Arabs.

Also? To point out how blatantly moronic and stupid this is? It’s like saying I cannot tell the difference between white people who decide to wear a tuxedo. Somehow the mere act of wearing similar clothes turns all your faces into pink blobs

It’s really that stupid. If you cannot tell the difference between people of a single ethnicity because all you have in your head is a racist caricature then you got problems.

That’s heading in the right direction….” “thanks for the favor anyway. Now go kill each other again.

Because inter-Islamic war is so helpful at promoting stability and peace and not creating a breeding ground for Jihadi ideology which thrives in lawless anarchy.

Take a few minutes to imagine what these chaps would do with you or your loved ones if they had the chance. Then ask “isn’t it better that there’s now one less?”

There isn’t one less.

No seriously? There is a net rate of growth of the Jihadi ideal. It is a meme. An idea just like any other and  the Jihadis produce more of such. It feeds on anarchy. In a broken down society the simple basics of Jihadi ideology is a source of stability. Don’t do this, Do This. All Will Be Well.

It’s tragic that someone’s died. I may not give a Klansman the time of day but should he get shot I know that I would help him. Because I am BETTER than him. These Jihadis? They are a greater threat to people there than to us.

Man, look at all the lil’ jihadi-apologists crawling out of the woodwork. Very well done, Mr Firma! You’re not doing it right if you’re not upsetting people.

I bet I am one of those.

It is easy to demonise Jihadis. It is easy to portray them as foolish idiots who hate us.

Because what makes a Jihadi is more complex. We think Jihadis would kick dogs, they don’t. They are a ethos of Islam that would not be alien to any society circa 1500s. Their rules are simple and born out of a fundamentalist idea of Islam. They thrive in chaotic places because their ethos does not value the things needed for our complex society but does value the things needed for absolute anarchy. Hence Afghanistan, the NWFP and Somalia and hence their rise the moment there is a political upheaval in an Islamic nation.

They are brave, undoubtedly so. Just because they don’t have the skills of education that we have it would be foolish to assume they have no brains and intelligence created by their own method of education.

In the 1940s a common statement in the USA and UK was “Slap a Jap”. You see we portrayed Japanese People as inferior animals hellbent on violence for little to no reason. We dehumanised them and made them beasts. And one of the most bitter statements against that was from a soldier who was being asked to train new recruits after serving in the Asian theatre.

He mocked a recruit’s parroting of propaganda. He pointed out that if the propaganda was true how on earth did Mandalay and Singapore fall? How did the Philippines, Korea and Vietnam fall to them? How can the Japanese be cowardly yet win and fight with such ferocity? No. We fell for our propaganda and we paid for it. The Japanese soldier fought a war in the jungle with nothing but field arms and bicycles and defeated a super power in Indo-China, Singapore and the Philippines. They fought tanks with nothing but guts and determination and won. The Japanese soldier was fighting on rotten rice and broke the stranglehold of the Empire. And remembering so will save lives.

And if one is to fight them one must respect them. You cannot win a war by underestimating how and why your opponent does something.

And we are like it or not in a war of ideas with Islamic Jihadis. Our ideas are anathema to theirs. We corrupt their youth and they corrupt ours. We show them a world of pretty ladies, laughter and sport. They tell our young men that they are not real Muslims and the only way to be a real proper Muslim is to follow the “fundamentals”. And this is not a war we will win by underestimating them.

Don’t worry, you’re not part of any community that’s worth joining. I do love seeing PZ’s little jihad-suck ups come out to play…

Hmm – just checked. Surprise, surprise, Greta has nothing to say about those murderers in Nairobi. Run along now, run along.


I was one of the responders to terror attacks in India. I know “first hand” about the problem of Jihad. I also was in the UK during the “take back the streets” initiative after the Jihadi murder of Lee Rigby. I helped out in the aftermath of the Hyderabad attacks as I was in the region.

It’s amusing to me. People will claim that I am too “lenient” to Islam. Because I understand what the real problem is and respect other culture enough to understand why some of it happens before I make grand sweeping statements.

There isn’t enough prison space in the entire world to house all the poor tender jihadists that that the bleeding hearts would prefer we lock up instead of helping on their way to martyrdom. These shit bags want to kill every last one of the people advocating for their right to continue their foul lives. Non-believers defending and advocating for these wastes of oxygen is like a Jew defending Nazis. It is especially reprehensible coming from a LGBT people like Greta.

Only if you pull the trigger mate. Only if you can pull the trigger.

Islam is another religion. I don’t think it is real any more than I think that Christianity  or Judaism or Hinduism is real. Must I read every single attack by Jihadis and condemn it? Nairobi? Pakistan? Kashmir? Chechnya? China? How many must I repeatedly  condemn before people will understand that I absolutely despise the Jihadi and fundie Islamic mindset.

But I also recognise the theme. THE people who suffer the most due to Jihadis are Muslims.

See the thing is if a Muslim decided to argue against these people it’s simple. We look like absolute bastards here. We don’t look like the good guys. However should he chose to pick on me? Not only do I show an understanding of Islam beyond the “Hurr! Durr! Towelheads!” group I also recognise differences and look at issues affecting Muslims with a much more open mind. I am so harder to talk to because I can demonstrate why something is bad and have Muslims LISTEN.

Ultimately? There is no such thing as “Islamophobia” or so I am told. But this comes close to it.

We can be so much better. It’s a tragedy, it’s black humour to laugh at it. And that’s fine. However the gloating doesn’t help anyone. It doesn’t make atheists look  like sensible people but like vultures cawing over the deaths of those who we disagree with even if we barely understand them. We went from dark humour to outright gloating.

The thing is, people think these were acceptable targets. The guy who died is a murderer too. Wankers killing wankers. So it’s easy to laugh.

It’s also the problem with Islamic militants. They think they are Saladin and as wise and merciful as him. They are like the Golden Dawn claiming they are as smart as Aristotle and Plato.

But they aren’t. They are horrible violent thugs. And it’s easy to lash out against them. We are so used to seeing us vs them that we don’t realise that there is no them in Syria. That frankly involving yourself in there politically and militarily is in the words of Akbar, a trap.

Violent thug dies, no one cares. The thing is its indicative of the sheer lunacy of politics there. The People’s Liberation Front of Judea really spends more time fighting other groups.

It’s not the politics of war but tribal organisation of small groups fighting anything that comes within reach. The article gloats at the death of a deadly arsehole. But it’s easy to do when you think that this man would have gone on to kill others. And less easy to do when you realise that there are too many men like him. It doesn’t matter that he was killed. It’s not like his death will save lives. It’s not like his death will bring peace. It just means another angry violent man gets to shout noises that make more angry young men.

Of all the mobs I faced down the one that I fear the most are the Islamist militants, they don’t care if they kill doctors. Because to them if the Earth is hell then their paradise is a lot more tempting. There is nothing I can frighten them with. There is no leverage of power. They either don’t care about health or don’t understand it enough to care. Even in Syria I had power to apply and force things my way. But in places like the NWFP? It’s like trying to reason with tigers. Our values are just so different that we fail to understand each other.

A good man has no mercy because he is assured that he is good. That is the problem with the religious warrior.

So when these people die you can’t help feel glad. Because in our minds they are evil doctor killing, massacre having jerks and the world is better for one less.

They are products of environment, culture and religion. Few Muslims in the USA follow the extreme path. In the UK they are more likely to due to environment. Upper middle class vs blue collar. Culture of Syria places an emphasis on honour and valour. Killing baddies solo and violence against slights is par. Islam creates this universal theme of oneness which makes the war in Kashmir as much a problem of Muslims in Bradford as it is for one’s in the Kashmir vale.

We revel in Hitler’s death. We see this man as the same. Dying ironically makes it funny to us.

We may call them cowards but frankly any man who thinks you can fight body armored soldiers with our tech with Enfield rifles or Kalashnikov its brave as fuck. They are willing to take on people who’s technology is so advanced that it may as well be wizardry for all the difference their courage makes.

The less we demonize the Islamist the more we figure out ways to break their stranglehold on populations and the more we can stop the creation of Jihadi.

Cause killing them in distressing numbers doesn’t work. They don’t care about attrition losses. Maybe something else is needed.

And that means not gloating over their friendly fire incident.


  1. Pen says

    Black humour like this:

    In some cases this is very dark humour such as the finale of Blackadder where his survival impinges upon convincing everyone that he is mad but then he realises that it’s WW I

    It’s funny because it’s fiction, even if it’s about something that really happened. The actual biography of a young man living through WWI is a lot less likely to be funny. And the Friendly Atheist piece isn’t funny either, I think you’ve shown why. It’s like putting up a sign on the door saying ‘Haters Welcome Here’. Worse, even if the author does know the difference between jihadis and muslims, it’s doubtful whether all the commenters do. Next thing, they’ll be laughing merrily because some muslim person died in a car crash or something. One less, you know, hahahahaha NOT!

  2. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    They are willing to take on people whose technology is so advanced that it may as well be wizardry for all the difference their courage makes.

    Meltem Muezzinoglu, a captive in the 2008 Mumbai hotel attacks, said this in an interview…

    “We rushed to the bathroom to get some water. […] We drank the water, and automatically, we closed it. [The gunman made a drinking gesture.] Because he saw it, he wanted to do it. But he couldn’t do it. They didn’t know how to use a tap. They are so… so funny, so helpless… and still when you have a gun, you can do anything. Isn’t that interesting.”

  3. Schlumbumbi says

    Why exactly is “killing fundies” a bad thing ?
    And why would it prevent us from having the moral highground ?
    Because killing is always bad ?

    Nope, not really.
    One might argue that you can’t have the moral highground until and unless you kill fundies.
    And I’d sympathise.

  4. Jont Musiteur says

    Schlumbumbi said:

    Why exactly is “killing fundies” a bad thing ?

    Fundies would kill back?

    And why would it prevent us from having the moral highground ?

    We’d be dead too? No moral high ground there, more like real sub ground.

    Because killing is always bad ?

    If the answer isn’t an objective “Yes”, then it’s mostly bad for the family or friends of the deceased. They might be yours.

    Nope, not really.

    Yes really, death is generally regarded as shitty in most cultures. Even those that claim that it’s shittier for some people and not for others. Ok there might be differences in opinion as to who it’s acceptable to murder in cold blood execute in the name of whatever, but does it really make a difference in the end?

    One might argue that you can’t have the moral highground until and unless you kill fundies.

    Indeed. Extra bonus if they kill you back, then you get double the high ground? Hm. Not sure about that. Two wrongs don’t make a right, but can you add or subtract metres of high ground? A fascinating question in ethics. Oh well maybe not that fascinating.

    And I’d sympathise.

    Which raises another interesting question – what if you’re a fundie sympathiser? Not a fundie, but you’re half way there. What’s the rule with that… semi-decapitation?

  5. Holms says

    Schlumbumbi #3
    Why exactly is “killing fundies” a bad thing ?
    And why would it prevent us from having the moral highground ?
    Because killing is always bad ?

    Nope, not really.
    One might argue that you can’t have the moral highground until and unless you kill fundies.
    And I’d sympathise.

    Utterly abysmal reasoning. What is it about a ‘fundie’ that distinguishes them as being different from you? If you believe that morality requires killing, I have news for you: you are one of the fundamentalists you so despise.

  6. Schlumbumbi says

    @Jont Musiteur #4
    I won’t tell you what to be afraid of and what not – but if your fear of retribution is greater than your concern about the well-being of the society you live in, then you won’t be part of the conversation. And you shouldn’t be.

    death is generally regarded as shitty in most cultures

    You forgot the one exception. The fundies. They keep telling us how they yearn to gloriously enter their afterlife. I’d be pleased to lend a helping hand.

    @Holms #5

    What is it about a ‘fundie’ that distinguishes them as being different from you?

    What sets me apart from them ? Oh, I don’t know. But I know who knows. Let’s ask Lee Rigby’s widow. Or let’s ask the few survivors of the Westgate shopping mall blood bath in Kenia. They might offer you a first hint on what sets the fundies apart from normal human beings.

    Look, I understand that your moral relativism confuses you. Again, I sympathise and I’ll make it really simple for you.

    (1) If we have the knowledge and the means to prevent terrorist atrocities from happening in the future, we are morally obliged to.

    (2) That means, if we have specific knowledge of fundies, either abroad or in the midst of our own societies, we must monitor their every activities.

    (3) If – sorry – as soon as they’re becoming active, we’ll grab them and incarcerate them for as long as we like. Or as long as we think they pose a threat, which is really the same after all, meaning indefinetely. We do that because the fundies usually don’t have the common decency to turn themselves in.

    (4) If it’s deemed too dangerous or too costly to arrest them, we’ll just kill them off. That may happen through drone strikes or by sending task force teams to shoot them in their heads, their spines or their testicles. But since they made themselves fair game, the details aren’t all that important.

    If 1-4 go down successfully, we’ve done it right.
    Then we can lean back and enjoy the day, knowing we’ve made this world a better place.

  7. Jont Musiteur says

    You know Schlumbi, I thought you were making some heavy-handed attempt at humour or trying to get a controversial discussion going for the sake of it. It actually seems you’re serious with this.

    (Not in chronological order:)

    I won’t tell you what to be afraid of and what not

    It’s not fear, it’s straightforward common sense.

    but if your fear of retribution is greater than your concern about the well-being of the society you live in

    A society with fundies is one thing, a society with fundies killing each other might be construed as a step in the wrong direction, and probably less than conducive to achieving any solution except death and total annihilation of one side or the other, and even that won’t succeed. It isn’t a computer game where the enemy just does its job and dies without replacement.

    then you won’t be part of the conversation. And you shouldn’t be.

    Who decides that? The people who decide who are infidels fundies and deserve to die maybe? I wouldn’t trust your (or anyone’s) decision on questions like that. Though I must commend you on toning it down from killing to silencing, that’s very civil of you. Problem is, things don’t work out that way.

    Let’s ask Lee Rigby’s widow. Or let’s ask the few survivors of the Westgate shopping mall blood bath in Kenia. They might offer you a first hint on what sets the fundies apart from normal human beings.

    If it’s deemed too dangerous or too costly to arrest them, we’ll just kill them off.

    You don’t get the irony of what you’re saying, do you? But ok, even looking at it from the practical side, you can’t “just kill them off”…. unless of course you’re advocating some kind of Endlösung. I don’t think you’ll find may members of “we” for that.

    If 1-4 go down successfully, we’ve done it right.

    No sign of it working so far, in fact it’s the exact reverse. See it’s really, really simple – you kill them, you generate yet more fundies that want to kill you back.

    [Me: death is generally regarded as shitty in most cultures]
    You forgot the one exception. The fundies.

    And you’re saying we should be just like them. No moral relativism there – unless death is somehow relative to you.

  8. Schlumbumbi says

    @Jont Musiteur #7

    The last century has a few good lessons available. Unfortunately, some of us are wired to make the same mistakes over and over again, some out of naivety, some out of fear.

    (1) Appeasement kills.
    Fundies are fuelled by their ideology. They don’t want to get along, they want to win. The more swiftly we pull the plug on these fascist freaks, the less people will die in the process. I will support every decision that keeps our casualties low and increase theirs by any magnitude achievable. Apparently, militaries and agencies around the world are getting better and better at locating and targeting these folks. Dead terrorists are good news. The more, the better.

    Furthermore, and in opposite to folks like you, I will support calling out people who are in the process of getting sucked into fundamentalism as early and clearly as possible. You feel comfy in calling out people like me for racism, I prefer raising awareness and saving their lifes in the process as well. With friends like you, they don’t need any enemies.

    (2) Violence is a neccessity for peace.
    You say that violence will always cause more violence. I understand that you need to perpetuate that myth, because it excuses your reluctance to take a stand.

    However, if it were actually true, the western part of the world wouldn’t look like it does today. Only by utterly defeating Germany and Japan, and by destroying the fascist ideology that fuelled them, a path to peace had finally opened up. That’s why these 2 countries were quickly able to join the “family of nations” again afterwards, without deep going resentments or the desire to retaliate against their former opponents.

    And I don’t have to be a prophet in order to make the following claim:
    Without utterly destroying the ideology of radical Islam, from the outside and from within, there will be no peace with these people. Ever.

    The lamest thing about your reply by far, is simply this:

    For reasons you have to deal with yourself, you seem unable, or unwilling, to provide an answer to the moral questions involved, or at least say what you want to do, or see being done, in order to combat the religious violence that has already reached our own doorsteps.

    At the danger of repeating myself:
    Unless and until you come up with your own answers to these questions, you will not be a part of the conversation. Not because we will shut you up, but simply because you have nothing to say.

  9. Jont Musiteur says

    You know, when you gain a little bit of real life experience, you might realise that life is a bit more complicated than building up fantasy armies in which you are some kind of fantasy dictator-general or something fighting some fantasy war against a fantasy enemy army. I know I’m speculating here, but I think you might have been playing too many WoW-type computer games. You might want to get out a little more, get involved in real-life projects and try to make a difference there.

    I wish you the best of luck anyway.

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