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Calling out Racism on the RDF site

The following is a letter from Winterwind, a reader who recently submitted a response about his experiences at the RDF:

By Winterwind

I was a regular lurker and sometime commenter at RDF for several years. I stopped visiting the site two years ago and have never looked back. It was the best decision I have ever made, to leave that stinking cyber dungheap.

I regret leaving because it was a great place to read some interesting scientific articles and hear some very intelligent commentary. However, as time progressed, the most vocal commenters began to toxify the environment with their unchecked bullshit and privilege. They insisted that feminists, anti-racists and so on were just woolly-headed irrational thinkers, because sexism and racism no longer exist in the glorious West (such maladies only exist in backward countries populated by brown people with Arabic names, see Professor Dawkins’ “Dear Muslima”).

Sadly, the most vocal members of the RDF community are spoilt white heterosexual man-children who really belong on a site like 4chan, but instead wrap themselves in the mantle of rationality and skepticism to bash and disregard the experiences of people from minority communities.

Several times I saw threads in which Skeptical Dudebros announced that feminism was just another baseless religion, because sexism no longer existed in the West or was greatly exaggerated. While they could understand women in foreign (read: Muslim) countries being feminists, American and European women already had the right to vote and own property! That proves there’s no such thing as sexism, so American women are just whiny irrational bitches. And why do we need to attract more women? I don’t even see gender! All our leaders are men because they’re just better than women are, based on merit. (Gee, I wonder why women are underrepresented in the atheist community. I guess women are just less rational than men. It has nothing to do with the fact that the most vocal members of the atheist community are basically a nerdy old boys’ club.)

I saw similar threads in which White Skepticdudes declared that it was an empirical fact that racism no longer existed in the West – after all, black people aren’t lynched any more, and Barack Obama is president – so therefore there was no need for “Black Skeptics” or anti-racism or whatever. In fact, black people are the ones who are racist for wanting special “Black Skeptics” groups to themselves! White Skeptics don’t even see race, that’s how progressive they are! Racism doesn’t exist, it’s all in our imaginations, and if we just stop talking about it, it’ll magically go away. People who bring up racism are the racist ones. (Gee, I wonder why people of colour are underrepresented in the atheist community. I guess minorities just lack the brainpower to be skeptical. How sad.)

It must be nice to pretend racism doesn’t exist. It’s a bit harder for me, because when I was at school (just a few years ago) I had people calling me “black bastard”, “nigger”, “curry”, “Gandhi” at least once a week. Some of them bashed me. Perhaps they hadn’t yet received the memo that racism doesn’t exist any more?

Whenever I go out, even just down to the shops, I try to make sure my hair is neatly combed, I’ve shaved and I’m wearing nice clothes. Because if I don’t shave, or my hair is messy or I’m wearing scruffy or “low class” clothes, people assume I’m a terrorist or gangster or shoplifter because of my skin colour. Even when I look nice, the staff follow me around the shop anyway.

“Where are you from?”
“Australia.”
“No, where are you really from?”

“Wow, your English is so good! You’re always so quiet, I just assumed… ”
(Apparently only foreign people are quiet and keep to themselves?)

“In order to apply for this position, you need very good English skills…”
“I have very good English skills. I won prizes in school.”
“Oh! Well, Mr… uh… I can’t pronounce your name, so I’ll just call you Kevin.”
“WTF????”

“Are you a refugee?”
“Sadly, there is no refuge from stupidity.”

I waited for somebody to call these idiots out on RDF, but they never did. So I had to do it myself. And whenever I tried to say that, you know, maybe racism does exist, and some people don’t see it because they have the privilege of belonging to the majority, I was attacked for being irrational and hysterical. And suddenly I was now the racist one, for suggesting that white people in the West might not understand institutional racism because they don’t experience it directly and in-your-face the way the rest of us do.

From his own writings, Professor Dawkins shares many of these retrograde views. Quite apart from the whole “Dear Muslima” crap, in The Ancestor’s Tale he expressed astonishment that we call people “black” even though they might have quite light complexions. Apparently no one bothered to explain to him that black, like African American, is a community, a culture, an identity, not a simple description of skin colour. He also couldn’t understand why a black person descended from slaves might be upset to find out that his Y chromosome came from Europe. (Hint: think about how that Y chromosome ended up in his genome. I’d be upset to learn that my great-grandmother was probably repeatedly raped by the man who owned her like an animal).

I realised that sticking around and trying to improve the site was a waste of my time. It had degenerated into a bunch of privileged dudes having an intellectual circle-jerk over how they were more rational than everyone else, especially dirty Muslims, women and brown people. They insisted that religion was the most evil thing in the world. Was that really true, I wondered? Personally, I have been hurt much more by racist people than by religious people. If they’re going to fight against one but not the other, are they really making the world a better place? And what about other issues like sexism, homophobia, ableism, transphobia, poverty, social injustice… the list goes on. If you’re going to fight against religion claiming that it’s evil, but pretend every other bad thing doesn’t exist, and even actively engage in racism and misogyny yourselves, then why the fuck am I even on this website?

I have better things to do with my life than trying to argue against a tsunami of stupidity, my lone voice drowned out by a hundred “rational” others. There are other sites on the internet (like Freethought Blogs) where you can learn about science, read intelligent commentary and spend time with like-minded people without being subjected to puerile xenophobic idiocy.

(Note to anyone who wishes the atheist or skeptical communities were more inclusive. Look at RDF.net and do exactly the opposite. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that your experiences are the only correct, rational ones. Don’t drive people of minority backgrounds away by refusing to listen to them and making them feel unwelcome. Be open-minded and willing to learn from your fellow human beings. If you’re not willing to do that, then organised atheism will always be a bastion of rich, white, straight dudes who pat themselves on the back for being better than everyone else, and wonder why no one wants to join them. Freethought Blogs is a very good counterexample. There’s a range of voices from different backgrounds, and I feel more welcome here.)

 

Comments

  1. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    I left RDF after having an argument with a Dudebro about feminism. He literally asked me why, if I were a man, I was concerned about women. And nobody stepped in to tell him why, even though several people made posts before I replied to him. I noticed similar attitudes towards racism and homophobia. So I just dropped out. Incidentally this was long before “Dear Muslima”.

    • Brownian says

      It wasn’t until Elevatorgate that I became conscious of it, but I never felt I had anything in common with the people there. Looking back on it, it was all the white dudebros (and the particularly humourless ones at that). I may be a white dude, but I’m way too smart to insist racism and sexism don’t exist just because it would make me more comfortable to believe that.

      • ash says

        Funny. I haven’t given the RDF a thought in ages. It used to be my only regular go to site. I wasn’t aware of the racist crap going on over there, although I was aware of the misogynistic bent they had recently taken on. I just quietly lost interest in RDF and moved over to pharyngula and now FTB in general. Bigotry aside, it’s just not that great a site.

    • says

      “He literally asked me why, if I were a man, I was concerned about women”
      Really? I dunno, because I’m married to one, descended from several, related to many, and friends with a bunch of women and I care about what’s important to them because yknow, I’m not a sociopath?

  2. says

    Based on a quick search for “racism” and “affirmative action” at the http://richarddawkins.net discussion section, I came up with the following examples; hopefully they may be of use.

    http://richarddawkins.net/discussions/514336-evolution-and-racism :

    I’m very glad that racism is socially unacceptable, it’s a good thing. I don’t like the “positive discrimination” measures that are introduced to “balance out” discrimination though – they’re ridiculous and I am pretty sure that most non-white people would rather they didn’t exist.

    http://richarddawkins.net/discussions/575389-racism-and-religion/comments?page=2#comment_577622 :

    If you look at the work of the Human Genome Project, you’ll see the problem. No sharp definitions, more a kind of diffusion between population groups. If you take the term “Caucasion”, which has basically become a popular definition of “white” people, the term covers people from East India, North Africa, and all of Europe, and of course, the “Middle East” and Israel. Are “Anglo-Saxons a “race”..? Are they a different “Race” to Celts..? All you can really say with any accuracy, is that there is a tremendous amount of variation within any population group, but that notions of “race” are really more social constructs, than scientifically verifiable genetic differences. There’s really no such thing as “racial purity”, no “pedigrees”, though some right-wing, nationalist ‘types’ may claim differently, it certainly wouldn’t stand up to scientific scrutiny. Just my opinion…

    http://richarddawkins.net/articles/3558-school-can-expel-lesbian-students-court-rules/comments?page=24#comment_316532

    How do you know that the “preferential” treatment given by each race to its own does not compensate for this in other cultures? Isn’t the nett effect on employment theoretically the same?

    (Note that this commenter was roundly attacked by many others for this view.)

    • Anon says

      So, one person celebrating the fact that racism is no longer acceptable while questioning the wisdom of affirmative action policies, a second pretty accurately stating the scientific consensus that little genetic basis for the social construction of “race” can be found, and a third making a somewhat tone-deaf assertion for which you concede he was vigorously criticized? Not really seeing the invidious racism here.

      • Tim Groc says

        Indeed, Tom.

        The claims of Winterwind have pretty much blown away with the tumbleweed, not unless you want to recategorise the “examples” alongside other examples from Pharyngula, Skepchick, etc.

        BTW Tom, Jesse is being sarcastic. His examples obviously undermine Winterwind’s claims.

        That’s why PZ, Ophelia, Greta and some of the big bloggers have not commented on this. Perhaps they should, since calling out false claims is what they are big on.

        • says

          BTW Tom, Jesse is being sarcastic.

          No, actually I’m not. And I don’t want to be mistaken for taking your side in this, Mr. Groc.

          His examples obviously undermine Winterwind’s claims.

          The examples that I’ve been able to find so far do fail to support Winterwind’s claims — but they are the most problematic I have been able to find. I am NOT claiming that Winterwind (and the many others who’ve made similar claims) did not experience what they are claiming to have read.

          In closing, I once again ask for help in searching through the archives of http://richarddawkins.net/ . Lets find the threads that people are talking about, and expose them to the light of day.

          • says

            Well let’s hope that someone comes up with plenty of evidence very soon, because at the moment this article is rather slanderous.

          • Tim Groc says

            What “side” is that? The “side” that is interested in evidence, you mean. Disappointing comment from a skeptic, that! It is something you get from the playground.

            All I am interested in is the truth. I also want to know if you are going to crawl through Pharyngula and Skepchick (to name just two) to find comments that have vague connections to racism. Perhaps you could find someone who had a rough time on their threads and get them to write a letter about how they faced racism/sexism/homophobia, etc. Actual evidence is not required – don’t worry.

            All of your examples so far seemed like sarcastic parodies to me. All of your examples are comparable to comments on sites such as Pharyngula and Skepchick.

            The fact that no evidence has been produced is probably a good reason why PZ, Ophelia and some of other big bloggers have avoided mentioning it. A black mark against those that fell for it.

            Regards.

    • says

      Thanks. I’m from Sydney. You’re a Canberran? I’ve been to your city a few times, most recently to see the Renaissance art exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia. It was very posh and there were lots of Virgin Maries and Baby Jesuses (in the exhibition, I mean, not Canberra in general). I liked Canberra even if your city was designed by a disturbed architect who was driven mad by his chthonic obsession with circles.

      I probably won’t be at the GAC because I’ve got a lot of personal stuff keeping me busy, but I’ll see how it goes.

      • says

        Yeah, I’m in Canberra. GAC seems to be pretty much sold out except for Sunday balcony tix, so if you haven’t got a ticket by now, don’t bother.

        You do get used to the circles. Or maybe I mean assimilated.

      • Kylie Sturgess says

        Darn, it would have been nice to have met you – if you do change your mind, there’s tickets going on the Atheist Foundation of Australia’s forum board by people who can no longer go.

  3. mynameischeese says

    “you know, maybe racism does exist, and some people don’t see it because they have the privilege of belonging to the majority”

    See, I don’t get why people wouldn’t see it. They don’t have to experience it themselves, in my opinion, to see it as it’s purely scientific. Look at the percentage of black people in the American population (or whichever country you’re in). Now check the percentage of black people in congress. Is there a match? No. Well, then there’s a problem.

    Maybe it’s easier to do it with women and feminism since there’s a near 50-50 split? Ok. Are 50% of congressmen women? No. Problem.

    Now compare wages between white men and white women. Match? No. Problem. Then compare wages between white men and black men. Match? No. Problem.

    Check prison populations against the general population. Look at the make-up of people living in poverty. Break down the numbers for who has access to third level education.

    Repeat with other groups. This is how empiricism works, right?

    • Josh Benton says

      I disagree in that all this sort of method would tell us is that there is a disparity in the numbers. It simply isn’t sufficient to tell us why. Is it more likely than not that the why is problematic? Yes, but in and of itself it does nothing but give us numbers, and it is impressively easy to rationalize those numbers away.

      Self-delusion is always easier than self-reflection, particularly if the things we’d see in that reflection aren’t very flattering. This is true even if we try and be aware of these things. I still have moments where I have to go back and ask myself if I think a certain thing because I’ve evaluated everything I know and arrived at the best conclusion, or because I’m relying on unquestioned assumptions and conditioning that I might not even have been aware of.

      • mynameischeese says

        Yes, but it’s the first step in telling you that you have a problem. If you’re starting from the premise that we live in a meritocracy and that’s everyone’s equal, then the statistical evidence contradicts that as you’d expect a closer correlation if we did live in a meritocracy.

        So then you must explore options.

        1. Girls don’t like math. Black people are just better at basketball than science. And in late 19th century, early 20th century, there were plenty of people trying their damnedest to come up with some scientific evidence that supports such ideas. And they failed.

        Or

        2. We don’t actually live in an equal society. Now we have to look at history and try and figure out why.

        • Josh Benton says

          No, as I said, it might indicate to some people that there is a problem. People who are part of the problem can and will rationalize away each and every statistic you put before them. I have watched it happen.

          For that matter the “science” that proves racism is still alive, well, and firmly-embraced by some folks. It didn’t disappear simply because scientists finally stood up and said, “No, this isn’t actual science,” or because in most quarters that kind of overt racism is no longer considered a socially acceptable position to take. Even the gentleman we usually credit with the creation of logic, and the man for whom logic was to be the guide for all our virtues, being Aristotle and Kent, respectively, were giant bloody racists.

          As I said, it’s easy for people to rationalize away direct evidence that they are behaving in a racist/sexist/heterosexist/etc. fashion; simply waving numbers around will generally have about the strength of a fart in a whirlwind.

          Is having those numbers good? Yes, but not because it is likely these numbers will convince people who are part of the problem that their thinking is illogical; rather, they are useful for those who are aware there is a problem and want to do something.

          • mynameischeese says

            Ok. But is my logic wrong? Or is it simply unconvinving to people who don’t want to see it?

            That’s an important distinction to make.

          • Josh Benton says

            Overall your logic is fine. The flaw is in the premise, “when confronted with these blatant disparities that are most likely indicative of a problem, people who otherwise think rationally will realize that they are wrong and these things are a problem.”

            I think there’s more than enough evidence to suggest that by and large people who don’t want to hear the message/confront their own behavior aren’t going to be convinced by whatever numbers you present.

          • Enkidum says

            How was Aristotle racist? Genuinely curious – I don’t recall him saying anything about race at all, though I certainly haven’t read half of what he wrote.

          • Josh Benton says

            His stance on slavery. Unlike Plato, Aristotle didn’t skirt the issue. He felt slavery was perfectly acceptable as long as the slaves weren’t Greeks. You’ll sometimes hear philosophers try to justify how slavery was “different” for the Greeks. Maybe it was, but Aristotle’s reasons for why slavery was okay by him is one of the justifications we’d see later on down the road – non-Greeks weren’t rational in the same way that Greeks were rational, and thus weren’t human in the same way that Greeks were human.

          • NSherrard says

            That is a pretty simplistic view of Aristotle’s position on slavery. Those crazy philosophers, who actually study this stuff for a living, are not just trying to make excuses for the blinkered ancients. Slavery was, not maybe, but in fact different 2,500 years ago. Aristotle did not say Greeks are rational and barbarians are not. He said that Greeks tend to hold that opinion, which is a rather different statement than the one you attributed to him, and I imagine it was quite true when he said it. Nor did he say anything like “slavery is acceptable as long as the slaves are not Greeks.”

          • Josh Benton says

            I’m impressed by how entirely wrong you manage to be. Is the entirety of Aristotle’s view more nuanced than I articulated? Yes. But let’s go with an excerpt from the IEP entry:

            – Remember that in his discussion of the household, Aristotle has said that slavery serves the interest of both the master and the slave. Now he tells us why: “those who are as different [from other men] as the soul from the body or man from beast – and they are in this state if their work is the use of the body, and if this is the best that can come from them – are slaves by nature….For he is a slave by nature who is capable of belonging to another – which is also why he belongs to another – and who participates in reason only to the extent of perceiving it, but does not have it” (1254b16-23). Notice again the importance of logos – reason and speech. Those who are slaves by nature do not have the full ability to reason. –

            Those who do not have the capacity to reason, which not only included but was largely composed of non-Greeks, were not fully human in the way that Greeks were, because they were not capable of maximizing the unique human virtue of reason. If you don’t like the IEP, you can find much the same on the Oregon State listing.

            You can do all the little songs and dances you like about how the institution itself was different among the Greeks; this does absolutely nothing to change the fact that Aristotle’s justifications for slavery bear a striking resemblance to those the Europeans would use.

    • christaylor says

      I don’t think you or anyone else who points out the mismatches as you’ve done is wrong, but there’s something flawed about the logic.

      Matched percentages of representation do not indicate there’s a problem and neither do mismatched percentages, whether there’s a problem depends on what is causing the mismatch. In many of the examples cited above, the root cause is economic inequality — something that would not be sorted out by any program that attempts to match percentages via mandate.

      • mynameischeese says

        But I’m not making any suggestions about how to fix racism here. I’m merely suggesting that someone who can’t experience racism first-hand can still see scientific evidence for the existence of racism in a population.

    • Sapere Aude says

      Exactly!

      Part of the reason why it’s so infuriating to listen to the “racism/sexism doesn’t exist,” crowd is that they so often claim the mantle of rationality in their defense when mountains of empirical evidence suggest their conclusions are anything but based on a logical analysis of the data.

      I know most of us have our blind spots, as our brains are prone to all manner of fallacious thinking. Still, it’s super frustrating to see self-identified skeptics being so dense about important aspects of our cultural and political environments.

      • mynameischeese says

        I often wonder if people have not seen the numbers, or if they have seen the numbers and don’t they indicate a problem? Or if they just don’t understand basic statistics?

        Sometimes I get the feeling that people don’t understand basic statistics and that they need to see pie charts and graphs. Because no matter what you’re arguing, as soon as you throw in a statistic of any kind (30% of patients with _____ disease die in 2 months), there’s always that one guy who’s like, “But my grandma had ______ disease and she lived for 6 months!” As if that totally blows up the stastic, you know?

    • says

      I agree wholeheartedly. Anyone who can look at the UK cabinet (as an example) with its 19/4 male/female split (and almost entirely rich & white too) and say that sexism doesn’t exist in the west is in no way rational.

    • Lola O. says

      I wish it did work logically that way for some people, but unfortunately I think when white people broach the topic of racism, there’s so much guilt mixed with a determination to believe that THEY aren’t racist, that they’d rather spend the time arguing that since they aren’t racist, they’re not to blame for it.

    • geeboo says

      Now see, I find your reasoning flawed…not for the reasons you might think, mind…but flawed all the same.

      Using your measure of male/female split, for example…I could thus expect to see just as many females as males in the company I work for. Wrong. It’s mostly females, especially in the higher paid, more influential jobs.

      Does this break your model? Unfortunately, yes.

      To further confound things, the majority of the people in that same job sector that I employ are gay. Dang.

      My point? I agree that there is institutionalised pre-selection going on…but there always will be, in anything, about anything. If you try to be so simplistic as to use statistics, you’ll quickly be beaten down, like I just did to you.

      It could actually be the case that from all the people who applied themselves to a certain thing, it was a majority of men, or gays, or black people, that did it the right way. Don’t assume that comparative numbers are a good representation, because they’re really not.

    • sunburned says

      It could be that there are complex social/economical issues at play from thousands of years of disadvantage.

      But pointing the finger at institutionalized racism/sexism sounds like a much cleaner approach, not too mention a great way to get rid of all hose pesky sociologists.

      • mynameischeese says

        “thousands of years of disadvantage”

        I assume you’re referring to sexism here. So there’s a way for women to spend thousands of years in a state of economic disadvantage without sexism coming into play? Fascinating. Tell me more about how this would happen.

    • Dave says

      “Now compare wages between white men and white women. Match? No. Problem. Then compare wages between white men and black men. Match? No. Problem.”

      Err, shouldn’t it be, compare the wages of white women working in the exact same positions of the same fields as white men to see if gender discrimination exists? As it so happens, women apply for very different jobs than men on average, are more likely to work part time, less likely to leave a given job (and therefor hurt their promotion opportunity). As it so happens, a smaller % of women complete degrees (especially higher degrees) in the math or physics heavy sciences which pay notably more than their counterparts. These statistics cannot be called job discrimination owning to them being a result of choices women make. Maybe they can be blamed on Americans’ attitudes in regards to gender role—parents not emphasizing math and science education for their daughters as they do for their sons, etc.—but all of these are the result of choices women make differently than men.

      Shouldn’t it also be, compare the % of black persons who run for congress in a given precinct and are elected, versus the % of white persons who run for congress and are elected… of course, even then it could be the disagreement of views between your average black and white congressman that drives a difference in how often they get elected for that given precinct. Using statistics in this way becomes very complicated.

      The way you used statistics above is seriously flawed when it comes to deriving conclusions. It does not mean that actual racism or sexism is not an influence in either case, just that we cannot use such broad statistics to come to any conclusion.

      • mynameischeese says

        “shouldn’t it be, compare the wages of white women working in the exact same positions of the same fields as white men to see if gender discrimination exists?”

        I’ve actually looked at those statistics as well. You obviously haven’t or you’d know what they say: That men are paid more for doing the same jobs. Next you’ll suggest that men are better qualified, but no. I’ve looked at those statistics as well. Men and women with the same education and qualifications stil show up a disparity as far as wages.

        “As it so happens, women apply for very different jobs than men on average”

        You know that this isn’t an argument against sexism, right?

        “are more likely to work part time”

        When you control for women who work part time (and other factors), there is still a wage gap.

        “As it so happens, a smaller % of women complete degrees (especially higher degrees) in the math or physics heavy sciences which pay notably more than their counterparts.”

        Again, you can control for this. Just look at the women who complete degrees and compare their wages to men who complete degrees. Bad news: there’s still a wage gap. I even linked to a chart above that shows the breakdown by degree level and subject area.

        “These statistics cannot be called job discrimination owning to them being a result of choices women make.”

        Dumb.

        “Maybe they can be blamed on Americans’ attitudes in regards to gender role—parents not emphasizing math and science education for their daughters as they do for their sons”

        Um. Policing gender roles is sexist. You’re supposed to be arguing against institutionalised sexism here?

        “but all of these are the result of choices women make differently than men.”

        Oh my god. Is it too much to ask that you’d just read the wiki article on feminism? Browse a few sociology articles? A little cursory research?

        “Shouldn’t it also be, compare the % of black persons who run for congress in a given precinct and are elected, versus the % of white persons who run for congress and are elected”

        No. Unless you want to argue that black people are never deterred from running for office by racism? Or if you want to argue that black people have a gene that makes them like being under-represented in politics?

        “even then it could be the disagreement of views between your average black and white congressman that drives a difference in how often they get elected for that given precinct”

        I bet this is the case. As a matter of fact, I bet the black candidates are more likely to dislike institutionalised racism. What do you think?

        “Using statistics in this way becomes very complicated.”

        Statistics are complicated. But you know what’s even more complicated? Trying to cherrypick them and manipulate them so you can deny that racism and sexism impact people’s lives. It’s especially complicated with these issues because the evidence for institutionalised racism and sexism is so overwhelming. You really have to work hard to be a denialist.

        • Dave says

          “But you know what’s even more complicated? Trying to cherrypick them and manipulate them so you can deny that racism and sexism impact people’s lives.”
          Luckily I haven’t done any such thing. I was pointing out that the statistic that was provided was useless for coming to any conclusion about job discrimination. You are welcome to post specific ones which do, providing the numbers and sources for them, if you wish. When statistics like the one above are used however, it merely makes these boards look as ignorant as the ones who claim that sexism or racism do not exist.

          • mynameischeese says

            First of all, I posted statistics (if you look above in one my other comments). Granted, I only posted one set of statistics (which show the breakdown of wage differences between men and women by degree level and subject area). However, you made a lot of claims in your post while trying to mansplain away sexism and racism and you linked to exacty ZERO statistics.

            Which is good a thing because the evidence, if you bothered to go looking for it, contradicts your claims.

            Also, complaining that I didn’t do your work for you and look up more statics does not negate the face that you don’t even seem to know what sexism is or what racism is. Like, if you don’t know that people discouraging their daughters when it comes to math and science is the result of sexism, you have a lot of reading to do. And if you think that black people just don’t have an interest in politics, then you have a lot of reading to do.

          • Dave says

            Sorry, I did not have time to read the 10+ responses before and missed your link. My question to you is, sources? All I see is a page claiming different numbers than the ones I have seen, which has clearly been cut out of its context, lacks any citations, and does not go into specific details beyond the category of work and degree (i.e. does not compare for half of the things you and I mentioned in previous posts).

          • mynameischeese says

            You first, hypocrite. You made a lot of claims in your post about women being paid less just because there’s a chance they might have children or about how black people don’t do well at the polls simply because they have different opinions on the issues. Where are your sources?

            I’m not going to do the work for you. Pick up a hundred level sociology textbook and find out what racism and sexism are, first of all, since you don’t seem to know. Then, if you really are a skeptic and not just pretending to be a free-thinker, ask yourself, “Are women paid less than men? Why? Can you control for certain factors in the statistics?”

          • Dave says

            “does not negate the face that you don’t even seem to know what sexism is or what racism is. Like, if you don’t know that people discouraging their daughters when it comes to math and science is the result of sexism, you have a lot of reading to do. …”
            Please stop coming to egregious conclusions about what I “don’t even seem to know” by making more out of my comments than actually appears in text.

            I did not say that no sexism could be implied from people “people discouraging their daughters when it comes to math and science” (or at least not encouraging), rather my original comment was in response to using “Now compare wages between white men and white women. Match? No. Problem. Then compare wages between white men and black men. Match? No. Problem.” as a broad statement. A difference in wages implies absolutely nothing, as opposed to a break down of very strict statistics… that is what I and other posters responding to you are saying… that any critical thinker coming onto this board and seeing a post like that should blanch at finding such a thing in response to an article calling for more critical thinking.

            On the topic, it just so happens that, being surrounded by more conservative women who are very into the “mom” thing, I’ve seen many of them choose more flexible jobs and education paths related to those jobs even though the men in the family have encouraged them to pursue degrees in science. Personally, I intend to encourage my own daughters towards math and science (particularly physics) due to my own bias in study and career choice, and since the only women I meet at school are physics, engineering and computer science majors. I also have no problem being a stay at home dad… In any case, I’m not crazy enough to tell my female relatives that picking their careers with consideration to their family lives was them being sexist or the victims of sexism, even though I think outdated religious views in regards to gender roles have influenced their decisions.

            “And if you think that black people just don’t have an interest in politics”
            …also was not implied. Rather I was responding to your blanket statistic “Now check the percentage of black people in congress. Is there a match? No. Well, then there’s a problem” which can not lead us to any specific conclusions or any productive solutions at all. Personally I, being white, will vote for Barrack Obama over any conservative candidate any day of the week. However, despite the fact that there are certainly plenty of people who would let his appearance (i.e. race) influence their choice in vote… there are plenty of people (i.e. some of my Fox news watching nutcase relatives) who really just do not like left wing policies, and would gladly vote for any black conservative (i.e. Herman Cain) versus say, Al Gore, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, etc. In other words, numbers in this context are useless owing to the vast majority of black candidates for any political position having left wing views when most white Americans are more towards the middle or right wing. An example of a more useful statistic would be: After Hillary Clinton dropped from the presidential race, in straw polls a large part of her following changed their votes to John McCain who professed diametrically opposing policies on virtually every topic, instead of Barrack Obama who professed very similar policies to Hillary.

          • mynameischeese says

            “A difference in wages implies absolutely nothing”

            Actually it does imply something. Either there is some sort of biological difference between men and women; or between white men and black men; that causes them to earn less/work different jobs. Or there is a cultural issue at play that causes different genders/races to work different jobs/be paid less. Either way, this is NOT nothing. If you don’t grasp this very simple thing, you’re not a critical thinker so stop kidding yourself.

            “as opposed to a break down of very strict statistics… that is what I and other posters responding to you are saying…”

            No, most of the other posters agreed that a disparity in wages between groups (and political under-representation, and tendency to live in poverty) were indications of a problem with a society. Most of them arguing with me disagreed with the fact that people would see evidence for sexism and racism when confronted by the statistical evidence. So I guess those people were right; people like you will keep your blinders on at all costs.

            And you’re blaiming a lack of women in science and math (and diregarding the wage gap between women who do complete degrees in these fields) on conservative *women*! Wow, thanks for bringing yet more sexism to the table.

            Seriously, go onto Amazon and purchase a hundred level sociology textbook. You can get one used cheap clearly you need it.

          • Dave says

            “biological difference between men and women; or …”

            As a matter of fact there are biological differences between men and women, especially related to relationships, assertiveness, etc. Unfortunately, the specifics of differences between genders caused by biology and how much these can be overridden by say, education or culture, and how much these influence women’s behavior compared to other factors is impossible to break down.

            “And you’re blaiming a lack of women in science and math (and diregarding the wage gap between women who do complete degrees in these fields) on conservative *women*! Wow, thanks for bringing yet more sexism to the table.” [sic]
            +
            “Or there is a cultural issue at play that causes different genders/races to work different jobs/be paid less”

            By cultural, you mean like, being a conservative, bible believing christian… exactly what I was implying? Does this mean that you blame conservative women and are sexist? Its interesting that I said I would not accuse women of a certain culture of being sexist, and you somehow use this to imply that I was accusing women, while including the same possible conclusion (that culture has an influence) in your own post. Its like you’re determined to be accusatory toward me.

            “Seriously, go onto Amazon and purchase a hundred level sociology textbook.”

            Took Socio 100 a long time ago. Unfortunately sociology professors are not economists and often (poorly) choose different sources for statistics than say, an economist writing a book and citing research on the subject of economics (i.e. studies on wage gaps, which I’ve read multiple of, as well). Its weird that in response to complaints about a lack of critical thinking you would suggest a Jr. level textbook for a soft science practiced by people which often choose poor sources of information to support their view points (i.e. studies that receive criticism from economists and conflict with the results of multiple other studies) on topics they are not educated in. When you posted the image link of a statistical break down you had the right idea, but for some reason chose information which came with no source, no methodology (and therefor no information about what was being controlled for how), or even if it was piss poor chosen by a professor who themselves had no economics background and a bias towards which sources they choose that was not based on sound method and the repeated confirmatory results of other studies.

            I also find it interesting that you called me a hypocrite for asking for evidence as though the burden of proof was on myself or the other complaining poster when you started with a claim about a difference in wages or elections, followed by the for-mentioned unhelpful evidence… on a skeptic’s blog, no less.

            I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’ll just do us both a favor and unsubscribe. I won’t draw any conclusions about the blog’s community as a whole, but communicating with you, for me, brings to mind the authors complaint about a lack of understanding of skepticism… even if you are arguing what seems to be an opposite of “sexism doesn’t exist”.

        • Dave says

          Also, note, that I am not “diregarding the wage gap between women who do complete degrees in these fields”, but rather there is much more breakdown than just degrees and fields, hence my complaint about your information source’s lacking. Anyways, goodbye.

          • Aquaria says

            And up yours, too, buddy.

            You are trying to deny the wage gap that does exist. People with the exact same resumes will get paid differently not because the qualifications are the same, but because one is a man and one is a woman. Or one is white and another is black.

            This happens all the time, and if you choose to dismiss the evidence that myna provided, that’s not the fault of the data that it makes you look like a moron–it’s yours, for being a sexist idiot.

            But keep trying to whine about those mean womenz. I’m sure it makes you feel better about being a sexist idiot.

          • mynameischeese says

            Excuse me, dumb-ass, but if you reread my original comment, you’ll see my opinion is based on analysing a variety of statistics. I suggested a method for how a skeptic could see evidence for racism/sexism/discrimination without experiencing it directly. I didn’t provide any sources because wage gaps based on gender and race are well-documented and easy to found for any critical thinker who wants to see them. The point was not to link to a study that shows that congress is disproportionately white (for example), but to inspire skeptics to ask if congress is disportionatly white and to do the math themselves (and if you’re too stupid to know what methodology is being used here, I can’t help you). Obviously, if someone like you can’t be bothered to locate any of the data, you’re not actually a critical thinker or skeptic. So why would I bother doing the work for you?

            Furthermore, you’re asking me for sources, but you’re making all sorts of wild claims about female biology without citing any yourself. Another good reason for me to not bother doing any work for you. You’re call for sources is a bit like a climate change denialist demanding evidence. Wage gaps are an accepted thing in both sociology and economics (so the fact that you’re trying to imply that this has nothing to do with economics just shows me you’re not actually an economist, just pretending to be one).

            You’re trying to deny a wage gap with one breath, then mansplain it away as biology in the next. There’s a gene that makes women too shy to ask for a raise? Bullshit. Where are your sources? Of course you don’t have any.

            “Unfortunately, the specifics of differences between genders caused by biology and how much these can be overridden by say, education or culture, and how much these influence women’s behavior compared to other factors is impossible to break down.”

            Impossibe to break down? Bullshit. So now we know you have no background in science either. You’re not doing so hot, for someone who pretends to be a skeptic. Looks like you’re trying to blame women for discrimination against them.

            “By cultural, you mean like, being a conservative, bible believing christian… ”

            Nope. That’s not what I said. I guess you’re reading comprehension skills are lacking as well. Christianity is not the sum of cultural influence and I never implied that it was. And if you think it is, you’re an eejit.

            “Does this mean that you blame conservative women and are sexist?”

            Nope. Reread all the shit you wrote earlier. *You* blamed discrimination against women on “choices women make for themselves.” You blamed the sociolisation of women specifically on conservative mothers (Conservative fathers get no blame?).

            I hope your daughters figure out what a sexist you are and give you shit for it.

    • says

      From my memory – and bear in mind I haven’t been to the site for several years – the regular commenters on the main website were actually quite good regarding homosexuality. In fact, the comments on the main website articles were generally of much better quality. The forums were a different story, but I stopped going there long before I left the site completely, because the forums definitely allowed the dregs to float to the top and I couldn’t stand to read the threads.

      You know how on every website there are a few regular commenters who become respected by the community and are appreciated for their ability to make consistently good posts? Well, there were two such regular commenters in RDF going by the names of Steve Zara and Cartomancer, who were both gay, and who were both highly respected and visible members of the commentariat. Steve Zara might have been a scientist and he always had interesting things to say about science, rationalism and religion. Cartomancer had an incredible knowledge of history and was a gifted poet and writer (I had my disagreements with him – for someone so intelligent, he was a bit clueless about racial issues. There was an article on the website about online gaming addiction in South Korea, and he speculated out loud, wondering if Confucian ideals of well-rounded scholar-gentlemen were to blame for putting pressure on East Asian people and leading them to turn to gaming for relief! He, among others, also speculated that East Asian people had some genetic predisposition to addictive behaviour, because of the stereotype of drunk Asian people unable to handle their alcohol. I tried to point out that Confucianism has as much relevance to modern South Korean gaming culture as Medieval Christianity has to World of Warcraft addiction in the West, but he just didn’t get it… and he was upset with me because I objected to him using the word “orientals” to talk about South Koreans and Chinese – he lectured me on how the word “Oriental” is completely acceptable with no racist connotations in England and he shouldn’t be forced to modify his language use just to appease delicate overseas sensibilities. He also pointed out that his brother’s Chinese wife referred to herself as “oriental” all the time. Also, another commenter had a Chinese wife whom he noticed was unable to hold her drink… another datum… there were so many “my relative is Asian, so I’m an authority on Asian people” stories over there, it just wasn’t funny.)

      In fact, these two commenters were so visible, and the main website was generally so decent in its attitude towards homosexuality, that it did cause some resentment among some homophobic atheists who turned up on RDF. There was one disgruntled newcomer who kept going on about how Steve Zara had taken over and was running the website, and how homosexuals had “hijacked” the atheist movement. He didn’t support gay marriage because from a “rationalist” perspective he had no evidence that gay marriages were good for the long term stability of a society. He objected to the idea that only religious people could oppose gay marriage, and the assumption that atheists would support gay rights. I believe he was generally ignored and considered a troll by the regulars.

      Transphobia, however, was a completely different story. I remember one particular thread in the forums, posted by a regular who said something to the following effect:

      “My friend and I were out on a bus (or whatever) and we saw a really attractive girl. Subsequently we found out they were actually a male to female transexual and I lost all interest in them, in fact I found the idea of them quite disturbing. Apparently this person had lots of surgery to turn himself into a girl. So, it got me wondering. What’s up with transexual people? What’s wrong with someone’s mental state that they would do so much damage to their own body (i.e. sex reassignment surgery)? Am I being prejudiced? Please discuss! lol! :)”

      This was said in all seriousness. Now, back then I was much more ignorant about trans people than I am now. I was actually much more transphobic. All I knew about trans people were the ugly caricatures and stereotypes in the media. I hadn’t yet found great bloggers like Natalie Reed who helped me to see that trans people were real, complex, wonderful human beings like everyone else. But even back then, I already knew that there was something wrong with that commenter’s post. It made me angry. There was something deeply offensive about it, though I couldn’t quite express what. And none of the following comments condemned that open transphobia. In fact, I think one of them included something to the following effect:

      “Evolution made us attracted to real fertile women. So when you find out someone is not a real woman but originally a man who had SRS, you are pretty much repulsed by them.”

      No one thought that comment was unreasonable, either. Funny how evolution conveniently explains all our prejudices.

      • says

        In fact, the comments on the main website articles were generally of much better quality. The forums were a different story, but I stopped going there long before I left the site completely, because the forums definitely allowed the dregs to float to the top and I couldn’t stand to read the threads.

        Er — do we have a misunderstanding here, then? I’ve been digging up problematic posts from the main site (i.e. comments on “articles” and “videos”). AFAIK, the forums have been closed for a number of years now, although a read-only copy is still available.

        While I certainly credit the experiences you and many other posters have talked about, and don’t want to invalidate them — I’m finding it difficult to locate actual examples of the sort that you (and others) have referred to. I would love any pointers or suggestions about how to proceed in doing so.

          • Aquaria says

            Why don’t you show the racist comments from Pharyngula, first, liar.

            You’re the one who made that claim–you back it up.

  4. paulwinkler says

    Winterwind, that was brilliant! I wish Dawkins could have his face rubbed in it; perhaps some things would change . . .

  5. crowepps says

    For anyone who is sure they are never racist, I highly recommend browsing for 15 minutes or so at:

    http://www.microaggressions.com/

    I personally found it enlightening, since statements I might have made myself were considered offensive by those to whom similar statements were made and had an emotional impact I wouldn’t have intended at all. The sneaky thing about privilege is that by definition you aren’t aware that it’s there, which it prevents you from seeing yourself as others see you, or hearing yourself as others hear you.

      • Aquaria says

        It doesn’t take too damned long to find evidence of it. We usually find out about these undocumented policies from something called lawsuits. You’ve heard of those, I take it? Here’s an example of how it works:

        From March 15:

        http://www.amsterdamnews.com/news/local/court-order-scorches-fdny-in-discrimination-case/article_bfde3224-6ec8-11e1-8fd3-001871e3ce6c.html

        A court has issued an order awarding an aggregate amount of back pay of $128 million for lost wages in response to discrimination by New York City. Federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis ordered the FDNY to hire 293 Black and Hispanic applicants who failed the firefighter’s exam that he found to be discriminatory. According to the Justice Department, the judge found that “from 1999 to 2007, FDNY used written examinations with discriminatory effects. These examinations unfairly excluded hundreds of qualified people of color from the opportunity to serve as New York City firefighters.”

        New York City will have the opportunity to reduce the amount of back pay by proving that victims of discrimination mitigated their losses through interim employment. The court has also appointed four monitors to hold individualized hearings as part of the forthcoming claims process and to oversee the management of the claims process. Sources say that the monitors could award some 2,000 applicants of color, who scored above a threshold on the exams.

        Want more? I got more, from last week:

        http://www.telegram.com/article/20120325/NEWS/103259963/1002/business

        The U.S. Department of Labor has reached a $3 million settlement with the ground delivery unit of FedEx to resolve allegations that the company discriminated against 21,635 job seekers at two dozen FedEx facilities in 15 states.

        The Labor Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs reached the agreement with FedEx Ground Package Systems after saying that it had found evidence of discrimination in hiring on the basis of sex, race and national origin. The office monitors employment practices at the nation’s 200,000 federal contractors, which employ roughly a fourth of the nation’s workforce.

        You want more? Because I have more, not a problem. How about one from yesterday?

        http://thejobmouse.com/2012/03/26/wells-fargo-financial-michigan-settles-eeoc-race-and-age-discrimination-suit-2/

        Financial services company Wells Fargo Financial Michigan, Inc., has agreed to settle an age and race discrimination suit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for $55,000, the agency announced Friday.

        The financial services company was formerly located in various cities in Michigan and previously employing at least 200 employees.

        The EEOC’s lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, charged that Wells Fargo Financial failed to promote a highly qualified 47-year-old African-American loan processor on the basis of age and race.

        This is how it works. All these places thought they could discriminate and not get caught, as long as it was wink-wink, nudge-nudge, not written down, so therefore ‘not official’. But they were still following policies of discriminating, and they got caught at it.

        Try to keep up.

        • mynameischeese says

          Fair play to you for digging all that up! Too bad the effort seems to be wasted on people who only see what they want to see.

          Personally, I think a lot of people who think they are skeptics and/or contrarians only ask for evidence to derail. They’re a bit like people who ask for evidence for climate change or evolution. The evidence is overwhelming and is readily available for anyone who wants to have a look at it. If they were really skeptical, wouldn’t they go looking for evidence or counter-evidence themselves?

          I’m really bored of being asked to provide evidence for things that are pretty much accepted. If someone really had a new, free-thinkerish way to consider climate change, evolution, racism, or sexism; they’d most-likely be the kind of person who does their own research and is already aquainted with the evidence, not the kind who demands other people hold their hand and provide sources for them.

  6. Steven says

    “… it was an empirical fact that racism no longer existed in the West”

    That is the stupidest statement I have read in a while, and use the Internet regularly.

  7. llewelly says

    I lurked on RDF for several years as well, and much as WinterWind did, I saw a great deal of racism and sexism – all from people who were convinced the election of Obama was magical proof neither existed any more. (Ironic, given the amount of racist vitriol aimed at him. Much the same could be said for Hilary Clinton – people take her success as evidence that sexism doesn’t exist anymore, and then call her a “b—-” out of the same mouth.)

  8. D.A. says

    Very interesting post – glad Rebecca Watson linked to it and thank you for writing it.

    As a white heterosexual, I see this nonsense happen frequently. The racism that makes me REALLY angry is something you touched on. Working in higher ed, I’ve seen admin staff literally say to foreign students, “I can’t pronounce your name, so we’ll just call you Tim.”

    Honestly, I’d rather deal with a person wearing a KKK shirt than these subtle, degrading, sneak-attack racists.

    Also, what is a Dudebro?

    • says

      Dudebro is a simple compound formed from the words “dude” and “bro”. It is used to sarcastically describe men who are embroiled in toxic cults of masculinity, and who disrespect, disregard and belittle women, secretly (or not so secretly) believing that only men are capable of rational thought.

      Generally dudebros believe that the primary purpose of women’s lives is catering to the sexual tastes of dudebros. They may concede that women can speak authoritatively on stereotypically feminine topics like raising children, cooking or washing dishes, but they tend to be sceptical of women’s ability to make sense when talking about politics, science, mathematics, economics or anything else, really. They tend to be immature and often young (though sadly quite often old, too). They usually appeal to evolutionary psychology, or at least their botched misunderstandings of it, to support their views.

      Based on my observations, I propose there are at least two distinct species of Dudebro:

      1) The Bold Greater Dudebro (Dudefratertris horribilis)

      Description: Bold Greater Dudebros are larger, more colourful and quite striking in appearance compared with their cousins. Their bodies are generally grotesquely distorted from overuse of steroids and overenthusiastic application of tattoo needles. They are often found messing about in high schools, loitering on street corners, working out in gyms, playing violent sports or cruising for chicks in their pimpmobiles.

      These dudebros gather in packs of three to twenty individuals. Social status within the pack is measured in a kind of social capital called “badassery”. “Badassery” may be acquired by working out, mating with females, doing dangerous drugs, pulling dangerous stunts in fast cars, owning firearms, wearing the appropriate clothes, and so on. The individual with the most badassery becomes the dominant male or leader of the pack. He coordinates defence of the pack’s territory, by means of glaring insolently at or bashing passing male strangers or whistling and making inappropriate comments at passing female strangers.

      Like all Dudebros, they see women not as people but as objects and status symbols. They seek to acquire, collect, or own women because hot women, like hot cars, will elevate them in the eyes of their pack, allow them to perform their brand of masculinity, and make them feel good about themselves.

      Dudebros are highly competitive and will often challenge each other to determine who has the highest level of badassery. These challenges may include arm wrestling, play fighting, drag racing, seeing who can lift bigger weights, comparing sexual histories, or comparing genital size.

      Common vocalisations:
      Mating calls:
      “Smile, sweetie. What’s wrong?”
      “Hey you wanna ***** with ****** ***? I could show you my ****** ***** ****!”
      Incoherent grunting, sniggering

      Dominance displays:
      “What’re you staring at, huh?”
      “Hey, faggot! Got a problem?”
      etc.

      Posturing:
      Puffing up chest, strutting, swaggering to exaggerate shoulder movements, flexing muscles, staring

      2) Intellectual Dudebro (Dudefratertris pseudosapiens)

      Description: These dudebros tend to be smaller and plainer in appearance than their overpowering cousins. They compensate for their physical shortcomings by having rich, deep and complex inner mental lives. Often they are mistaken for the shy, rare and lovely unrelated species, Genuinely Sweet Smart Guy (Nonexistentfantasius noseriouslyfool). (Some say the Genuinely Sweet Smart Guy went extinct when it failed to adapt to changes in the social environment. The last confirmed sighting was in 1912.)

      In its larval (school student) stage, the Intellectual Dudebro displays precocious intelligence. Sadly, in our stupidity-worshipping culture, this dudebro is often subjected to cruel mockery and ostracism for its intellect. It has evolved two strategies to cope: by camouflaging its intelligence and changing its appearance it can pass as a Bold Greater Dudebro, or else it can migrate underground into geek and alternative subcultures where its differences are accepted.

      The Intellectual Dudebro is still a dudebro. He lacks respect for women, other social groups, indeed anyone outside his pack. However he expresses this in far more articulate and superficially convincing terms than his cousins.

      Vocalisations:
      “Obviously, sexism is appalling. But perhaps we should consider that the reason there are so few female leaders in our movement is not that women don’t feel included, but rather that women don’t want to be leaders, because of evolution. Men have higher levels of testosterone.”

      “Personally, I don’t see what’s wrong with expressing interest in a woman right after she specifically said she didn’t want romantic attention at a conference. Evolution says that men should try to maximise their reproductive success by mating with every available woman. My ancestors didn’t care about women’s feelings, so why should I?”

      “It’s not sexist to comment on a female scientist’s appearance when she posts an article online. As a male, who evolved to pay attention to women’s youthfulness and fertility, I’m not going to feel ashamed for my natural biological instincts. I don’t care that she doesn’t think it’s appropriate. If she doesn’t want to be judged on her appearance, she shouldn’t be posting online as a female. This is supposed to be a rationalist website. We’re supposed to be too intelligent for political correctness, so why should I be considerate of other people’s feelings?”

      “Obviously racism is terrible, but where’s the evidence that minorities are poorer, less likely to be employed, and more likely to be convicted just because of their race? What if black people are just genetically predisposed to being lazier or more violent or aggressive or something? Maybe in Africa, where black people evolved, it was advantageous for people to have poor impulse control. What?? How dare you accuse me of being racist! I’m just trying to have an objective scientific discussion. You’re trying to shut down debate and stifle discussion, you’re against academic freedom! You call me a racist, but you admit that you consider me “white”, when I don’t even see race. We’re all Africans – so who is racist now? Political correctness gone mad! Hypocrite! Irrational hysterical racist!”

      And on it goes…

  9. F says

    Well, I’m glad I never bothered to spend any time in that place. I have enough trouble trying to keep my head from exploding while reading on the internet.

    Excellent post with very good and true points, Winterwind.

  10. says

    Thank you for taking the time to put this so clearly and compellingly, Winterwind. I try to tell myself that as more statements like this one make the rounds the default setting on race and gender privilege will shift.

  11. says

    Here’s some results from a search for “feminism”:

    http://richarddawkins.net/discussions/536560-parallels-between-atheism-and-feminism/comments?page=1#comment_537011

    The third wave [of feminism] signifies a bunch of people who’ve achieved most of their goals…..and are now sitting around bored wondering what to do, until someone has the brilliant idea of relabelling themselves ‘postmodernists’ and taking political correctness to new heights of absurdity.

    http://richarddawkins.net/discussions/536560-parallels-between-atheism-and-feminism/comments?page=1#comment_537322 :

    Feminism: women are gaining rights and clitoral lengths are increasing. Conversely, men are becoming kinder, gentler creatures and their sex organs are dwindling.

    It would be great if other people would help in digging up such quotes…

      • says

        I don’t visit it either. In fact, all I’d known about it before this post was some commentary on the great shutdown of the forums back a few years ago. All I’m doing is searching on likely keywords and posting the problematic examples I find. Anyone can do this. I’d love it if more folks than just me would.

  12. julian says

    Any collection of mostly het men is going to have really bad attitudes towards people outside the groups general experience.

    And that holds for anyone.

    We atheists tend to assume the worst of believers, believers tend to assume the most idiotic things about how others view gods and het white men (especially educated ones) tend to assume it is impossible for them or any opinion they offered to be anything but wholly free of racism or sexism (because those things are irrational and they are not.)

    White Skeptics don’t even see race, that’s how progressive they are!

    If you cannot see the groups society has forced us into historically and into the present day, you have no business talking.

    Also, I’m reminded of the study Cordelia Fine cited in Delusions of Gender when discussing shifting standards applied to men and women. While professed political attitudes showed no correlation with double standards certainty that one was being wholly impartial did.

  13. Tim Groc says

    Are we playing a game of going through the out-of-context comments of a site’s history to throw shit at people?

    Oh, goody. Better get down to Pharyngula pronto. Lots of prizes there! Or what about this site? Skepchick? or any skeptic/atheist site?

      • Justicar says

        Well, one of my personal favorites from pharyngula is aratina cage, itself a gay person, who writes to a self-identified transwoman with whom he takes exception, and let’s make sure I have this quote exactly correct here, “David Marjanović and the Rev and all the others you have insulted are highly respected people around here unlike you who will never be after this poo-flinging fest of yours.
        <b?Fuck off, Buttery Becky Trans Fatty Transsexual.”

        This transperson’s great offence? Taking issue with PZ’s post in which he referred to pedophile priests getting their comeuppance, thus: “I’d like to see a UN raid of the Vatican, with a whole line of shame-faced old men in dresses led out to the paddy wagons like a transvestite Mafia mob.”

        It is worth noting that precisely 0 peopled called out Aratina Cage for saying that, and that the ultimate resolution to the Becky problem was for PZ to ban her and conclude that she, in point of fact, can’t actually be a transwoman. Because they disagree with her position or intellect, she was denied all agency to her own gender identity, which, of course, the denizens of pharyngula, mind-readers as they all are, just knew was a lie. Imagine that – denying the agency to a sexual minority to even be identified in that minority. No, sorry, trans fatty transsexual, you can’t actually be a transsexual person, for we disagree with you and denying you that is one way we know we can hurt you.

        And then the ‘cracker’ (not related to a catholic cracker, but the term for honkey, white person) conversation, and the oh-so sidesplitting witticisms which ensued.

        Yeah, trannies, you’re welcome at pharyngula . . . unless, of course, you annoy the right people in which case the fact that you’re one of those prissy trannies will be used to denigrate you . . . all with the protection of PZ himself, who will later on intervene and put you out of their collective misery.

        This game is fun. Anyone can do this.

        Citation, for the FFTB people to conveniently ignore:
        Original article: scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/06/bravo_belgium.php
        Aratina Cage’s comment: scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/06/bravo_belgium.php#comment-2611452

        • says

          I actually mostly agree with Franc Hoggle about this ^^^ person (who I refer to as the Cracked Candy Cane–for obvious reasons to anyone who reads the above comment of his).

          • says

            You know what? Despite my dislike for Justicar and everything he has done since Elevetorgate, other people have convinced me that the words I called Becky Transsexual on that thread were in fact anti-trans and anti-weight, and I do apologize for writing that and regret doing so.

    • says

      I don’t know about RDF, but on YouTube you get atheists who say such things all the time (see the comments in my video “Feminism… That word does not mean what you think it means.” The fans of fringeelements, LibertarianRealist, and MrHerrIQ are insane about race (as are they), and quote Phillipe Rushton as if he were Moses. You also get atheists who read these people the riot act.

      It’s much the same in most Internet fora: you find just about everything, and sometimes are part of the noise. As to what proportion of the comments are messed up, I can’t say, because it varies from moment to moment.

  14. mark says

    It is a pity that a post which (rightly) complains about ignorant and ill-informed generalisations has attracted so many comments which contain equally unjustified attacks on other groups of people

    • Tim Groc says

      It is a pity that a post which (rightly) complains about ignorant and ill-informed generalisations has attracted so many comments which contain equally unjustified attacks on other groups of people

      Such as the cherry-picking of a few vague comments to slander an entire web site and its users.

      I completely agree, Mark. I hate seeing skeptics act like theists.

  15. says

    THANK YOU for writing this. It needs to be said, and repeated, again and again.

    Winterwind, please check out Nirmukta (http://nirmukta.com/about/; on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/nirmukta/) – it’s an organisation that promotes Freethought and Secular Humanism in India and South Asia. We take these matters seriously, and as admins we are taking care to cultivate a safe humanistic space there. It’s a visible aspect of our core values. Still a long way to go, but we will get there.

  16. says

    Back during the civil rights struggle in the south many white young adults from the North went there and helped register people to vote at great risk to their lives.

    But in the North African-Americans suffered the same kind of racism and segregation that they suffered in the south.

    Chicago, Detroit, Boston, etc….. all had it in some form or another – in Pittsburgh, labor unions with a white majority kept blacks out of all but the worse jobs in the steel mills.

    But the history says the civil rights fight was won in the south and everything was unicorns and roses.

  17. says

    More from a search for “feminist” :

    http://richarddawkins.net/articles/644544-women-cane-morality-police/comments?page=2#comment_907576 :

    Oh balls, again there is the “You go Girl” feminist bullcrap mantra running through the comments whenever some women do something violent… Oh I’m sorry I meant to say “stand up for themselves” of course. Clearly violence by women in their (but especially our) culture is no big deal. Just look at jail time for men and women for identical crimes, this is usually explained away by MORE feminist bullcrap.

    (Note that this was rebutted by the following comment.)

    and lots of stuff from a poster by the name of astro.nj , such as:

    http://richarddawkins.net/articles/644544-women-cane-morality-police/comments?page=2#comment_907580 :

    If men wouldnt didnt go to war, amongst other penalties, women would treat them like dirt, even in modern times such as the white feather girls of WW1. Did women in political power NOT make war? No.. lets not forget Indira Gandhi (Indo Pak war 1971), Golda Mier’s Yom Kippur War, and Thatcher’s Falklands war. How about commoners and aggresive behaviour? There’s plenty of data out there that I will dig up if you disagree.. but for starters lets listen to Erin Pizzey, the one who built shelters for domestic violence victims for women about Why I loathe feminism… and believe it will ultimately destroy the family

    (Note that in that thread, the misognist/MRAs were outnumbered, and outargued, by other posters.)

    http://richarddawkins.net/discussions/644763-two-equally-bad-fallacies/comments?page=1#comment_913114

    Feminism is quite possibly the most important and most successful social movement in human history, and yet I’m immensely frustrated reading (no longer partaking in) many discussions with fundamentalist feminists. (Radical I’m all for–fundamentalism is what bothers me.) Scan through a given feminist discussion online, Pharyngula hosts them frequently, and the omnicast accusations of rape-apology, seemingly deliberate misinterpretations, appeals to consequence and so forth paint a pretty lousy picture of feminism. None of which diminishes the imperative of equal rights in the least.

    Again, I ask — please help me dig. We need quotations, here!

    • Forbidden Snowflake says

      OT

      Indira Gandhi (Indo Pak war 1971), Golda Mier’s Yom Kippur War

      Yeah, totally unprovoked these two were…

  18. darinyenter says

    I just wanted to thank you for this post. i have long taken it for granted that the majority of the descendants of former slaves were bi-racial, but had never considered the gruesome origins of that fact. i am ashamed of my former callousness.

  19. Roxane says

    As a white woman married to a brown man I have become very familiar with the overtness and subtlties of racism. Amazingly episodes of it have infiltrated our home via our children, who pass for white and therefor have been infected by the cultural meems whiteness instills. I have asked my sons on more than one occasion, in response to something they have said, if they are aware their father (sitting right there) is brown. My upbringing in a white racist home had taught me that there was a white identity in the world and then there was another identity to which every other shade of colour belonged. It never occured to me until I met my husband and his family that people within that other identiy would hold racist views about other members in this other identity, which was based sometimes on their national identity if they were brown too, or on the colour of their skin if they weren’t – white people, black people, or so called yellow people and blue people (yes some people think such a skin colour classification exists).
    I fight it wherever I see it, or hear it. Sadly many don’t. I can’t tell you the number of times my relationships with white people have changed, or ended, when they discover my partner is brown. Sometimes I have been naughty and not told them when they have shared their racist views with me because I knew they would meet my husband soon and wanted to see them squirm in the uncomfortableness of their revealed racism to a non-racist. They always assume people think as they do.
    Sadly I had to end my relationship with my parents. After 32 years of marriage to my wonderful husband I just couldn’t take it any more. If I heard one more time: “Oh but we don’t see him as coloured” I think I would have gone insane. As I left my mother called out to me, “we’re just not the right colour for you are we?” Still not getting it right to the end.

  20. Joe says

    Privileged (well, not that privileged, but not doing too bad) white dude here. Thank you. Great post.

    Have had a similar argument with chums of mine. Girl said that she didn’t think that racism was a problem any more (maybe 5 or so years ago). I stopped and asked her to repeat herself, and then clarified that this was her genuine belief. She said yes, and I told her that I thought she was wrong. I suggested that perhaps she meant that we have come a long way, but hadn’t quite made it to our egalitarian utopia just yet. She said no, I was talking rubbish. I turned to our friend of south asian extraction for his opinion, and he said that yes racism is still a problem. She told him he was wrong too.

    [Picard]

    • Tim Groc says

      Indeed. So far – nothing!

      I’d have far more success searching Skepchick and Pharyngula. They’re quite a rowdy bunch at times.

      The disappointing thing is that since elevatorgate, a lot of skeptics have thought it okay to assert things w/o evidence, on all “sides”.

  21. pHred says

    Thanks Winterwind – you just explained why I never felt comfortable there. I would sporadically stop by drawn by something that sounded interesting, would browse around and end up feeling something between irritated and disgusted, but just kinda put it down to “Internet” attitudes and never spared more thought to it. I never found the useful content to outway the ugh factor enough to bother thinking more deeply about it. Strangely it feels somewhat like academia – you listen to the old-older faculty, roll your eyes, try to keep your head down and wait impatiently for the old guard to retire.

  22. says

    “Sadly, the most vocal members of the RDF community are spoilt white heterosexual man-children who really belong on a site like 4chan, but instead wrap themselves in the mantle of rationality and skepticism to bash and disregard the experiences of people from minority communities.”

    WORD!

  23. says

    Your experiences are so very familiar to mine (though I’m not familiar with the RDF community). The kind of attitudes you express are some of the reasons I went from being really excited about these growing skeptical/atheist communities, to not not wanting to deal with them any more. I’m not nearly as active as I used to be. Please, don’t stop talking about it. Maybe it will get through to some folks.

  24. Tenebras says

    I posted on RDF for many years… before Timonen murdered the forums and Dawkins blindly defended his precious little protege back in 2009. (Yes, I did watch with a great deal of smugness when Dawkins found out how much money Timonen was swiping from the Foundation for his terrible graphic design and administration skills.)

    I’ve never set foot there since. All the good posters left for RatSkep and elsewhere, apparently.

  25. says

    A search for “black skeptics” gives:

    http://richarddawkins.net/articles/595674-black-skeptics-interview-with-author-donald-wright

    I had a moment of prickliness at this bit…

    The most important activity for a black non-believer is to make yourself available for establishing a friendship with other black non-believers.

    Surely, a humanist should be talking of transcending boundaries such as skin colour!?

    [I snorted in a moment of unattractive self-righteousness.]

    However, then I read this bit …

    Because of the dominance of religion in our community, it is not unusual to experience a feeling of loneliness so a local friend is invaluable.

    … and cursed myself for being an insular pasty Brit who does not have to work or live in a predominantly religious environment.

    Having no-one around you who holds similar views, while also looking similar to you – day in and day out – must be a deeply isolating experience.

    This appears to be someone recognizing their privilege, and trying to deal with it.

    I’m having a problem finding the examples of racism and thoughtless privilege that are being referred to. Please, help me find the problematic examples that you all have seen — or at least give me some better search terms to try!

  26. Tim Groc says

    Still struggling, Jesse?

    It was the same with Pharyngula. I used to go there but the atmosphere turned toxic with all kinds of racist, sexist and homophobic misunderstanding.

    That’s why I come here, now.

    Oh, you wants quotes? Well, you’ll just have to take my word for it.

  27. says

    I never ventured into the forums, I read one article about racism/sexism on RDF which was good, but the comments from regulars were horrible. I had a very similar experience at the JREF forum, however, especially in discussions about rape. It was some ugly shit.

    The conflicts that keep coming up will hopefully forge some new movement for people who care about atheism and social justice. The dudebros can go off into their own corner and stagnate.

  28. says

    You’re right, a lot of educated white males think sexsm and racism don’t exist.

    Perhaps they feel that pointing out the existence of prejudice against groups they’re privileged over is somehow an attack on them personally and therefore they don’t see it.

    I got into a surprising debate with the mathematicians on math.SE about a year ago over some blatant sexism. There I felt like the fact I was yelling made them take my complaint less seriously.

    • Tim Groc says

      Perhaps they feel that pointing out the existence of prejudice against groups they’re privileged over is somehow an attack on them personally and therefore they don’t see it.

      Maybe, but having privilege and recognising racism are different things, and the two are not mutually exclusive.

  29. says

    “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” – Carl Sagan

    You are claiming something very serious. I’m not saying racism doesn’t exist on RDF, but you have not provided any evidence for it in this article. Without links to examples of racism, this post is just hot air I’m afraid.

    • Tim Groc says

      So true.

      Plus I’ve seen plenty of racist comments on Pharyngula and other sites. It does not mean all Pharyngulites are racists though, just because one or two are.

      Do you agree, Winterwind?

    • Stacy says

      You think a claim of racism is “extraordinary”? Like ET UFOs or the Loch Ness Monster?

      BLOL (Bitterly Laughing Out Loud)

      • julian says

        That’s the default people like Tim Greugen and Tom Williamson are advocating. We assume everyone is free of prejudice and racism until shown otherwise. The only way to meet that standard is to have them outright state I hate xyz and think they should be exterminated.

        I’ve quoted statements straight out of Victorian Era sexism (only attributing them to modern day sources) and had similar people defend them because ‘they’re wrong but that doesn’t make them sexist. It just means they’re uninformed.’ It’s ridiculous.

        • Stacy says

          My reply was not to you, Groc, it was to Tom Williamson.

          Nested comments, remember?

          Your self-absorption is noted.

      • says

        It’s very simple. If you claim something, provide evidence for it. This article has failed to do that. That’s all I’m saying, irregardless of whether I agree with the position of the poster or not.

  30. says

    Response to Criticisms

    (Mods of Black Skeptics, if you could attach this to the original post please.)

    I am the author of the original post. I was waiting for the initial negative comments to appear before replying, so I could address as many criticisms as possible. I predict that I’ll have to write a few more responses as this issue generates more heat.

    1. Context

    I first wrote this comment on a thread on the Black Skeptics blog about the beautiful ad campaign by African Americans for Humanism. On that thread, someone pointed out that on a corresponding RDF thread, many people were ignorant of why African American or black atheists needed a separate ad campaign in the first place. Some of them even described the ad campaign as racist for specifying African Americans for Humanism.

    I responded with this rather long comment about my experiences at the RDF website going back five or so years, explaining how the most vocal commenters there were quite clueless about issues affecting minority communities, and how their statements were never or seldom challenged by other regular commenters, and how this continual denigration of the experiences of people like me eventually drove me away from an otherwise excellent website.

    (See the original comment I made here: http://freethoughtblogs.com/blackskeptics/2012/01/31/black-non-believers-billboard-campaign/#comments )

    My comment was not intended as a personal attack on Richard Dawkins or the majority of commenters at his website. It was a personal reflection on why some parts of the atheist community are less welcoming to people of minority backgrounds (like myself), how a small and highly vocal minority of clueless commenters can make an online environment feel unsafe and unwelcoming, and how the atheist “community” (if one can be said to exist) needs to take positive steps (as Freethought Blogs has done) to educate people, create safe spaces and make minority voices visible, if they believe in making this movement inclusive.

    I concede that the way this post is framed, with no prior context, makes it easily misinterpreted as a strong attack on everyone associated with RDF at the present time. Had I known my comment would be presented thus I would have endeavoured to be clearer and provide more context. I am hoping to redress this in my responses.

    Nevertheless, I am extremely grateful to Black Skeptics for giving my comment a wider audience. I believe that this issue is very important, and that those of us who are atheists and humanists as well as women/people of colour/lgbtqia/disabled etc. need to make our voices heard.

    Too often in the atheist blogosphere, the conversation is dominated by how evil religion is, and how it is the greatest threat to human dignity. Those of us who have been on the receiving end of prejudice, however, know that sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, poverty and social injustice are just as evil, damaging, hurtful and humiliating as religion is, if not more so. So long as the conversation is dominated by people who do not belong to minority groups and have not experienced these social evils, organised atheism will not reflect the experiences of those of us who suffer from these indignities each day of our lives.

    2. Is this slanderous?

    If this were defamation, it would be libel rather than slander, because it is something written and published, not spoken. In most jurisdictions you would have to prove among other things that my words were negative, false, and caused harm to someone’s reputation. I’m not a legal expert so I’ll leave it there.

    It is not wrong to state your opinion of an organisation, movement or other group of people, even in the strongest terms, unless you cross the boundary into hate speech. I believe Professor Dawkins himself exemplifies this when he refers to Islam as the most evil religion in the world, the Catholic faith as the second most evil, the Catholic Church as a “profiteering, woman-fearing, guilt-gorging, truth-hating, child-raping institution,” and an “evil, corrupt organization,” and the Pope as a “leering old villain in a frock” who is “responsible for the deaths of countless AIDS victims in Africa.”

    In comparison, describing website comments as racist seems rather tame. I said nothing remotely like “RDF are evil child rapists responsible for countless deaths,” or “Dawkins is a leering old villain in a tutu.” Funny, I don’t recall seeing any Catholics or Muslims threatening to sue Professor Dawkins for libel, although they would surely have a better case against him than you do against me. Perhaps they believe in freedom of speech? Or perhaps they’re just looking forward to their god chucking him into the hellfire.

    3. What is your opinion of Richard Dawkins? Do you think he is a racist and/or sexist? What about commenters at his website?

    Richard Dawkins was one of my intellectual heroes for a long time. I still think he is a very gifted and insightful science writer and communicator. He is one of the writers who helped to rekindle my love of science and inspire me to always keep learning.

    However, he is a human being with flaws, and he makes mistakes like all of us. As someone of relatively high status, wealthy, educated, heterosexual and white, he doesn’t have firsthand experience of the kinds of discrimination that I have faced. Consequently he is more likely to make mistakes when it comes to thinking about the injustices that people like me have to live with.

    Asking “Is he racist/sexist?” is not the right question. We all harbour prejudiced views. We are all raised in prejudiced societies. I myself have unintentionally said and done many racist and sexist things in my short life. The real question is whether a person is unrepentantly racist/sexist, or whether they apologise, accept their mistakes and make an effort to improve when their ignorance is pointed out to them.

    I believe Professor Dawkins’ “Dear Muslima” comment was both sexist and racist. I won’t go into great detail as to why right now, because that’s another topic. I’ll just briefly say that reducing female Muslims to a group of helpless damsels living in barbaric countries, waiting for enlightened rational atheistic Western men to go and rescue them, and then using this straw Muslima as a prop to belittle a female sceptic who had the temerity to ask that she not be viewed as a sexual object all the time, was an incredibly tactless thing to do. Probably even more tactless than the time Professor Dawkins compared a rabbi’s speaking style to Hitler’s.

    If you still don’t see what’s wrong with the comment, try replacing it various other identities:

    “Dear Black Person,

    I’m sorry that you live in an inner city ghetto filled with crime, prostitution, drugs and gang warfare. Spare a thought for your friend DuWayne, who, when he catches a train, finds that no one wants to sit next to him! Oh, poor DuWayne!”

    “Dear Gay Person in Uganda,

    I’m sorry that people like you are regularly raped, beaten, killed, arrested and executed for being gay. Spare a thought for your American brothers! They can’t even get people to stop using the word “gay” as a pejorative. Oh, poor American gays!”

    This is so fucking disrespectful.

    I know plenty of Muslim women, many of whom identify as feminists, who are fighting for their right to lead prayers in the mosque, preach, give sermons, defend themselves from sexual and domestic violence, encourage female education, end genital mutilation, increase female political representation, reform their religion… and they are all doing this without Professor Dawkins’ help. And he just spat in their faces, not even because he cares about their struggle, but because he was using them as a rhetorical device.

    If anyone else had made such a comment, it would not be such a big deal. However, from someone who has become a de facto leader and representative of atheism, I think we should expect a higher standard. We deserve better role models.

    That was just one comment. Does it make Professor Dawkins a monster? Should we boycott him and burn his books? I don’t think so. I read The Greatest Show on Earth and found it very good. Indeed, I own a copy (my Dad bought it for me. I’m not sure if I would have bought one myself) However, Professor Dawkins never admitted that he made a mistake or apologised. Calling his comment sexist and racist is justified.

    As for the commenters on his site, I believe the majority of them are decent people who are merely interested in science, politics, humanism, and reducing undue religious influence in our society. However, as I said in the OP, the most vocal commenters on his site were ignorant about racism, sexism and other important issues. With their ignorance about the challenges facing people of minority groups, they created an environment that discouraged people like me from speaking about our experiences. This tends to drive people away.

    It may be that the site has drastically improved in the two years since I’ve left, and that basic knowledge of how racism and sexism shapes people’s lives is taken for granted among commenters there. If so, I am extremely pleased and relieved that such a change has taken place. I looked at the comments thread that sparked my comment in the first place. There were many clueless comments, but there were many arguing against them as well. Based on that one thread, it seems the clueless:educated ratio has risen to close to 50:50 rather than the 80:20 it was in my time. I might actually find the site tolerable if that thread were representative. However, as you can see, there is still a lot of work to do. People are still making clueless comments, though now they’re getting called out on them:

    “Doubts about religion? You’re one of many. People for Humanism.”

    There, fixed it.

    It’s good to see more and more “black” people involved in atheism (I use the quotation marks to denote that race is, in fact, bogus). It’s a crying shame, however, that in the 21st C people still need their own special group in order to do so. I can think of few other things that ought to be completely free of arcane notions such as race than the non-belief in, one of many, imaginary sky-daddys.

    I’m inclined to agree with – and would add that this incessant need to be associated as “black” or “African American” or any sort of “race” is to me disgusting, counter-productive backwards thinking and does in no way help to eradicate racism.

    Why not: “Redheaded Nonbelievers Speak Out!”??
    What a load of anachronistic bullshit.

    Ah, the race question again.

    They’re not atheist because they’re black and they’re not black because they’re atheist (or naughty Jews – note for Mr Romney). But their history has kept them shamefully apart from the whilte folks.

    The relgious ones have their own churches because the white churches have no soul. The early xtians were obviously punished by god and sentenced to life without rythm, but the African were not xtians until xtians took them from their forest spirits and made them slaves like the bible says.

    Why on earth are any of them xtians?

    It’s bad enough being an outcast becasue you’ve got dark skin, imagine how outcast you’d be in America if you had no god AND dark skin.

    We’re All Africans!

    Doubts about the relevance of skin colour, you’re one of many. Humans for humanism.

    Is this campaign exclusive to brown Africans? (I know more pink African Americans, actually born in Africa, than brown African Americans born there. In my circle, that is)

    Constantly referring to people who happen to be black as “black” or “African Americans” (if they’re black and live in America) is counter-productive and doesn’t resolve the issue of “race… However, the effort to call it “African Americans for Humanism” does little to quell the idea that “black people” and “the rest of us” are different and seperated. We’re not, and more to the point we shouldn’t be. You’re probably not going to get many people who aren’t black to call in to something called “African Americans for Humanism.”

    A lot of people are going to support it, obviously, but if you happen to live in that neighbourhood and you see that plaque, and you’re “white,” would you give them a call? Not because it features a black person on it, but because it says “African Americans for Humanism.” Why not just call it “Americans for Humanism” and cut out the middle man?

    Maybe it’s an effort to bolster the atheists/humanists who live in black communities — I don’t live there and I don’t know the situation — but it’s bewildering why they would choose to alienate themselves to the rest of the community. If they’re already being discriminated against, isn’t this merely an acknowledgement? It doesn’t make any sense. In fact, I’m reminded of Rebecca Watson and her feminist atheist movement and how she claimed females in atheist communities are being “sexualised.” If this banner had said “Females for Humanism” or “Feminists” or something similar, I would have the same exact reaction. Or Gingers.

    We are told that skin colour is irrelevant, identifying as black is racist, disgusting, backward and promoting segregation, there is no need for Black Skeptic groups, we are all Africans, black people have their own churches because white churches don’t have “soul” or rhythm, identifying as black means alienating yourself from the community, we should all just hold hands and sing kumbaya.

    Recognising that division exists is not divisive. Ignoring division will not make it go away.

    4. What is the point of all this? What were you hoping to achieve with your comment?

    I think some people’s hackles were raised because they saw my comment as a direct personal attack on Professor Dawkins, and they saw me as merely sniping and taking sides over some firestorm in the atheistic community like Elevatorgate or some other issue.

    What I’m really interested in is pointing out some of the irrational ideas and double standards that exist in the atheist community. These ideas are found in all atheist sites to some extent. In my opinion Freethought Blogs does a much better job of moderating and fostering a progressive atmosphere than RDF did, but I did not intend to suggest that only RDF commenters were guilty of these mistakes. These are human failings and we all have them.

    As I mentioned in the OP, “Personally I have been hurt much more by racist people than by religious people.” The people who bashed me, threatened me with violence, called me a nigger and made me feel unsafe when I was a school student were not doing so because they were particularly religious. Nor were the boys who called me a faggot, poof and pussy and threatened to drag me round the back of the school and rape me doing so because they had learnt to in Bible Study class. Certainly, religion can encourage in-group/out-group thinking, draw a cloak of virtue over violence, and politically disenfranchise minorities. But on the ground level of prejudice, especially when you’re young and vulnerable and concerned with fitting in, politics and ideology are quite distant. What’s more important is the in-your-face prejudice, which occurs not because people are religious but because they are human.

    So when I hear white male atheists saying things like, “Religion is the most corrosive thing in society. I can’t believe women and people of colour are still religious. Don’t they know how much religion oppresses them?” I roll my eyes, and then I get angry. If you think religion is the most evil thing in the world, you must have been sheltered from a lot of other evil things like racism, sexism, poverty and homophobia. And if you asked the average person who belongs to a minority group what the greatest oppressor in their lives is, the answer is more likely to be “ignorance, prejudice, hatred, discrimination” than religion.

    New Atheists often claim they are trying to improve the lot of humankind and make the world a better place. However, in practice, the primary goal of the movement seems to be destroying religion. The two goals are not identical. If religion disappeared tomorrow, we would still have racism, homophobia, sexism, transphobia and other forms of discrimination ruining people’s lives – but a substantial portion of New Atheists would say, “Yep, job done. We got rid of religion. Now the world is good. We can rest.” In which case, what benefit is there for people of minority groups to be New Atheists? If you’re interested in fighting religion and nothing else that’s wrong with the world, what good is that to us?

    I’ve noticed New Atheists like to accuse religion of being sexist, racist, homophobic: The Church won’t ordain women, Christians are against gay marriage, Muslims keep their wives in veils. But what positive action has the average New Atheist taken to reduce these forms of discrimination? When asked to do something that might cost time or energy, e.g. think critically about whether some kinds of porn are sexist, march in a gay rights demonstration, join an anti-racist organisation, the average New Atheist shrugs and says, “Meh.” In other words, he cares about sexism, racism and homophobia insofar as they allow him to attack religion, but not as actual social justice issues worthy of his time and attention. The only social justice issue worth his time and attention is destroying religion. Religion is the great enemy, and other enemies of human dignity like racism or sexism… well, meh. They don’t affect me, so who cares?

    I would like to illustrate the double standard operating in the atheist community regarding religion vs anything else. On Pharyngua’s Why I am an Atheist series, or on RDF’s Converts Corner, we often see sad stories about people who had damaging experiences with religion. They were raised with terrible guilt and fear as a result of their religious upbringing. Whenever such stories are shared, sympathetic atheists gather and comfort the person telling them (quite rightly). Often this is accompanied by comments about how this proves how awful religion is, how it holds back the human race, and how we should redouble our efforts to eradicate it. Anyone saying things like, “Well, I’m sorry your religious upbringing was so terrible, but it’s not representative of most religions, so I’m still not convinved that religion is even a problem. You can take a few isolated incidents of religious abuse, but that doesn’t prove that most religious people go through that,” would be upbraided for lack of sensitivity and failing to grasp the seriousness of the situation.

    Now, I want to share my own story. You see, religion is not the only thing that fucks with people’s minds and leaves them with terrible feelings of self-hatred, guilt, fear and shame. In my own life, I was mind-fucked by racism and homophobia which destroyed my self esteem and made my life hell. But if I were to share my story, there would immediately be atheists making excuses: “Well, I’m sorry you went through that, but I don’t racism or homophobia are as big a problem as you make them out to be. I don’t think your experiences are representative of people of minority backgrounds. So I’m not going to run out and buy an anti-racist or pro-gay pin. I already have my scarlet A pin, and my shirt’s only big enough for one pin at a time.”

    I will share my story shortly. It will relatively brief, but it will take me a little time to write.

    • Tim Groc says

      I first wrote this comment on a thread on the Black Skeptics blog about the beautiful ad campaign by African Americans for Humanism. On that thread, someone pointed out that on a corresponding RDF thread, many people were ignorant of why African American or black atheists needed a separate ad campaign in the first place.

      Ignorance is not racism. Many folks at RDF and here at Black Skeptics are ignorant about the the Asmat people of New Guinea. Doesn’t mean they are racist.

      Further, as stated in one of my earlier posts to you, there are many people from an African-American background who would ask the same question. They might say: why can’t we be considered atheists? Why the need to make the distinction based on color or culture. This is a crucial point, and it exposes your argument as fallacious.

      Some of them even described the ad campaign as racist for specifying African Americans for Humanism.

      Some of them? How many? How many use the RDF site? Similar numbers of ignorant or insensitive (in your opinion) posters exist on Pharyngular, Black Skeptics, Skepchick, etc. So, essentially, you are saying that some posters on the internet are not as clued up as you on certain issues. Wow!

      I responded with this rather long comment about my experiences at the RDF website going back five or so years, explaining how the most vocal commenters there were quite clueless about issues affecting minority communities

      Being clueless does not in any way equal racism. You’re probably clueless about the Asmat people, right?

      and how their statements were never or seldom challenged by other regular commenters, and how this continual denigration of the experiences of people like me eventually drove me away from an otherwise excellent website.

      Yes, but you only represent yourself. Like I said, there would be people from your background who would disagree about the need to make such distinctions based on color or culture. Are you saying these people are racist? Are you saying these people are ignorant, just because they have a different opinion to you? You must be, since you apply the same critique to those on the RDF site.

      My comment was not intended as a personal attack on Richard Dawkins or the majority of commenters at his website.

      Your intent was obviously worded badly, because you could not identify actual racism, but instead, you could only identify some posters who were ignorant (perhaps critical) of your specific viewpoint. But like I pointed out, your POV is not shared by everyone from your background.

      It was a personal reflection on why some parts of the atheist community are less welcoming to people of minority backgrounds (like myself)

      Fair enough, but there would be people from your background who would agree with the RDF posters who asked why groups of people need to be made distinct by color or culture.

      how a small and highly vocal minority of clueless commenters can make an online environment feel unsafe and unwelcoming, and how the atheist “community”

      Again, this is just your personal view, and one that is not shared by many other people from your background. You do realise that for example, some black people don’t want to be identified by their color or culture when they are discussing/promoting atheism? They want to be identified as atheists. You can’t deny them this right, Winterwind. It appears to be you who is labelling people.

      needs to take positive steps (as Freethought Blogs has done) to educate people, create safe spaces and make minority voices visible, if they believe in making this movement inclusive.

      Judging by some of the comments on this thread, I think there is a lot more education needed – especially with regards to evidence, fallacies, straw men, etc. BTW, you will still find similar comments to those cited on RDF on Freethought Blogs. So, not only is your argument fallacious, it is also biased.

      I believe that this issue is very important, and that those of us who are atheists and humanists as well as women/people of colour/lgbtqia/disabled etc. need to make our voices heard.

      I agree, Winterwind. But those who DO NOT want to be identified by their color, culture, etc. but rather their atheism/humanism/activism, etc. should not be denied their voices heard.

      So long as the conversation is dominated by people who do not belong to minority groups

      Just to repeat, you are attempting to ignore the people of the same background to you who would object to been identified by color or culture. In some respect, you and some of the posters on this blog, are guilty of exactly the behaviour you criticise.

      I believe Professor Dawkins himself exemplifies this when he refers to Islam as the most evil religion in the world, the Catholic faith as the second most evil, the Catholic Church as a “profiteering, woman-fearing, guilt-gorging, truth-hating, child-raping institution,” and an “evil, corrupt organization,” and the Pope as a “leering old villain in a frock” who is “responsible for the deaths of countless AIDS victims in Africa.”

      Many (perhaps even most) atheists would agree with him. Are they guilty of “hate speech”?

      In comparison, describing website comments as racist seems rather tame.

      It’s not tame when the posts cited as examples barely stand up to the charge.

      I said nothing remotely like “RDF are evil child rapists responsible for countless deaths,” or “Dawkins is a leering old villain in a tutu.” Funny, I don’t recall seeing any Catholics or Muslims threatening to sue Professor Dawkins for libel, although they would surely have a better case against him than you do against me.

      Not true, Winterwind. Dawkins could point to examples where children have been raped. He is only stating what is true. You don’t have that luxury, because you couldn’t cite any examples that backed your charge.

      Asking “Is he racist/sexist?” is not the right question. We all harbour prejudiced views.

      By your definition, anyone who doesn’t agree with you can be seen as “prejudiced” – as you have demonstrated by your blindness towards those who reject labelling via color or culture. It is almost like you are suggesting having a different opinion is prejudice.

      The real question is whether a person is unrepentantly racist/sexist, or whether they apologise, accept their mistakes and make an effort to improve when their ignorance is pointed out to them.

      But this is not what your original article dwelt on. You focused on examples of what you saw as a lack of awareness for your own POV, and then suggested this was indicitive of racism.

      I believe Professor Dawkins’ “Dear Muslima” comment was both sexist and racist.

      Again, your opinion. There would be Muslims who would say the term is most certainly not racist or sexist, especially after Dawkins added a context to it. I agree that it was clumsy as it didn’t address the issue (e/gate) directly, but it is only “racist” from your own view.

      I won’t go into great detail as to why right now, because that’s another topic. I’ll just briefly say that reducing female Muslims to a group of helpless damsels living in barbaric countries

      You are arguing in support of the same reductionism. That people should be identified by color or culture. I agree Dawkins’ use was far more clumsy and was something of a straw man (I hate it when skeptics use straw men!!!), but you do the same.

      Probably even more tactless than the time Professor Dawkins compared a rabbi’s speaking style to Hitler’s.

      Dawkins has said some controversial and OTT things in his many years. So has PZ Myers, Chris Hitchens, Greta Christina, et al. You can always pick out comments that you see as controversial or tactless.

      If you still don’t see what’s wrong with the comment, try replacing it various other identities:

      I think we are agreed that Dawkins handled that badly, and so did many others. But this is not tackling the issue that your original post raised.

      I know plenty of Muslim women, many of whom identify as feminists, who are fighting for their right to lead prayers in the mosque, preach, give sermons, defend themselves from sexual and domestic violence, encourage female education, end genital mutilation, increase female political representation, reform their religion… and they are all doing this without Professor Dawkins’ help. And he just spat in their faces, not even because he cares about their struggle, but because he was using them as a rhetorical device.

      Richard Dawkins would be among the first to support those women. BTW, not all female Muslims would agree with you, and they would agree that their plight is more important that the debate over e/gate. Some may disagree with the term – some may agree. Have you asked them all? So again, you are claiming to represent a single voice, when there are many members of that voice who would say the opposite.

      We deserve better role models.

      I would love to have better role models, and more of them, but I would have to stress that not many from this thread would fit the bill – including me.

      Calling his comment sexist and racist is justified.

      Your case that the comment was racist failed, and the sexism charge is debateable, as I pointed out. Again, you are entitled to this opinion.

      However, as I said in the OP, the most vocal commenters on his site were ignorant about racism, sexism and other important issues.

      But your examples did not demonstrate that. In fact they demonstrated a fight against racism and sexism. Again, the same sort of comments are up at Pharyngula, the beacon of the supposedly ‘morally superior’ FreeThought Blogs.

      With their ignorance about the challenges facing people of minority groups, they created an environment that discouraged people like me from speaking about our experiences. This tends to drive people away.

      Yes, people like you. But you represent yourself, and there are many from your background who would be in agreement with those comments. You seem to be completely blind to the fact there are some people (including those from your background) who don’t want to be identified by color or culture. This is your crucial and most obvious mistake.

      However, as you can see, there is still a lot of work to do. People are still making clueless comments, though now they’re getting called out on them:

      Including you, Winterwind. No one is immune, especially if you make serious charges.

      We are told that skin colour is irrelevant, identifying as black is racist, disgusting, backward and promoting segregation, there is no need for Black Skeptic groups

      Some of the people who think that way are from your own background. Some don’t want to be labelled as “black skeptic”, but would rather be identified as a “skeptic”. The posts at RDF understand this POV, and it sppears that you do not. Both views are justified, both are right, and none are wrong.

      Recognising that division exists is not divisive. Ignoring division will not make it go away.

      Yep, and those who don’t want to be identified by division have voices. Voices that you want to ignore.

      I think some people’s hackles were raised because they saw my comment as a direct personal attack on Professor Dawkins,

      It was an attack on the site and its posters, and the hackles were justified since you fail to justify your charge of racism. You can get away with ignorance, but again, you are ignorant about the Asmat people of New Guinea!

      and they saw me as merely sniping and taking sides over some firestorm in the atheistic community like Elevatorgate or some other issue.

      I hope you didn’t write this just because of taking sides over e/gate, but I have to say many of the posters in the thread turned up just because they were on a particular side. Many posters have simply said something like: “oh yeah, that comment is racist, isn’t it”, but then completely fail to point out why and how. Most of the posts on this thread do not suggest a firm grasp of skepicism or critical thinking, and instead, throw crap around because of personal agendas. This is borne out of the fact that none of these posters show any kind of concern about similar comments on other FreeThought sites.

      What I’m really interested in is pointing out some of the irrational ideas and double standards that exist in the atheist community.

      Tell me about it, Winterwind!

      These ideas are found in all atheist sites to some extent.

      But in one more than the others, you seem to be suggesting.

      In my opinion Freethought Blogs does a much better job of moderating and fostering a progressive atmosphere than RDF did, but I did not intend to suggest that only RDF commenters were guilty of these mistakes.

      Don’t know about that – but there is also the issue of the amount of moderation you have. The comments you cited are no worse than what I;ve seen on Pharyngula or other FT blogs. Another double standard here, I’m afraid.

      So when I hear white male atheists saying things like, “Religion is the most corrosive thing in society. I can’t believe women and people of colour are still religious. Don’t they know how much religion oppresses them?” I roll my eyes, and then I get angry.

      The first statement is debateable. Many atheists here at FreeThoughts would agree with that statement. Many on FreeThoughts blog echo the sentiment of the second statement also. However, they don’t condemn women for being religious. There is nothing wrong in asking why. Skepticism is about asking questions. Some of those women you mention might want to answer. You never know, Winterwind.

      If you think religion is the most evil thing in the world, you must have been sheltered from a lot of other evil things like racism, sexism, poverty and homophobia.

      Many atheists argue that religion includes all those evils you suggest. In fact, I and any other atheist could give you countless examples supporting the case.

      And if you asked the average person who belongs to a minority group what the greatest oppressor in their lives is, the answer is more likely to be “ignorance, prejudice, hatred, discrimination” than religion.

      Same as above. Religion can encompass those oppressors.

      New Atheists often claim they are trying to improve the lot of humankind and make the world a better place. However, in practice, the primary goal of the movement seems to be destroying religion.

      That is often a claim made by theists, and one that is rejected by many atheists at FreeThoughts blogs. There are many dimensions as to what “new atheists” want. I would accept they want to racism, sexism, inequality, etc. of religion to be destroyed.

      The two goals are not identical. If religion disappeared tomorrow, we would still have racism, homophobia, sexism, transphobia and other forms of discrimination ruining people’s lives

      True, but religion is traditionally and historically a great driver and justifier of these “isms”.

      But a substantial portion of New Atheists would say, “Yep, job done. We got rid of religion. Now the world is good. We can rest.

      Really? I don’t know anyone who has that opinion. Can you site a New Atheist who thinks that? Not even PZ Myers thinks that.

      I’ve noticed New Atheists like to accuse religion of being sexist, racist, homophobic:

      Yes, and they are correct. Are you really blind on this issue, Winterwind.

      But what positive action has the average New Atheist taken to reduce these forms of discrimination? When asked to do something that might cost time or energy, e.g. think critically about whether some kinds of porn are sexist, march in a gay rights demonstration, join an anti-racist organisation, the average New Atheist shrugs and says, “Meh.”

      Really? I think you are wrong. Many “new” atheists go on marches, do charity work, etc. You are completely off base here.

      I will share my story shortly. It will relatively brief, but it will take me a little time to write.

      I’ll look forward to it. I hope you think about what I’ve said.

      Regards.

      • Kiaayohkats says

        Here is an overview of a few of the flaws in you logic:

        “Being clueless does not in any way equal racism. You’re probably clueless about the Asmat people, right?”

        First, the Asmat people are an ethnic group, not a “race”. Second, inasmuch as we, here in North America/Europe, have limited contact with the Asmat, the cluelessness of “white” Americans does not have the same adverse impact that it has on people from different groups who these same “whites” associate with daily. Further cluelessness perpetuates racism, as it tends to universalize experience and marginalizes the very real obstacles minorities face.

        Fair enough, but there would be people from your background who would agree with the RDF posters who asked why groups of people need to be made distinct by color or culture

        That may very well be true. However, experience frames understandings. Who are these people who agree with the RDF posters and why do they agree? To what extent have they experienced the intersectional marginality experienced by the author (being a visible minority, as well as both gay and atheist in a predominantly Christian community)?

        In my experience, as a member of the broader Aboriginal community in western Canada, those who advocate this sort of universalism are the most urbanized, acculturated, well-off of native ancestry who have no sense of connection to their culture, land, or kin and are as ignorant as dominant society as to the issues that face their own people. They use their ancestry as a means to justify and confirm dominant notions about cultural inferiority and the need to assimilate.

        The point here is simply that “white”, male, hetro-normative, ablistic, universalism obscures the particularities of marginalities as experienced by those who have been denied membership to these categories and for whom membership would mean the abandonment of experience and identity.

        You do realise that for example, some black people don’t want to be identified by their color or culture when they are discussing/promoting atheism?

        So let them. No one is forcing them to identify any other way, nor to participate in these groups. These organization exist to provide a safe space for those who feel as though their experience would not be valid or understood in the larger community. And, quite frankly, your discourse is exactly why they need to exist.

        Judging by some of the comments on this thread, I think there is a lot more education needed – especially with regards to evidence, fallacies, straw men, etc.

        You haven’t been doing the best job of arguing your point either. While I know that diversity of opinion exists in any group, I have yet to see you provide evidence of it. Furthermore, your own arguements are cyclical, and you have repeatedly taken quotes out of context in order to “support” your perspective. You have also been ethnocentric and universalizing in your approach, omitting diversity in experience. Your “objective” critique has been focused more on debasing particularities than on fleshing out facts, numbers, trends and evidence that racism does not exist. Your denial is, itself a straw man.

        Many (perhaps even most) atheists would agree with him. Are they guilty of “hate speech”?

        Stats or it didn’t happen, Mr. “Empiricism. And on that note, based on your assumption of universality and the need for it in order to improve the human condition, what makes you any different than the Christians, Muslims or Sikhs you so deride?

        Not true, Winterwind. Dawkins could point to examples where children have been raped. He is only stating what is true. You don’t have that luxury, because you couldn’t cite any examples that backed your charge.
        [...]
        By your definition, anyone who doesn’t agree with you can be seen as “prejudiced” – as you have demonstrated by your blindness towards those who reject labelling via color or culture. It is almost like you are suggesting having a different opinion is prejudice.

        But it would be a fallacy to say “all priests rape children”. By referring to this as evidence of religion as problematic, you undermine your own argument that there is diversity within the African-American community. This is the same double standard the author referred to earlier.

        Also, dead horses are dead. Please stop beating them.

        At any rate, that’s my selected critique for now. Hope life under the bridge is treating you well.
        Cheers!

        • Tim Groc says

          Here is an overview of a few of the flaws in you logic:

          This will be interesting. What is the betting that you fail.

          First, the Asmat people are an ethnic group, not a “race”.

          Doesn’t matter. The example still stands. Why is ignorance about a race or an ethnicity racism? It isn’t, of course. You failed to demonstate that, and your whataboutery was an attempt to evade admitting I was right.

          Further cluelessness perpetuates racism, as it tends to universalize experience and marginalizes the very real obstacles minorities face.

          Then minorities and majorities both perpetuate racism because of ongoing ignorance by all people of all shades. Failure to be “clued up” in depth about every single minority perpetuates racism. This according to your logic. You are accusing Winterwind of racism because of his ignorance.

          However, experience frames understandings.

          Yes, and….

          Who are these people who agree with the RDF posters and why do they agree?

          Here we go again. You are dismissing an entire part of a minority who DO NOT want to distinguished via a label. Stop it.

          To what extent have they experienced the intersectional marginality experienced by the author (being a visible minority, as well as both gay and atheist in a predominantly Christian community)?

          They experience it all the time, and that is why they DO NOT want people like you and Winterwind labelling them in terms of their color and culture.

          In my experience, as a member of the broader Aboriginal community in western Canada, those who advocate this sort of universalism are the most urbanized, acculturated, well-off of native ancestry who have no sense of connection to their culture, land, or kin and are as ignorant as dominant society as to the issues that face their own people.

          Yet again we have a member of group dismissing the concerns of another part of that group because they don’t share your opinion. It is almost like you want to call them traitors. Why don’t you let them make up their own mind and respect that decision. I don’t like some of the language you are using to refer ro certain sections of minorities. The word ignorant keeps flying around.

          They use their ancestry as a means to justify and confirm dominant notions about cultural inferiority and the need to assimilate.

          Just who are “they”? Why are you so intent on telling them how they should decide to be labelled?

          The point here is simply that “white”, male, hetro-normative, ablistic, universalism obscures the particularities of marginalities as experienced by those who have been denied membership to these categories and for whom membership would mean the abandonment of experience and identity.

          A false dilemma. Your reasoning is fallacious. It is also a sweeping generalisation. Further, you are making the same mistake as Winterwind. Someone fitting that “white” description you describe can be respectful of someone who does want their color or culture recognised, and someone who does not. You are the opposite – you want to apply a label regardless of whether someone wants it. It is though the last 50 years of the march towards equality has completely passed you by.

          No one is forcing them to identify any other way, nor to participate in these groups.

          Yes you are, because you are criticising the decades-long movement pushed by minorities of the desire not be described via a label, and to be respected as a member of wider-ranging group.

          These organization exist to provide a safe space for those who feel as though their experience would not be valid or understood in the larger community. And, quite frankly, your discourse is exactly why they need to exist.

          I’ve already pointed out numerous faults with your dialogue that certain sections of minority groups would take issue with. The issue of having the types of organisations you refer to does not negate this concept at all. Yet again, you jump to the defence of ust one section of a minority, and simply dismiss the rest. This is wrong!

          You haven’t been doing the best job of arguing your point either. While I know that diversity of opinion exists in any group, I have yet to see you provide evidence of it.

          As I said. The past 50 years of the civil rights movement must have passed you by. This is a seriously ignorant and callous comment. Oh, if you accept that there is a wide diversity of opinion, why do you want me to provide you with examples? You admit that I am right.

          You have repeatedly taken quotes out of context in order to “support” your perspective.

          What quotes? Thanks.

          You have also been ethnocentric and universalizing in your approach, omitting diversity in experience.

          I don’t believe this. I am the one who is complaining that voices from sections of minorities are being ignored by Winterwind and posters like you. You are guilty of ethnocentric comment because you keep denying that there are people in minorities who reject your use of labelling. How many times do I have to point this out. Have some respect. Oh, and please, quote me where I have even hinted at wanting to omit diversity in experience. I am going to start calling you out on your misrepresentation of me.

          Your “objective” critique has been focused more on debasing particularities than on fleshing out facts, numbers, trends and evidence that racism does not exist.

          Where have I suggested racism does not exist? Quote please! That is an out-and-out lie, my friend, and you know it.

          Your denial is, itself a straw man.

          What have I denied. Quote please.

          Stats or it didn’t happen, Mr. “Empiricism.

          How many quotes from FreeThought Blogs do you want me to cite to back up my argument? I could always start with PZ Myers – he most certainy agrees with those sentiments. Do you concur? That is already one, and that is without trawling throught the comment history of the site to pick out the hundreds of others. But I’ll leave trawling through comment histories for Jesse, who the last time I noticed, was struggling a wee bit!

          And on that note, based on your assumption of universality and the need for it in order to improve the human condition, what makes you any different than the Christians, Muslims or Sikhs you so deride?

          Woah, slow down. Can you quote me what I said that backs up this statement you are making. That is with reard to universalism – remember, I am not the one dismissing certain sections of minorities – you are. Further, please quote my derision of Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, etc. You are confusing me with PZ Myers!

          But it would be a fallacy to say “all priests rape children”.

          Yes it would, and that is why I never said that! Yet more misrepresentation. Stop it now.

          By referring to this as evidence of religion as problematic, you undermine your own argument that there is diversity within the African-American community.

          Explain that again. The first statement has nothing to do with the second. Are you denying there is diversity in the African-American community?

          This is the same double standard the author referred to earlier.

          I think your logic is so flawed, that charge can be dismissed. I have already demonstrated what the double standard is, and who is guilty of stating it. You and Winterwind.

          Hope life under the bridge is treating you well.

          Is accusing someone of trolling always your response when someone calls you out?

          Regards.

        • julian says

          Then minorities and majorities both perpetuate racism because of ongoing ignorance by all people of all shades.

          No shit!

          Failure to be “clued up” in depth about every single minority perpetuates racism. This according to your logic.

          It is not. The claim was made specifically referring to ignorance of racial history of groups you are in contact with. If you honestly find fault with pointing out not knowing about a problem in your community can perpetuate that problem then it’s obvious you’re just being contrarian.

          You are dismissing an entire part of a minority who DO NOT want to distinguished via a label.

          Stop being dishonest.

          There was no dismissal in any of what Kiaayohkats wrote. It was pondering on experience and how our different experiences shape the meaning we see. Kiaayohkats shared personal experience that has led hir to believe that those far removed from the prejudices and struggles others of their race face tend to be the ones who most readily advocate abandoning every aspect of their culture.

          They experience it all the time, and that is why they DO NOT want people like you and Winterwind labelling them in terms of their color and culture.

          Who is labeling them? Kiaayohkats even stats outright ” No one is forcing them to identify any other way, nor to participate in these groups. These organization exist to provide a safe space for those who feel as though their experience would not be valid or understood in the larger community.”

          If the people who’s concerns you’re trying to represent honestly object to something like Black Atheists they can royally fuck themselves for trying to tell others what they are.

          Yet again, you jump to the defence of ust one section of a minority, and simply dismiss the rest.

          There is no dismissal, you dishonest obnoxious ass.

          • Tim Groc says

            No shit!

            So you agree. Thank you.

            It is not. The claim was made specifically referring to ignorance of racial history of groups you are in contact with.

            You have done it again. You have just dismissed the civil rights movement of the last century. You keep denying there are people from minority backgrounds who DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT, want to labeled via color or culture, when referring to a larger group, ie, atheists. You are demonstrating the very same type of ignorance you are accusing others of. STOP IT NOW!

            If you honestly find fault with pointing out not knowing about a problem in your community can perpetuate that problem then it’s obvious you’re just being contrarian.

            I’m am finding fault at the selective nature of your reasoning. You have just demonstrated that you lack knowledge regarding sections of minorities, the desire not to be identified via a label. This can perpetuate racism, can it not?

            Stop being dishonest.

            Quote please? Explain why what I have said is dishonest, and back it up with evidence.

            There was no dismissal in any of what Kiaayohkats wrote. It was pondering on experience and how our different experiences shape the meaning we see.

            I never argued against that at all. Misrepresentation.

            Kiaayohkats shared personal experience that has led hir to believe that those far removed from the prejudices and struggles others of their race face tend to be the ones who most readily advocate abandoning every aspect of their culture.

            The examples given by Winterwind do not advocate people abandoning every aspect of their culture. Show me the quote. They question the use of labels in a context that for the past century there has been a promotion of understanding that minorities don’t want to be identified via a label. The comments do not state that they should not do this.

            Who is labeling them? Kiaayohkats even stats outright ” No one is forcing them to identify any other way, nor to participate in these groups.

            You, Winterwind and Kiaayohkats. By your arguments you are perpetuating the notion that respecting the wish not to be labelled means their is incredible ignorance, or perhaps even racism at play. That is just completely disingenuous.

            If the people who’s concerns you’re trying to represent honestly object to something like Black Atheists they can royally fuck themselves for trying to tell others what they are.

            I’m sorry? Who are you saying can royally fuck themselves? The claims of the black community I have raised? I think you should clarify your comments. Further, at no point have I claimed that black people are telling Black Atheists what to call themselves. You have just made that up out of thin air. STOP IT NOW.

            There is no dismissal, you dishonest obnoxious ass.

            Again, if you are going to quote dishonesty – quote it. The rest of your comment can be dismissed as someone who doesn’t want to engage in rational debate. Go somewhere else where your level of debate will be more attuned to the environment – Pharyngula, perhaps.

          • julian says

            So you agree.

            You honestly think you made a novel point, don’t you?

            You have just dismissed the civil rights movement of the last century.

            How? By recognizing there is such a thing as racial undertones and history? So what Jim Crow didn’t happen? Lynchings weren’t motivated in part by a desire to protect the purity of the white home?

            The only person dismissing the civil rights movement in this exchange is you. You who has in not only this response but in others tried to conflate all of the civil rights movement with one goal of it. There was more to it than no longer being seen as black. In fact many found comfort (even pride) in the black identity. These people wanted black to stop being a pejorative. For who they were (how they speak, what they eat, their music) to stop being something to be spoken of derisively.

            You keep denying there are people from minority backgrounds who DO NOT…want to be labeled…

            Considering that I am one, you got a lot of nerve saying that.

            As for your dishonesty, try repeatedly accusing posters of saying things they haven’t said and arguing points they haven’t made. You’ve eaten enough of my time. This will be my last reply.

          • Tim Groc says

            You honestly think you made a novel point, don’t you?

            My point is not a novel one. It is a point made by many people, including many in the black community. You just want to evade it. If ignorance does equal racism as some postgers seem to point out, then you are a racist as ewll. If you want to live by the sword, you have yo die by it too.

            How? By recognizing there is such a thing as racial undertones and history? So what Jim Crow didn’t happen? Lynchings weren’t motivated in part by a desire to protect the purity of the white home?

            A straw man. I specificially told you what you were ignoring in terms of the civil rights movement. Not the Jim Crow laws, not lynchings, not the protection of the “purity of white homes”. Please stay on topic.

            The only person dismissing the civil rights movement in this exchange is you.

            Quote please. Where have I dismissed the civil rights movement? I haven’t, but you have, and I have actually explained this to you on several occasions. You have not explained it at all.

            You who has in not only this response but in others tried to conflate all of the civil rights movement with one goal of it.

            What goal? When did I inflate all of the civil rights movement? Quote please.

            There was more to it than no longer being seen as black. In fact many found comfort (even pride) in the black identity.

            I never questioned that. I said there are many diverse views in the black community. Please stop misrepresenting what I said.

            These people wanted black to stop being a pejorative. For who they were (how they speak, what they eat, their music) to stop being something to be spoken of derisively.

            Again, nobody questions that. But what Winterwind and you plus others are defending is that the question must never be asked whether certain groups want to be labelled. As Morgan Freeman said about Black History Month. He is perfectly entitled to question why the need to identify with a label, as do many more in the black community. This POV is being frowned upon and ignored by people here because it challenges their agenda.

            Considering that I am one, you got a lot of nerve saying that.

            Nerve saying what? That there are people from your background who don’t share your view. Don’t play that game with me. Don’t dare and try and use your background as an excuse to stifle the views of others.

            Regards.

      • says

        This will be my only reply to you, Tim Groc, and others who share your agenda. I have a limited amount of time and energy and I am not going to waste it on trolls who have axes to grind and who are uninterested in educating themselves about basic issues. It is not my job to teach you Racism 101, especially when you don’t want to learn.

        Online, I have given up discussing homophobia with ignorant straight people and racism with ignorant white people for two reasons. Firstly, there is no point, because argument has no effect on someone who does not have a genuinely open mind and an inclination to a good faith discussion. Secondly, there is an unequal emotional burden here. It takes a far greater emotional toll on me to bare my soul and discuss issues that have had such a great psychological impact on me than it does for some shit-stirrer to whom racism is nothing more than an abstract intellectual exercise or a silly political point scoring game. Whoever wins the argument, the person who has greater emotional investment is punishing themselves for no reason. Some people have the emotional stamina to be eloquent in the face of deliberate obtuseness or hostility, but I need all my strength for my meatspace life.

        Ignorance is not racism. Many folks at RDF and here at Black Skeptics are ignorant about the the Asmat people of New Guinea. Doesn’t mean they are racist.

        The Asmat people of New Guinea do not constitute a significant minority in my country, go to the same schools as my children, work with me, leave comments on my website saying they feel excluded or alienated from mainstream organised atheism, or form their own Asmat People of New Guinea Skeptics groups. I do not say things like, “Why are Asmat people of New Guinea so religious? Don’t they realise that Christianity was foisted on them by European missionaries? Don’t they realise that religion oppresses them? Why aren’t more Asmat people of New Guinea identifying as atheists?” I do not say to the Asmat people, “Why do you have to call yourselves Asmat people of New Guinea? That’s backward, racist, disgusting, and promotes segregation. Why can’t you just call yourselves human beings? We’re all New Guineans! I don’t even see race! Just call yourselves atheists!”

        If you think that being ignorant of a significant minority group in your own country is at all comparable to being ignorant of a remote ethnic group in a developing nation with little contact with the outside world, then your views on minority groups are fucked up. That is part of the problem.

        Further, as stated in one of my earlier posts to you, there are many people from an African-American background who would ask the same question. They might say: why can’t we be considered atheists? Why the need to make the distinction based on color or culture. This is a crucial point, and it exposes your argument as fallacious.

        Yes, but you only represent yourself. Like I said, there would be people from your background who would disagree about the need to make such distinctions based on color or culture. Are you saying these people are racist? Are you saying these people are ignorant, just because they have a different opinion to you? You must be, since you apply the same critique to those on the RDF site.

        You have repeatedly misrepresented me, saying that I wish to force labels on people who don’t identify with them. Now pay attention.

        I support people’s right to identify as they wish.

        I know homosexual people who don’t think of themselves as gay or consider themselves part of the gay community. I say, more power to them.

        There are people whom I might consider “black” who reject that label and prefer to be called human beings. I respect their wishes. Others would prefer the label “African American.” I respect their wishes. Others might identify as “Black”. I respect their wishes. Others may identify as Sudanese American, or Ethiopian American, or Jamaican, or British Nigerian. I respect their wishes.

        According to you, some Americans of recent African ancestry don’t wish to identify as black. However, I am insisting that they are black, so I am oppressing them and being racist. However, pay attention to what the commenters in that RDF thread actually said. Were there any black people who actually said anything remotely like this (as you implied):

        “I am a person who is often considered black. However, I reject that label because I feel it has outlived its usefulness. I prefer to be called a human being. Despite rejecting labels like “African American” or “black” myself, I respect other people’s right to use them and concede that they may have utility for other people.”

        If I had objected to a comment like this, you may have had a point in saying I was forcing labels on people who didn’t want them.

        Were there any actual comments like that? No. The only black person on the thread (anachromat) was defending the label “African Americans for Humanism,” saying that it was useful. The other white commenters were making comments like this:

        … this incessant need to be associated as “black” or “African American” or any sort of “race” is to me disgusting, counter-productive backwards thinking and does in no way help to eradicate racism.

        Why not: “Redheaded Nonbelievers Speak Out!”??
        What a load of anachronistic bullshit.

        Doubts about the relevance of skin colour, you’re one of many. Humans for humanism.

        Is this campaign exclusive to brown Africans? (I know more pink African Americans, actually born in Africa, than brown African Americans born there. In my circle, that is)

        Constantly referring to people who happen to be black as “black” or “African Americans” (if they’re black and live in America) is counter-productive and doesn’t resolve the issue of “race… However, the effort to call it “African Americans for Humanism” does little to quell the idea that “black people” and “the rest of us” are different and seperated. We’re not, and more to the point we shouldn’t be. You’re probably not going to get many people who aren’t black to call in to something called “African Americans for Humanism.”

        These were the ignorant comments I was referring to when I said:

        We are told that skin colour is irrelevant, identifying as black is racist, disgusting, backward and promoting segregation, there is no need for Black Skeptic groups, we are all Africans, black people have their own churches because white churches don’t have “soul” or rhythm, identifying as black means alienating yourself from the community, we should all just hold hands and sing kumbaya.

        I was not attacking “black” people who reject racial labels like “black,” or suggesting that I had the power to tell them what label to identify with. You were being foolish or mendacious when you suggested otherwise.

        Your intent was obviously worded badly, because you could not identify actual racism, but instead, you could only identify some posters who were ignorant (perhaps critical) of your specific viewpoint. But like I pointed out, your POV is not shared by everyone from your background.

        My intent was worded perfectly, because it clearly stated my view that the most vocal posters at RDF during my time there were ignorant of their privilege surrounding racism and other issues like sexism.

        The egregious examples of racism I was talking about were not those listed in the comments above. They happened two or more years ago and I didn’t keep track of them all in a file or write them down to put in tell-all book later. Instead, I forgot about them as quickly as possible because I wanted to get on with enjoying a clear-thinking oasis and not have my nose rubbed in racial bullshit, thus spoiling the scientific articles. Contra your suspicions, I have never had a chip on my shoulder regarding Richard Dawkins.

        From memory, here are a few examples of the kinds of egregious racism and sexism I am talking about. These are just the ones that stuck in my mind for several years.

        1. On the main website, there was an RDF TV vignette showing “The Great Apes”: the chimpanzee, human, bonobo, gorilla, and orangutan. A blonde white woman is chosen to represent the human race. A long comment thread ensues. TWO commenters express the the view that a “tribal” African would look more like an ape than the white blonde woman. None of the other commenters notice or seem to find this disturbing.

        “…Why do humans look so different than the rest of the African Apes? … can you see as it appears to me- that humans are fundamentally different than the rest?…”

        “…I suspect however that humans have evolved further from the ancestral state than chimps/gorillas have…”

        If, by ‘ancestral state’ you mean Africa, I would say you’re spot on… It only stands out because they chose a Caucasian to represent humans. Had they chosen a photo of a tribal African, it would not have been so conspicuous, but then placing it under the heading ‘African Ape’ would have caused its own problems.

        Also using a white woman smiling doesn’t help… but the alternative of using a person from Africa would be way too crazily politically incorrect I guess (if only to help the association by the fact that they have more melanin in their skin)

        I personally always wondered why “races” between humans… aka Asian, African, Caucasian, look so different. I know northern hemisphere lack of sun pressured evolution to have less melanin to get more vitamin D, but the shape of the nose, or the great variety of colour of the hair and eyes… it’s a bit puzzling, I just came back from japan, and as a white male I was a bit ashamed of noticing that they have a very uniform look (from my point of view of course…) I heard the joke that white people look all the same to them…

        odd.

        See the original piece here: http://richarddawkins.net/videos/4063-rdf-tv-nebraska-vignettes-2-why-are-there-still-chimpanzees#page2

        2. On the main website, I was told in a thread on gaming addiction in South Korea that “Oriental” was not an offensive word until Edward Said wrote his book “Orientalism” and made brown people everywhere feel unduly resentful. The fact that many of us from countries that were colonised and broken by European powers might feel a sense of resentment and lingering mistrust can be dismissed by invoking Edward Said and saying that we’re just being irrational and participating in a politically correct culture of victimhood.

        3. On a number of threads on the forums, people earnestly debated the question of whether or not Africans had lower IQs than other people. I particularly remember one commenter saying “Name one African philosopher!” with the superior air of one laying down a winning hand, as though that proved that African people were stupid. I cannot find the particular thread; the search feature in the forums appears to be disabled and I haven’t the time to trawl through them.

        A similar thread appears here, about whether Maori New Zealanders have a “warrior gene” that makes them prone to violence and crime. Here are some quotes from the OP:

        So it’s “Eurocentric” to put people in prision for child murder etc etc ? I wonder what they did in the old days, probably just kill the offender. Or was it no big deal then ?

        It’s interesting that the website that has this story illustrated it with a watercolour painting of a Maori chief. Probably too un PC to illustrate it with one of the many Maori criminals we have here.

        I’ll provide one.
        (Picture redacted)
        You can read about her here.
        (Lnk redacted)

        Maoris are also the main gang members. Here is a leader of the “Mongrel Mob”. Gangs are involved in supply of illegal drugs and other crime.

        In this particular thread, three other members rip the OP’s study to shreds but they never confront the racism of the OP’s language in offensively linking Maori people to crimes and gangs and providing unflattering stereotypical pictures of them. The conversation then devolves into an argument between two posters over whether or not race is real and whether some races could have genes that predispose them to violent behaviour.

        (http://forum.richarddawkins.net/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=92345)

        4. Just one example of sexism in the forums. I frequently came across threads in which the overwhelmingly male population would comment on the female brain and how it was more emotional and less rational, more suited for language and empathy and less so for science and maths. They would also go on in great detail about how evolution made them attracted to blond/black haired blue/green eyed big breasted slim waisted barbie dolls. The level of overt misogyny and violence in a few comments was very disturbing. Here’s another example. You can search for other threads if you have the time, I assure you that plenty exist.

        :mod: How is the female brain more evolved? Mens brain is made for figuring things out, exploring, analyzing and constructing. The females brain is made for empathizing, understanding people or better yet following. Behind every man there is a lost women. :coffee:

        In response, a female commenter replies:

        Behind every man there is a woman, rolling her eyes.

        Following, indeed?

        As a female who seems to have more than her fair share of what constitutes a male brain – according to you – I have to point out that you are completely wrong.

        I can do all of the things you list above for each sex, and then some.

        I guess I win. I am so evolved it just isn’t true.

        Misogynist replies:

        Because if she did it in front of the man, she’ll get two back hands. You learned it from a man. Almost all the smartest humans in this world have been men. Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Nikola Tesla, Alhazen, Plato, Leonhard Euler, Leonardo da Vinci, Johann von Goethe, Steven Hawking, Archimedes, Imhotep, Michael Faraday, William Shakespeare, Allah, Jesus, etc.. I win. :tongue: :coffee:

        Congrats you can think for yourself…do you want a cookie? Showing a man what? How to clean the dishes? :toast: I’m not saying girls are stupid.

        Roll your eyes all you want sweet cake – nobody can deny that the smartest humans in the world have been men. :coffee:

        The other commenters are against the misogynist’s views, and a woman mocks him for his stupidity. But no one calls him out on his disgusting violent statement. No confrontation. No education. No admission there is a problem.

        From the main site, a thread discussing whether standards of beauty are genetic or cultural:

        Men want a younger, wide hipped, thin waste, large breasted, blue eyed, long haired blond and it’s all to do with selecting a fitter, healthier, more fertile woman to maximize the chances of her looking after your offspring.

        All men want exactly that? :O

        Plus green eyes and black hair is better its a fact.

        As we moved out of Africa, we found a colder climate which meant wearing clothing to keep us warm. Hip, waste and breast ratios were selected for when in Africa because that was a good indicator of health (which in turn meant a better chance of your offspring’s survival). However, out of Africa and covered up in clothing, men needed another way of determining health. Hair length and colour were selected for…

        Yeah… sorry… I disagree.

        As I’m not a “butt-man”, I don’t quite care about the size of the hips as long as they’re not so big they hit the wall before she stops walking (actually, that’s not entirely true… I like them small).

        I don’t like floppy breasts. I don’t care about the size as long as they’re firm.

        Blonde hair? Give me a (real) redhead (with pale skin) any day. And I couldn’t care less about the eye-color. They could be completely red for all I care.

        And personality/level of intelligence is at least as important as looks to me, if not moreso. I wantnothing do with ditzes (which stereotypically rules out natural blondes :p). I prefer socially-intelligent, book-smart, witty, science-minded, and skeptical (perhaps atheistic… maybe even a bit antitheistic… I haven’t decided, yet).

        As far as age, I say no younger than 21 (which will change by getting older as I get older). As far as women older than me… as long as gravity hasn’t taken it’s toll (sagging, wrinkles, etc)…

        Also, I should note… that’s more of a “dream-girl” description. To be more realistic, despite the “pale-skin” note above, race is not actually something I care about. I was merely responding to your “blond hair/blues eyes” comment (admittedly, I might have read into it, but I usually associate blond hair/blue eyes with white, tanned skin, so if I was reading into this point of your something that wasn’t there, I apologize). In reality, physically all I like about a girl is that she has a toned/athletic body, and then is witty, intelligent, independent, science-minded, and a skeptic. So really, hair-color, eye-color, and skin-color are not all that important to me. Obviously I have (not actually dating her; she probably doesn’t even exist) my dream girl, but what straight guy doesn’t?

        Floppy or saggy breasts are not attractive because they signify old age. Men like firmer breasts because women with them (on average) are younger and more fertile.

        Slim is 70-80% of beauty. The slimmest women get the highest earning men and vice versa.

        Correlate female dress-size with male income and run a regression analysis.

        Men like young women who don’t appear to have defects (like long noses). We also like female face characteristics

        From an old post back in 2007 when I first joined the site:

        I do agree with equal rights for women. And I think in western culture equal rights are already accomplished and more. (apart from the fact that I have some general problems with the concept of rights in general).

        What I don’t see is an equal amount of duty and accountability for women, that come with those rights. That either means you have to cut back on the rights, or to give more from the duties.

        Respect is something you have to work for to gain and to maintain. Not something you can demand from anyone by default.

        Sorry, but to me feminsism is nothing more than the continuation of the stereotypical bad marriage on political level: women wants something, and nags and bitches as long as it takes for the man to be fed up with it and give it to her just to be left alone. That she could just do something herself to get what she wants is beyond her. Something like that is never good for a working relationship, and never good for a working society.

        Note the “bad” before marriage. I’m not speaking of women in general here.

        None of these comments on their would have been a major problem. When they occur as part of a broader pattern, they tent to make people of minority backgrounds feel unwelcome. Believe it or not, those of us of African background generally don’t like hanging out in places where people state we look like apes, or debate whether our IQs are lower. Those of us of Maori background usually don’t feel comfortable in places where people seriously consider we might have a gene that makes us violent and criminal. Those of us who are female usually don’t prefer environments where our intellects our belittled, violent comments against us go unremarked, and locker room fantasies and judgemental comments about our body parts are splattered all over the place.

        You could argue that I need to supply every single problematic comment made since I’ve been on that site. I have neither the time nor the inclination. I’ve already stated that I witnessed these posts as part of a broader pattern. I have no reason to lie. If you disbelieve me, I frankly don’t give a shit.

        On most blogs here on Freethought Blogs, anyone who made a comment about Africans looking like apes, or how it’d be funny to slap uppity women would likely not even have their comment approved. The idea that no one would even notice the problem or call it out is unthinkable. So this is one example of how the Freethought blogs community is creating a more welcoming environment for people of minority backgrounds.

        Many (perhaps even most) atheists would agree with him. Are they guilty of “hate speech”?

        It was not I who incorrectly brought up slander. I brought up hate speech to illustrate that I set the bar for restricting freedom of speech rather high.

        Not true, Winterwind. Dawkins could point to examples where children have been raped. He is only stating what is true. You don’t have that luxury, because you couldn’t cite any examples that backed your charge.

        Dawkins didn’t say, “some Catholics are evil.” He said “Roman Catholicism is the second most evil religion in the world.” He didn’t say, “some priests rape children and cover up their crimes.” He said, “the RCC is a child raping institution.” He didn’t say, “some Muslims are evil and commit evil acts because of their faith.” He said, “Islam is the world’s most evil religion.” I repeat, any Catholic or Muslim would have a far better case against Dawkins for libel than he has against me.

        Again, your opinion. There would be Muslims who would say the term is most certainly not racist or sexist, especially after Dawkins added a context to it. I agree that it was clumsy as it didn’t address the issue (e/gate) directly, but it is only “racist” from your own view.

        Where are the Muslims who don’t think Dawkins’ remark was racist or sexist? Since you’re so fixated on examples, provide one. On second thought, don’t provide it to me, I’m not interested in any further conversation with you. Here, have an example of a Muslim feminist, a friendly acquaintance of mine, who considers Dawkins’ comment Islamophobic and sexist. “Richard Dawkins is a fucking asshole.” http://thefatalfeminist.com/2011/07/05/richard-dawkins-is-a-fucking-asshole/

        BTW, not all female Muslims would agree with you, and they would agree that their plight is more important that the debate over e/gate. Some may disagree with the term – some may agree. Have you asked them all?

        No, no one has spoken to ALL Muslim women, and they’re not a monolithic community, but I’ve certainly spoken to more Muslim women than you have. See above. And unlike you, I spoke to them because they were my friends and I care about their causes, not because I wanted to use them as a token “black best friend” to score points in an internet wankfest.

        I hope you didn’t write this just because of taking sides over e/gate, but I have to say many of the posters in the thread turned up just because they were on a particular side. Many posters have simply said something like: “oh yeah, that comment is racist, isn’t it”, but then completely fail to point out why and how. Most of the posts on this thread do not suggest a firm grasp of skepicism or critical thinking, and instead, throw crap around because of personal agendas. This is borne out of the fact that none of these posters show any kind of concern about similar comments on other FreeThought sites.

        I don’t give a fuck about PZ Myers, Rebecca Watson, Richard Dawkins, elevatorgate, or any other internet celebrities or storm-in-a-teacup shitfests. I didn’t write this piece for any of them. I wrote it because I experienced shitty attitudes on RDF that drove me away. I don’t give a fuck about internet dramas.

        I do give a fuck about the gay school students who are 7 times more likely to commit suicide than their peers, because I WAS one of them. I do give a fuck about the black and other ethnic kids who are taught to hate themselves becaue I WAS one of them. I do give a fuck about women who are belittled and treated like mere sex objects online. I do give a fuck about trans people, and poor people, and disabled people.

        To you, calling people out on racism is just a game. That’s why you think it’s so clever to accuse me of being racist: “Oh, look, I ‘called you out’, thus turning the tables on you. Isn’t that clever? See how clever I am? Two can play at this ‘racist’ game! lol!” To you, prejudice and creating safe spaces and all that is just so much hot air – just a fucking game. Because you don’t know what we go through. You don’t really believe that discrimination exists. You think we imagine it because we’re irrational, or make it up because we want attention, or are accusing you of racism just to score points or make you feel bad. That’s why you can treat it so cavalierly. You don’t realise that we our fighting for our rights, our human dignity, our very lives. Because that’s your privilege, and no one can educate you against your will.

        But if you’re not interested, then fuck off and stop being a concern troll. I didn’t write this post for you, for more-rational-than-thou atheists who like to sneer at others becasue they think this is all some kind of game. I wrote it for people like me: gay people and people of minority groups who experienced discrimination and needed something to turn to. Religion doesn’t satisfy them, so they turn to the atheist community, and they find the same shitty attitudes that hurt them in the first place. Then some of them go back religion thinking, “better the Devil you know,” and others just resign themselves to being alone because they don’t fit in anywhere. And they try to deal with their challenges alone, not knowing that all of us here are willing to help.

        It’s a crying shame, a waste of human life and potential. That’s why I wrote this comment, to let people know that they’re not alone. There are those of us in the atheist community who actually care about social justice and are willing to help people. They’re not alone. I don’t give a fuck about your petty popularity contests, whose site is better, Freethought blogs or RDF or Generic White Atheist Wankfest… what is this, I don’t even give a shit. There are lives at stake. That’s what I’m fighting for.

        Many atheists argue that religion includes all those evils you suggest. In fact, I and any other atheist could give you countless examples supporting the case.

        YES. Obviously religion can promote these prejudices. That’s why I said, “Obviously religion can promote in-group/out-group thinking, draw a cloak of virtue over violence and politically disenfranchise minorities.” Which part of that was unclear? By the way, religion can also promote positive virtues like charity, compassion and community.

        Yes, and they are correct. Are you really blind on this issue, Winterwind.

        I don’t need a lecture on the dangers of religion. I’ll wager I’ve spent more time supporting same sex marriage against the church, and opposing Sharia law than you have. On the other hand, I’ve also worked with the Catholic church when they were doing excellent work helping refugees and asylum seekers.

        The point I was making, which should have been clear to anyone not an imbecile, was that religion is not the major driving force behind prejudice. Destroying religion won’t make life substantially better or eliminate prejudice. Otherwise, China and several Eastern European countries would have substantially lower levels of racism, sexism, homophobia, poverty, transphobia, ableism and so on. Homosexuality is still illegal in China, for fuck’s sake. Under the atheist Communist government. Destroying Taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism and folk religion in China will not persuade the atheist Communist government to legalise homosexuality.

        Really? I think you are wrong. Many “new” atheists go on marches, do charity work, etc. You are completely off base here.

        Yes. And many don’t. Until someone conducts a survey on how many atheists participate in progressive social movements, we won’t be able to settle the matter. I doubt these atheists involved in progressive social issues were the apathetic racists and sexists I was complaining about.

        I’ll look forward to it. I hope you think about what I’ve said.

        I’ve thought about what you’ve said, and dismissed most of it as false, irrelevant, off-topic or self-serving nonsense. Feel free to reciprocate the judgement. I honestly don’t give a shit what you think of me.

        I have a favour to ask of you. If you must read my story, please don’t leave any feedback. I have no desire to know what you think on any issue, especially not my personal life. I’m not baring my heart and soul for your benefit. There are others here who need to read it because it will help them, not because they want to play puerile games and score points.

        • mynameischeese says

          Trying to convince someone like this Groc character to acknowledge the existence of racism is like trying to convince a fundie of evolution. I think there’s a certain point where you have to just direct someone to a FAQ and if they persist, just ban them. Otherwise we’ll spend the next hundred years having the same debates over and over again and never move on to other discussions.

          But fair play to you for having the patience to actually respond so thoroughly! Not everyone would have it in them. I certainly wouldn’t be able for it.

        • NateHevens says

          Hi Winterwind. I’m responding to you because you quoted a post of MINE from RDF:

          Yeah… sorry… I disagree.

          As I’m not a “butt-man”, I don’t quite care about the size of the hips as long as they’re not so big they hit the wall before she stops walking (actually, that’s not entirely true… I like them small).

          I don’t like floppy breasts. I don’t care about the size as long as they’re firm.

          Blonde hair? Give me a (real) redhead (with pale skin) any day. And I couldn’t care less about the eye-color. They could be completely red for all I care.

          And personality/level of intelligence is at least as important as looks to me, if not moreso. I wantnothing do with ditzes (which stereotypically rules out natural blondes :p). I prefer socially-intelligent, book-smart, witty, science-minded, and skeptical (perhaps atheistic… maybe even a bit antitheistic… I haven’t decided, yet).

          As far as age, I say no younger than 21 (which will change by getting older as I get older). As far as women older than me… as long as gravity hasn’t taken it’s toll (sagging, wrinkles, etc)…

          Also, I should note… that’s more of a “dream-girl” description. To be more realistic, despite the “pale-skin” note above, race is not actually something I care about. I was merely responding to your “blond hair/blues eyes” comment (admittedly, I might have read into it, but I usually associate blond hair/blue eyes with white, tanned skin, so if I was reading into this point of your something that wasn’t there, I apologize). In reality, physically all I like about a girl is that she has a toned/athletic body, and then is witty, intelligent, independent, science-minded, and a skeptic. So really, hair-color, eye-color, and skin-color are not all that important to me. Obviously I have (not actually dating her; she probably doesn’t even exist) my dream girl, but what straight guy doesn’t?

          After re-reading this post in the context of your response, I can’t deny that I’m ashamed of it. It definitely came from my lack of perspective, seeing as I’m a white, straight male…

          To be fair, the petite, intelligent, pale-skinned, red-headed atheist is still my dream girl. I mean, in a very direct sense, without meaning to be offensive, that post is still true, even after all these years.

          But at the same time, within your given context…

          I do apologize for writing it. I never intended to offend or shame or alienate anybody with that post. It was responding to the very specific claim the OP was making… but I can see that I responded to the wrong thing in the OP… I know now, given my current age (only 24, really… but I’ll be 25 on May 22 :D) that had I read that thread today, I don’t think I would have written this post, just based on my awareness that I’ve gained these days about how some people would take it…

          You quoting that was certainly a blast from the past… not necessarily a positive one (those forums were… odd… though I must admit that I do miss them), but a blast from the past nevertheless…

          “What straight guy doesn’t”… I actually wrote that… wow… I’d love to go back in time and smack myself for that one… the whole post, actually…

          • says

            Nate, thanks for admitting that your post could have been problematic. We all say and do stupid things sometimes and it takes courage to admit mistakes.

            I hope you realise that I don’t think it’s wrong for you to be attracted to certain features in a woman, or have a dream girl, or even talk about those feelings with other people. I myself am attracted to certain physical features and personality traits in men.

            However, context is important. In a website dominated by males who keep making remarks about women’s appearance and intelligence (many of them unflattering) and justifying their preferences by pseudoscientific appeals to evolutionary psychology, then your comment just becomes part of a culture that can make women feel objectified and unwelcome.

            Also, saying, “I like blond women with blue eyes (not that you said this)” is fine. Saying, “All men like blond women with blue eyes, fake tans and silicon breasts because evolution by natural selection made us that way, and blonde women are fertile and fit (not that you said this),” is problematic for a number of reasons. It ignores the cultural influences on perceptions of beauty. It contributes to a culture in which women who don’t fit into the media’s beauty ideals – in particular, women of colour, who are either demonised as ugly or fetished as exotic – are made to feel inadequate, worthless and ashamed.

          • NateHevens says

            I have to reply to myself to reply to you… wow…

            I hope you realise that I don’t think it’s wrong for you to be attracted to certain features in a woman, or have a dream girl, or even talk about those feelings with other people. I myself am attracted to certain physical features and personality traits in men.

            Oh of course. I do realize that.

            However, context is important. In a website dominated by males who keep making remarks about women’s appearance and intelligence (many of them unflattering) and justifying their preferences by pseudoscientific appeals to evolutionary psychology, then your comment just becomes part of a culture that can make women feel objectified and unwelcome.

            Yup. It of course was never intended to, but context is key, as always. I was actually never conscious of that atmosphere on the forums, though perhaps I didn’t really look at it like I should have…

            Also, saying, “I like blond women with blue eyes (not that you said this)” is fine. Saying, “All men like blond women with blue eyes, fake tans and silicon breasts because evolution by natural selection made us that way, and blonde women are fertile and fit (not that you said this),” is problematic for a number of reasons. It ignores the cultural influences on perceptions of beauty. It contributes to a culture in which women who don’t fit into the media’s beauty ideals – in particular, women of colour, who are either demonised as ugly or fetished as exotic – are made to feel inadequate, worthless and ashamed.

            And looking at it now, that’s the part of the post I should have responded to.

            A lot of people don’t realize the inherent subtlety in a lot of misogyny and racism, especially since that vast majority of it (at least from my experience, which, admittedly, is not a legitimate sample size) is born out of ignorance as opposed to dedicated, conscious bigotry.

        • julian says

          Destroying religion won’t make life substantially better or eliminate prejudice.

          Wouldn’t it depend on the region? For example, couldn’t sectarian violence in Pakistan and India be curbed by a more robust secular population?

          • says

            I was referring specifically to prejudices like racism, homophobia, sexism, ableism and so on, rather than prejudice along religious lines. Obviously religion gives people another label they can use to discriminate against each other, and eliminating that can be helpful. In addition, in developing countries like India where many lack access to education, there are plenty of charlatans who pose as holy men to cheat poor people, who would otherwise spend their meagre resources on something more useful.

            However, I assure you that even if religion disappeared from India and Pakistan tomorrow, until other issues like education, poverty, sexism, caste discrimination, colourism, homophobia a transphobia were resolved, most people’s lives would see little improvement. If religion were destroyed, the cheats, liars, crooks and demagogues would just migrate into other professions like banking, politics, law and big business as they have done in the West, and they would keep screwing the people over.

          • julian says

            I don’t think I agree. The conartists you refer to aren’t all cons. Many truly do believe (in fact, I’d say almost all do) in the hate they spread. When it’s true believers we’re dealing with I don’t see how tempering the religiosity in the region wouldn’t help.

        • Tim Groc says

          This will be my only reply to you, Tim Groc, and others who share your agenda. I have a limited amount of time and energy and I am not going to waste it on trolls who have axes to grind and who are uninterested in educating themselves about basic issues.

          Well, I’m sorry to hear that, and I am disappointed with the use of the term “troll” thrown in my direction for simply challenging viewpoints on this issue. People don’t like being “called out”, especially on this thread.

          I’d love to know what you think my “agenda” is, Winterwind. I believe I have put forward polite, cogent views that are backed with logic, but it seems only some types of thought are allowed here at Black Skeptics, on FreeThought blogs.

          The questions I have raised have still not been answered by you or any other other posters, one of which is now demanding I’m banned! What have I said that is so offensive to him? Why does he want just a series of comments nodding at each other and patting themselves on the back. The article raises serious issues, and serious comments need to be made.

          Anyway, since you’ve decided not to respond, I’ll leave our correspondence at that, but I hope that by my calling out of you, you have gained insight into some of the mistakes and you have made.

          Regards.

        • says

          (Quick, partial, reply)

          I’m sorry that it was prompted by Mr. Groc’s tiresome BS, but I am really grateful that you took the time to dig up some more exact quotes from the RDF forums. And it had the great effect of prompting the author of one of them to reply, and demonstrate that he’s learned something since then. That’s the benefit of being specific, and quoting rather than paraphrasing — it enables people to be accountable, rather than just shrugging off the issue as “somebody else’s problem”. But I probably don’t need to tell you all this.

          In any case, I’ll see if I can dredge up links for the quotes you found, and respond in a more substantive way to the rest of your post, later.

          Thanks again for providing quotes!

        • SallyStrange: bottom-feeding, work-shy peasant says

          I must take a moment to applaud your patience and clarity. Even if Mr. Groc doesn’t get it, laying it out as you have is definitely helping and getting through to other people.

      • mynameischeese says

        Holy crap. There’s so much denial in your comments that it’s hard to know where to start. And it’s probably pointless starting at all because you’re absolutely determined to ignore racism at all costs, even if you look like a douche in the process. So let me just address one of the douchiest things you wrote:

        “Ignorance is not racism. Many folks at RDF and here at Black Skeptics are ignorant about the the Asmat people of New Guinea. Doesn’t mean they are racist.”

        Dumb. Ignorance of racism is definitely racist if the person in question is benefiting from or perpetuating racism against the group in question. White Americans benefited economically from slavery and continue to benefit from slavery and continued racism against black Americans. White Americans aren’t competing with Asmats in New Guinea for jobs, land or positions of political power. So it’s not really the same thing.

        And anyway, how are you supposed to tell the difference between a white American who is actually ignorant of racism or one who pretends ignorance because it’s in his best interest not to fix racism?

        • Tim Groc says

          Holy crap. There’s so much denial in your comments that it’s hard to know where to start.

          What am I denying? Please clarify?

          And it’s probably pointless starting at all because you’re absolutely determined to ignore racism at all costs, even if you look like a douche in the process.

          What racism have I ignored. Even Winterwind has backtracked on his claim of racism regarding the posts, adn now qualifies that by saying they are indicitive of the type of ignorance that can perpetuate racism. Can you quote me where I ignored racism? Oh, and thanks for the insult. I do seem to be target of name calling now, sadly.

          Dumb. Ignorance of racism is definitely racist if the person in question is benefiting from or perpetuating racism against the group in question.

          You have deliberately qualified your statement to make it something that I did not say. Don’t be dishonest.

          White Americans benefited economically from slavery and continue to benefit from slavery and continued racism against black Americans. White Americans aren’t competing with Asmats in New Guinea for jobs, land or positions of political power. So it’s not really the same thing.

          But you are saying that there needs to be a level of knowledge. What is the quantity of that knowledge? How do you determine the level of knowledge required not to be “perpetuating racism”. Who are you to determine the level of knowledge and ignorance?

          And anyway, how are you supposed to tell the difference between a white American who is actually ignorant of racism or one who pretends ignorance because it’s in his best interest not to fix racism?

          Good question, but a false dichotomy. You are right that there are people who would fall into both those camps, but there is no evidence given by Winterwind’s (or Jesse’s) examples that can result in you ascribing that position to them.

          Regards.

          • mynameischeese says

            Dumb reply. That was not a “false dichotomy.” You should use a dictionary and find out the meaning of dichotomy. Anyway, I wasn’t presenting a dichotomy at all. I’m saying that there’s no way to tell the difference between someone who is ignorant and someone who is not. In other words there is no dichotomy, but only a single category: racist.

            You’re in denial about racism and the existence of institutional racism. And you’re in denial about what is racism if you can’t find any racism in the Dawkins forums.

            And you’re proving my point that it’s pointless to see people saying racist things and claim that they must be ignorant. You’re not ignorant at all. You are willfully blind. You benefit from racism and then deny that you benefit from it and then you deny that it’s right there in front of your nose. That’s beyond ignorant; that’s evil.

            Seriously, trying to talk to someone like you about racism is like trying to discuss evolution with a fundie. You’ve got your one little definition of racism that you can ten other racist white guys on a racist libertarian site came up with and you’re going to stick to that definition no matter what, no matter what the definition other people are using, no matter what facts are, no matter that the rest of humanity is moving on and trying to sort racism out instead of just denying it. You’re going to insist that you’re little definition is the correct one and you’re going to avoid doing research at all costs in case you’d be confronted with the definition the rest of us are using.

            Also, I don’t like to psychoanalyse people on the internet, but you came onto a blog called “Black Skeptics” dropping comments just hoping people would argue with you. You’re a troll. You’ve got some underlying condition that presents with OCD. Either you must compulsively argue with people who disagree with you, to the point where you must seek them out to argue with them. Or you make up any opinion that will piss people off. I can’t even tell if you actually believe your weird-ass positions or if you act like a racist merely because you get off on pissing people off and derailing discussions. And frankly, there’s no point in making a distinction since the outcome is the same. Therefore either way, you’re a troll. That’s not a false dichotomy or a dichotomy at all. That’s one category to explain one behavior no matter how many possible motivations for the behavior are. See how that works?

    • says

      Your expectations are way too low, and/or you don’t pick up on racism unless someone’s using the N-word. In the first 10 comments:

      It’s good to see more and more “black” people involved in atheism (I use the quotation marks to denote that race is, in fact, bogus). It’s a crying shame, however, that in the 21st C people still need their own special group in order to do so. I can think of few other things that ought to be completely free of arcane notions such as race than the non-belief in, one of many, imaginary sky-daddys.

      ***

      I’m inclined to agree with RDfan and would add that this incessant need to be associated as “black” or “African American” or any sort of “race” is to me disgusting, counter-productive backwards thinking and does in no way help to eradicate racism.

      ***

      Why not: Redheaded Nonbelievers Speak Out!”??
      What a load of anachronistic bullshit.

      I’d reply, what a load of privileged bullshit.

      • says

        I don’t see any actual racism in any of those posts. You may disagree with them about their views on race, but that isn’t the same as saying that those views are racist.

        What I get from those comments is that they oppose racism. The second comment talks explicitly about ‘eradicating racism’.

        Are these the best examples you can find to back up the claim that there is racism on the RDF site?

        • A. Noyd says

          What I get from those comments is that they oppose racism.

          It’s possible to profess a sincere desire to oppose racism but to go about it in such a clueless fashion that one ends up perpetuating racism instead. Pretending that because race is a social construct we can simply dismiss it is a kindergarten-level philosophy. Criticizing racial minorities for not likewise dismissing race is racist because it completely ignores the fact that social constructs have very real and pervasive effects that cannot be undone by blithe “solutions” like declaring them to be nonsensical concepts.

          Money is also a social construct, yet I don’t imagine any of the commenters at the RDF would suggest that the solution to poverty is to dismiss money as a concept or that the poor are to blame for their poverty because they can’t accept money is “counterproductive backwards thinking” or “anachronistic bullshit.” (No doubt there are plenty of libertarians there who can come up with some other rationale for blaming poor people for poverty, but the objective unreality of money is not likely to be one of them.) But they’re more than happy to blame black people for racism.

          People genuinely interested in fighting inequity have an obligation not to be ignorant, lazy, victim-blaming, arrogant shitheads who can’t see past their own privilege long enough to realize that the world doesn’t actually work the way they figure it ought to.

          • Tim Groc says

            Are you suggesting racism is an issue exclusively directed at people of colour?

            Can any person of colour have an opinion on racism, but not white people?

            That is what you appear to be suggesting.

        • Tim Groc says

          Indeed, Notung.

          All the examples cited by Winterwind and others are the same type of comments you can find on Pharyngula and Skepchick.

          One of the above posters criticises this from the RDF site:

          It’s good to see more and more “black” people involved in atheism

          I’m sorry, but Winterwind and company can’t have it both ways. They want to stress that there is an identity and culture associated with the term “black” and celebrate it. And why not! But many people (including black people) reject this kind of labelling and ask why should certain groups be identified by color, religion, etc. when they are being referred to as part of a different set of people, in this case, atheists. That is exactly the point the poster who said that on RDF was stressing.

          It seems that Winterwind is saying those people who reject labelling of this type are wrong, even though many black people have made this complaint in the past and present. I can’t believe Winterwind can be blind to this!

          So, I feel that Winterwind has to be “called out” on this. There is a double standard. Perhaps Steve Novella could tell us the logical fallacy.

          There are things that can be done to raise awareness of race issues, and I back Winterwind to the hilt in this respect. However, attacking non-targets with straw men is a backward step, and I have to question why Winterwind has targetted the RDF site, when similar stuff gets said at Pharyngula and other sites.

          Dare I say that Winterwind is picking sides, something that he of all people, should be against???

        • julian says

          Are you joking?

          The very first quote has the RDF commentor editing out the portion expressing happiness that there are more black atheists out there and that they are making themselves known. The commentor goes on to insist no one should identify as black and that it’s ridiculous to do so. How is that not condescendingly racist?

          • says

            I don’t think they were only talking about ‘black’ – it seems to me that they meant any racial description. I’d guess that they believe that we should not judge people on the basis of their race. Agree or disagree, I don’t see how disliking terms like ‘black’ or ‘white’ makes you racist.

          • Tim Groc says

            Are you joking?

            Deadly serious, Julian. Unlike some other jokers here.

            The very first quote has the RDF commentor editing out the portion expressing happiness that there are more black atheists out there and that they are making themselves known. The commentor goes on to insist no one should identify as black and that it’s ridiculous to do so. How is that not condescendingly racist?

            What bit of the comment are you suggesting is “edited”?

            The commentator does not insist no-one should identify as black. He asks the question that many black people ask – why do we need to be labelled with a color or culture in respect to a different group, in the case of the commentor’s conext, atheists.

            The fact that you suggest black people should not have the right NOT to be labelled, is ignorant and presumptive. You will have to ask Winterwind whether it is condescendingly racist?

            I myself wouldn’t seek to assign or remove the rights of people who accept/reject these labels.

      • Tim Groc says

        I’d reply, what a load of privileged bullshit.

        You don’t see it, do you? YOU can be accused of privilege by that very statement.

        There are people who REJECT the labelling that you are supporting, including many black people.

        You are being racist/privileged towards those people who don’t want to be referred to by a colour or culture, and instead, would prefer to be considered simply as atheists.

        That is what the examples in the RDF posts posit. You are attempting to tackle one form of what you perceive as privilege, and then simply replace it with your own privilege.

        You have been “called out”.

        • julian says

          You are being racist/privileged towards those people who don’t want to be referred to by a colour or culture, and instead, would prefer to be considered simply as atheists.

          How so? There’s no insistence they see themselves as anything. There’s a recognition of a community and a recognition of what members of a certain group face, but there’s no insistence they have anything to do with anything. Not atheism, not black revivalist churches not even identifying as a black person.

          This is one of the most idiotic things you post-racist types always try to argue. That those who comment or try to work against under representation are trying to reinforce some racial hierarchy (or other equally nonsensical gibberish.)

          I was born to a Dominican mother in Brooklyn hospital. I hate Dominican food. Can’t stand merengue or bachata. Think the way so many other Dominicans look upon the Dominican flag with pride is disgusting but guess what? It is still entirely accurate to describe me as a Dominican even though I’d rather be known as an atheist. It is entirely appropriate when trying to bring Dominican culture and people into the mainstream to introduce singers like Juan Luis Guerra or talk about the significance of what’s written on the Dominican flag (God, Country, Liberty).

          There can be some condescending attempts to insist my experience must reflect those of other Dominicans or to assume my identity must contain some essential aspect of Dominican-ness but that’s a separate issue.

          At least come up with something original if your playing the ‘No u teh racists!’

          • Tim Groc says

            How so? There’s no insistence they see themselves as anything.

            Yet Winterwind wants to force a label onto them, and suggest anyone who asks whether they want a label or not is, erm, racist. Or ignorant.

            There’s a recognition of a community and a recognition of what members of a certain group face, but there’s no insistence they have anything to do with anything. Not atheism, not black revivalist churches not even identifying as a black person.

            Correct. So the posters at RDF are right in suggesting that the removal of labels can leave groups with a greater degree of freedom to label themselves if they wish/or wish to reject.

            This is one of the most idiotic things you post-racist types always try to argue.

            Can you clarify what you mean by “post-racist”? Is it where posters at RDF showing support for black atheists (and those black atheists who merely call themselves atheists) and promoting the view that atheists of whatever color are equal in status, racist individuals? You tell me.

            That those who comment or try to work against under representation are trying to reinforce some racial hierarchy (or other equally nonsensical gibberish.)

            Where did I say that? I have been emphatic that labels and racial hierarchy should be granted by default. In future, quote before you j’accuse.

            It is still entirely accurate to describe me as a Dominican even though I’d rather be known as an atheist.

            This is EXACTLY my point. It is about how YOU want to be recognised, not me, Winterwind, or anyone else. This is what I was explaining to Winterwind – there are many from the same background as him who DO NOT want to labelled as a”black skeptic” or “black atheist”. They are proud to call themselves “skeptics”. They have my support, even if others seem to think they don’t exist.

            There can be some condescending attempts to insist my experience must reflect those of other Dominicans or to assume my identity must contain some essential aspect of Dominican-ness but that’s a separate issue.

            Yes, it is a separate issue.

            At least come up with something original if your playing the ‘No u teh racists!’

            In following the logic laid down by Winterwind, it is an allegation that you brought on yourself. Actually, I don’t believe you are racist in any way, and I didn’t call you one. Your remark is only racist if you accept the logical argument that only accepting, or only rejecting, a label is correct.

          • julian says

            Drop the loaded wording. Winterwind has not tried to force a label onto anyone. Recognizing that we do all loosely fit into one (man made) category or another is not the same as forcing a label onto someone. Whatever the racist underpinnings of much that differentiates between peoples, it can be a useful tool in identifying people at risk for health and economic issues, discriminatory practices ect.

            And it can be very affirming (which is important when bringing marginalized people into the mainstream or breaking stereotypes of these groups) to see black atheists (or American atheists, or gay atheists or what have you) This isn’t anything new or novel. The Reason Rally is one massive exercise in highlighting the existence of non believers, particularly American nonbelievers, and letting the rest of the U.S. know (alongside closeted atheists) nonbelief is as American as apple pie.

            Which is one of the things that made the first quote (where Blacks for Humanism was ‘fixed’ so that it became People for Humanism) such a slap to the face. Not only was the commentor telling blacks they shouldn’t identify as blacks, they were also changing the content and meaning of their message to suit a different set of goals.

            So the posters at RDF are right in suggesting that the removal of labels can leave groups with a greater degree of freedom to label themselves if they wish/or wish to reject.

            Or it can leave them fractured or otherwise unable to deal with the issues around them. Afterall, why fight for equal rights for ‘gays’ if gender and sexuality are entirely man made?

            It is about how YOU want to be recognised, not me, Winterwind, or anyone else.

            Dude, save it.

            I’ve played this game before only on your side. Don’t try to muddy the issue. No one has denied anyone the right to identify as best suits them. No one has insisted on a list of traits that sort us into strict and immovable categories.

            The posters at RDF are not railing against the people who constructed or predominately perpetuate stereotypes like the overly religious black woman or predatory black man. They are not denouncing the condescending smugness behind relegating PoC issues to the bottom of the barrel. They aren’t fighting any form of discrimination with their comments.

            They are chastising people for identifying as black. They are chastising people for saying ‘It’s ok to be black and atheist.’ (no such complaints when someone says ‘it’s ok to be Texan and atheist’ despite the argument also applying there but whatever)

            That is what you are defending. Let’s keep that straight.

          • Tim Groc says

            Recognizing that we do all loosely fit into one (man made) category or another is not the same as forcing a label onto someone.

            I agree. But you disagree that there are many who DO NOT want be labelled. The RDF posters were presenting this argument, an argument that the civil rights movements launched more than 50 years ago. It is as though you are arguing that decades of intending aims should be brushed under the carpet to suit one section of a minority.

            Whatever the racist underpinnings of much that differentiates between peoples, it can be a useful tool in identifying people at risk for health and economic issues, discriminatory practices ect.

            It can also be a devisive tool, and that is why many black people object to the kind of labelling and forced groupings that you and others on this thread are promoting. If an article claims to “call out” racism, but can’t give examples of racism, and then promotes a POV that discriminates against a section of black people, you will be “called out” yourself.

            And it can be very affirming (which is important when bringing marginalized people into the mainstream or breaking stereotypes of these groups) to see black atheists (or American atheists, or gay atheists or what have you)

            Nobody at RDF or here is suggesting people can’t refer to themselves by group names. The questions posed at RDF echo what many in the black community have said for decades – why do we want to be known via an identifier of color or culture? You and Winterwind are intent on denying this. There is a lot of denial on this thread.

            BTW, would you see a problem with a group calling itself “White Atheists”, or “White Skeptics”?

            Not only was the commentor telling blacks they shouldn’t identify as blacks

            No, the commentator wasn’t. As explained above, the commentator was asking the same question that many black people ask – why the need to label people when there has been a fight against that in the black community for half a century. Further, you can find similar comments on Pharyngula and other FT Blogs, so go get Jesse to go search their comment histoties and “call out” examples of “racism”. Would be hypocritical not to.

            Or it can leave them fractured or otherwise unable to deal with the issues around them.

            That’s rather patronising. It can also have the opposite effect – ie, those in the black community who value not been tagged via their color or culture.

            Don’t try to muddy the issue.

            Don’t play that game. It was a bad article full of flaws and logical fallacies, and so are some of the responses. Don’t complain if these flaws get called-out. The people muddying the water are those who keep implying there are sections of minorities who DO NOT want to be identified via labels referring to color of culture, when it comes to referencing them with regards to a larger group, in this case, atheists or skeptics.

            They aren’t fighting any form of discrimination with their comments.

            Neither are cherry-picked comments from here, Pharyngula and a thousand other sites. The RDF site is not devoted to discussing issues regarding racism, so why would a selected bunch of comments reflect YOUR view?

            They are chastising people for identifying as black.

            No they’re not. They are asking the same question those engaged in the civil rights movement asked 50 years ago – and continue to ask. Your ignorance is breathtaking. They are asking the question, just like many others on FT Blogs and Pharyngula, etc.

            What you and Winterwind have done is characterise people who ask that important question as “perpetuating racism”. In effect, you are accusing the civil rights movement are “perpetuating racism”. Winterwind has seriously miscalucated here. He focused on comments showing solidarity with minorities who in the past complained about the lack of solidarity. What Winterwind offered was a slap in the face to his own comrades-in-arms, and many people in his own community. Also, the fact that he focused entirely on RDF, and not similar comments here at FT blogs, does beg the question – was Winterwind’s article launched with a biased and malicious agenda?

            no such complaints when someone says ‘it’s ok to be Texan and atheist’ despite the argument also applying there but whatever)

            You still fail to grasp the mistake you are making. No-one is arguing that if a group of Texan atheists wanted to call themselves that they shouldn’t. However, if for the past 50 years Texan atheists had fought for the right to be known as simply atheists, rejecting a term that historically has been used to separate them on a discrimiatory basis (obviously the analogy is not the same as it for black atheists, but for the sake of explaining it to you…), then asking the question regarding the label is a legitimate one and an important one.

            That is what you are defending. Let’s keep that straight.

            I am defending the right to be/not to be identified via a label. You are not. I agree, let’s keep this straight.

  31. says

    I know everybody is all over looking for examples, but I thought I’d drop another request in here, since it’s been a few days…

    COME HELP LOOK THROUGH THE RichardDawkins.net DISCUSSIONS!

    It’s really easy, and doesn’t require previous familiarity with the site, or other outside knowledge. And you’ll be serving the cause of evidence-based discussion by doing so!

    ————————————————

    Here’s how to do it:

    1. Select one of the terms listed below (or add your own!):
    racism, feminism, women, black, African-American, bitch, homophobia.

    2. Go to Google (or another search engine, like DuckDuckGo) and put:

    site:richarddawkins.net

    followed by your selected term.

    3. Look through the results, and quote and summarize them in one or more comments here. I think the spam filter catches comments with 3 or more URLs, so you may want to avoid doing that. You can link to individual comments at RichardDawkins.net with the “Jump to comment X” links.

    —————————
    To get an idea of how many results we have to look through, I found ~700 results for “feminism”, ~1000 for “racism”, “women”, and “black”, ~600 for “African-American”, ~850 for “bitch”, ~900 for “homophobia”.

    And, BTW, I’ve been quiet lately because the discussion seemed to have wandered pretty much entirely off the topic of the actual, RichardDawkins.net site, and the actual contents of the comments there, which I still think is a rather important part of the subject.

  32. says

    Just thought you should know that I’ve reposted this article on the RationalWiki Facebook feed. Squelching attitudes like the ones you’ve described have been something of a long-term project for some of us, and we can always use the help.

  33. kerfluffle says

    Thank you. I’ve also become disgusted by the level of privilege that is so firmly established at RDF and slightly less intellectually at JREF. It’s exhausting. I haven’t got the time or energy to speak up any more because each gleefully pompous response is the same and the echo chamber is too clanging.

    I don’t care any more about proving anything but I feel guilty because so much goes unchallenged. Am I contributing to a chilling climate by remaining silent. At what point is it right to give up?

  34. Landau says

    I found more examples of ignorance about racism on Pharyngula as well. It seems the atheist community in general has a problem, perhaps not as much as other areas of society, but still an area to be improved on.

    platyhelminthe (Pharyngula, Jan. 2012)

    What the hell is this “people of colour” bullshit? I mean – dQdBebwkYIrPseriously, I know you all mean well and all, but in what world is such a term not pathetically blatantly racist?

    Louis (Pharyngula, Mar. 2012)

    Is being quick to describe this woman’s reaction in mental illness terms an example of traditional “hysterical women” style misogyny, or “over-emotional ‘lesser’ black people” style racism?

    StevoR (Pharyngula, Feb. 2012)

    Does every story, every myth, every literary creation need to have someone black / white / yellow /blue etc .. in it & if so is African mythology “racist” for not including Europeans just as European mythology is for not including Inuit and South Americans and Maori and Ainu and Chinese as their lead heroes?

    jameswaller (Pharyngula, Feb 2012)

    Sorry why does a movie, which i based in the fantasy London setting ‘have’ to have a black person in it??

    Because you have blacks in America, and that is your particular issue? We have lots in the UK, as well but I would say much more Asians and Indians especially in London, does the director ‘have’ to start representing everybody?

    paulgorman (Pharyngula, Mar 2012)

    Maybe this is me just being european but “people of color” sounds a bit racist. Also it’s missing a ‘u’.

    • says

      YES. When you see these comments on Pharyngula, or other blogs on FTB, or anywhere else in the atheist blogosphere, please try and educate the person or at least speak up, so lurkers don’t get the impression that the blog is dominated by ignorant people. Remember, on the internet, silence looks like consensus! I never said that Pharyngula or other FTBs were perfect, only that they were safer spaces that had not (yet) made me feel alienated and excluded. If the sensible people give up and let the vocal, prejudiced commenters take over, then many people will be driven away. That’s why I left RDF, and I’ll certainly never visit Pharyngula either if it gets invaded by trolls.

      • SallyStrange: bottom-feeding, work-shy peasant says

        I was present on some of those threads. Racist and sexist and homophobic commenters are quickly challenged, called out, and either educated or roundly mocked. I’d say there’s still some uncertainty about ableist language (particularly mental illness). Otherwise, it’s a pretty safe space, not because offensive comments don’t show up there–PZ doesn’t approve comments, he only bans after the fact and then only rarely–but because they are simply not tolerated by the majority of posters there.

  35. says

    @46

    Of course there are examples of racism on pharyngula, there is plenty of sexism too. The difference is that the regulars at pharyngula tend to really rip into anyone who says something totally ignorant about marginalized people.

    I don’t think anyone is suggesting that the solution to racism/sexism in atheist circles is for the racist/sexist people to simply shut up. I certainly don’t. It takes much longer to discover who is prejudiced against you if the subject is off the table for discussion, that doesn’t make things better for me. I believe that the solution is to have antiracism and antisexism be the norm, to be something discussed so often that anyone who wants to make bigoted arguments will have a lot of opposition in doing so. The clear impression that atheists, as a community, do not approve of bigotry is another way to help marginalized people feel welcome in the community.

    I mean, I am sure you can find examples of woo/religious thought on every atheist/skeptic blog, faith is a relevant issue. The community response to such thoughts are the important difference. Pointing out the irrational thinking behind believing in psychics and homeopathy are the norm. The majority of skeptics can easily tell you what is wrong with these subjects. However, the irrational thinking behind bigoted ideas aren’t given nearly enough time on most atheist spaces, and it is a shame because these ideas are of consequence to many people and just as irrational as other woo ideas.

  36. Matt says

    @46 Landau

    Here in the UK ‘people of colour’ or calling a black/Asian person ‘coloured’ IS considered a racist term. So please lay off the ‘ignorant’ bullshit.

        • says

          That’s so strange! You’re right – Hansen said “coloured” (he wasn’t fired though). I thought they’d be interchangeable, given that they’re so similar.

          However, I won’t use either terms – they both sound pretty bad to me.

          • Matt says

            Absolutely. All I know is, if I referred to a non-white person as ‘coloured’ I’d expect my friends to immediately admonish me for it, as I would do if one of them said it. I flinch when the older generations use it, I don’t think there’s any excuse for it but I can kind of understand it. But it is not acceptable in my view to use either of those terms.

            I know ‘person of colour’ has a different connotation in the US, but it was not fair of Landau to pick out a comment where someone said this:

            “Maybe this is me just being european but “people of color” sounds a bit racist. Also it’s missing a ‘u’”

            And call it ignorant.

    • Tim Groc says

      Actually, Matt, “people of color” is the correct term in the UK. “Colored” is most certainly seen as old-fashioned at best, ignorant/racist at worse.

      The problem of knowledge arises yet again…

  37. SallyStrange: bottom-feeding, work-shy peasant says

    The problem of knowledge and its relationship to racism isn’t really as big an issue as some would like to make it seem.

    Step 1. Person with privilege (PP) makes statement that perpetuates bigotry, but is unaware of the effect of his words.

    Step 2. Person who is frequently subject to this bigotry (PB) challenges PP to think about the effect his words may have and consider whether he wants to be unconsciously supporting racism.

    This is an opportunity for PP to increase his knowledge of this type of bigotry and as a result change his behavior in order to contribute less to its perpetuation. Step 3 depends entirely on the disposition of PP. If he chooses to cling to his privilege and holds PB’s claims of personal experience with bigotry (and possibly academic knowledge of it) to an unreasonably high standard of evidence, as Mr. Groc has been doing, then education and advancement is not possible. If, however, PP chooses to respond with a mindset that is humble and open to learning, then change can occur.

    In other words, if you get called out for making racist statements (or any other type of prejudice) then the skeptical thing to do is not shut down and reflexively deny the possibility that your statements perpetuated racism. Why? Because that’s not how racism works. If you think it’s impossible to make statements perpetuating racism without consciously intending to do so, then you’re simply ignorant about human consciousness and how bigotry and prejudice actually work. Getting called out means that someone is actually doing you a favor by assuming that you were probably doing it without malicious intent and are open to being educated about how to avoid perpetuating racism in the future. People who consciously and deliberately spread racism generally aren’t open to being educated about how to appear less racist, so people of color and anti-racists tend not to bother with them. If someone calls you out, be happy! Take it as a compliment: you apparently don’t come off as a total jerk, just someone who is ignorant. However, getting offended and refusing to admit your ignorance is jerky behavior.

    That got a little rambly.

  38. Tom Dobrzeniecki says

    I agree with Winterwind.

    Same applies to Jerry Coyne and Sam Harris.

    Coyne is particularly intolerant and obnoxious. Winterwind calls the RDF site puerile — you haven’t seen puerile until
    you have visited Coyne’s site.

    • Tim Groc says

      What’s your argument with Sam Harris? Want to quote me something to back up your assertion?

      I’m not particulary familiar with Coyne’s site, but from what I’ve seen, it is of a higher standard than Pharyngula, albeit, nowhere near as popular.

      I kind of get the feeling that people only want to “call out” individuals who are, or who are perceived to be, on the “other side” of the e/gate affair?

      Perhaps my spider-sense is a little off, but I reckon I’m on to something. Very unskeptical behaviour, if that is the case!

      Anyway, regards.

  39. Tim Groc says

    Hi JesseW.

    Just wondering how your search was going? Haven’t heard much lately.

    Anyway, have you heard of Percy Fawcett?

  40. Godlesspanther says

    I am a life-long skeptic rationalist. I am one of the “old atheists” not a “new atheist.” I remember back before 2000 when people were discussing the possibility of publicly recognized organized atheist movements — I admit to being one of those who was not particularly optimistic. The metaphor “herding cats” was used to describe the extremely difficult, if not impossible, prospect of getting atheists together as a national movement.

    I have to say that I am surprised by the success of the new atheist movement. Then again — along with the tidal wave of new atheists coming aboard and atheists coming out of the closet all over the place I was disheartened to see that just because someone rejects religion does not mean they are OK in the head. I have come across racist, sexist, homophobic, narrow-minded, bigoted atheists all over the internet. That’s not to mention all the atheists who are just plain stupid.

    I do not look at RDF and have not for years. So I guess I’m out of the loop on this discussion. The objection that seems to be raised from some of the posters is that they prefer not to have specialized groups within the skeptical movement. I think that racial issues and feminist issues are important and pertinent no matter what the broader category. To say that racism is over in the US at this point — look at the tea party and them since the election of Obama — case closed. Look at the war on women by Santorum and them. People of certain groups have issues that apply to that groups whether they are an atheist or not.

    We can take it to a trivial and non-political level — if someone started a group specifically for atheists who are also model railroad enthusiasts — do you think there would be any objection? I doubt it.

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