Is "New Atheism" White Supremacist?


Apparently someone thinks so. Since my initial response of “WTF” isn’t too educated, I’m going to break down my reply.

But I’m no longer okay with atheist evangelizing. Firstly, I’m not okay with evangelizing, period. I don’t care if you’re a fundamentalist Christian, an agnostic Buddhist, or Richard Dawkins, I want you to leave me the fuck alone. You do it your way and I’ll do it mine.

You know what, once atheists start knocking on doors, trying to get schools to teach that there is no god, and threatening people with suffering and harm if they don’t convert, then I’ll agree with you. But atheist “evangelizing” in no where near the same as Christian (for example) evangelizing. What horrible things has Richard Dawkins done? Wrote a book that no one is forced to buy or read? Give talks that no one if forced to attend? I don’t think I’ve seen him on a college campus with a microphone shouting “There is no god, you bloody twits!” And you know, even if he did, he has the right to do that. Just like any other person you don’t agree with, you can just stop listening to them.

I’m happy to talk to politics with you, but my religious practice — which harms no one and in no way impinges on any other person’s rights — is really, really none of your business. I don’t care if the origin myth you’re peddling comes from science or from mythology. I don’t care how much history or evidence is on your side. I just want to be left in peace; I will do the same for you.

Again, once religious practices DO stop harming people and impinging on others rights, maybe we’ll shut up a bit. My goal as an atheist isn’t to convert people – if it doesn’t affect others and it makes them happy, so be it. But while planes are still being flown into buildings, while people are being fired at work for being atheists, while myths are being taught over science to our children, while gay marriage is having a hell of a time being legalized, your beliefs become my business because you’re not keeping them to yourself.

And as I said before, religious beliefs are no different than political beliefs. They don’t deserve any sort of special treatment, and should receive criticism like anything else.

The big reason, though, is that atheist advocates a la Dawkins and the rest are ethnocentric, colonialist cultural supremacists. When Dawkins says that sending a kid to Sunday school is child abuse, or that reasonable, tolerant, law-abiding people who happen to be religious are enablers of violent fundamentalists, he is not merely saying that religious people should stop believing in God/gods. He is saying that they should forfeit their culture.

Um, no. First of, do you know anything about Richard Dawkins? He, like many atheists, still joyfully celebrates Christmas complete with tree and religious songs and all the same traditions and culture that he had before he was an atheist. This past Easter many people commented on all the egg finding and bunny eating and family gathering that was going on. What’s the difference? We can still enjoy the culture we were raised in without cheapening it with supernatural nonsense.

The implicit claim here is that wealthy, white, Western secularism culturally neutral, the norm. And that’s bullshit. White, Western secularism is as much a subjective human culture as any other. There is no neutral. You can give up your ancestral culture, but it will be replaced. It will be replaced by white Western capitalism. This is what the atheist evangelists are advocating (or, if you prefer, advocating implicitly and spectacularly failing to disavow): assimilation.

Well, I disagree with you, but apparently since I’ve been implicitly advocating this all along, let me take a moment to disavow it: assimilation sucks. Culture and tradition are important. But, I have one caveat. Just because something is a tradition doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s good or that we have to keep doing it. For example, prayer at public high school and college graduations. If the school’s principal or President argues “tradition” for keeping it, that is a giant cop-out and unwillingness to deal with separation of church and state (and not just for the sake of nonbelievers, but for minority religions as well).

Now that that’s out of the way (probably not), I’m not quite sure how atheism = capitalism. I openly admit that I am woefully uneducated about anything economic, so if I’m off base here, let me know. But I know from our club, a good chunk of our members are socialists or anarchists, aka, Very Much So Not Capitalists. Our current treasurer has a hernia if anyone says anything remotely pro-capitalist. But really, I have no idea what rejecting supernatural belief has to do with economic practices anyway, so this just seems like a random stretch to me.

And I refuse. I refuse to replace Judaism with capitalism. I refuse to replace my traditional foods with McDonalds. I refuse to replace my history with the vulgar lie of pilgrims and pioneers sweeping across an empty continent. I refuse to believe the claim that wealthy white men are the most evolved, the most enlightened; I refuse to believe the claim that white culture is superior.

Good for you! Keeping your culture is great! My Jewish atheist friends still call themselves Jewish. I’d pick yuvetsaki or pastichio or tiropita or anything delicious food from my Greek heritage over a greasy burger. I’m pretty sure most atheists don’t advocate rewriting history with lies either, since we’re kind of concerned…um…with truth.

And pigs will fly to the moon and back before you hear Richard Dawkins say anything along the lines of wealthy white men being the most evolved. That’s just…there are so many things wrong with that statement, I don’t know where to begin. Do you know anything about evolution? The vast majority of evolutionary biologists would never make such a claim because it’s undeniably false – and when some idiot does try to insinuate something racist by using biology (Watson, I’m looking at you), they get torn apart and shunned by their fellow biologists and atheists.

And I’m still not getting where this “white culture is superior” thing is coming from. Can I get a quote of Dawkins saying that, please? Because until then, I can’t help but think of Christian slave owners making their slaves leave their tribal religions, or Christian missionaries today going to Africa and changing their culture, or our Christian-motivated government under Bush “freeing” Iraqis…and then all the atheists who have stood up and said This Is Bad.


If you think my attachment to my culture is a problem (even though I agree with you about every important political issue!), you’re a white supremacist.

Well, thankfully I don’t think your attachment to your culture is a problem. Culture can be good! But I just hope you don’t really mean that anyone who disagrees with you about the rest of your comments is a white supremacist, because that’s just silly and unproductive.

Lastly, it’s another lie that religion is the problem. Yes, religious fundamentalism (like all fundamentalism) is extremely destructive, and many innocent people have been killed in the name of religion. But secular, capitalist Western “democracy” is, today, just as destructive a force. This system is literally destroying the world as we know it — just ask a polar bear.

Me: Hey Mr. Pol
ar Bear, those shrinking ice
caps sure do suck, huh?
Mr. P. Bear: Why yes, Jennifer, they do. They make me a sad panda-I mean, polar bear.
Me: But has anyone tried to help you out?
Mr. P. Bear: Well, yes! Most of the people who are trying to help are scientists, many of which are atheists. And even non-scientist atheists realize this is a huge problem because this is the only life they have!
Me: But what about the religious people?
Mr. P. Bear: Well, a lot of them think that God gave man dominion over all the plants and animals on earth, so they feel they can do whatever they want to us. And they think any sort of catastrophic end is God’s plan through Armageddon, so they don’t want to stop it!
Me: Well golly gee! I guess it’s all the atheists faults for magically promoting capitalist democracy somehow!
Mr. P. Bear: Logically.

Ahem.

Now, does atheism have a hard time attracting and keeping minorities? Yes, I would say so. The movement is disproportionately white males. I know in our own club it’s only about 10% female, and probably 99% white. But is this because atheists are inherently racist and sexists? I’d argue no (though there are always a couple bad seeds in any sort of group). And if I had to give my best guess why this is (which is just a guess, I admit I’m not an expert) it’s that religion is such an important aspect of culture for these groups. So yes, culture is an issue to an extent…but that’s because people assume (like the person above) that atheism means abandoning your culture. No! You don’t have to. And even if you don’t want to keep your same old traditions but you need something, more and more atheist groups are forming to fill that void.

So do I think militant atheism is white supremacist? No. But of course, I guess that makes me a white supremacist. Darn.

Comments

  1. Anonymous says

    Why are atheists predominately male and white? I have absolutely nothing to back this theory up, but I would guess that access to education might have something to do with it. In general (and obviously this isn’t the case ALL the time) being more educated leads one to think more critically about information and beliefs. Again, whether the two actually relate to one another is open to speculation, but I would think the correlation is pretty strong.

  2. says

    …I can’t help myself, because I am that person in the xkcd comic >_>If there’s one tradition I got from the Irish side of my family, it’s constantly voicing your opinion when you think people are wrong. And I was bored, so whatever. =P

  3. says

    The greatest ‘white supremacist’ organisation is the Catholic Church, Many Christians think Jesus (the guy on the stick) was a white Anglo Saxon that spoke English with a mid west accent.

  4. says

    If by “culture” she means staying firmly attached to the idiotic babblings of Bronze-age sheep herders for no other reason than they were taught to by their parents or some guy standing behind a pulpit then I guess the “Imperialist Atheists” do want people to give up their “culture”. But frankly I think she’s just another reactionary nitwit.

  5. says

    You just haven’t been sent the liberal atheist handbook yet. One of our goals is to eliminate all individuality, and culture. Once our goals are complete all people will be made to wear grey jump suits, eat bland flavourless mush, the words I, me and myself will be removed from the dictionary, all infants will be surgically made into a neutral sex at birth, and all people will have their skin altered, not to look like white people, but to that most bland of all colours beige.

  6. says

    “… or Christian missionaries today going to Africa and changing their culture …” Amen sister (or whatever)! I firmly believe religious missionaries are the worst kind of thieves – culture thieves.

  7. says

    Daisy seems to have a massive chip on her shoulder about white males. Given her blog is partly about promoting and exploring her judaism, I guess anything she sees as anti-judaism gets lumped in a big bucket of evil – white men, atheists, etc.BTW, Jim666, I think you will find Jesus actually spoke with a british accent – probably Received Pronunciation – at least that is the impression I got in my pre-atheist days in the Anglican church

  8. says

    I don’t think I’ve seen him on a college campus with a microphone shouting “There is no god, you bloody twits!” And you know, even if he did, he has the right to do that. Just like any other person you don’t agree with, you can just stop listening to them.It seems a short distance between that and what atheists in the UK have actually done, which is hire advertising space to tell people, “There is probably no God so stop worrying and enjoy life”.Again, once religious practices DO stop harming people and impinging on others rights, maybe we’ll shut up a bit. My goal as an atheist isn’t to convert people – if it doesn’t affect others and it makes them happy, so be it. But while planes are still being flown into buildings, while people are being fired at work for being atheists, while myths are being taught over science to our children, while gay marriage is having a hell of a time being legalized, your beliefs become my business because you’re not keeping them to yourself.Ooh, wonderful! “Some religious people do bad things, therefore we get to browbeat even the nice religious people!”Now that that’s out of the way (probably not), I’m not quite sure how atheism = capitalism.Well, if there is no spiritual dimension, then all that matters is the material world and in modern Western culture, that means capitalism and greed are the driving forces. The effect is to replace God with the Almighty Dollar.a good chunk of our members are socialists or anarchists, aka, Very Much So Not Capitalists.Ask them about atheist Stalin, perhaps? Because there’s plenty of atheist people in the past who were “trying to get schools to teach that there is no god, and threatening people with suffering and harm if they don’t convert”. Since you bring up the subject of Iraq, btw – Saddam Hussein was an atheist, who simply used religion as a tool to help control his people in the 1990s because it was the easiest way to whip up hatred against the US (instead of himself).I can’t help but think of Christian slave owners making their slaves leave their tribal religionsI can’t help but think of the fact that it was Christians whose religious beliefs brought about the end of the slave trade (at least, in my country).Me: But what about the religious people?Mr. P. Bear: Well, a lot of them think that God gave man dominion over all the plants and animals on earth, so they feel they can do whatever they want to us. And they think any sort of catastrophic end is God’s plan through Armageddon, so they don’t want to stop it!Hmm, that’s not the religion that I’m a part of, but then, you reveal your real target with the last sentence. You’re really talking about the specific right-wing nutjobs in specifically USAian Christianity. Many of the most vocal campaign groups on environmental issues are religious, or have plenty of religious people as members. This is because of the doctrine of “stewardship”, which reads the passage about “dominion over…” as in instruction to care for and manage the world as God’s stewards.

  9. Anonymous says

    I only know 2 white male atheists but alot of white male bible bangers. I think they just like to tell everyone what they think regardless of what their position is.Almost every Asian I know is atheist, except for some Korean christians. It’s just not something we talk about because it’s so obvious.

  10. says

    I, myself, am a black atheist, and there have been plenty through history, especially in the movement for civil rights. Yes, there aren’t a LOT of minorities that are atheists (shame. Oh well), but they are there. Maybe that person should have a look at this: http://www.infidelguy.com/arti… or visit the African-American Humanists. I think they wouldn’t agree, either.

  11. says

    Great post. The piece you link to is clearly written by someone who is a master of the logical long-jump. Thanks for giving it a good drubbing.I’d like to address some of the things written by SnowdropExplodes (Unfortunately I’ve gone on a bit and so its split into 3 parts to appease the posting goblins):Re: Atheist buses. I’m a UK resident myself, and I have seen both the atheist campaign posters as well as the myriad Christian posters that they were in response to. The Christians have put their foot in it however by placing ads on buses that say ‘there is DEFINITELY a God’ in retaliation – which since faith is all about belief without proof just sounds desperate and a bit stupid. Also, would you really equate ONE atheist poster campaign with people knocking on your door and bothering you about your beliefs, a half-dozen street preachers in each of our major towns shouting into our ears about damnation, and many, many pro-religious posters on buses? I can’t believe that.Re: Some religious people doing bad things: I agree that to tar the individual who has a belief and is a good person and the hate-filled fundamentalist with the same brush is a bad way to go but also consider this: The nutjob fundamentalists and the cosy village churchgoers have one main thing in common – their ‘instruction book’ on how to look at life. After reading about chosen races and smiting and treating the world like its ours to use as we please ’till the rapture comes gives every believer the potential to wind up a fundamentalist, and its only the humanity and morality and the upbringing of the majority that stops them all being a set of baskets. Why not cut off that problem at its source by encouraging people to stay away from potentially corrosive texts such as the thousand or so year old bible and concentrate on the judgements required for the here and now?

  12. says

    Pt. 2:Re: Replacing God with the Dollar. You make a leap worthy of the subject of the original post. What you refer to as spirituality is for you directly attached to your religion. I dont know whether I’d call my moral code and consideration for the world and all things on it to be spirituality, but you’ll find that most people regardless of religious leanings have it. Thinking that by getting rid of religion we remove this spirituality and have capitalism filling the void is just plain ignorance. The US is one of the most religious and capitalised nations on the planet, with both seeing a growth in number over the past 30 years, so how do you explain that?Re: Stalin and SaddamStalin was an atheist, yes. The current Chinese government is/was also using a regime to ban all religions, the most prominent being the expunging of Buddhism from Tibet. However, you are mixing up religion with politics here. George Bush was a devout Christan, so in the name of equality let’s mix up all the bad he’s done in the world with the Christian faith and use him as a reason why that is bad. Also, you make several mistakes with your talk on Saddam Hussein: First, Saddam was a Sunni Islamist, not atheist. Second, he must have been damn good at pretending to be religious to get into the top job in a deeply religious country. Third, you have fallen into the very trap you were complaining about a couple of lines further up by talking about browbeating. Fourth, many people the world over have used religion as a way to get people to do their bidding. Thanks for highlighting an example of that.Re: SlaverySlavery was brought about in part because the initial settlers who discovered the ‘primitive black man’ considered him a beast, and as the Bible states that the plants and animals were put on the earth for man to exploit as they please, that’s a pretty good justification for using them as slaves. It was progressive people like Darwin who began to question this great injustice, and was carried through because of the moral humanism of the people who found it was wrong. Sadly, slavery is alive and well and more disgusting than ever, mostly down to the first world thirst for goods and the capitalist regime (which at least we both agree is a major bad thing) that feeds it.Lets not forget all the talk of slavery in the bible as well, much of it was not critical: http://skepticsannotatedbible….

  13. says

    Pt. 3:Re: Right-wing nutjobs vs ‘normal’ ChristansAs an atheist, it is my preference that we will all live in a world without reliance on religion to get us through the day. It won’t solve everything by any means – we’d still find a myriad of ways to argue and fight – but at least we’d be rid of one of the catalysts. Of course, this is too fanciful and most atheists don’t realistically expect it to happen anytime soon if ever, neither do they call for an end to religious belief, because that is the right of every person in a free society to believe what they want, so long as it doesn’t encroach on the liberties of others. We also recognise the difference between a fundamentalist [Christan|Muslim|Atheist|etc] and someone who just lives their lives with many other things of higher priority taking up their time on the earth. If the only religious people on the planet were the nice, kind, thoughtful, charitable and positive type (of which there are many), it may have been that atheism may not ever have had cause to come about in the first place, because it is partly down to the nutjobs (of which there are also many) that atheists come to question whether its all a load of hooey in the first place. The problem is, where is the dividing line between harmless religious sorts and those who are a bit crazy? Scratch the surface of that sweet old lady down the road who attends church mass with a knitted handbag and arranges charity coffee mornings serving cuppas with a kindly smile, and you might find a deeply hateful homophobic who would spit in your face if she knew you didn’t believe. The point I’m eventually getting to is a repeat of the above: The instruction book you use ultimately defines your character. Use a book talking about death and smiting and vengeance and wotnot and you’ll get the expected result.Apologies for monster post. I found myself on a soapbox for a while there…

  14. Bazlbof says

    I just assumed this arrogant claim from belonging to a historically affluent, privileged group. White men may see no need for God as they are “above” such archaic things, being the masters of the universe. Long live disbelief, who needs God when you’re rich, white and loving it?

  15. Azkyroth says

    It’s usually a bad sign when people can’t tell by reading your comment which side of the debate you’re even on.

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