A follow-up to Not if but where from last week. Dave Silverman is doing a Twitter survey to find out how people define “ally.” This has nudged me into realizing that the minimal sense (at least) is working together for a specific goal or cause; in other words it doesn’t necessarily mean an ally in all things, it can mean an ally for just one thing.
And I find I choke on using it that way. It has overtones of more…and I’m wondering how legitimate that is, and whether we need another word that would avoid that problem.
I choke on thinking of [people whose views on most things I detest] as allies of any kind.
I’ve been choking on this especially, lately, with the categories of atheists and skeptics. Well lots of us have. Lots of us have been finding out lately that many atheists are not our allies – except on atheism itself, and that turns out to be not enough for the purpose. It feels like a bad fit. Atheists who call us cunts at the drop of a hat don’t feel like allies of any kind.
Now if a meteor were approaching the earth then we could all be allies in trying to figure out how to survive. If the Nazis came back and started building nuclear weapons, we could all be allies in stopping them. But in issues that are not quite so urgent…it’s much more difficult.
I’m just talking about priorities, I suppose; about salience; about mattering. Atheism’s spot on my mattering map can change size, depending on what’s going on.
Or, to boil it down even further, I can just quote @splendisaurus:
Alright, so racists say they don’t like Islam. I also don’t like Islam. Should I “ally” with racists on this?
That’s a good example, and the answer is no – should not and must not; must do the very opposite.