There is a marvelously well-written and timely piece at Alternet by Chris Hall: Hitchens, Dawkins and Harris Are Old News: A Totally Different Atheism Is on the Rise (tagline: “It’s absurd to think these white males represent all organized atheism”), which has gotten enough attention to be picked up by Salon, there titled: Forget Christopher Hitchens: Atheism in America Is Undergoing a Radical Change (tagline: “Having a conversation about atheism today by talking about Hitchens and Dawkins proves you aren’t paying attention”). It’s a great read.
I’m especially glad to see this getting articulated so well and so publicly, as it corroborates a point I had made over a month ago in correcting a misperception of New Atheism in a work by Crossley. It’s also an example of the success of the ideals behind Atheism+ (the label just hasn’t been useful–except as a shibboleth for identifying the awful and the ignorant). We’ve helped make New Atheism more diverse and more sensitive to the issues and concerns of groups other than just old, white, wealthy, Anglo-American men. And it also demonstrates the need for continuing to fight for that cause, showing we still have a way to go to get all the way there, not least because, as Heina Dadabhoy commented on Facebook just recently:
The comments from atheists on the Alternet/Salon piece on diversifying atheism where I was quoted yesterday are already far more numerous & nasty than the ones I received from Muslims on the NYT piece in which I was featured.
That other piece she means, an excellent and positive coverage of the Women in Secularism conference, and ex-Muslim women involved in it (Leaving Islam for Atheism, and Finding a Much-Needed Place Among Peers), also appeared in a major mainstream media source (the New York Times), written by seasoned journalist Mark Oppenheimer (my more avid fans might remember him as the reporter who also exposed the Antony Flew scandal with my assistance some years back, which famously annoyed William Lane Craig).
Greta Christina has made a similar observation: she gets far more, and far worse, hate mail (complete with threats and vile abuse, and persistent harassing) from atheists than from Christians. And she wrote an infamous angry tirade against religion that was wholly uncompromising (Why Are You Atheists So Angry?) and is actively helping atheists come out and challenge religion (Coming Out Atheist), two definitive works in their respective subjects, so she would normally be the poster child for evil among the Christian community. Yet, they pretty much leave her alone. Now, it’s pretty much only the godless anti-feminists and anti-social-justice nuts who attack, and all too often in terms worse than any Christian ever did.
I’ve witnessed the same: I used to get threats of hellfire and menacing and harassment from theists; now I haven’t had such an email or blog comment literally in years. What I do get is abuse and harassment (albeit on a vastly smaller scale than any woman in the movement I know) from atheists…who think I’m ruining movement atheism by calling for it to be more diverse, treat women better, and to care about shit. I’ve seen the email inboxes and comment queues of numerous fellow women in the movement, and they are getting this consistently far more often and far worse.
I have been calling on my fellow atheists in the movement for years to denounce this and no longer give a free pass to such behavior. It’s an attempt to drive women (and in some cases gays and minorities) out of the movement. It’s an attempt to bolster white male superiority. Because reasons. Fuck that.
Viva la revolution.