The Allure of White Supremacy

[TRIGGER WARNING] There’s going to be some pretty racist stuff going on in this post. Please be aware of that before diving in.

NOTE: I had originally opted to use more inclusive and gender neutral language when I first wrote this post, but I decided to change it so that the voice it is written in is clearly that of a white male.  In several places I am trying to bring us all into the heads of white supremacists, and I have yet to meet a single white supremacist anywhere who has ever used the words ‘zie’, ‘zir’, or ‘ze’. I hope you’ll bear with me here. Also, while you and I may understand that concepts like ‘white’, ‘black’, ‘race’ are socially-constructed abstractions that have little to do with reality, white supremacists don’t. They see race as an essential characteristic of a person (unless they need to remove a person from their ‘natural’ racial category as we’ll see a bit later).

NOTE THE SECOND: I will not be linking to any white supremacist websites, forums, or book links of any kind in this blog. I absolutely refuse to be a party to driving traffic to their sites, or to drawing traffic to this one from theirs. I will provide a brief bibliography at the end of this post, and I will provide links to pertinent information from the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Racism is ugly. It is damaging, and it is cruel. Yet for a significant chunk of society, racism is also highly attractive. It is appealing on many different levels; it can be psychologically rewarding, and it can even sometimes (and in some situations) be praiseworthy – at least by some members of society (and not just the goose-stepping, sheet-wearing segment). There is a reason why people become active (either actively or passively) in white supremacist activity, and that reason isn’t always simple ignorance; there are more than a few highly educated and articulate people who are nevertheless wedded to the idea that their skin colour makes them a higher order to being than others. [Read more...]

Movie Friday: Black Folk Don’t… do atheism

A brand new series came to my attention a little while back called Black Folk Don’t, which confronts and discusses (but doesn’t necessarily debunk) stereotypes about the African American community. I had been meaning to throw one of them on here as a Movie Friday for a couple of weeks, but the latest version was just so squarely on the nose that I had to share it.

Some of my own thoughts below the fold.

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Because I am an atheist: WilloNyx

Today’s contribution comes from reader and bl0g-buddy WilloNyx, who writes at IdioPrag.

Because I am an atheist…

…I am more moral.  The confidence that I was doing “god’s work” kept me blind to the harm I caused with my religion. I believed the “hate the sin love the sinner” trope and I did not actively campaign for gay rights. Because I am an atheist, I no longer have doubts that fighting for equality is the most moral path I can take.

Because I am an atheist: I am a trans feminist. If it were not me seeking out other atheists like myself, I probably wouldn’t have found various atheist sites that taught me that feminism wasn’t a dirty word.  No matter how cultured I try to be I am limited by my geography. Atheism, and atheists taught me to look skeptically at my own biases toward feminism. Transgender atheists taught me to look skeptically at those feminists who would erase the experiences of women they deem not women enough. Because I am an atheist, I fight sexism against all women.

Because I am an atheist: I don’t  indoctrinate my kids. I no longer fear hell for their sake. Because I am an atheist, I can love my children for who they are rather than who god wants them to be. [Read more...]

Trayvon was part of YahwAlladdha’s plan – Zimmerman

There is a school of thought among anti-theists like myself that rejects the smiling, hat-in-hand, ‘moderate’ version of theist belief that seems to dominate the newspaper opinion columns and academic debate halls (and yet seems to correspond not at all to the front page headlines) as profoundly dishonest. If you believe that the Bible or the Qur’an or the Torah are literally true, or even true as metaphor, then you cannot escape a few simple conclusions, the first and most obvious of which is that the guy running the show is a petty and vengeful dictator who will torture you eternally out of ‘love’ (one of many words that seems to have a completely different meaning when describing the deity than it does when used to describe anything else).

This particular group of anti-theists don’t have a whole lot of patience for those who say that the different religions are just ‘different ways at arriving at the same answer’ or that religions are all ‘fundamentally about peace’. “Bullshit!” they (we) say, “you can only claim that if you just flat-out ignore half of the shit in your book. If you’re going to ignore parts of it, we invite you to join us and ignore the whole fucking thing.” Anti-theists are potty-mouths.

And in that sense, the only times that anti-theists and religious fundamentalists agree (when it comes to questions of theology) usually involve at least one dead body: [Read more...]

Myth… confirmed

There is a bit of ‘wisdom’ about stereotypes that says that they have a basis in truth. Reader and regular commenter mynameischeese* referred to a particularly insightful observation:

As Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie once pointed out, the problem with stereotypes isn’t that they’re untrue; it’s that they are incomplete. If you go to Mexico, you can find a guy in a sombrero playing mariachi music. He does exist. But he can’t represent all of Mexico.

It’s an instructive way to think about stereotypes – as a selective slice of reality that is stretched and warp to represent the totality. However, when you look with any serious scrutiny at the situation and attempt to find any truth, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll find that the stereotype is woefully unhelpful.

I usually discourage the use of stereotype whenever possible. Stereotypical thinking not only often goes hand in hand with system justifying behaviours, but are often based on harmful ideas that can ‘other’ minority groups, even if that dehumanization is unintentional. Stereotype-based thinking is the antithesis of a skeptical mindset, and can lead us to make really poor decisions. Plus, the fact is that the more we learn about reality the more interesting life becomes – living in a world where everything adheres to a stereotype is boring.

That being established, as we said off the top, sometimes there’s truth in even the most cliched stereotype: [Read more...]

Is this racist? You can bank on it.

Part of the challenge of incorporating anti-racism into mainstream skepticism is that skepticism has been primarily focused on developing techniques of inquiry honed in material sciences (by which I mean the study of physical systems like cosmology, biology, and physics – not materials science which is an entirely different thing). Ask most mainstream skeptics, and they’ll display an admirable grasp on at least the basics of astronomy, evolution, mechanics, some quantum physics, and if you’re lucky a bit of biochemistry to go with it. Many questions that atheistic skeptics have had to learn to answer are focussed on the origins of the universe and of life, necessitating this basic ‘toolkit’ of scientific knowledge.

We have not yet, and I mean yet, turned our eye toward the study of human sociopolitical systems (although I am enthused to note that most people have a fair-to-middling grasp on some core psychology, which builds part of the foundation). I am certainly not exempt from these educational blind spots, despite my impression of myself as a skeptic who is more interested in sociology than average. Without the same basic knowledge of methods of sociological inquiry (which surely extend to history, literary analysis, and other things that aren’t, in the strictest sense, ‘sciences’), it becomes very difficult to parse the often labyrinthine mechanisms of cause and effect in human organizations, especially in a way that satisfies the more ‘tactile’ minds among us.

Luckily, every now and then racism expresses itself so clearly and unequivocally that it transcends the need for rigorous study to unravel the mechanism behind the effect: [Read more...]

Because I am an atheist: Alyson Miers

Today’s contribution comes via e-mail from Alyson Miers, who blogs at The Monster’s Ink.

Because I am an atheist…

I’ve wanted to be a writer ever since I was a kid who still prayed to Jesus, so I can’t credit atheism for my creative impulses, but it does have a lot to do with what I create. Because I know the Bible is only a story written by human beings, I am not afraid to build new worlds. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth, and in 2012, the Plague wiped out nearly all of humanity and the survivors were left with nothing but arable land. The only difference is that I do not expect anyone to view my writing as anything other than fiction.

Without the constraints of religion, I decide what is prohibited or compulsory, and what is encouraged, optional or a necessary evil based on the balance of benefit and harm to real, living creatures that think and feel in this life, and I write my stories accordingly. I do not confuse timidity with nuance. I owe none of my talent or time to the putative interests of a God who probably does not exist. All my allegiance is to the people in my life and the worlds I create.

Because I am an atheist, I do not shy away from offending the sensibilities of those who believe the Bible (or any other “sacred” text) is something other than a book written by human hands. I seek to understand the perspectives of those who disagree with me, for they are my family, friends and neighbors, and like us, they have nothing but this life, but one can understand a contrary perspective without privileging it. I do my best to create works that are enjoyable to people who may or may not be religious without doing them the disrespect of pretending to agree with their superstitions.

Consider submitting your own statement, by e-mail or as a comment!

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“How come there’s no post today?!”

Because instead of doing the responsible thing and staying home last night, I went and did this:

Talib Kweli is an unbelievably skilled emcee, and when I saw he was coming to Vancouver I thought there must surely be a mistake. My reflexive skeptical cynicism notwithstanding, I bought a ticket and went to Yaletown to check out the show. The first opening act, a local outfit called KIDS, was unbelievable – lots of energy, great stage presence, culminating in a finale spit partially in English, partially in Farsi. Definitely planning on checking them out again. The other openers… I won’t waste time identifying them – they were mediocre.

Kweli was, of course, amazing. In the seminal and timeless cut “Eric B. is President”, Rakim lays down a manifesto for all those who would try to bless the mic in the coming years: “to me, MC means ‘move the crowd’.” Kweli didn’t shy away from this challenge at all – a previously lukewarm crowd was whipped into a frenzy so hot that the rafters actually started sweating. Vancouver’s hip-hop scene is pretty weak (hence my surprise that Kweli was here), but clearly there are some true school fans there that night. [Read more...]

The Essentials of our movement

[This is written by Brian. And I'm glad to be writing again. :)

Feel free to violently disagree. ;) ]

DJ Grothe and his ambivalent stance regarding sexual harrassment. Dawkins and his ‘Dear Muslima’ letter. Penn and… well, frankly, everything. All of these freethinkers and atheists and skeptics taking a wrong turn here… They must be bad freethinkers and atheists and skeptics. Right…? [See links at the end of post for background info]

I am anti-religion. That, I think, could be said of me without any fear of contradiction. I am anti-religion because it’s false and unsupported by the evidence. I am anti-religion because (generally speaking) religions are anti-woman, anti-homosexual, anti-sex, anti-animal, and anti-[pretty much anything that takes power away from the people running the religion]. But these are the surface reasons, not the core. As bad as these things are, these are secondary illnesses, not the primary disease. The problem?

Essentialism.

[Read more...]