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There are some things I won’t compromise on…but Stedman will

Chris Stedman is at it again. Once more, he’s carping at atheists who dare to question the beliefs of the delusional theists he considers his dearest friends, his most important clients, and the people he wants to spend his life working among, the liberal Christians and Muslims. Unfortunately, he chose as his opening salvo a rather innocuous comment, which tells us exactly where the limits of his tolerance lie, and they’re pretty darned low. David Silverman of American Atheists said this:

The WTC cross has become a Christian icon. It has been blessed by so-called holy men and presented as a reminder that their god, who couldn’t be bothered to stop the Muslim terrorists or prevent 3,000 people from being killed in his name, cared only enough to bestow upon us some rubble that resembles a cross.

Yes. That sounds accurate to me. Do you have a problem with that, Stedman? It’s a very clear statement about the absurdity of sanctifying some random wreckage because it shares a trivial orthogonality with the simplistic religious symbol of Christians, and it’s good that Silverman was pointing that out — I want atheist leaders to be clear-headed and assertive.

But not Stedman. He seems to think that statement was divisive, and for backup, he cites Jon Stewart, who took offense at a statement of truth.

After sharing that statement, Stewart — speaking as if he were Silverman — added: “As President of the American Atheists organization, I promise to make sure that everyone, even those that are indifferent to our cause, will f-cking hate us.”

What neither Stedman nor Stewart mentioned, of course, was that Stewart is on the 9/11 Memorial and Museum board of directors, has a vested interest in the 9/11 museum, and that his organization was being sued by American Atheists for promoting sectarian religion in the museum.

But even ignoring that, I would ask both Stedman and Stewart this: was Silverman wrong? I don’t think so. What stings about that remark is the truth of it…that the museum and Stedman just want to let some stupid pareidolia have a place in a museum because it’s easier than actually pointing out the folly of it all. They don’t think it’s worth fighting for a reasonable response because it might alienate groups of unreasonable people.

It’s good to know that an atheist community under the thumb of Stedman would be asked to avoid comments as mild as Silverman’s, for fear of antagonizing Stedman’s favored clientele…the believers. It’s becoming obvious that Stedman also has a conflict of interest: he’s not really interested in working for atheism, but is more aligned with that weird pro-faith organization called Interfaith Youth Core. Could he please toddle off, work hard with them, and stop pretending to be one of us, please?

Stedman also does something unconscionable. Most of his post consists of a garbled, desperate twisting of a post by Greta Christina, on the different goals of the atheist movement. Greta is a firebrand, someone who promotes a strong, aggressive atheism, and somehow, Stedman mangles her words to pretend that it all somehow supports his position of passive-aggressive self-adulation. And he doesn’t even understand Greta’s argument, which doesn’t say much for Stedman’s ability to empathize with different positions. He simply doesn’t comprehend the New Atheist position at all.

I’ll help. As Greta says (and I’ve said before, too), there are a lot of different reasons to be an atheist, but the reasons of the New Atheists (and myself, specifically) are quite clear and simple. They’re so simple that stupidity can’t be Stedman’s excuse for not grasping them.

And here it is: our first priority is the truth.

When someone makes a statement about gods — and here’s where Stedman is really incomprehending, because we aren’t focused on just the fundamentalists, but also include the liberal religious persuasions in this criticism — the question right at the top of our heads is, “Is that true?”

Someone says, “God will cast you into eternal hellfire!”, and we wonder, “Really? Is that true? Can you back that up with evidence?”

Someone says, “God is love,” and it’s all the same to us. “Is that true? How do you know? Is there a way to confirm that, or even say it with less mush in your mouth?”

Somebody sees a couple of girders at right angles to one another in the rubble of the WTC towers, and thinks it’s worth putting in a museum. We ask, “Why? Does this make sense, even in the context of your own religion, that this tragedy is marked with a symbol of your faith?” It’s a good question. Jon Stewart didn’t answer it. Stedman sure as hell didn’t.

No, not Stedman. Stedman is one of those guys who’d happily sacrifice reality on the altar of let’s-just-get-along.

That’s not where I stand. If Stedman had actually read Greta’s post with comprehension, he’d know that there are a lot of different atheists out there, and some of us have science and an attitude of unrelenting criticism and doubt seared into us, right down to the bone. We’re not surrendering it to make some hippy-dippy narcissistic appeaser happy, or to reconcile jesus-worshippers to us. That’s a compromise we aren’t going to make. Especially when Stedman’s only alternative is to shut up about the incoherence of faith.

Comments

  1. raven says

    “As President of the American Atheists organization, I promise to make sure that everyone, even those that are indifferent to our cause, will f-cking hate us.”

    That never bothers the fundie xians. Doesn’t stop them from trying to sneak their mythology into our kids science classes or murdering an MD here or there. Sponsoring xian terrorism.

    Constantly whining about how they are persecuted because people object to a 10 commandment display in an airport restroom or on a freeway overpass.

    It doesn’t stop them from hating gays, atheists, Democrats, Moslems, other xians, other religions, women, children, college students, and each other. Just about all humans.

  2. Alverant says

    “Why? Does this make sense, even in the context of your own religion, that this tragedy is marked with a symbol of your faith?”

    Keep in mind the christian symbol is an instrument of torture and painful execution.

    The central problem I have with using the cross is that it leaves out all the non-christians who died in that attack. Using the cross feeds the christian persecution complex; that everything is all about them and the rest of us can be ignored.

  3. raven says

    I’m not too clear on this WTC cross other than noting that in a square very tall building, there are going to be a lot of steel beams perpendicular to each other.

    I assume some xians are whining about being persecuted again because they can’t do whatever they want, whenever they want. Again.

    If the xians want to put it in or on a public memorial, the procedure is clear. Put up the religious symbols of all the people who died there on 9/11.

    A lot of them were Jewish, Some were Moslems. Hindus. Some were atheists. I suppose a few were New Agers, Pagans, or Wiccans.

    What is the harm in putting up a stylized “A” for atheists to commerorate their killed co-nonreligionists?

  4. davidct says

    Stedman would have us shuffle politely to the back of the bus saying “yes Massah”. No! – These public displays of superstition need to be called out.

  5. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    Stedman’s only alternative is to shut up about the incoherence of faith.

    I wish he’d shut up. Just, in general. He’s embarassing.

  6. raven says

    Jewish dead at the World Trade Center:

    “based on the list of names, biographical information compiled by The New York Times, and information from records at the Medical Examiner’s Office, there were at least 400 victims either confirmed or strongly believed to be Jewish.”

    Around 400 Jews were killed at the WTC. 62 Moslems besides the terrorists. I don’t know how many Hindus but chances are there were some. I’m sure there was a few atheists as well.

  7. razzlefrog says

    Whether the cross is sensible is 100% irrelevant. 9/11 devastated people all over the country. 9/11 instilled fear in people’s hearts. 9/11 saw people in tears, in the streets, in the news, in the pews, in their homes, in every state, shattered with grief. And people were lost. I’m not sure how well you all recall this memory, but it’s still very vivid to me.

    What people saw in that godforsaken (expression, y’all) cross is all sorts of juju symbolism, but it represents a response our culture had. I. DON’T. AGREE. I think it’s idiocy. That goes without saying. Shout it from the rooftops, you have that right. But it is emblematic of the atmosphere, the mood, the upset, that went on at the time, and as a result, fits into a museum dedicated to it. So chill out.

  8. Moggie says

    What neither Stedman nor Stewart mentioned, of course, was that Stewart is on the 9/11 Memorial and Museum board of directors, has a vested interest in the 9/11 museum, and that his organization was being sued by American Atheists for promoting sectarian religion in the museum.

    Since I haven’t followed this story at all, I was unaware of that detail. So, Stewart used his show to disparage an organisation which was suing his organisation? Isn’t that rather unethical?

  9. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    But it is emblematic of the atmosphere, the mood, the upset, that went on at the time, and as a result, fits into a museum dedicated to it. So chill out.

    It is nothing but bullshit. The “cross” isn’t anything other than delusional thinking. You chill out.

  10. razzlefrog says

    @Nerd of Redhead

    I get that. I said that in my comment. (I might suggest reading it!) But it IS something people found (annoying, misguided) “meaning” in.

    And who the fuck argues that a museum dedicated to an overtly religiously-motivated crime should exclude religious elements. HELLO? People saw it as theological warfare (atheists saw it as theological warfare!) and the cross is symbolic of that kind of thinking, for that event, which is now going into a damn museum that documents it.

    You chill out.

  11. raven says

    But it IS something people found (annoying, misguided) “meaning” in.

    Oh really? I never heard of it until a few days ago and still have no idea what the problem is. You are just making stuff up. Lying.

    And who the fuck argues that a museum dedicated to an overtly religiously-motivated crime should exclude religious elements. HELLO? People saw it as theological warfare (atheists saw it as theological warfare!) and the cross is symbolic of that kind of thinking, for that event, which is now going into a damn museum that documents it.

    This is gibberish. You could spend a thousand years trying to understand it and it still wouldn’t make sense.

    You chill out.

    You need to go in for a neurological evaluation. Something isn’t working right in your brain. Or stop drinking or taking drugs if that is your problem.

  12. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    You chill out.

    Why? You are the incoherent fuckwit who is agitated, not me. I know what the de facto state establishment of religion means. For the state to be neutral, either all are included, or none are included; anything else is establishment. You are begging for establishment of Xian religion.

  13. razzlefrog says

    @Raven
    Just because you “never heard of it until a few days ago”, doesn’t mean it didn’t exist before then, you know. And people did find (again, annoying, misguided) “meaning” in the cross. Don’t ask me to make it clear to you – you’re barking up the wrong tree – I don’t see it either.

    Also, what’s not to get about exhibiting post-9/11 responsive public sentiment, that is religious in nature, in a museum dedicated to a religiously motivated crime? What, you think we ought to sterilize it from all the nasty theological stuff involved? The museum is not for putting things you like in it, it’s for accurately depicting the thoughts and news stories and events and fears (no matter how insane – especially when insane) that occurred at the time in New York and across the country

  14. says

    When someone makes a statement about gods — and here’s where Stedman is really incomprehending, because we aren’t focused on just the fundamentalists, but also include the liberal religious persuasions in this criticism — the question right at the top of our heads is, “Is that true?”

    Actually not quite, at least not in my case. The question right at the top of my head is “How on earth do you know that? How do you think you know that? How do you manage to think you know that with such confidence that you make unbashful untentative unhesitant statements about it? What is your source? Why don’t you ask yourself such questions? Why do you think you know things you can’t possibly know?”

  15. razzlefrog says

    Why? You are the incoherent fuckwit who is agitated, not me. I know what the de facto state establishment of religion means. For the state to be neutral, either all are included, or none are included; anything else is establishment. You are begging for establishment of Xian religion.

    Dude, it is not about state establishment of religion! Geez, Louise! It’s about using the platform of expression that is a museum, to accurately portray an event. An event tinged with religious sentiment. They’re going to want to display the heartbreak, no? They’re going to want to display headlines, no? And opinions, no? And quotes, and behavior, and social effects? And how it was interpreted by Americans – that is to say, how they felt, what they suspected, how they saw the whole tragedy? You know, part of accurately depicting an event? If people saw religious elements in this, then that’s what happened, irrespective of how you, or I, feel about it.

    That is all I’m trying to goddamn get at here.

  16. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    It’s about using the platform of expression that is a museum, to accurately portray an event.

    Which being Xian had nothing to do with. There is no need for that symbol anywhere in the exhibition. It can tell the story without overt symbols of only one of the many religions in this country.

    That is all I’m trying to goddamn get at here.

    Bullshit. Because there is no need for that cross symbol, period, end of story. You haven’t proved your case, just made irrational and emotional noises for it.

  17. Gregory Greenwood says

    raven @ 3;

    I’m not too clear on this WTC cross other than noting that in a square very tall building, there are going to be a lot of steel beams perpendicular to each other.

    This was pretty much my first thought when hearing about the WTC cross – imgaine finding a piece of infrastructural cross spar in the wreckage of a building whose structural ‘skeleton’ is constructed primarily from such pieces. I mean, what are the odds

    Finding such wreckage is hardly surprising, and it is sadly even less surprising that certain christians would try to point to this twisted hunk of metal and claim that it is some kind of sign from their sky fairy. As Alverant says @ 2, it is just the christian persecution complex coming to the fore again – 9/11 was exclusively about them in their eyes. It was an attack on their faith, an expression of a clash, not so much of civilisations, as of religions between christianity and islam. Indeed, many would characterise it as a war between ‘good and evil’ as if such a simplistic, absolutist concept has any real meaning in the context of these events. They don’t care about the non-christiuan victims, because in their eyes such people just don’t count at all (why weep for the appostates?) or at best are insignificant collateral damage.

    That is christian ‘compassion’ for you…

  18. says

    I posted this quote from Frederick Douglass on Chris’ Facebook page, and I will post it here as well.

    “Let me give you a word of the philosophy of reform. The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of earnest struggle. The conflict has been exciting, agitating, all-absorbing, and for the time being, putting all other tumults to silence. It must do this or it does nothing. If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.

    “This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did, and it never will.”

  19. Gregory Greenwood says

    razzlefrog @ 15;

    Dude, it is not about state establishment of religion! Geez, Louise! It’s about using the platform of expression that is a museum, to accurately portray an event. An event tinged with religious sentiment… You know, part of accurately depicting an event? If people saw religious elements in this, then that’s what happened, irrespective of how you, or I, feel about it.

    I don’t think that this is what is happening here. The WTC cross is clearly being presented in the context of religious pareidolia – it is being held up as a symbol of the christian deity found in the wreckage because it was somehow placed there by Yahweh. Public money is being spent to create a public exhibition that it clearly endorsing one sectarian belief system over all others. This is clearly exclusitory toward all the non-christian victims of 9/11, especially because the symbols of other religions and those associated with people of no religion have not been permitted in the exhibit.

    This is not about depicting any aspect of the theistic attributes of the atrocity itself or the social events that surrounded it – this is about sending the message that the memorial museum (and, by extension, the state entities that helped fund the museum) is aligning itself with christianity and christian religious symbolism. That shouldn’t be allowed to go unchallenged merely because many christians have chosen to fetishise a chunk of wreckage that happens to consist of a cruciform shape that is very common in modern construction techniques – it is not the responsibility of atheists to pander to the delusions of the faithful in any set of circumstances, still less to become complicit in their exclusion of those not of their faith by our silence, and that includes the memorial to 9/11.

  20. razzlefrog says

    @Nerd of Redhead

    It’s about using the platform of expression that is a museum, to accurately portray an event.

    Which being Xian had nothing to do with. There is no need for that symbol anywhere in the exhibition. It can tell the story without overt symbols of only one of the many religions in this country.

    That is all I’m trying to goddamn get at here.

    Bullshit. Because there is no need for that cross symbol, period, end of story. You haven’t proved your case, just made irrational and emotional noises for it.

    1.)I didn’t say it had anything to do with the actual attacks. Fucking obviously. No one expected them. That was Islamic fundamentalism.
    2.) It had everything to do with our response as a nation. It was one among many responses, all differing. Are you really advocating not including 9/11 reactions, like they’re just not part of it? We as atheists need to distinguish between religious symbolism and attempts at outright raping church and state principles.
    3.) You’ve made it evident you’re incapable (or unwilling) to see logical argument. I bet if you’ve ever been to a Holocaust museum, you saw information and photographs of things related to how some protestant churches opposed Hitler, reactions that are religious in nature and demonstrate views held on theistic grounds. Is it people trying to sabotage democracy? No. It reflects what was going on deep in the middle of those trying years.

  21. Gregory Greenwood says

    razzlefrog @ 20;

    We as atheists need to distinguish between religious symbolism and attempts at outright raping church and state principles.

    (Emphasis added)

    Please refrain from making such flippant use of this term. A substantial number of rape survivors frequent this blog, and the casual use of such ternminology may well be distressing for them. Using the term ‘rape’ in such an innappropriate context also helps belittle the severity of the actual crime, and so contributes to the broader rape culture.

    Please bear in mind that I am not trying to jump down your throat for no reason here, I merely wish to make you aware of why such language should be avoided in circumstances such as these.

  22. echidna says

    Dazzle frog, if you’ve ever understood what went on in the holocaust years, you would understand why having separation of church and state is so important.

  23. razzlefrog says

    @Gregory Greenwood

    Apologies. You’re right. I forget. Believe me, I definitely didn’t intend to contribute to rape culture. Thank you for the measured reminder.

    @echidna

    I agree with you. Religion certainly wasn’t helpful in thwarting those years. To put it mildly. In any case, the point I meant still stands.

  24. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    It had everything to do with our response as a nation.

    Bullshit, this nation did not respond as an Xian nation, it responded as a secular nation, one with a multitude of religious beliefs. To single out one religious belief for promotion with public monies is establishment, and fails the neutrality of religion. You can’t argue that it isn’t.

    Are you really advocating not including 9/11 reactions, like they’re just not part of it?

    Why is an unnecessary piece of steel needed as a symbol for reactions? It isn’t. You know that, or you should. Show some sense.

    You’ve made it evident you’re incapable (or unwilling) to see logical argument.

    You have presented no logical argument. Not even a good emotional argument. Just get in your face sloganeering and appeasement.

  25. says

    But it is emblematic of the atmosphere, the mood, the upset, that went on at the time, and as a result, fits into a museum dedicated to it.

    Is that the plan for its inclusion? As an object among others in a historical display about the different responses to the event, perhaps accompanied by news articles about its discovery and meaning to some Christians? Because that’s not the impression I’ve gotten.

  26. razzlefrog says

    @Nerd of Redheads

    I don’t think adding the cross is exclusionary. If people saw a menorah in the rubble, and the Jewish community felt it became a symbol of some important whatever pertaining to the event, they’re part of the community and I feel their perspective, that I disagree with, should be displayed too. I feel they are at liberty to be included in just the same way everyone else is, seeing as the twin towers’ collapse affected us all.

    The 9/11 museum is not about government. It’s about an event in history and the complex social, cultural, and human elements that surround it. Would you say the famous art piece Piss Jesus (I think it was called), displayed in a museum, is the U.S. hating on Christians?

    Religion is woven into society. It grates my nerves but it’s true. Elements making it into museums is neither new nor in the least bit surprising, and help future generations to understand something about a different culture.

    Hopefully, having wisened up.

  27. Azkyroth says

    If they’re just trying to get along and promote peace and non-conflict, why are they attacking us so eagerly and viciously?

  28. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I don’t think adding the cross is exclusionary.

    Well, you’ve shown you don’t know how to think. It is exclusionary if no other religious symbol is present. Any semi-thinker can understand that.

    The 9/11 museum is not about government. It’s about an event in history and the complex social, cultural, and human elements that surround it.

    Wrong. It is a publicly funded museum, ergo, it is an extension of government, and the establishment clause is in full effect. No matter how you frame it, just showing the cross is establishment, and the only way out to to have all other religious symbols present. Only godbots can’t see that truth.

    There is no need for the cross as a symbol, unless someone it trying to pretend this is an Xian country. It isn’t.

  29. jasonmartin99 says

    Razzlefrog, if it’s any consolation, I’ve been persuaded by your argument. Reading PZs words got me in an angry mood, but your posts made sense to me. I’ve chilled out, you might say.

  30. says

    If being an atheist activist means “persuading more people out of religion and into atheism,” as Christina wrote, then I am not one.

    She didn’t say it means that, and that if you didn’t share her goals you aren’t an atheist activist. She said for some atheists – herself included – that is the major goal. (I disagree with this characterization, as I argued on the earlier thread – I understand the goal in more epistemic terms as PZ and Ophelia have here, but it’s not that important to this discussion since he’s acknowledged that people have goals he does not share.) You’ve now stated plainly that there are atheists who have goals you do not share. This means two things: First, you can no longer criticize our actions in the language of “we” and “our cause” as though you share our goals as you’ve been doing. Second, you can’t do what you continue to do in the same paragraph: “But I also think that if the atheist movement is going to prioritize religious criticism, we ought to be thoughtful about how we engage in it.” (Again, knock it off with the fucking “we,” already.) We believe our methods are effective in achieving our goals. They are not your goals, and we’re not interested in hearing about how they affect your achievement of your goals. Simply recognize that we don’t share the same goals and do your own thing. Our actions might interfere with your achievement of your goals, and we really don’t care, as you shouldn’t care that yours interfere with our goals.

    I get that you’re peeved that despite your endless self-promotion yours isn’t the prominent face of atheist activism. That’s really just too bad. I’m quite happy about it.

    I am an atheist who wishes to promote critical thinking, compassion, and pluralism,

    No, you do not wish to promote critical thinking. Your activism demonstrates this very clearly.

    which is defined by the Interfaith Youth Core

    And there you go right there. Critical thinking and faith are inherently in conflict. You cannot promote one and respect the other.

    So let’s call it like it is. If your “top priority” is working to eliminate religion, you are not simply an atheist activist — you are an anti-religious activist.

    This is only true if one accepts your narrow definition of atheist activism, which obviously many do not.

    ***

    GC:

    For many atheists, the primary goal of atheist activism is to reduce anti-atheist bigotry and discrimination, and to work towards more complete separation of church and state. Their main goal is to get people to see atheists as happy, ethical, productive members of society, with full and equal rights and responsibilities. They want to see atheists be fully accepted into society, and to have our atheism recognized as legitimate. They want to counter myths and misconceptions about atheists. And they see angry, confrontational, firebrand atheists as feeding into those myths, and alienating religious believers, and thus making everyone’s job harder.

    But not all atheists see this as their main goal.

    And to the extent that I do view it as a goal, it’s rather different from Stedman’s thinking. I have no interest in showing religious people that their stereotypes of atheists are wrong through trying to be more like them. This just plays into the other side of the stereotypes: that religious people are actually what they think they are. It’s all bogus. When I talk about acceptance, I mean on my own terms, and there’s no way atheism is going to be accepted while people still defer to immoral faith.

  31. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    The lesson in all of this is clear.

    If you would like to start your own religion, choose a symbol that is simple enough to appear as a result of random events. A cross is perfect in this regard. A menorah, crescent moon, wheel o0f life, or yin and yang…not as much.

    FSM marketers: I think it would behoove you to simply employ the meatball. Lots of things look like meat balls.

  32. 'Tis Himself, OM. says

    Stedman quotes several people, including PZ, Greta Christina, and Al Stefanelli, in his screed. He manages to quote-mine every single one of them.

    I’m on record for telling accommodationists that they don’t have to shut up. I want to modify that. I want Chris Stedman to shut up, not because he’s an accommodationist but because he’s dishonest.

  33. Brownian says

    I want Chris Stedman to shut up, not because he’s an accommodationist but because he’s dishonest.

    Hi Stedfans!

    In the spirit of Christmas, I’ll save you having to type out your rebuttal by mentioning how very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, extremely, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, excessively, very, very, very, very, exceedingly, very, very, very, very, very, extraordinarily, very, very, very, very, very, exceptionally, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, exorbitantly, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very nice Chris Stedman is.

  34. Brownian says

    Lots of things look like meat balls.

    Just outside my window and in the schoolyard across the street, I see some children throwing symbols of His Noodly Goodness made from snow at each other. FSM be praised! It’s a miracle!

    Your move, Francis Collins.

  35. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Wrong. It is a publicly funded museum, ergo, it is an extension of government, and the establishment clause is in full effect.No matter how you frame it, just showing the cross is establishment, and the only way out to to have all other religious symbols present. Only godbots can’t see that truth.

    This borderlines on dangerous. Maybe not in this instance but taken as a general statement on museums it does. I’m typing form an iPad in a car on the way to the nc mtns so I can’t go into full explanation but I have an issue with it.

  36. Aquaria says

    Whether the cross is sensible is 100% irrelevant. 9/11 devastated people all over the country. 9/11 instilled fear in people’s hearts. 9/11 saw people in tears, in the streets, in the news, in the pews, in their homes, in every state, shattered with grief. And people were lost. I’m not sure how well you all recall this memory, but it’s still very vivid to me.

    I wasn’t crying or shattered with grief. I didn’t feel any worse about it than I did about assorted hurricanes or earthquakes. It was terrible, yes, but its affect on me, personally, were ZERO. Terrible things happen all the time. Get the fuck over it.

    BTW, the only people who overreacted so stupidly were hysterical nitwits, and “Some people are hysterical–let’s reward them for it by erecting a torture device they worship!” is a stupid idea.

    It had everything to do with our response as a nation. It was one among many responses, all differing. Are you really advocating not including 9/11 reactions, like they’re just not part of it? We as atheists need to distinguish between religious symbolism and attempts at outright raping church and state principles.

    How? How do you fucking know how Americans responded to it? Did you fucking ask them? Or did you believe what your stupid TV told you about it?

    Most of us went the fuck on with our lives. Most of us never lit up the door of a delusion palace. What the FUCK does a bunch of hysterical nitwits going to their delusion palace have to do with the 9/11 attacks, you fucking moron?

    I have a newsflash for you, cupcake: christardery had fuck-all to do with 9/11. In fact, I seem to remember Osama being upset about our decadent secular values. So make the museum about secular things. What the fuck is so difficult about that for you, you moronic scumbag?

  37. razzlefrog says

    @jasonmartin99

    Thank you kindly.

    @Nerd of Redheads

    It is exclusionary if no other religious symbol is present.

    That’s not correct. If there were none to be present, it’s not exclusionary. It is sufficient to discount this claim of exclusion that they are permitted to be displayed. It’s like voting in election cycles. The absence of one citizen because of a business trip at the time does not imply we have an unfair election. The campaigns continue, and they are welcome to participate. Their rights are not violated. Nothing is taken away.

    It is a publicly funded museum, ergo, it is an extension of government, and the establishment clause is in full effect. No matter how you frame it, just showing the cross is establishment, and the only way out to to have all other religious symbols present. Only godbots can’t see that truth.

    Would you argue that facts and history ought to be modified by virtue of being exhibited in a publicly funded institution? There is a difference between education and proselytizing. An explanatory text saying “Following the 9/11 attacks, many of America’s Christian denominations viewed this specimen as a symbol of ‘hope and better days’.” is not endorsement. But saying, “And then the LORD our Savior Jesus CHRIST weepeth upon the graves of America’s sons and daughters.” is obscene endorsement. Do not equate mentioning culture, of which religion is a part, to government infiltration or violation of the establishment clause.

    There is no need for the cross as a symbol, unless someone it trying to pretend this is an Xian country. It isn’t.

    I don’t know of any symbols one absolutely “needs”. It seems to me you just don’t want it there because it’s not to your taste – and I bet you have good reason for that – but the point is, in matters of policy that is simply not an adequate excuse to exclude it. And can you really say “I bet when they’re arguing we’re a Christian nation, they’ll point to that measly set of bars sitting among 42042394824 other artifacts in a museum in New York and all the counter arguments we pose, not to mention 200 plus years of well-documented history, will instantly crumble”?

    I think we’re safe here. Would that our attention were directed more wisely.

  38. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    f there were none to be present, it’s not exclusionary.

    Why does it have to be the cross, and not another piece of the rubble? That is a shitty excuse for bad behavior, and you know it. Your framing doesn’t change the fact that it is establishment. Try again, but breathe some reality first.

    The absence of one citizen because of a business trip at the time does not imply we have an unfair election.

    Non sequitor. Not helping your case.

    Their rights are not violated. Nothing is taken away.

    This is establishment, a violation of the constitution. Unnecessary due to the amount of rubble from the towers, where any semi-recognizable piece without the religious connotations would be more than adequate.

    You still haven’t made the case for this piece of the rubble compared to any other. That has been your problem all along, and why you keep bullshitting.

    An explanatory text saying “Following the 9/11 attacks, many of America’s Christian denominations viewed this specimen as a symbol of ‘hope and better days’.” is not endorsement.

    Yep it is an endorsement. Not needed. That is the truth.

    Do not equate mentioning culture, of which religion is a part, to government infiltration or violation of the establishment clause.

    Again, only one religion, establishment. All need to be present.

  39. says

    Rev. BigDumbChimp,

    I think the separation test should always be: does it have a real secular purpose, which does not rest on a claim of ceremonial deism?

    I’m not sure the display of this cross passes that test, but this would allow the educational display of much religious art.

  40. madscientist says

    God made a cross? I hadn’t heard that one – it shows how little interest I have in religious bullshit. I also saw claims that a figure of satan appeared in the dust cloud as the towers collapsed. So god was there and the devil was there and god let the devil have his way. I wish the religious nuts would shut the hell up unless they have something intelligent to say (which may be never).

  41. patte says

    Seems very sad to me that PZ’s post and the comments to it show that the atheist movement is splitting up into rivaling fractions calling each other names, just like the religions.

  42. says

    That’s not correct. If there were none to be present, it’s not exclusionary. It is sufficient to discount this claim of exclusion that they are permitted to be displayed.

    This appears to be incorrect. The museum people were saying that there will be a star of David cut from WTC steel, a prayer shawl, and a Bible fused to a piece of steel. (Shockingly, no Korans.) The AA responded:

    Silverman said that if the 9/11 Memorial foundation allows all other religious memorials of equal size and prominence to be displayed in the museum, the group would “happily, happily, drop the case.”

    “It’s an all or nothing deal. They can remove the cross, or they can let everybody else in. Either way is legal and we would drop the case,” Silverman said.

    ***

    There is a difference between education and proselytizing. An explanatory text saying “Following the 9/11 attacks, many of America’s Christian denominations viewed this specimen as a symbol of ‘hope and better days’.” is not endorsement. But saying, “And then the LORD our Savior Jesus CHRIST weepeth upon the graves of America’s sons and daughters.” is obscene endorsement.

    This is what it comes down to, I imagine. It is part of the history of the event and some (including rescue workers) people’s responses.

    It’s also 17 feet high. It’s been at a church, was blessed (I believe upon its transfer back to the site), and has been and will be treated as a religious symbol by believers. They could have taken a picture of it at St. Peter’s and displayed that with other objects. I’m not convinced that the manner of this huge thing’s display doesn’t cross the line into endorsement.

  43. raven says

    This appears to be incorrect. The museum people were saying that there will be a star of David cut from WTC steel, a prayer shawl, and a Bible fused to a piece of steel. (Shockingly, no Korans.) The AA responded:

    They are on the right track.

    About 400 Jews were killed that day in NYC.

    Now there were 62 Moslems also killed besides the terrorists.

    An unknown number of Pagans, New Agers, and Wiccans.

    Some Hindus.

    An unknown but probably large number of atheists and other Nones.

    It should be all or nothing. There is no reason to privilege xians and Jews and leave everyone else out. I suspect they are going to be hearing that and in court if they don’t get it.

    patte @42
    Which “atheist movement” is splitting?

    Razzlefrog is splitting from the atheists, normal people, and reality. He is discovering his inner moronic troll and will soon find a really ugly fundie xian cult and join it. He won’t be missed.

  44. Ms. Daisy Cutter says

    Seems very sad to me that PZ’s post and the comments to it show that the atheist movement is splitting up into rivaling fractions calling each other names, just like the religions.

    DEEEEEEP RIIIIIIIIFTS!!!!

  45. eigenperson says

    This object is not a symbol of the national mood at the time of 9/11. It’s a full-blown religious relic worshiped by some Christian sects with the idolatrous fervor that so well characterizes the feel-good empty-headed evangelism that predominates in this country.

    Such objects should not be enshrined in a secular museum.

  46. chigau (mrmee, mrmee, mrmee) says

    Ms. Daisy Cutter
    You can mock but I *sniff* die inside (just a little) when a Fellow® Atheist™ calls me a name.
    *sob*

  47. Gregory Greenwood says

    Ms. Daisy Cutter @ 46;

    DEEEEEEP RIIIIIIIIFTS!!!!

    Aren’t we atheists amazing? Apparently, we are simultaneously capable of being so fundamentally divided that we are about to declare some brutal, sectarian internicine war upon one another, while also being part of some gestalt consciousness that permits no deviation from the established discourse mandated by the all powerful godless hive mind.

    We should probably call the quantum physicists – we may be a new state of matter…

  48. Brownian says

    Seems very sad to me

    Seems to you or is to you?

    the atheist movement is splitting up into rivaling fractions calling each other names, just like the religions.

    Rivalling? Don’t be silly. We’re doing this for the other factions. You see, we’ve been told time and time again that the Only Way™ for the atheist movement to move forward, gain mainstream acceptance, and promote evolution in Kentucky is to demonstrate how much respect and love and admiration we have for the religious and the conviction with which they hold their unevidenced views (but only so long as they’re liberal.)

    So, we’re emulating the religious.

    I mean, you can’t reach the pinnacle of human achievement—interfaith coalitions—unless you’ve got different faiths, and that goes just as well for atheists. We need such rifts if we’re ever to hold interatheist conferences.

    Our side has always been clear on this. It’s the other side that keeps insisting we must all do as they say or else risk Hurting the Cause™.

  49. anchor says

    @#14, Ophelia: “Why do you think you know things you can’t possibly know?”

    That.

    That’s the one that bugs me first and most, because it addresses the most conceited, arrogant and pernicious attitude that hurts everybody and “poisons everything”: the claim that we know something when we don’t know jack shite of the kind. It is no shock that when people think they know something they are liable to act on it. Short of accident, every human error and human evil is committed because of that obnoxious god-like certainty.

    @#44, Patte: “Seems very sad to me that PZ’s post and the comments to it show that the atheist movement is splitting up into rivaling fractions calling each other names, just like the religions.”

    What “fraction” are you sad to see split off? Those who think it impolite to ask the question posed by Ophelia above, of people who neglect or willfully refuse to the responsibility of asking it of themselves? What sort of “atheist” is it who stays silent while believers shape your world with their God-like knowledge and certainty? Wake the hell up.

  50. anchor says

    And to the Stedmans and Stewarts and the ilk out there: Theists can be outspoken and activist, but atheists may only watch them with patience and tolerannce if not cordiality? Is that how its supposed to work? Is that the recipe for “getting along”?

    I spit on it.

  51. anchor says

    Stewart, for one, of all people, ought to know better: what else is this struggle atheists find themselves embroiled in but a POLITICAL conflict. Religion is a POLITICAL beast, as an examination of the well-washed-and-rinsed minds of millions will immediately demonstrate. The struggle is not between belief and unbelief, or theists and atheists, or religion and science, or (by far the most idiotically meaningless dichotomous bullshit) “conservatism” and “liberalism”, or even between the stupid and the smart. It’s simply a struggle between the irrational and the rational, period. It can’t GET any more or intrinsically POLITICAL than that: when powerbrokers want to control vast numbers of people, the most effective means to do it is to keep them ignorant and cultivate a culture of irrational thinking with a grip so tenacious that people lose their usual ability to reason. And when you suggest to them that God’s on their side, they can’t resist the temptation of thinking they are never, ever wrong. How can doubt ever enter their thinking? Ever notice how people are increasingly impatient with scientists who speak of uncertainty and error bars and probabilities in their data? They are learning to HATE reasoning. Rational thinking and discourse is anathema to the faithful. Wanna cultivate a culture of denialist brats? Serve them the delectable certainty of religion. Without any shred of doubt, it encourages them to think they are, in fact, ABSOLUTE in their righteousness. That is a near-perfect recipe for the doom of civilization.

  52. says

    Deep Rifts!!!

    I think Razzlefrog has a perfectly reasonable case. S/he may be wrong – it does all depend on how it’s displayed, as history or as religion. Facts would help decide the matter.

    Basically, this:

    There is a difference between education and proselytizing. An explanatory text saying “Following the 9/11 attacks, many of America’s Christian denominations viewed this specimen as a symbol of ‘hope and better days’.” is not endorsement. But saying, “And then the LORD our Savior Jesus CHRIST weepeth upon the graves of America’s sons and daughters.” is obscene endorsement.

  53. says

    An explanatory text saying “Following the 9/11 attacks, many of America’s Christian denominations viewed this specimen as a symbol of ‘hope and better days’.” is not endorsement.

    The plaque itself would not be. But I’m finding it incredible that some people seem to think adding text like that would somehow diminish the fact that it’s a 17 foot tall religious symbol.

  54. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    S/he may be wrong – it does all depend on how it’s displayed, as history or as religion. Facts would help decide the matter.

    It can’t be displayed as history, except as an incidental photograph (I recall the photograph). The original steel with a statement as to how some Xian churches took it to mean anything is a smoke screen for circumventing the establishment clause. There is no good reason for the original steel, which has been “blessed” *snort*, making it a religious icon, to be in the museum, except to pander to the religious. A photograph or scale replica would do for historical purposes. Attempts to dilute the meaning with Star of David, etc, are just smoke screens to confuse a court.

    Is there any mention of the response of the Muslims in this country after the tragedy? That is of more historical interest than mangled steel that resembles a religious object.

    One of the few things I can admire Shrub for, was that he did defuse any attempts for a Xian “jihad” against the Muslims after the tragedy.

  55. says

    The sad thing is, the Huffington Post is already an anti-atheist site. The Atheism page is dominated by theists who write articles that are either critical of, or denigrating towards atheists. When an atheist finally gets a chance to post an article there he posts one critical of other atheists. Makes me wonder which side Stedman is on.

  56. says

    John, how other people respond to a museum piece is their own responsibility. I toured the Hagia Sofia recently, which is a museum. The guide had some funny stories about how both Christians and Muslims were constantly trying to sneak in and pray to the relevant deity/altar, and reconsecrate it as a church or mosque. I’ve seem people in European museums cross themselves in front of religious-themed paintings. So what?

    And Nerd, I would certainly hope that there is mention of the response of the Muslims in this country after the tragedy. If not, then the museum is being partisan and that’s a bad thing.

  57. John Morales says

    Alethea, I note that Hagia Sofia was first a church, and then a mosque, before becoming a museum (there are such in southern Spain, one or two have also been a synagogue).

    So what?

    Well… I addressed your “it does all depend on how it’s displayed, as history or as religion.”

    From the Wiki article: “Some saw the crossed metal as a Christian cross and felt its survival was symbolic. Fr. Brian Jordan OFM, a Roman Catholic Franciscan priest, spoke over it and declared it to be a “symbol of hope… [a] symbol of faith… [a] symbol of healing”. One minister at the site says that when a family of a man who died in the attacks came to the cross shrine and left personal effects there, “It was as if the cross took in the grief and loss. I never felt Jesus more.””

    So — it ain’t just a museum piece, but a shrine. An icon. A relic. A religious symbol.

    (You want history, why not show a generic chunk of rubble?)

  58. says

    You missed my point. The Hagia Sofia is officially a museum. It is a religious building which contains religious artefacts. Which people have prayed to and still pray to. So too the art museums. This does not make a piece ineligible to be in a museum. Who the hell is Fr Jordan and why do we care about his kooky ideas, any more than we care about the whacky Xians trying to surreptitiously sanctify the Hagia Sofia or crossing themselves in the Uffizi?

    How are the museum staff choosing to present it, is the question.

  59. tomh says

    The cross is just another step in a long line of privileges that religion enjoys in America. Taxpayer money is used for everything from religious schools, (vouchers), to faith healing, (Medicare paying for Christian Science healing). Why would a religious icon in a publicly-funded museum be any different?

  60. John Morales says

    Alethea,

    How are the museum staff choosing to present it, is the question.

    I go a level deeper than you do: Why is the museum choosing to present it, as opposed to a random chunk of wreckage?

    IOW: What is its significance?

    (We both know the answer to that)

  61. Akira MacKenzie says

    This and the yesterday’s similar post exemplifies the primary problem in this day and age:

    Happiness has become more important than truth.

    It doesn’t matter what the facts are anymore. It doesn’t matter what the evidence is. It doesn’t matter what is demonstrable. The only thing that matters is that people are happy and feeling good about themselves. and those facts become all the more disposable when they reveal truths that are uncomfortable for most of us to accept. We don’t like the idea that all we are is a mass of organic chemicals that will one day die, rot, and be no more. We don’t like the idea that we humans are just another animal and that our eventual extinction will ultimately go unnoticed in the cosmos-at-large. We don’t like that sometimes “evil” people escape our imperfect justice while the “innocent” are made to suffer without succor.

    Therefore, we devise pretty lies to make us happy: that there exists a being that created the universe; that this being created you in his images and likes and hates all the same things you do, that it takes a personal interest in what you say, think and do; and if you kiss it’s ass enough he’ll grant you wishes and let the magical ghost that lives in your meat body live on in some nice and shiny place after you die while punishing the magical ghosts of all the “bad” people. In the meantime,

    Well, fuck happiness!

    The fact is that reality is pain, cruelty, and death. The universe doesn’t care whether you live or die, nor will some supernatural force swoop down and save you in your time of need. The best you can hope for is to try to make this rotten existence a little less painful, cruel, and deadly for yourself and the rest of the human race, but you can’t deal with the problems that reality presents us when you aren’t willing at accept reality in its entirety. Your faith may make you happy, but it offers you with no solutions–and no, sorry, “peace,” “love,” and “understanding” don’t count–with dealing with humanity’s real problems. If anything, the search for “happiness” only brings to the wrong conclusions.

    I feel nothing but contempt for those who connect such lies, and those who accept them. They are cowards. They are weaklings. Instead, I have developed respect for the “nihilists”, the “curmudgeons,” the “misanthropes,” and those who can unflinchingly stare in Nietzcshe’s abyss without fear. They have a far better handle on the situation than the Stedman’s, Stewarts, Padgett’s, and the millions of other Homo sheepians who want “happiness” at the expense of facts.

  62. Akira MacKenzie says

    Whoops! I should have proofread that one more time around. That first sentence would have read:

    This, and yesterday’s similar post, exemplifies the primary problem with this day and age:

  63. StevoR says

    @25. SC (Salty Current), OM : 23 December 2011 at 12:17 pm

    “But it is emblematic of the atmosphere, the mood, the upset, that went on at the time, and as a result, fits into a museum dedicated to it.”

    Is that the plan for its inclusion? As an object among others in a historical display about the different responses to the event, perhaps accompanied by news articles about its discovery and meaning to some Christians? Because that’s not the impression I’ve gotten.

    Yeah well if that impression – the one you describe and claim not to have gotten – is correct then I see no issue with including that “cross” in the museum.

    God may not be real but his followers sure are – and what they do and why they do it are matters of historical interest that shouldn’t be forgotten.

    Museums are – at least partially – about history as well as prehistory, zoology, general public education, etc ..

    This, I understand, is a museum dedicated to a specific historic event – the 9-11 attacks.

    This is an important artefact because it historically and even presently resonated emotionally with many Americans. It is a bit of the rubble that evoked a strong response and was – & still is, right here – argued over and important at the time. It was or became a part a small but notable side-story to the event.

    It’s a pretty hard thing to do and is denying historic reality to try and strip every reference to religion out of an event that only happened because of religion. Even if you could suceed in doing so, it would be dishonest and misleading. Not because God is necessarily real but because many folks think he (or she or it or they) is and behave accordingly.

    I presume the 9-11 museum will refer to the fact that the terrorists were motivated by their Islamic religion to destroy the Twin Towers and murder 3,000 innocent people. Would anyone seriously argue that *that* religious historic reference should be removed from the museum?

    Equally, the fact that Christians found this rubble “cross” in the wreckage is a religious reference to events that actually happened and – whether we agree with them on its real significance or not – it *is* part of the history, the context, the cultural mindset of the time.

    As long as they don’t overtly describe it as “Gods handiwork” and demand that museum vistors worship it I don’t see the problem here.

    So, yes, the museum should display it, describing it with the objective as possible Wikipedia style explanation of events and say in effect :

    This is what it is This is what group X thinks. This is what grp Y thinks. Come and see it everyone and reflect about it and decide for yourselves.

    Perhaps some folks will pray over it? Fine – that’s their choice. It wouldn’t be mine but I’m not going to tell them what to do any more than I’d respect them telling me what to do.

    Other individuals however will almost certainly respond differently looking at it and thinking instead as many here do ‘oh its just a co-incidence, a bit of metal and how silly are those who take it as some sort of divine proof or message.’ .

    Yes, it should be displayed – next to one of those recovered Star of Davids and ideally, next to a diorama showing Osama bin Laden’s subsequent bringing to justice by Seal team 6* – and next to an atheist T-shirt with the word ‘science’ showing the Apollo’ moon landing and the word ‘religion’ next to an image of a plane flying into the WTC.

    All just different responses – rational or otherwise – to the one historic event that was 9-11.

  64. StevoR says

    * If they really wanted to be controversial the 9-11 museum should display the post-death image of Osama bin Laden’s head with the bullet through the eye prior to burial at sea next to it!

    (Of course, they have to get it from Obama who, I think, made a big mistake in not publicly releasing that image immediately or indeed at all.)

    That too was a historic reaction – and a very important one – to the events of 9-11, 2001.

    Hoping the rest of the terrorists soon follow Bin Laden into the grave or Guantanamo and AQ dies away turning this whole fourth world war (WWI, WWII, Cold War & the Jihadist war being the big global conflicts of our centuries.) into history, ASAP.

  65. Ichthyic says

    Would anyone seriously argue that *that* religious historic reference should be removed from the museum?

    why?

    did someone rummage through the rubble and find a star and crescent?

    Rather than the idiotic tribute to religious faith it WILL end up being (historic my fucking ASS), it should indeed be put up as is, noting correctly that is is really a reminder that religious nonsense is what causes this shit to begin with, it’s what allows people to delude themselves so far as to think it worthwhile to blow themselves up along with thousands of people…

    …or to consider a piece of twisted metal a religious icon.

    somehow though, I don’t think it will in fact represent any truth.

    you’re fooling yourself if you think it will be presented as an honest reaction to anything.

  66. Ichthyic says

    Happiness has become more important than truth.

    not happiness.

    false bliss.

    as in:

    ignorance is bliss.

    I used to say that 1984 wasn’t written for nothing.

    Now, I’m convinced it in fact was.

    The warnings were not heeded. The evil was embraced.

    Instead of looking at it as a tale of warning, the people of the US have instead apparently decided it was a fucking instruction manual on how to structure society.

  67. Ichthyic says

    So — it ain’t just a museum piece, but a shrine. An icon. A relic. A religious symbol.

    you’re right.

    In the end I’m betting that is how it will be displayed and treated.

    Five bucks says that anyone could also have gone through the rubble and found something resembling at least a crescent moon.

  68. says

    I was one of those who cheered and got drunk when they announced OBL had been killed. It was catharsis enough to know it had been done, and I’m confident I can tell the difference between relief and gratuitous brutality, so let me be the first to say it:

    StevoR is a dimwitted, brutish animal. That much is clear. Whether pity is the more appropriate response to him, or open contempt, I do not know.

  69. says

    One of the few things I can admire Shrub for, was that he did defuse any attempts for a Xian “jihad” against the Muslims after the tragedy.

    *spit take*

    WHAT!?

    Have you not heard the right wing through out the last two wars?

    Hoping the rest of the terrorists soon follow Bin Laden into the grave or Guantanamo and AQ dies away turning this whole fourth world war (WWI, WWII, Cold War & the Jihadist war being the big global conflicts of our centuries.) into history, ASAP.

    Really? On par with WWI and WWII? God damn, Americans ARE selfish, ignorant and petty little children.

  70. The Swordfish, Almighty God of Sporks says

    Stewart’s on the memorial board of directors? *head explodes*

    I thought I’d been following this story, but I hadn’t heard that choice detail. Funny, isn’t Stewart always criticizing people for their blatant conflicts of interests?

  71. F says

    razzlefrog

    As long as we get a huge mural of the Satan in the Smoke picture of the burning buildings. As long as the museum includes full displays of every whackjob conspiracy theory on the subject. As long as the museum tells the tells the terrorists side of the story. As long as the reasons a lot of nations with Islam as their religion have reasons from a long history to hate some of what the U.S. has done, and how that fed the unconscionable lashing-out of the terrorists. As long as the ridiculous failures of an intelligence and law enforcement network who had a bead on these guys are displayed. As long as the it is made plain what we have now: security theater, further erosion of rights and privacy, unreasonable search and seizure, incredible failures in foreign expeditions. As long as the views of people who weren’t surprised one bit are part of the story. As long as the legend of civil and military servants, simultaneously elevated to sainthood and unceremoniously dumped without help and support is told. &c.

  72. says

    *spit take*

    WHAT!?

    Have you not heard the right wing through out the last two wars?

    Yeah, I was debating how to respond to that.

    What’s accurate, at least, is that if one were going to invade Afghanistan and Iraq anyway, one could in addition give some helpful speeches which point out that American Muslims were also victims in 9/11 and Muslims in general are not the enemy of America.

    And George W. Bush did that much.

    It’s plausible that he prevented a few assaults against American Muslims, and probably some vandalisms.

  73. Wowbagger, Madman of Insleyfarne says

    It’s just the same message over again: that anyone who doesn’t want to move to the back of the bus and sit quietly and let the religious do and say what they please is somehow – without, of course, providing any examples of this actually happening – making things worse for atheists in general.

    Asshats like Stedman are only helping fuel the religious persecution complex – where anyone doing so much as admitting to being an atheist is considered ‘fundamentalist’, ‘evangelical’, ‘militant’ and ‘forcing it down people’s throats’ – in the US, since theists will cite his dishonest, self-loathing tripe as evidence that there are ‘nice’ atheists out there who do all the appropriate fawning and grovelling at their feet that their privileged brains insist all atheists should do when we don’t share their delusions.

    How the hell can he possibly think that reinforcing religious privilege is helping atheists?

  74. chigau (mrmee, mrmee, mrmee) says

    love moderately ॐ
    (awesome) sometimes you terrify me.
    no hugs but a friendly wave from a safe distance.

  75. Ichthyic says

    It’s plausible that he prevented a few assaults against American Muslims, and probably some vandalisms.

    I would point out that at least some things have changed.

    If we compare 9/11 to Pearl Harbor, say.

    Guantanomo is bad (someone remind me why it still exists?), but short of Manzanar.

    tiny steps?

    still, it seems abundantly clear to me that Americans are more than happy to throw away their constitutional rights (and their neighbors) any time they feel the slightest bit of insecurity.

    and THAT hasn’t changed a bit since long before I was born.

  76. John Morales says

    [OT - or is it?]

    Ichthyic,

    still, it seems abundantly clear to me that Americans are more than happy to throw away their constitutional rights (and their neighbors) any time they feel the slightest bit of insecurity.

    <sigh>

    — begin extract —
    An earlier variant by Franklin in Poor Richard’s Almanack (1738): “Sell not virtue to purchase wealth, nor Liberty to purchase power.

    Many paraphrased derivatives of this have often become attributed to Franklin:

    They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.
    They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
    Those Who Sacrifice Liberty For Security Deserve Neither.
    He who would trade liberty for some temporary security, deserves neither liberty nor security.
    He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither.
    People willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both.
    If we restrict liberty to attain security we will lose them both.
    Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.

    He who gives up freedom for safety deserves neither.
    Those who would trade in their freedom for their protection deserve neither.
    Those who give up their liberty for more security neither deserve liberty nor security.
    —   end   extract —

  77. says

    Who the hell is Fr Jordan and why do we care about his kooky ideas, any more than we care about the whacky Xians trying to surreptitiously sanctify the Hagia Sofia or crossing themselves in the Uffizi?

    How are the museum staff choosing to present it, is the question.

    From the museum’s blog:

    Prior to installation in the Museum, Father Brian Jordan blessed the cross during a ceremony this morning at Zuccotti Park, near the World Trade Center site, where hundreds of recovery workers and their families gathered. Father Jordan, a Franciscan priest who had been ministering to workers and blessing human remains recovered at the site, comforted rescue and recovery workers after the 9/11 attacks. Throughout the recovery period, Jordan spent Sunday after Sunday holding mass and offering communion at the base of the cross.

    After the blessing at Zuccotti Park, the cross was transported onto the WTC site and lowered into its permanent setting inside the Museum, which will open to the public in 2012.

    By 9/11 Memorial Staff

    Check out the size of the thing!

  78. says

    The museum’s description makes it clear that the cross is still being seen/used as something of a church. They can’t really claim that it is merely a historical exhibit showing its use in the recovery period. If that were the case, some photographs of the religious ceremonies held there at that time would be much more instructive, and people who wanted to do their religious thing could visit the cross nearby at St. Peter’s. Even if they were going out of their way to do so, I don’t think it would be possible to present this giant thing as just one object of historical interest among many.

  79. Gregory Greenwood says

    SC (Salty Current), OM @ 87;

    The museum’s description makes it clear that the cross is still being seen/used as something of a church. They can’t really claim that it is merely a historical exhibit showing its use in the recovery period.

    What we have here is an expression of ‘sophisticted theology’ as a physical artifact – the WTC cross is only a religious symbol when the xians wish to worship it and claim that it is a sign from their god. The second anybody starts to criticise the inclusion of the WTC cross in a public exhibit on the basis that this violates the separation of church and state, then it instantly morphs into an historical object with no particular religious significance…

  80. Anri says

    Simple test to see if it is being treated as a religious symbol or not: Cut it down so it no longer looks like a cross, but just a random spar of steel. It would be easier to store, move, and display as well.

    If this is just supposed to show a human symbol of loss and tragedy, it won’t matter if it looks like a cross.

    If, on the other hand, making it no longer look like a cross would remove the entire point of displaying it… than I guess the entire point of displaying it is that it looks like a cross, right?

    I don’t think anyone who is in any way aware of the state of religion in the US can honestly argue that this is not being displayed as anything other than a good guys vs. bad guys god smackdown. It’s apologetics in steel: “Yes, religion is bad – and by religion, we mean that mumbo-jumbo thing the scary brown people do. This incredible miracle of two pieces of steel shows that our god, – you know, the One True Nice Guy God can never be brought low by the devil… I mean Allah.”
    To argue otherwise suggests desperate dishonesty or almost terminal naivete.

  81. bjarndoolaeghe says

    Obviously that cross means:


    This tragedy which killed 3000 people, now endorsed by God.

  82. kemist says

    Seems very sad to me that PZ’s post and the comments to it show that the atheist movement is splitting up into rivaling fractions calling each other names, just like the religions.

    If only the religious retricted themselves to calling each other names or arguing vigorously.

    My irony meter just blew out reading this statement in a thread about a museum dedicated to an event where religious people cashed fucking planes into fucking buildings because they desagreed.