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How can you really help Alexander Aan?

I’m going to disagree with Stephanie…I don’t think the petition to bring Alexander Aan to Obama’s attention was a failure. I’ve talked to a number of people about it, and I’ll tell you what the big problem was: it wasn’t Aan, or a lack of outrage at his blasphemy conviction…it was frustration at the pointlessness of talking to Obama. No one had any expectation that signing that petition would do a damned thing: atheists generally are not particularly happy with our current lackluster president. He’s better than the opposition, but that’s setting a very low bar.

It wasn’t lack of concern, it was that the direction that concern was being aimed was uninspiring.

You want to do something? Michael Nugent has posted an excellent list of actions you can take — stuff you can do other than trying to nudge a world leader who wouldn’t give a fuck anyway. Read that and don’t despair.

Comments

  1. 'Tis Himself says

    Considering that Guantanamo is still functioning, human rights are not a major part of Obama’s agenda.

  2. says

    Of course, I think that defeatism was precisely the failure, but I’m more than happy to have people follow Michael’s suggestions.
    They’re very good.

  3. schweinhundt says

    I think Mr. Nugent’s second and third recommendations are very good ones. IMHO, it would be nice if US foreign policy somehow penalized countries with blasphemy laws.

  4. krubozumo says

    Myers, much as I respect you as a logical thinker I have to disagree on this and object to at least one comment in this thread. Obama is not the xtian god, he cannot act with impunity. Moreover he has a few issues on his plate, more than you or I or all of us here who read this blog I dare say, no one could deal with all of them. The term triage comes to mind.

    I’ll wait for someone to cite the counter example of Rushdie.

    And point out, he was not and is not so far as I know an atheist. But then it might have been just his derivation from Iran.

    The Gitmo thing is really pathetic, Obama tried to shut it down at the beginning of his term and he was thwarted by the cowards in congress. More than once if I recall correctly.

    I have to ask, do you think that the fate of an atheist, no matter how brave or correct, a single human, is likely to get onto the radar of the poor sap who fought like hell to get elected leader of the free world only to have half the population piss on his leg because he is ‘not white’? When in fact there are some incredibly big issues pending, like for instance, the national budget, taxation of millionaires and billionaires. And then a myriad of smaller issues such as collective funding of higher level education or for profit higher education, subsidized by lobbied interests. Health care
    which is a euphemism for medicine. Can anyone here explain to me why it is advantageous to extract a profit from insuring the health of individuals instead of simply paying the direct costs collectively?

    This is all not to say that the gentleman in question is entitled to recognition and protection for his just stance, but is it not assuming quite a lot to think that just because the President has at least a thousand issues to sift and weigh that he might overlook one in a few hundred thousand?

    We are in a class war. The lines are clearly drawn. The stakes are very high, hundreds of millions of people will either suffer or prosper depending on the outcome of the next election. Yes it is true that the underlying rot and decay of our whole system is firmly rooted in delusional belief, a considerable majority of delusional belief at that.

    Frankly, I think in some cases you differentiate between the lunatics and the reasonable with a microtome when in reality a meat cleaver would suffice.

    I guess all I have to resort to is a comparison, what do you think the national landscape would look like had the opposing team of geniuses been elected in 2008?

    Alexander Aan being burnt at the stake on the national mal perhaps?

  5. elisabetht. says

    The reason for the failure seems simple, yet is not being discussed:

    Islam inspires constant compromise of liberal principle in Western nations on gender equality, free expression, LGBT issues, children’s rights, secular courts, etc. Is it any surprise that the non-theist community as a whole is paralysed by cowardice once again when Islam and not Christianity is the threat?

    Simply criticising Islam here at FTB inspires some fierce hostility from certain leftists as Ophelia Benson and Maryam Namazie could attest. This site in particular is full of certain type of non-believer eager to force a far left worldview. That is precisely the sort of person who will not stand up against Islam when asked because to do so would be racist, imperialist…well, you know that goes.

  6. sc_89b14af992115cf6a4b7fae00b64476c says

    As a foreigner interested in US foreign policy, moderately in domestic politics also, I think, based on a little experience, liberals by and large would probably be less inclined to find ways to find reasons why the US President is too busy or has bigger things on his mind to be bothered about injustices. Republicans do the same song and dance around their Presidential Totem Pole. Liberals and Republicans might as well come from a different planets (the latter ones must have fled theirs unquestionably) but in this regard they are indistinguishable I always find.

  7. grumpy1942 says

    krubozumo @#5

    Thank you for helping to assuage to some degree my bitter disappointment in the President.

    I voted for him in ’08, with soaring hopes for America’s future, and I will vote for him again this year, while holding my nose.

    He needs to grow a spine. Maybe he can do that when he no longer has to worry about re-election.

    I think he has finally realized that he’s not going to get any support from the Rethugs on any issue whatsoever. Even on issues where they like the same thing he likes.

    Perhaps with the war on women and immigrants the Dems can win enough local elections to give him a Senate that can kill filibusters and pass bills. (I suppose it’s too much to hope for that we could get Miss Nancy back as Speaker.)

  8. KG says

    And point out, he was not and is not so far as I know an atheist. But then it might have been just his derivation from Iran. – krubozumo

    Rushdie is an atheist, although at one point he understandably obscured this fact, and is of Indian not Iranian origin (although the fatwa against him was from the Iranian theocrats).

  9. McC2lhu saw what you did there. says

    These victims of the stupidity of theocracy are a pandemic. Maryam Namazie has listed a few on her web log. I didn’t even know about Kacem El Ghazzali until I saw the video about it on PhilHellenes YouTube page today. Amnesty doesn’t seem to have any clout or teeth. There really needs to be departments in every secular country’s governments that deals with this on an internationally punitive level. Like increasing trade restrictions on countries with these anti-human actions. I’m going to start shite-storming the MP in my Canadian riding to begin putting real political and financial pressure on these countries for putting the will of imaginary vapors in front of real humans and their right to say things, even if some asshat is offended by what he/she says. Buckling under to moneyed lobbyists and their corporations completely undoes the any credit a secular country has when they say they are fighting for freedoms and rights.

  10. rafiqmahmood says

    I really want to thank everyone for continuing to fight for Alex and especially for helping him to feel that he is not alone.

    The personal messages of support have meant a great deal to him. Giving him the hope of a positive and useful future when he does eventually get free will help to sustain his will to continue the personal struggle. Please support Alex’s scholarship fund. He is a mathematician and statistician and he longs for the freedom and stimulus of a western academic environment.

    Of course the legal struggle is equally important. He has two battles ahead – fighting the prosecution’s appeal against the “leniency” of his sentence (they want to increase it to three and a half years) and Alex’s own appeal against conviction to the Indonesian Supreme Court.

    You can help him by donating here.

    Once again, thank you all so much for everything you are doing. Don’t give up. It really does make a difference.

    Rafiq Mahmood
    Bogor, Indonesia

  11. says

    @ elisabetht #6

    Is it any surprise that the non-theist community as a whole is paralysed by cowardice once again when Islam and not Christianity is the threat?

    Begging the question. Please demonstrate that “the non-theist community as a whole is paralysed by cowardice” regarding Islam.

    After you’ve done that, then you’ll need to provide evidence for us that fear of Islam was at all a factor in the failure of the petition for Alexander Aan.

    Thanks for playing Skepticism™!

  12. charlessoto says

    Money interests trump all else. As long as there’s money to be made in Indonesia (hey, my Calvin briefs didn’t just up and stitch themselves) or anywhere else, we’ll ignore them at the foreign policy level.

  13. Paul says

    Simply criticising Islam here at FTB inspires some fierce hostility from certain leftists as Ophelia Benson and Maryam Namazie could attest.

    The author of Does God Hate Women is hostile to the idea of criticizing Islam? ‘Kay. Maybe you’d to better if you grounded criticism in reality instead of simply dripping Islamophobia all over your leg and her guest room.

  14. left0ver1under says

    One could also boycott anything made in Indonesia, and also refuse to travel there. And in such a boycott, you don’t do it silently: write to the Indonesian government and tell them why you won’t travel there, or why you won’t buy anything made there.

    Even if you have no intention of going there, write to them and tell them you’re not going. For all their blathering about “god”, they certainly might pay attention when the money and jobs dry up.

  15. elisabetht. says

    @One Thousand Needles

    You seem very threatened by my comment. Did you launch such an aggressive post against Stephanie Zvan on her blog post? Or do her explanation require less evidence than my own?

    Since I cite Opehlia Benson and Maryam Namazie I will link to articles where they mention the phenomenon of leftist wavering on Islam:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/maryamnamazie/2012/05/23/freedom-of-expression-multiculturalism-and-political-islam/

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2012/05/criticism-of-islam-%E2%89%A0-racism/

    http://www.butterfliesandwheels.org/2012/dispatches-from-the-global-atheist-convention/

    Those are a good start:

    Most comments will be framed as a “leftist” issue rather than “non-theist” issue, but the far left in particular is mainly non-theist. If you are a real sceptic, rather than just a fraud using “Skepticism™” as an excuse to reject unwelcome analysis, you will follow up on their arguments. You do not need me to hold your hand.

    @Paul

    Your failure in reading comprehension is so obtuse, it must be deliberate dishonesty. Ophelia Benson has been the recipient of criticism from leftists, many of whom are non-theists, for her criticism of Islam. Clear enough?

    Predictably you immediately ran to screaming “Islamophobia”. That label is the most popular tool to silence legitimate criticism of Islam. Thank you demonstrating my concerns in totality.

  16. Paul says

    Your failure in reading comprehension is so obtuse, it must be deliberate dishonesty.

    It was not, and I apologize for the misreading. I have seen people accuse her of being too scared to insult Islam when she posts about Catholic church issues.

  17. Paul says

    Hit submit too early.

    Your failure in reading comprehension is so obtuse, it must be deliberate dishonesty.

    Further, you started off by deriding FTB for opposing criticism of Islam, then name two big names from the network (who are contributors in good standing). I should not have made the mistake, but I would hope you could see how your comment was primed for misunderstanding.

    Predictably you immediately ran to screaming “Islamophobia”. That label is the most popular tool to silence legitimate criticism of Islam.

    It’s also a useful tool to approach people who consider the possibility of Muslims reaching 10% of a population to be a sign that we need to purge them before they overthrow democracy. I’d argue that my usage is much more common than the one you posit, at least on FTB. If you care to demonstrate otherwise, I suppose it wouldn’t be a complete waste of time. What legitimate criticisms of Islam are we trying to silence with the I-phobia word?

  18. elisabetht. says

    “Further, you started off by deriding FTB for opposing criticism of Islam,”

    That is another reading comprehension failure that makes no sense. You now acknowledge that I cited Benson and Namazie as positive examples. They are part of FTB, so I was clearly never “deriding” FTB as a whole.

    I took pains to note that my criticism applies to SOME leftists/non-theists. There are certain leftist at this site that are very uncomfortable with criticism of Islam despite their claims to atheists or feminists.

    Of course they do not defend Islam directly. In place they use tactics like changing the subject to Christianity or American politics or Western cultural wrongs and of course name-calling like “racist” and “Islamophobe”. The more sophisticated throw up defences of religious freedom (which merit real debate) or twist the concept of gender equality to justify patriarchal norms (walton comes to mind, as I recall he has had many exchanges with Ophelia Benson).

    “I would hope you could see how your comment was primed for misunderstanding”

    It is only primed as such because the atmosphere on many leftist sites (Guardian and Huffington post for example) is primed for any criticism of Islam to be seen as neoconservative or rightwing Islamopobia. When a liberal non-believer/non-theist must spend this much time even defending the very concept of criticising Islam, let alone particular details, it shows how legitimate comments are suppressed.