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One of the many fine moments at #whc2014

Maryam Namazie making a comment at Richard Dawkins’ talk:

I’ve been saying it for years: there are a bunch of adjectives applied to atheists by Christians and Muslims that are just absurd in context. “Aggressive”. “Militant”. “Arrogant”. I don’t understand how people who believe that the Ruler of the Entire Universe cares personally about their diet, their hair styles, and their sex lives can call atheists these things without the small gods of irony striking them dead and calling their shriveled little souls home to Hypocrisy Heaven.

And now, with the Islamic State on the march, murdering people en masse, blowing up art and architecture, and torturing at will, we can see what aggressive, militant, and arrogant really look like. Atheists are merely confident.

Comments

  1. David Wilford says

    I’m thankful that President Obama decided to order air strikes to help the Kurdish Peshmerga in northern Iraq resist the ISIS forces, because it’s obvious that the Iraqi government wasn’t willing or able to do it.

  2. graham says

    I know Richard Dawkins is getting a lot of ‘stick’ these days, but I am enormously grateful to him for coming out and stating the atheist position clearly in print, with the God Delusion etc, and consistently re-stating it over the last few years. It’s about being assertive and being self-confident. Sadly those who are not used to atheists being assertive mis-perceive it as aggression.

    Reminds me of David Silverman’s comment in the session he did with you last Friday in Oxford: “I’m not an aggressive atheist, but I am a firebrand atheist”.

  3. smhll says

    If I can get a quote where religious folk talk about an Atheist Inquisition then I get Triple Super BINGO!

  4. says

    Actually, in a sense, there was a real “militant” atheist involved in all this. Chritstopher Hitchens. He was a big cheerleader for the Iraq war, and his justification for violence and death involved trying to end Islam. Thanks a lot, Hitch.

    The irony (or, at least, one of the ironies) is that ISIS is officially using the only policy which has ever, in all of history, coerced people to abandon a religion without violence: they are taxing Christians. (Of course, they’re also killing them, which makes the non-violence a moot point.) The last time that that policy was used (which was centuries ago) it ended up eradicating all religions but Islam in the region. (Which, in turn, caused a crisis because the government had shrinking tax revenues, and suddenly found that it had to raise taxes on everyone else, which destabilized the government, etc. etc. etc.) It’s absolutely amazing how pliable religious faith is when it starts to cost money.

  5. toska says

    It’s absolutely amazing how pliable religious faith is when it starts to cost money

    It makes me wonder what would happen to Christianity (or any religion, really) if everyone had to actually tithe if they wanted to use “Christian” as part of their identity. Of course, clergy members are a bit too smart for that.

  6. jaybee says

    I view LDS tithing somewhat like paying into a social insurance policy. My first job out of school was working for an engineering company owned by a Mormon. 30%-ish of their employees were hired out of BYU and a couple other Mormon schools. When the economy turned sour and all of us new hires were sent looking for jobs less than a year out of school, I noted that somehow all the Mormons were able to quickly land new jobs — including being hired as consultants at HP, despite HP having a hiring freeze, and despite having just a few months of work experience.

    One thing Mormons do well is look out for their own.

  7. nich says

    David Wilford@8: It’s only mandatory for members who want to keep their Temple Recommend or hold a church position, and it might also result in you not being able to eat and drink that nasty lump of Wonder Bread and little cup of water they give you on Sunday, but I don’t believe that failing to pay it will result in excommunication. You can still call yourself a Mormon and go to Sunday services whether is it paid or not.

  8. toska says

    David Wilford,
    Good point. Although, I’ve known some people who were raised LDS and still identify as mormons, but they don’t go to church, and it seems they probably do not tithe. I would guess that at least some of these would rather relinquish the right to call themselves mormon than pay up. But that’s totally hypothetical and not provable.
    In my limited experience, it does seem like mormons are less likely to be this lukewarm, not-so-dedicated type than catholics or other protestants, so such a rule probably wouldn’t cut their numbers too deeply.

  9. exi5tentialist says

    “Aggressive are the islamists who are the fascists of this era,” says Namazie. Alongside ripping up a flag – a symbolic act of violent destruction – I don’t think it’s unreasonable to conclude that Namazie is calling for the west to go to war against islamists, ISIS in particular. That’s the unspoken message isn’t it? These ‘islamists’ are fascists after all, and ‘we’ went to war against the fascists, didn’t we?

    Maybe I’m reading it wrong, and she’s merely expressing her disapproval of ISIS. Easily done. But am I wrong in having the sense that calling for war is such a taboo subject nowadays that it has to be encoded in talk of opposing fascists and flag-ripping, heartily clapped by the secular white middle class of old England, ready and willing, yet again, to make others do their duty? Maybe Namazie wants to sweep that other lot of islamists – Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood (elected, then overthrown by an army, as I remember) under the same tanks. Maybe she doesn’t. God knows. She hasn’t said.

    The drums of war are already rolling. What’s Dawkins’s response? Namazie’s? Myers’s? I don’t know.

    It’s such a shame an entire frigging conference could not lead to a clearer conclusion at such a critical time in history.

  10. David Chapman says

    The Vicar (via Freethoughtblogs)
    The last time that that policy was used (which was centuries ago) it ended up eradicating all religions but Islam in the region………… It’s absolutely amazing how pliable religious faith is when it starts to cost money.

    How do you know that taxation eradicated Christianity in the region? ( I presume you’re talking about the Iraq area. ) Were not Christians and Jews given second-class citizen, dhimmi status (one aspect of which was taxation) under Islam? That would be another good reason to convert. + who is to say that much of the conversion wasn’t a sincere response to Muslim prosletyzing & propaganda? ( And Muslim disruption perhaps of Christian social and ecclesiastical networking. ) But it’s news to me that Christianity and Judaism were ever eradicated here anyway.

  11. graham says

    “heartily clapped by the secular white middle class of old England”

    For the record, it was an international conference with people from Norway, Switzerland, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Denmark, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Morocco, The Gambia, Kuwait, Kenya, Sweden, USA, Nepal, France, Italy, Zimbabwe, Germany, Slovakia, Netherlands, Iceland, Australia, Spain, Belgium, Canada, Malta, India, Senegal, New Zealand, Russia, Brazil, Romania, Nigeria, Croatia, Guatemala, South Sudan, Bulgaria, Israel, Uzbekistan, Sudan, Iran, Malawi, Burundi, Ireland, Afghanistan, Liberia, Algeria, Barbados, Finland, Japan, Myanmar/Burma and Singapore, as well as the host country, the UK.

  12. exi5tentialist says

    @14

    Yeah and the secular white middle class of old England was on the stage, heartily clapping.

  13. Nick Gotts says

    Maybe Namazie wants to sweep that other lot of islamists – Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood (elected, then overthrown by an army, as I remember) under the same tanks. Maybe she doesn’t. God knows. She hasn’t said. – ex5tentialist@12

    She was enthusiastically in favour of the military coup backed by Saudi Arabia – and less openly, the USA (while absurdly denying it was a military coup), following the line of the “Worker Communist Party of Iran” (of which she is a devoted member), which is evidently too deluded by its own fuckwitted sub-Marxoid ideology to know a counter-revolution when it sees one. AFAIK, she hasn’t said a word against the subsequent suppression of the media and freedom of assembly, thousands of arrests – which have included secularists as well as members of the MB, hundreds of death sentences on trumped-up charges, farcical election of the coup leader as President, full resumption of US military aid, etc., etc.

    ISIS are so vile I find it impossible to condemn the air strikes against them, but given the record of past western interventions in the region, I’m far from optimistic about the outcome. Let’s not forget that their rise is clearly a result of the illegal and extremely bloody invasion and occupation of Iraq on the basis of arrant lies.

  14. exi5tentialist says

    @16

    ISIS are so vile I find it impossible to condemn the air strikes against them

    So would you condemn air strikes against the US? Or is destroying a country using bombs, drones, bullets, in various mass executions not vile enough for you to feel that antagonistic towards America? Perhaps the shattering of Iraqi bodies then wasn’t so shocking because it wasn’t uploaded to Liveleak.

    This is the difference between us. I am against all these air strikes. No good can come of them.

    But it’s odd, isn’t it, that all my questions (#12) remain unanswered. The strongest support for the forthcoming US war against ISIS is only expressed here in double-negative terms, if it is expressed at all, which usually it isn’t. Even Maryam can’t bring herself to be explicit about what she really wants.

    Here’s the choice: either you’re for a new war in Iraq, or you’re against it. I’m against it. Is anyone else here prepared to be as unequivocal?

  15. David Wilford says

    @18:

    I’m for helping the Kurds resist the ISIS forces, much as the U.S. did back when a no-fly zone was enforced over northern Iraq to keep Saddam Hussein from attacking them.

  16. exi5tentialist says

    @19:
    So take that analogy in its own terms. Did the US stop at a no-fly zone against Saddam? Nope. Would the US stop at mere “resistance” to ISIS? No way. You know that as much as the rest of us. It’s going to be another full-on war.

    The US won’t be deploying only in Kurdistan. It’s also now propping up the remnants of the colonial government it left behind in Baghdad.

    Just come out with it. You’re for the next Iraq war. The only end to that is bloodshed on a worse scale than anything the US has so far achieved in Iraq.

    At some point it has to stop. Now is as good a time as any.

  17. says

    There are of course a lot of Muslims who would disagree with her atheism and her attacks on Islam but would agree 100% with her on ISIS. The flag she tore up is not the ISIS flag, it is a flag with a far longer and deeper history which has been misappropriated by these lunatics.

  18. says

    exi5tentialist #20

    So take that analogy in its own terms. Did the US stop at a no-fly zone against Saddam? Nope. Would the US stop at mere “resistance” to ISIS? No way. You know that as much as the rest of us. It’s going to be another full-on war.

    This is starting to look like a slippery slope. Surely it’s possible to enforce a no-fly zone without going to war. If the politicians of the United States are so hawkish that they’ll push for a war anyway, that’s a point against them, not David Wilford.

    What do you suggest should be done about ISIS?

  19. Saad says

    @exi5tentialist
    Since you’re against the airstrikes, what action against IS would you suggest?

  20. Nick Gotts says

    exi5tentialist@18, 20

    So would you condemn air strikes against the US? Or is destroying a country using bombs, drones, bullets, in various mass executions not vile enough for you to feel that antagonistic towards America? Perhaps the shattering of Iraqi bodies then wasn’t so shocking because it wasn’t uploaded to Liveleak. – exi5tentialist@18

    You choose to quote me very selectively. Here’s what I actually said:

    ISIS are so vile I find it impossible to condemn the air strikes against them, but given the record of past western interventions in the region, I’m far from optimistic about the outcome. Let’s not forget that their rise is clearly a result of the illegal and extremely bloody invasion and occupation of Iraq on the basis of arrant lies.

    Does that suggest that I’m a cheerleader for the USA?

    I marched, blockaded, fund-raised and otherwise campaigned against the invasion and occupation of Iraq, because I judged, correctly as it turned out, that it was based on lies and would lead to far more unnecessary suffering and death than leaving Saddam Hussein in power. If an air strike on the White House or the Pentagon, or a US military base, could have prevented that invasion, I would indeed have supported it.

    I am against all these air strikes. No good can come of them.

    In the present case, if the information we have is accurate (and I’m aware that is a big “if”), the air strikes so far have disrupted an ISIS column aimed at capturing Irbil, and assisted some of the Yazidis to escape from Mount Sinjar. If these claims are true, then good has already come of them – but apparently you have sources which enable you to determine that they are false. Perhaps you would like to share them with us?

    I’m well aware that US actions are undertaken in its own imperialist interests (or more precisely, the interests of its elite); and that longer-term effects can outweigh shorter-term ones. But sometimes, those actions can also help people who are the victims of evils other than American imperialism; denying that a priori is as far as I can see, unjustified.

    Here’s the choice: either you’re for a new war in Iraq, or you’re against it. I’m against it. Is anyone else here prepared to be as unequivocal?

    You appear not to have noticed that there is already a new war in Iraq. Or does it only count as a war insofar as the US is involved? That seems a rather ethnocentric viewpoint.

    Would the US stop at mere “resistance” to ISIS? No way. You know that as much as the rest of us. It’s going to be another full-on war. .. Just come out with it. You’re for the next Iraq war.

    Right: you can see into the future, and everyone who disagrees with you is lying.

  21. David Wilford says

    With a new government in Iraq now in the offing, the Kurds may again get assistance from Baghdad in the form of supplies and perhaps help fighting the ISIS forces.

  22. exi5tentialist says

    @24 Nick Gotts

    You appear not to have noticed that there is already a new war in Iraq. Or does it only count as a war insofar as the US is involved? That seems a rather ethnocentric viewpoint.

    Don’t be so bloody pompous. Of course there’s a friggin war on. Keep your “you appear not to have noticed” crap. Jesus Christ. You know it’s a US war being discussed here, don’t pretend you don’t.

    What’s at issue is whether FTB is really just website for supporters of the US participation in a new war in Iraq. Reluctant supporters of course (aren’t the pro-war lobby always reluctant?). It looks like you are one of them, Nick Gotts, since you think the US air strikes in this war have so far “done good” so you’ve already given your full backing to the latest US military escapade in the Middle East.

    A glance at the major bloggers at FTB indicates more equivocation, ostensibly anyway. Perhaps the collective FTB stance towards the new war would better be described as tacit approval – the appearance of sitting-on-the-fence by FTB’s bloggers with regard to US air strikes, while at the same time, the same bloggers and their commenters engage in the usual militantly islamophobic crap which makes it absolutely bloody obvious that none of them are going to lift a finger to oppose a new US war in Iraq.

    Myers posts Namazie’s anti-islam flag-ripping rant, a symbolic act of violent destruction committed in full bad faith alongside reassurances in the Sheldonian that “we are not militant atheists.” Oh yeah. No calls for war there, in the best tradition of plausible deniability.

    No opposition to it either. Not from Myers, not from Namazie. In her FTB post of 9 August it’s bloody obvious Namazie is an out and out islamophobe who’s ready to let the western military do its worst. Islam is her real target, all that crap about islamism is just window shopping from her. In full knowledge of this, Myers celebrates her ‘fine moment’ at the Sheldonian. It must be ok, his friend Dawkins describes her as a hero, clap, clap, clap. Meanwhile Benson hasn’t whispered a word against US air force bombing in Iraq again. Don’t expect any balance in the pro-war and anti-war debate on that blog. “I hereby order you to agree with me” doesn’t have even the ring of irony there. Mousavi (Afghanistan war-supporter), is quiet as a mouse on the subject. From the rest, nothing.

    That’s really the present state of FTB. It’s a by-default pro-war website. Nobody is speaking out against this new war (or America’s part in this war, for the pedants who only see the minute picture).

    I have no greater powers of fortune telling than you Nick, but perhaps I am a little less blinkered to way the conditions for a big war are now being put in place. Do you really think ISIS really going to let it rest, just because the US have so far limited themselves to a few of their famous surgical strikes? The US attacks are a full-on declaration of war by the US. How do you think ISIS are going to respond? “Oh, they only wanted to stop us going to the mountain. Oh ok. We’ll just leave it at that, then.”

    It interests me that a lot of people here might genuinely think that the default pro-war stance of FTB is the outcome of a thing called “freethought”, the outcome of free freethinkers in a community founded on diversity, when really it’s the manifestation of a top-down centre-right bias in the management structure of FTB as a website.

  23. says

    Don’t be so bloody pompous

    You owe me a new irony meter.

    …the manifestation of a top-down centre-right bias in the management structure of FTB as a website.

    Can somebody give me a translation of this? Every time I try to parse it, it just comes out as “salami, salami, bologna.”

  24. exi5tentialist says

    @28 LykeX

    Can somebody give me a translation of this?

    Yes, of course. It means that FTB is pro-war because it has a centre-right management tier that is pro-war. Because of that, there can be no possibility of change to an anti-war position. No democratic change can come from the community. The mistake would be for readers to assume that the tacitly pro-war stance of FTB bloggers were just the result of “the community” giving its opinions. Bloggers are chosen by a centre-right establishment; the centre-right, pro-war, islamophobic position is where FTB is destined to remain.

  25. says

    You think that if a blogger here voiced the opinion you’re giving, they’d be removed from the site? Or do you just think that the people invited have already been vetted to make sure they have the proper “pro-war” opinions?

  26. exi5tentialist says

    Margaret Thatcher used to say, “Is he one of us?”

    Of course a person doesn’t need to be vetted against a precise checklist for the selectors to feel comfortable with them. We choose our political allies by how we feel about them. FTB blogger selection is no different. And somebody with extremely negative views about the islamophobic undercurrents at FTB just wouldn’t make it onto any shortlist in the first place. You have to get it right at that stage – the embarrassment of removing somebody you’ve appointed is excruciating.

  27. says

    Since you’re happy answering questions, how about taking a hack at the one posed above: What do you think should be done about ISIS? What’s the proper “anti-war” position?

  28. exi5tentialist says

    What’s so difficult about understanding that the US in Iraq is far, far worse than anything ISIS could dream up. It’s hardly surprising that ISIS is so hated – it is, after all, a US creation. Bombs, bullets, drones, phosphorous, uranium – the burns, the limbs blown off, the lives ended, the summary executions, the indiscriminate US war, the hundreds of thousands dead. And people trust these thugs to do anything humanitarian?

    I don’t. The question is not what should be done about ISIS. It’s what should be done about the US?

  29. says

    So, leave the US out of it. Put them over in the corner with a dunce cap on. What should the rest of the world do?

  30. says

    The whole problem? ISIS doesn’t constitute any problem at all? I hope you have more sense than that. Assuming you don’t really mean that, what do you think the rest of the world should do? Assuming that the US stays out of Iraq entirely, what would be the ideal situation, according to you?

    No, I’m not going to let you dodge this question. If the answer is “I don’t know”, that’s fair enough, just say so… but actually say so.

  31. exi5tentialist says

    @36 Your question is so hypothetical I don’t know why you’re persisting with it. That the US will dismantle its empire now is pure dreaming. The US is the whole problem because the US caused the whole problem. The US caused ISIS to exist. That is the living history of Iraq, no need for flights of imagination into the actions of the ancients. The US destroyed the Iraqi state. The US caused the power vacuum. Even your question is a pro-war question: “something must be done – what?” Why aren’t you asking about Syria? ISIS are there to. What should the rest of the world do about Syria? Well, the rest of the world has already decided. No military intervention in Syria, though many in the West earnestly wanted it. If they had had their way, the west would be fighting the war in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran. Hell, why not send armies to the whole middle east? Something must be done!!! War must happen!!! That’s where your question is coming from, and I oppose it.

    Stop pretending that a hypothetical situation exists where we all have the luxury of considering that the US – the cause of the problems in Afghanistan and Iraq – can be intellectually excised from the scenario. Yes the US wars should be opposed but to pretend that an ideal world can exist without the US there in 2014 is an intellectual flight of fancy; pure dreaming; pure time-wasting; a tangent.

  32. says

    I guess there’s no point in discussing this with you. You’ve got your head so far up your ass that you refuse to even answer simple questions about what you think, preferring to play mind reader and tell me what I think. Incidentally, you suck at it.

    Your thinking is juvenile and your argumentation is so dishonest that we can’t even move a step. I can’t really tell if you’re just trolling or if you’re actually this fucking stupid. Either way, I’m past done with you.

  33. Ichthyic says

    What’s so difficult about understanding that the US in Iraq is far, far worse than anything ISIS could dream up.

    wow. Once the war was over, did the US decide to start executing citizens of Iraq for not being Christian?

    nope.

    you’re fucking. insane.

  34. Ichthyic says

    What’s at issue is whether FTB is really just website for supporters of the US participation in a new war in Iraq.

    after saying that, I can’t believe anyone even bothered to try to respond.

  35. exi5tentialist says

    I guess there’s no point in discussing this with you. You’ve got your head so far up your ass that you refuse to even answer simple questions about what you think, preferring to play mind reader and tell me what I think. Incidentally, you suck at it.

    Your thinking is juvenile and your argumentation is so dishonest that we can’t even move a step. I can’t really tell if you’re just trolling or if you’re actually this fucking stupid. Either way, I’m past done with you.

    How have I treated you in such a way that I deserve being talked to like that? I am not the one ending this discussion with you. I’m not the one resorting to abuse personal abuse and foul language. I’ve discussed this with everyone here in good faith and without personal insult to any of you. Is your response an example of the the rationality that this website purports to espouse? If so that rationality is a pathetic creature that dwells in the shallowest intellectual waters. It can’t be trusted to do any serious political work. I think I knew that already.

    This is a discussion. Disengagement without responding to the points made is immature. It’s not just you, LykeX. Nick Gotts disappears as soon as he’s picked up on his behaviour. Same for you, Ichthyic. Turning the discussion down to the lowest chill setting diminishes only you.

    Myers, Benson, Namazie proudly post a video in which Dawkins enthusiastically applauds an islamophobe symbolically destroying a muslim group with a violent ripping up of a muslim flag. It’s a green light to war. There is no opposition to such a war in the blogger echelon of FTB. The irony is their claim that they are not ‘aggressive’ atheists. Nothing could be further than the truth. FTB is a pro-war website. When the war is against FTB’s favourite targets – “Islamists” – then that’s absolutely fine by FTB. FTB will look the other way.

    All of you, have another go at answering what I said. This time, address the issues I raised: The US caused ISIS to exist, the US created the power vacuum in which ISIS has flourished because the US destroyed the stability of Iraq by destroying the Iraqi state. Countless thousands died on the back America’s assault on Iraq. And yet, because most of FTB are in the thrall of the islamophobic vocabulary that one-sidedly attaches the most blood-curdling warnings of danger only to those things labelled “muslim” or “islam” or “islamist”, most of FTB’s contributors are prepared to sweep under a carpet of bad faith the genocidal record of the United States and reframe the entire question in terms of “What shall we do about ISIS?” Thus in FTB’s twisted thinking, the US and its various poodles become trustworthy protagonists to a noble fight, despite their murderous record and the obvious fact that they cannot even be trusted to look after their own people, let alone people in other countries.

    Respond to what I have actually said. Don’t insult yourselves with a disengagement from rational discussion in favour of a pompous aloofness from the facts, or further descent into personal abuse, it reflects only on you.

  36. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    All of you, have another go at answering what I said.

    Sorry, I don’t do the bidding of fuckwitted idjits. Which you are if you think you can order us answer you, and require it in any style you want.

  37. exi5tentialist says

    Anyway, if anyone does want to continue an adult conversation, the invitation is there.

  38. says

    I’m perfectly happy to let anyone judge between your posts and mine. I’m convinced I come out looking better in that comparison.

  39. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    nyway, if anyone does want to continue an adult conversation, the invitation is there.

    You aren’t conversing, you are preaching your conspiracy theory.
    Show us you aren’t a True Believer™, by answering a simple question. What evidence is required for you to admit your idea is bullshit?

  40. exi5tentialist says

    The evidence I would require to admit my idea is bullshit would be a series of blogs and comments at FTB that would put the responsibility for the present state of Iraq firmly at the door of the country that invaded it, destroyed its infrastructure, killed more thousands of its people than ISIS will ever be able to manage, and continues to present itself (and apparently believe) that it is a knight in shining armour come to free the world from evil.

    FTB is an America-based website. I don’t expect much humility from Americans for the collective guilt that will haunt their country for decades over their act of mass murder in Iraq from 2003 onwards. I’d just ask for contributors not to collude with the rebranding of the War on Terror as the War on Islam. Maryam Namazie’s muslim flag-ripping reflects the general anti-muslim stance of FTB as evidenced by the collective applauding here of Namazie’s supposed hero status. But you can’t in good faith target ISIS without targeting the US at exactly the same time. You can’t highlight attacks (verbal or real) on the war crimes of one enemy of peace while forgetting and making taboo discussion of war crimes of another.

    US war crimes in Iraq are ongoing. They cannot be shuffled conveniently into the past. The US needs to be taken to court. The bereavements, the disablement, the crushing of Iraqi people that the US is responsible for continues for the Iraqis affected to this day. And the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi dead can’t speak.

    Put the US in the dock. Disarm it if it is found guilty, just as Japan was disarmed. And at least write on FTB as if you are up to the task, not colluding with a tyrant.

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