What happens when you accuse racists of being racist?

You get mail. Nicely written, printed letters in the mail. And they confirm everything I said.

So a lot of Fox News viewers have been writing to me lately, expressing their outrage that I would dare to suggest that racist newspapers out to be thrown off campus. And a great many of them have another odd, common thread, something that wasn’t in the Fox News report, but apparently all these rabid tea-baggers have inferred it, and they’re pretty darned insistent that it must be true.

I must be Jewish.

Take it away, Bob in Boca:


“Myers” is not a Jewish name. I wouldn’t be at all put out if I’d had some Jewish ancestry, but I’m afraid that my father’s ancestry has been traced back to the 16th century (mostly Scots/Irish/English ne’er-do-wells living marginal lives along the western American frontier), and my mother’s back to the 14th (Scandinavian peasants who never wandered far from their village), and I’m afraid there’s no evidence of any Jewish family. I’ve never hinted that I might be Jewish. People who know me have never made the assumption that I might be a cultural Jew.

The only people who call me Jewish are right-wingers who write to me to chew me out for some great liberal evil I’ve committed, and a surprising number of them do so. They never speculate that I’m Lithuanian, or tell me that my name sounds suspiciously Belgian, or sneer at my obvious Sinhalese bias — it’s always this bizarre insinuation that I’m a wicked anti-American liberal, therefore…Jew.

It says a lot about them. Not much about me. Why are so many teabaggers implicitly anti-semitic?

I’m going to Connecticut!

Unfortunately, nobody who reads this blog lives anywhere near Hartford (right?) so it’ll be a lonely visit. Or maybe I’ll be surprised. I’m going to be speaking at the Mark Twain House in Hartford on 18 June. A very distinguished venue…but just to teach me my place, Dan Brown will be speaking at the same institution two weeks earlier.

By the way, a lot of people have been telling me that they thought this Connecticut professor was me. I like his style, and he certainly is a handsome fellow, but no, that’s not me.

Why are you a feminist?

I know why Laci Green is.

As long as I can remember, I’ve been one…even before I knew what it is. I felt it.

My parents married young, immediately had a string of kids, and weren’t highly educated: my father pumped gas for a living and my mother was a homemaker. Do I need to tell you we were poor? That didn’t matter to us: we could see that our parents loved each other very much and also loved us, but to be honest, you’ve got to admit that love doesn’t pay the rent. There were stresses and strains. I know my father was torn up because he was struggling so hard to meet that traditional male role as the breadwinner, and he wasn’t doing so well…and there was also a problem of binge drinking.

And then, my mother got a job to help out. And my parents argued. I knew that wasn’t right; if Dad can work, why can’t Mom? And then one night they fought. My father actually slapped my mother. I didn’t see it, but my sisters did, and they immediately started such wailing and crying and running through the house — that was wrong. Our parents were in love, they never ever hit each other. We were in total shock.

I’ll never forget what my mother did. She left. She took my sisters and moved back to stay with her parents. Our family was torn right in half, and it was probably the most traumatizing, terrible event of my childhood…but I still knew my mother had done the right thing, and that was important. My mother has always been quiet, soft-voiced, the stereotypical sensitive one, but I also knew in that moment that she was also damn strong and righteous. Even if I was crying myself to sleep every night, I was proud that she had stood up for herself.

The good news is that my father was also strong, and strength in this case meant admitting that he was wrong and changing his behavior. I never saw him drunk after that day; I never saw him strike my mother ever again. The usual description would be that he went “crawling back to her”, but that wouldn’t be it at all — it was more that two people who loved each other also realized that respect was part of the equation.

I was eight years old. I learned that forcing people into traditional roles tore them apart, and mutual respect and equality brought them together again. I also learned that women can be strong, and that good men can make mistakes. And years later, when I learned about this feminist thing, my reaction was to think, “But of course…isn’t everyone?”

I’m going to Seattle!

It’s a good deal — I’m going to spend a few days with my family, and then on Thursday, 5 June, at 7:30pm, I’ll be at Town Hall to talk about An Atheist’s Insight. I’m planning on specifically addressing the conflict between science and religion, and then opening it up to a nice thorough Q&A — you’ll be able to grill me. Lots of fun!

One catch: they’re charging admission. You’ll have to cough up a whole $5 to have the privilege of pestering me.

Oh, also, the big reason for doing this: The Happy Atheist is coming out in paperback. There will be a book signing. Or if you’d prefer, a book burning (it’ll sell copies, so that’s fine with me). I’ll also be in town most of that week, so if we want to do an informal get-together, we might be able to arrange that, too.

How to celebrate Easter

Here’s how I did it: I’ve been composing a genetics exam all day, and updating stuff for a review session tomorrow. And in a little bit, I’m going to sit down with a cup of tea and watch Cosmos.

The best way to celebrate? Leave Jesus and church out of it. Also, no magic eggs.

Into the heart of Morridor

It’s just been a fun day — we’re having a dreadful nasty snowstorm (it’s April! It’s Minnesota!), so we had to drive in last night, lest we get snowed in and to remove any temptation to rush, and after a harrowing 5 hour drive I’ve been stashed in a motel. Next up is a quick hop to the airport, and then…Salt Lake City!

Maybe I’ll convert. <snort>

Weird eyes

I’ve been having some odd vision problems lately, and I’d sort of resigned myself to that common symptom of aging, and that I was going to inevitably need bifocals. So this morning I went in for an eye exam.

It turns out that’s not it at all — my eyes are healthy, no serious problems, but one of my eyes has gotten slightly better, which was causing some disparities that were bothering me. So no bifocals. New lenses to compensate.

Also, it was my left eye — which I prefer to call my sinister eye — which has grown more powerful. The little devil PZ dancing on my left shoulder is rewarding me for paying attention to him.

Now I have to get back to grading. Wait, that’s a reward?

Are you planning to go out to eat today?

We did. My wife and I went out to Mi Mexico in Alexandria for a celebratory lunch (she has put up with me for 34 years! Yay!). It was very good — they have a vegetarian menu and prices were reasonable.

But just before I left, I was reading this terrible site, Sundays Are the Worst, which has a huge collection of stories from restaurant waitstaff about serving the Sunday-after-church crowd. You know where this is going: appallingly rude Christians stiffing people right and left. And then we went to a restaurant.

I think I over-tipped. I felt like I had to compensate for Jesus’ selfish followers.