Robyn E. Blumner, the CEO of the Center for Inquiry, is writing clickbait–I mean is now worried about “Identitarianism.”
Just at a time when it is essential for all of us to come together to work arm-in-arm against Christian Nationalism and the rise of religious privilege in law, humanism is facing a schism within its own movement. It is heartbreaking to watch and even more disheartening to know that the continued breach seems destined to grow.
It’s nice of her to finally notice the “deep rifts” within organized atheism that became a public issue with Richard Dawkin’s 2011 “Dear Muslima” comment. The same Richard Dawkins that worked to get Rebecca Watson blacklisted from atheist conventions by saying he wouldn’t speak at the same convention she was speaking at. She’s also the CEO of the same organization that forced Paul Fidalgo to stop blogging at Freethought Blogs. And I could go on.
Instead of using her position to try and heal the rift, she writes an editorial skipping the “both sides are wrong” argument and pretty much advocates silencing pro-social justice humanists in the name of free speech. Most of the editorial consists of attacking strawmen. One of the two examples she uses is The American Humanist Association’s 2021 decision to revoke Richard Dawkin’s 1996 Humanist of the Year Award.
The man who has done more than anyone alive to advance evolutionary biology and the public’s understanding of that science, who has brought the light of atheism to millions of people, and whose vociferous opposition to Donald Trump and Brexit certainly must have burnished his liberal cred became radioactive because of one tweet on transgender issues that the AHA didn’t like.
Transgender issues might be trivial to Robyn and Richard, but they’re a matter of life and death for others. Still, the statement from AHA clearly stated that there were other issues besides the tweet that led them to revoke the honor:
Regrettably, Richard Dawkins has over the past several years accumulated a history of making statements that use the guise of scientific discourse to demean marginalized groups, an approach antithetical to humanist values. His latest statement implies that the identities of transgender individuals are fraudulent, while also simultaneously attacking Black identity as one that can be assumed when convenient. His subsequent attempts at clarification are inadequate and convey neither sensitivity nor sincerity.
I used to be a member of CFI, but I left when I realized they were heading in the wrong direction. Robyn’s editorial only affirms my decision. Especially when she invokes the civil rights movement. Honestly, if this incarnation of CFI was around during the civil rights era, I imagine they would have sided with the secular segregationists and called the movement a religious plot to destroy freedom of association.
Note: All opinions expressed are my own. They do not reflect the views of any organization I work for or of my employer.