But some experts see

Tom Gjelten at NPR did a typically NPR passive-aggressive story on “extreme” atheists and Craig Hicks and yadda yadda. I’ve been doing the same sort of thing ever since last Wednesday, but…I think without the passive-aggressive aspects. That’s been my intention at least. I’m up front about it – Craig Hicks freaks me out because we had friends in common, because his Facebook wall looks exactly like the walls of countless other bro atheists, because I don’t know but I fear his anti-theism – which I share – may have had something to do with the three murders he apparently confessed to. I don’t like the idea, and that’s exactly why I’ve been poking at it so hard.

But Gjelten…well let’s see.

Outrage over the murder of three young Muslim Americans in North Carolina last week has gone international. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation said Saturday that the killings reflected “Islamophobia” and “bear the symptoms of a hate crime,” but local authorities say they don’t yet know what motivated the murders.

Stop right there. Why on earth would a reputable journalist go to the OIC for a comment? It’s a terrible organization. It’s the outfit behind the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam, which allows no human rights that are not “compatible with Sharia” – which means many of the most basic rights are nullified, though the declaration doesn’t spell that out.

So that’s one bad move.

The man held responsible for the killings is an avowed atheist. Whether that’s relevant in this case is not clear, but some experts see a new extremism developing among some atheists.

See? Pure passive-aggression. It’s not clear, BUT, some experts see blah blah, so let’s just leave that lying there like a turd so that we can make atheists sound bad while pretending not to. How handy to be able to say some experts see whatever you want to claim.

Religion scholar Reza Aslan says ordinary atheists just don’t believe in God. Hicks, Aslan says, was an anti-theist.

“An anti-theist is a relatively new identity, and it’s more than just sort of a refusal to believe in gods or spirituality; it’s a sometimes virulent opposition to the very concept of belief,” Aslan says.

Reza Aslan isn’t a religion scholar tout court, he’s an apologist for Islam.

The anti-theists have their own heroes; people like the outspoken writer Richard Dawkins, who appears often on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher condemning religion generally and Islam in particular.

“I mean these people have a holy book that tells them to kill infidels,” Dawkins once said on the show.

Yes, and? That’s true. It’s also true of the bible, certainly, but then Dawkins doesn’t say otherwise. It’s so passive aggressive to quote a true statement as if it were some terrible outrage, without actually saying it is, much less saying why it is.

Reza Aslan says the anti-theists are few in number. But just as mainstream Muslims must confront the extremists in their communities, Aslan says, it’s time for mainstream atheists to do the same.

False equivalence. Very false equivalence. One Craig Hicks, even if his atheism did contribute to his murder of the students in Chapel Hill, is not anywhere near the equivalent of Boko Haram and IS and the Taliban and al Qaeda and the government of Saudi Arabia. The idea is laughable.

So, yeah, that adds up to a lot of passive-aggression in one short piece.


  1. says

    I used to not realize how much NPR sucked, until I finally noticed that – for all intents and purposes – NPR’s reporting is completely aligned with the establishment’s desired narrative. Now I feel that they are lackeys of power, but stealthy about it – appearing to support the alternative viewpoint but actually suborned by the establishment; they’re the token captive opposition.

  2. says

    The man held responsible for the killings is an avowed atheist.

    And the man who threatened to punch your nose because mommy is an avowed pope.

  3. Seth says

    I still think the ‘white’, ‘male’, and ‘Southerner’ axes offer a great deal more explanatory power than the ‘atheist’ axis for what motivated this horrible crime. Are we asking white men from North Carolina to air contrition over how these identities might have contributed (read: certainly contributed) to the deaths of these three young people?

  4. Anne Fenwick says

    I once got into an argument with an anti-theist on Goodreads of all places. It was over a third party, a young man who appeared to be a nice human being, but he also felt that Christianity made a positive contribution to society. I didn’t agree with him, but since the anti-theist’s counter-argument was to call him every name she could think of and invite him to go to hell in an hand-basket along with his best buddies the KKK and Fred Phillips nutters, I got a bit distracted.

    That was my first introduction to the strange world of militant anti-theism, but I wouldn’t be surprised if these characters were causing us all problems before long.

  5. says

    “avowed atheist”
    I’ve always thought this a weird phrase.
    Makes me feel like a mere postulant, and then to want to know how to take my vows, to whom I’s make them, and if that would make me a bride of the Anti-Christ…

  6. Kevin Kehres says

    The difference between radical Islam and radical atheism is that there is no central source of authority everyone can point to that demands death for infidels and apostates.

    Even if Hicks killed those people as a direct result of his being offended as an atheist at their status as Muslims (and not just being an antisocial ammosexual anti-theist with a grudge), he would be hard put to find a passage in any book anywhere from any of the big names (or even any of the lesser ones) that calls on atheists to kill those who believe in god.

    Do we “own” Hicks? Yes. Just like Islam “owns” ISIS, Christianity “owns” Eric Rudolph, et al, and misogyny “owns” Elliot Rodgers. But we certainly don’t “own” any call to action that would have led him to murder.

  7. moarscienceplz says

    Hicks believed that religion is a net detriment to humanity. So do I.
    I think it is quite likely that Hicks and I also share an acceptance of many other ideas.
    However, Hicks and I part company strongly over whether a handgun is a useful item to have while going about our daily business, and that is why I’m not freaked out by the many points of correlation in our worldview. Hicks apparently felt that some disputes can only be resolved with deadly force, a viewpoint which lays him in the same bed as the Islamists he seems to have been opposed to. Ironically, this viewpoint has a good chance of destroying Hicks’ own life because he may be facing the death penalty.

  8. says

    Of course, NPR wouldn’t touch the southern racist culture and gun-fondling angles, certainly not when a southern white dude guns down a few brown people. The local NPR station even had Michael Shermer on to discus his new book on human morality. NPR has jumped the irony shark for sure…

    Thoughts: Does atheism or anti-theism even have an equivalent group to the KKK or ISIS? I think I can buy how “religion is bad for humanity” could lead some to the “need to kill religious people” end, but is there an organized group? The misogynists have 4/8chan/avfm, where assaulting women is actively discussed as a positive thing, but do atheists/anti-theists have a similar venue/space where talk of assaulting the religious is the norm? I’ve been poking around the atheist/anti-theist interwebs for 5+ years now and I haven’t stumbled on any place like that.

  9. mesh says

    What we’re seeing is the usual trend where the marginalized are the first to blame as society seeks to externalize its ugliness. While the atheist movement has its share of bigotry against Muslims so does the rest of Western society. It’s certainly a convenient strategy to cast the dehumanization of Muslims squarely at the feet of atheism and paper over the issues of racism and bigotry entirely as the Christian majority certainly won’t object.

    And, obviously, it wouldn’t be more of the same-old without the boilerplate of atheists as the Neutrals of the Neutral Planet who shrug their shoulders as religion is written into policy versus those extremist anti-theists who force little old ladies to recant Christianity.

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