A sample of bad writing

C J Werleman claims that New Atheism – all of it, not just Sam Harris and Bill Maher – is pro-white supremacy.

[The New Atheist movement has] become a pro-white supremacy movement. New Atheism is anti-Muslim, anti-Arab bigotry dressed up with a thin veneer of fancy sounding words.

That’s not a very effective way of making his claim, since white-supremacy isn’t the same thing as anti-Muslim bigotry which is not the same thing as anti-Arab bigotry. There’s overlap, but it’s possible to be one of those things without being the others, and it’s possible to be two of those things without being all three.

Individually, and on a personal level, however, New Atheists can be good people. Collectively and unwittingly, however, they not only espouse white supremacy but they also speak in a language that is every bit as crude and racist as fascist, neo-Nazi, movements. Although a little more discreetly.

Hm. He’s really not good at noticing when he contradicts himself between one sentence and the next, is he. If the language is a little more discreet, then it’s not every bit as crude and racist. The language can’t be both a little more discreet and every bit as crude and racist.

While New Atheists don’t use the overt racial epithets of say the Ku Klux Klan in the US, or Pegida in Europe, they use dog whistle terms like “barbarians,” “backwards,” and “violent”.

Some do; some don’t. Also, “violent” won’t do as a dog whistle, because it’s an indispensable word. If you treat “violent” as racist-dog whistle, you’ve made it impossible to use a necessary word.

Moreover, New Atheists enthusiastically, and often unintentionally, promote western imperialism, and any individual who supports an erroneous narrative (“clash of civilisations” is the theme of New Atheism) that, by design, attempts to justify western intervention in the Middle East, Africa, or Asia is, ergo ipso facto, a white supremacist.

Jesus – what a terrible writer he is. No wonder I’ve never bothered with him before. Again with the confusion – “enthusiastically, and often unintentionally” – that doesn’t really cohere. And then the random jumble of clauses, and then the silly “ergo ipso facto” – what a mess. Oh and a wrong factual claim – no, “clash of civilisations” is not the theme of new atheism.

Like their anti-theistic genocidal forefathers of the middle 20th century, New Atheists dabble in the dark arts of scientific racism. “The cult of science promises to eradicate or reform the tainted and morally inferior populations of the human race,” warns Chris Hedges. Today’s New Atheists proclaim science and reason will save humanity; bring an end to all wars; and bring about a more perfect civilisation. On the way to this imagined utopia, however, and again like their genocidal, anti-theistic forefathers of yore, they champion those who urge violence and discrimination.

Which anti-theistic genocidal forefathers of the middle 20th century are those then? And name one new atheist who says “science and reason will save humanity; bring an end to all wars; and bring about a more perfect civilisation.” Just one. He offers Bill Maher as an example but forgets to include the part about how  science and reason will save humanity; bring an end to all wars; and bring about a more perfect civilisation, so that’s not an example of what he just said.

As for Hirsi Ali, no New Atheist alive in America today is unfamiliar with her story. But it’s not the retelling of her story they seek. They want to rehear again and again how “Islam is one of the world’s great evils”, or “the mother lode of bad ideas”, or the greatest threat to Western civilisation, a “nihilistic, cult of death” and so on. They want to be made afraid of Islam in order to justify their hate of Muslims.

Except that maybe, just maybe, that’s not true. Just maybe it really is Islam that they dislike, and that leads some of them into rhetoric that does look anti-Muslim, and sometimes is anti-Muslim.

Sam Charles Hamad is a journalist with great expertise on the Middle East and US foreign policy. On the day Hirsi Ali spoke and received “a standing ovation” at the American Atheist’s convention, Hamad posted on Facebook:

“You’ll find that the vast majority of Ali’s fans are white males who hate Muslims and, in her, have found a perfect little brown-skinned conduit for their bigotry. I’m not a racist or prejudiced, they can say as they spout racism and bigotry. I’m a big fan of Ayaan Hirsi Ali. The fact that she’s a complete fraud making a shitload of cash at the expense of these slobbering white bigots would be rather funny if she also didn’t appeal to genuine fascists and demonise Muslims in such a fascistic and potentially dangerous manner.”

Notice the sexism that slipped in there? That Werleman apparently didn’t notice? That tell-tale “little”?

There are plenty of assholes in the atheist/new atheist movement, for sure. I wouldn’t dream of denying it. Lots of them are sexist men, and some are also racist. But is the whole movement “white supremacist” (or sexist)? Nope.


  1. Sastra says

    I mean, many of the critics of gnu atheism seem to suffer from the very narrowness and prejudice they complain about.

  2. John Morgan says

    CJ Werleman’s style of argumentation here reminds me of that employed by Climate Change denialists. Plentiful ‘ad hominen’, threaded with fabrication of facts and straw man ploys. See ‘Watts up With That’ blog and its commenters for loads of this kind of writing – if you have the stomach for pseudo-scientific follies and similar dangerous nonsense.

  3. says

    That seems like an exercise in labelling and stereotyping, which is OK except that he’s using those labels and stereotypes to complain about labelling and stereotyping.

  4. Al Dente says

    Werleman must know a different New Atheist movement than the one I’m familiar with.

  5. says

    @Al #4
    Werleman must know a different New Atheist movement than the one I’m familiar with.

    Those are the old new atheists. I think you hang out with the new new atheists. Or is it the reconstructed new new atheists? Somehow he didn’t notice the Deep Rifts.

  6. wsierichs says

    His comment about “Like their anti-theistic genocidal forefathers of the middle 20th century, New Atheists dabble in the dark arts of scientific racism” is, I presume, a reference to Hitler and the millions of Germans and other Europeans who supported him, and probably includes Stalin, Mao and other communist leaders.
    The problem: Hitler and his supporters were nearly all Christians, generally of a conservative bent (in the European sense of conservative Christianity, not its U.S. fundamentalist variety). Germans were overwhelmingly Christians and theists. A late 1930s poll found nontheists to be less than 2 percent. The actual number likely was higher, but Hitler repeatedly said he was going to eliminate atheism in Germany because he blamed atheism (in the forms of church-state separation, communism and Jews, the supposed creators of the first two forms) for Germany’s problems, so some atheists likely found God/Jesus publicly to survive. Christians historically considered Jews to be atheists because they denied the divinity of Jesus. Their atheism was the source of their supposed immorality. The historical Christian definition and fear/hated of atheism obviously played a significant role (I would argue a dominant role) in the Shoah/Holocaust.
    Hitler was a lifelong Catholic who died in good standing with his church. After Hitler’s death, German Archbishop Bremer ordered all his churches to hold requiems for Hitler. Hitler kept overt Christianity out of the Nazi Party simply because he feared the historical bitterness between Catholics and Protestants would splinter the movement. Also, the majority of his support came from Protestants, who made up roughly two-thirds of the Nazi membership.
    Beyond that, the fascist movements around Europe and the U.S. were also Christian, often avowedly so. They were named the Arrow Cross and Blue Cross parties (Hungary), Iron Cross (Romania), Cross of Fire (France), Thunder Cross (Latvia), and Legion of the Archangel Michael (Iron Guard), Romania. U.S. fascist movements included the Ku Klux Klan (which burns a cross to symbolize Jesus as the light of the world), the Christian Front (Father Coughlin’s offspring) and Defenders of the Christian Faith, another 1930s fascist movement with clerical leadership.
    Mussolini quite likely was an atheist, but after he became dictator of Italy, he suddenly found God and the Catholic Church, which in turn found him to be quite a benefactor. The Vatican gave Mussolini legitimacy by signing a treaty with him (the basis of Hitler’s later Vatican treaty) and Mussolini repaid the church with a lot of money.
    As for Stalin, he was brought up as a devout Orthodox Russian, studied theology at a seminary to become a priest, wrote religious poetry as an adult and cited God in talks with Churchill in Moscow in August 1942. When Churchill told him about Operation Torch, Stalin said, “May God prosper this undertaking.” (From Churchill’s post-war memoirs). Lenin also was brought up as a Christian although apparently became an atheist and non-religious in his teens. Stalin turned against his former church, but it’s not clear he was an atheist. And as far as I can find out, a majority of Bolsheviks had been brought up as Christians. Given Christianity’s history of relentless, brutal totalitarianism, I see it as the obvious role model the Bolsheviks followed. They grew up in an authoritarian theocracy and simply re-created it, but with a new religion, communism.
    There’s a lot more wrong, obviously, with Werleman’s rant, but his historical ignorance by itself should render him irrelevant.

  7. says

    I know, so I figured Werleman didn’t mean Hitler, but now you mention it, that would assume he had some basic historical knowledge, and why assume that?

  8. says

    CJ Werleman is a plaigarist. He had many articles taken down by people who published them after it came to light he plaigarised. He also made a comment about how Female Genital Mutilation isn’t so bad. Some of his commentary about jihadism reads as straight up apologetics. At times I think he’s some kind of meta-troll. But he seems to be legitimate. He genuinely is this grotesque.

  9. lpetrich says

    Why is hostility to Islam supposed to be racist? Isn’t it enough to call it bigoted? Like Judaism, Islam is not a race but a religion.

  10. Erp says

    @7 wsierichs

    You might want to double check your facts. I think it was Cardinal Archbishop Adolf Bertram of Breslau not Bremer and apparently he did not actually have a requiem mass said for Hitler though he is reputed to have done so and may have had plans to have had masses for all the German soldiers who died (on the other hand he died a couple of months after Hitler and amidst the chaos at the end of the war so who knows what was being planned). He does seem to have been on the German nationalistic side though opposed Hitler on some issues.

    Werleman may also be referring to some negative aspects of the eugenics movement (e.g., mandatory sterilization and the use to justify racism) that enjoyed widespread support among Protestants and atheists across Europe and North America (Catholics at least in Britain and the US may have been a bit more wary because some of the racism was directed towards minorities who were overwhelmingly Catholic (e.g., Mexican, Italian, Irish)).

  11. Bluntnose says

    The fact that she’s a complete fraud making a shitload of cash at the expense of these slobbering white bigots

    In other words, she is happily exploiting the atrocities she ‘opposes’ for money. Nice.

  12. johnthedrunkard says

    I don’t know Werleman from Adam. But the tone is so stereotypical that I’m reluctant to even look.

    Islam is held utterly sacred and above criticism. From the Right because oil. From the Left because Cold War anti-semitism and hysterical anti-Israel ranting.

    Strong comparisons can be made to old-school Communists with their heads spinning as they rationalize their way from Popular Front, to Hitler-Stalin Pact, to Barbarossa.

    The null hypothesis: That the Soviet union is NOT a banner for progress; that Islam is NOT the religion of peace, is simply and utterly shut from their minds.

  13. says

    they use dog whistle terms like “barbarians,” “backwards,” and “violent”.

    I don’t use “barbarians,” but I do use “barbaric.” And “backwards,” and certainly “violent.”

    Because those are accurate terms for imprisoning, torturing, and/or murdering people for being gay, feminist, and/or non-Muslim.

    Does CJ Werleman disagree?

  14. Lady Mondegreen says

    (“clash of civilisations” is the theme of New Atheism)

    To be fair, it was Hitchens’ theme, vis-a-vis the Iraq war. I don’t know if he borrowed it from the neocons, or vice versa.

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