Organized Atheism Also at Fault

I’m pretty quick to point out that terves very much share blame for the recent losses on women’s rights.  Transphobia was one of the levers that helped buoy fascists and autocrats in elections across the globe recently.  But this isn’t a terf blog network, it’s an atheist one.  That’s our beat.  So to that end, let me just reiterate this point I’ve made before.

Organized atheism should always have been a force for progressivism, against the barbarity of religious belief.  But nope.  The idea of listening to even the mildest of feminist critique caused all our talking heads to leap headlong into bed with fascists, to promote the movements that ultimately led to Trump’s election and the current slate in the supreme court.  DickDawk can whine all he wants that he’s liberal, that we should believe that counts for fuckin’ anything, while he engages in piteous dickriding transphobia and platforms the hero of incel mass shooters everywhere.

There is a straight line from elevatorgate to gamergate to altright white supremacy to cheeto hitler to the end of Roe v Wade.  Terfs did their part, but we were in the game of ruining civilization as we know it when those bitches were barely getting started.  We had a lot of friends along the way in building this theocracy, but we should never lose sight of our part in subverting our own ostensible ends.  Like terfs – they should never be allowed to forget they helped set feminism back eighty years, and we should never be allowed to forget we set atheism back as well.

My own part was small.  I let a subtle brew of ableism and islamophobia drive me to participate in boosting new atheism, participating in the comments and the discourse, not doing enough to change the rotten core of the movement or start a better one.  I’ll own that.  I wonder if the narcissistic thunk leaders of our defunct movement will ever process the same, ever feel that as they fade from the earth.  I doubt it.


  1. Pierce R. Butler says

    The circular firing squad just wouldn’t be complete without this, thanks so much!

  2. says

    there’s an assumption in the idea this constitutes a circular firing squad that any of us were ever going to achieve anything working together, or that we had actual common goals. i don’t think we did or could – we had lip service at best.

    did we do any good back in the nu atheist day? might have reduced religiosity in certain narrow circles, but the antifeminist freakout immediately countered any good that could possibly have come of that effect.

    the only thing that really united us back then was a smugness of feeling smarter than the theists, and of treating islam as uniquely dangerous and bad. that was never going to produce a coalition for positive change.

  3. says

    What “circular firing squad?” Are atheists supposed to never criticize other atheist “thought leaders?” What would any atheists have gained by…whatever alternative approach you think we should have taken instead? (And for that matter, who are you accusing of participating in this “circular firing squad” anyway?)

  4. says

    I haven’t always gotten on with Mr. Butler, but I admit I may have misinterpreted his thinking here. Maybe he’ll have an explanation is sensible and/or defensible, whether I agree with it or not.

  5. Pierce R. Butler says

    My confession: I came here directly from the Pharyngula Dobbs thread, an undeniable though rather elliptical firing squad, and felt more than a little frustrated at our esteemed host’s perceived piling-on against a tertiary factor in yesterday’s disaster.

    Not that GAS got it wrong, not even that the general Pharyngulite horde got it wrong, just that everybody wanted to point fingers and squabble as the fascist locomotive plows into the body of progressivism. Yes, it occurred to me even as I typed that I was doing the same thing, sniping at the closest target, but I wanted to howl about/against the reflex of attacking each other instead of our common enemies, and the post above exemplifies that (to some degree; again, not saying its point doesn’t apply) enough to trigger those thirteen words.

    I don’t have any better ideas to suggest about strategies and tactics than anybody else, I don’t claim special virtues or morals, and I too deplore our dilemma of reliance upon the unreliable Democratic Party in particular – but can we please get beyond the sour pleasures of reflexively playing the Blame Game and move towards, y’know, real resistance somehow?

  6. says

    Knowing the enemy is part of resisting them, and knowing what one has done wrong is part of doing better going forward. I think my post was legit by both measures. With my current mental / physical / fiscal resources posts are the main form of resistance I have any access to.

    That does put another bug in my ear though. Pondering if there’s anything I can do different, or any angle that isn’t being hit by better fighters than myself. Thinkin on thinkin…

  7. beholder says

    Hard to say what could have decisively changed the movement dynamic away from big egos (Dawkins, Harris, and co.) with their cult followings flinging poop at each other. I also question how representative of movement atheism that actually is; or if it was instead a product of the Salon-magazine-religious-snob types going around looking for dirt on new atheists, giving the trolls more attention and creating a toxic feedback loop. Either way the trolls were getting plenty of attention, which repulses most other atheists from movement activity.

    At least, that’s the way I think it happened. The big surveys on atheists have consistently placed us as either the most or among the most progressively-minded group in the U.S.. That gives me hope that some atheists can rebuild a decent movement, with more explicit ways of telling the regressives they aren’t welcome.

  8. says

    behold – I’m talking about movement atheism alone here. one strength of atheism as a concept is that it is not owned by anyone and can be reborn from nothing as long as religion exists to disbelieve. probably most atheists in the US have zero to nominal awareness of the ol’ creeps, many of them having been children at the time. it’s a shame everywhere anyone is trying to rep atheism tho, it tends to be shitlord central – like yewchoob’s atheist community. not sure if there’s a good way to forge a common identity with the “great silent majority” of atheists that aren’t fuckboys. that would be cool if we could figure it out tho.

  9. George says

    In retrospect, it seems that Atheism is really too nebulous an idea to pull a lot of otherwise disparate people together. Racism, sexism, classism, all elicit a more visceral response. Alas…

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