Congratulations to Nick Fish


He’s been named as the president of American Atheists, succeeding David Silverman. He’s a good, safe choice, having been involved in AA’s affairs for years, and he’s always come across as one of the good guys in my conversations with him — keeping in mind that we’re both white men, and we have the remarkable ability to see each other in the best possible light. In terms of experience alone he was probably the best candidates, although I do wish the committee that appointed him had put a higher priority on diversity.

I thought this comment on the announcement was a good one, though.

I thought this was a perfect opportunity for American Atheists to appoint a woman and / or minority as president. I just can’t get excited about another white dude.

Yeah. I have nothing against Nick, but at a time when atheists need to find common cause with other social justice movements to remain relevant, he’s got an uphill climb in front of him. He will have to work twice as hard to overcome the stereotype that a white dude is going to be privileged and blind to the major conflicts in his movement. He doesn’t have to — it’s really easy for us to coast — but he’s not going to make a mark if he doesn’t work to correct the stigma of atheism.

I have a suggestion for him. Start with that announcement. Right after the comment I quoted above, there is a triggered dude sealioning away about racism against white people. He’s going on and on. Someone at American Atheists, not necessarily Nick Fish, ought to stomp on that crap hard. That’s the kind of idiocy that has to be nipped in the bud, or it’s going to get worse…has been getting worse.

Then there’s another kind of comment.

Well hopefully he won’t be a liberal cuck!

I hope he will be. But if AA is just going to allow that kind of toxic noise to pollute the discussion, he’s doomed no matter what. Shut it down.

Then there’s a bunch of comments that really surprised me.

They could have picked a good-looking one !

Why did they have to use the photo with a mean looking face? Is that really what we want to say about who we are?

Is it just me or he looks creepy

Wow. Criticisms of his appearance? Good luck dealing with those assholes, Nick.

And finally, these twits:

I didn’t know my atheism had a president?

“Named” as new President? I really don’t care. I’m sure the stocks won’t be sky-rocketing over this news. But, was he named president, or voted in as president? I don’t recall seeing a ballot. Didn’t Castro call himself President too?

American Atheists is a professional organization, emphasis on organization, with rules and responsibilities and officers, so god damn fucking of course they have members with specific roles. I am so fed up with these clueless atheists who are so stupidly against any and all authority that they refuse to acknowledge the importance of expertise and regulations and duties within a function unit above the level of the individual. Someone has to do the work, dudes, and clearly it ain’t gonna be you shit-shovelers. You don’t like it, you don’t have to be a member.

I know there is going to be disappointment that a woman or minority did not get this prominent position. But to overcome that setback in opinion, the next step is to crack down on the racist/misogynist element in organized atheism. Be an accomplice with the minority community that is poorly represented in the leadership to take steps in the right direction, and maybe we’ll all see you as an asset.

Also, don’t use your authority as a way to canoodle. Just generally good advice all around.

Comments

  1. says

    I’ve been reading atheist blogs for over a decade, and I still don’t have a clear idea of what AA actually does. Is Nick Fish now the one in charge of being interviewed on FOX News, and going to CPAC?

    But in all seriousness, AA has a website where they say what they do, so let’s educate ourselves. Let’s see… They have a legal center that addresses separation of church and state, which claims 10 successes in 2017. They track relevant state legislation, and offer resources for voters. They have over 170 affiliate groups. They publish a magazine, and run an annual convention. There are a few small scholarships. And of course, there are the famous billboard campaigns. Not bad.

  2. says

    I do not get this whole opposition to liberalism and sjw. The whole point of organized atheism was liberal view (fighting for freedom of and from religion) and social justice (ditto).

  3. albz says

    @PZ:

    I thought this was a perfect opportunity for American Atheists to appoint a woman and / or minority as president. I just can’t get excited about another white dude.

    Was there a woman or minoriy representative that was as qualified as Fish? If so the preference should have been given to them. If not, then it makes no sense to complaint abount “another white dude”.

    @2 Charly

    The whole point of organized atheism was liberal view (fighting for freedom of and from religion) and social justice (ditto).

    No. The whole point of organized atheism is to have atheism recognized as a legitimate worldview, and to foster atheist position (possibly while pointing out the problems of religions).
    Any other consideration is nice and good, but not required to have organized atheism.
    (disclaimer: I don’t know AA so I’m speaking in general here. For AA things could be different, but you cannot generalize)

  4. upprunitegundanna says

    I feel that, given the current moral climate that we live in, no organisation should ever appoint a white person to be in charge of anything. Nick Fish will be outed as a sexual abuser and racist within a year, you mar my word. A terrible decision.

  5. says

    @albz

    No. The whole point of organized atheism is to have atheism recognized as a legitimate worldview, and to foster atheist position (possibly while pointing out the problems of religions).

    Which is what I said using different words. “recognized as a legitimate worldview” is viewing atheism as a social juctice issue.

    That is why I do not understand how organized atheists in US can make their atheism a social justice issue whilst denying outright the legitimacy of other social justice issues and sometimes even actively working against them. That is the contradiction I am talking about.

  6. albz says

    @Charly

    Which is what I said using different words. “recognized as a legitimate worldview” is viewing atheism as a social juctice issue.

  7. albz says

    @Charly

    Which is what I said using different words. “recognized as a legitimate worldview” is viewing atheism as a social juctice issue.

    Definetely no: it isn’t. There are lots of legitimate worldviews (atheism among them) that don’t take any kind of position on social justice -or on any other ethical issue.
    Atheism(*) in itself has nothing to do with social justice.

    (*) at least in the “actually agnosticism but I say atheism to not be misinterpreted” flavour.

  8. albz says

    @ John Morales:
    no he has not, and no this not a social justice issue. Yo do not even realize that the link you posted actually deals with atheism being a legitimate worldview, and not in any way about it taking stances in defense of social justice.

    Learn to read and understand before learning how to link stuff, thank you.

  9. says

    I think the point Charly is making is that legitimizing atheism is, in itself, already a social justice issue. It’s about ensuring the rights of a minority group. So, other social justice issues should be a natural development from the same mindset.

    I suppose the problem is that some atheists aren’t in this for the sake of justice at all. They don’t actually want rights for atheists, they just want rights for themselves. The fact that they are atheists is completely incidental. If those same people were Christians, they’d be calling for our heads.

    So, I guess there is no contradiction, because these people simply don’t care about justice at all. The split in attitude occurs at an even earlier step.

  10. John Morales says

    Fine, albz. Your particular worldview is duly noted.

    (And hey, at least you’re not a dictionary atheist! ;))

  11. says

    I think only time is going to able to heal the reputation of movement atheism. The likes of Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and Dicky Dawkins have done so much damage with the apologism for torture, anti-muslim bigotry, “race science”, and the war on terror. If those are the kind of people held up as leaders of movement atheism, then that movement is absolutely my enemy and it needs to be destroyed.

  12. albz says

    @10 LykeX

    I think the point Charly is making is that legitimizing atheism is, in itself, already a social justice issue. It’s about ensuring the rights of a minority group.

    Sorry: no. Legitimizing atheism is about granting to everybody the possibility to follow his own personal beliefs without being discriminated, once these beliefs do not harm others. This can be in itself a totally legitimate and sound goal, without the need to involve social justice at all.

    Then, it happens that atheists are mostly minority groups. Since fighting for your rights makes you more sympathetic with other minorities doing the same, many atheists also are strong SJ advocates (*). But the two levels must be differentiated, and this is very important.

    (*) as I am, incidentally.

    @11 John Morales

    Fine, albz. Your particular worldview is duly noted

    You have the ability to understand the opposite of every single concept that you happen to come by.
    You cannot take note of my particular worldview for the very simple reason that you do not know what I think about social justice or anything else apart from atheism: I never said anything about it (that is, before this comment).

    So what you are actually saying is that you are imagining something about me without any element, and fixing it in your mind for future reference. Scary…

  13. says

    Fighting against discrimination of any group in any society is a social justice issue by definition. So:

    albz

    Sorry: no. Legitimizing atheism is about granting to everybody the possibility to follow his own personal beliefs without being discriminated, once these beliefs do not harm others.

    “legimizing” “without being discriminated” make it a social justice issue.

    This can be in itself a totally legitimate and sound goal, without the need to involve social justice at all.

    -facepalm-
    Most people take more than two sentences before contraditing themselves.

  14. John Morales says

    (Source: https://www.atheists.org/about/ )

    Since 1963, American Atheists has been the premier organization fighting for the civil liberties of atheists and the total, absolute separation of government and religion.

    albz:

    You cannot take note of my particular worldview for the very simple reason that you do not know what I think about social justice or anything else apart from atheism: I never said anything about it (that is, before this comment).

    You have made it most explicit that you think that advocating for the civil liberties of atheists is not a social justice issue, but instead is merely an atheist issue.

    I found that informative regarding your conception of social justice.

    To be more on-topic, regarding your first observation in this thread, I note elsewhere in that “about” page there’s this:

    Kathleen Johnson is Vice President of American Atheists and has served American Atheists as an activist since 1997. She previously held the position of Military Director for American Atheists, a position she helped create to help American Atheists better serve and assist the military population and engage in military-related activism.

  15. albz says

    @14

    Fighting against discrimination of any group in any society is a social justice issue by definition.

    True. Now, did you ever hear about something called “propositional logic”? It says that, for example, from ( A implies B) does not in general follow (B implies A).
    So “Fighting discrimination is SJ) does not means “SJ is fighting discrimination”.

    That’s why you can be an atheist while not giving a fuck about SJ as a whole in itself.

    Now stop facepalming, open your eyes and use them to read some logic textbook. Start from those with many color drawings and the “4-6 Y” sticker on the cover.

    @15
    What is not clear to you about my previous statement?

    (disclaimer: I don’t know AA so I’m speaking in general here. For AA things could be different, but you cannot generalize)

  16. hemidactylus says

    Atheism has a contingent connection to social justice, not a necessary connection. Social justice does not naturally follow from lacking belief in a deity. Pure dictionary atheism is apathetic at best. No socially conscientious reflection obtains.

    Atheism in some forms is a narrowly focused identity movement whether smarter than thou “brights” or litigious church-state crusaders.

    Some strands of atheism can become intersectional or see common purpose with other outcast or marginalized groups. That’s when social justice comes into the picture.

    The lack of necessary connection between atheism and social justice shows why there have been some serious downsides to movement atheism. The expectation of such perceived connection has resulted in disillusionment when so often violated.

    Atheism will neither destroy nor save the world.

  17. albz says

    Just to put the example in a clearer way for you.

    Assuming that:

    A = “Caring about SJ as a whole”,
    B = “Fighting minority group discrimination”

    (A implies B) “Caring about SJ as a whole implies fighting minority group discrimination” is true

    does not mean that
    (B implies A) “Fighting minority group discrimination implies caring about SJ as a whole”
    is true.

  18. says

    albz, I have never said that you “cannot be an atheist while not giving a fuck about SJ as a whole in itself.”.

    Atheism per se is not about social justice. However atheism organized around fighting for rights for atheists is about social justice. It is therefore hipocritical, dishonest and illogical to ignore, deny or mock legitimacy of other social justice issues.

    You can be an atheist and be a bigot, but it is rather comical when you at the same time complain about people being bigoted against you. That is my point.

  19. hemidactylus says

    And while on topic of American Atheists, I realize their mission is pursuit of apparent breaches in Jefferson’s wall, but couldn’t this agenda be taken too far? Rebecca Watson pointed to a case of AA getting carried away a while back:

    http://skepchick.org/2017/11/atheists-sue-priest-visiting-animal-shelter/

    This is priceless: “… I thought [American Atheists- Hemi edit] already eradicated religion in 2010 with poorly designed billboards telling people that Jesus is a myth. So I’m not sure why this animal-loving priest even continues to exist, let alone why he is visiting an animal shelter to bless dogs and cats and rabbits in the hopes that they will find homes.”

  20. albz says

    @19 Charly.
    You really, really, really should learn what logic is about, and why you need to be able to apply it if you wish to discuss something.

    However atheism organized around fighting for rights for atheists is about social justice.

    No. It’s about a part of a thing called “social justice”, which also comprises lots of different stuff that you could or couldn’t buy.

    It is therefore hipocritical, dishonest and illogical to ignore, deny or mock legitimacy of other social justice issues.

    Could be. Only, no one did that. Saying that SJ is not implied by atheism makes no assertion about SJ inherent value or legitimacy, and for sure does not mock it. It would be “straw man” here, if only your phrases were coherent enough to be categorized somehow apart from “unconsequential babbling”.

  21. says

    albz,

    It’s about a part of a thing called “social justice”

    This Is exactly my point. Which you insist misinterpreting as if I was saying something else, and then you oppose to that something else.

    Could be. Only, no one did that.

    Yes, they did. For example in the OP mentioned commenter:

    Well hopefully he won’t be a liberal cuck!

    and over the years appeared multiple atheists, who were all gung-ho arguing about how atheists are pesecuted in USA, but as soon as they were asked to also recognize institutinalized racism and covert and overt misogyny, they started to deny those things exist anymore.
    FFS, there are atheists who made their whole careers about denying legitimacy of feminism once the “bashing creationist” schtick started to run dry. I merely point out that such attitude is hipocritical in atheism organized around social justice for atheists. And you keep arguing as if I was placing an = sign between atheism and social justice.

  22. albz says

    @22 Charly
    Read a logic book. For kids. Pretty please.
    Also, whining about what some other atheist did or said is not a way out of your incoherent and false statements.

  23. leerudolph says

    we’re both white men, and we have the remarkable ability to see each other in the best possible light.

    “Remarkable ability”, hell. It’s a superpower!!!
    Of course, it depends highly on another superpower, that of being able to divert all the best possible light onto … WHITE MEN!!!

  24. Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says

    Legitimizing atheism is about granting to everybody the possibility to follow his own personal beliefs without being discriminated, once these beliefs do not harm others. This can be in itself a totally legitimate and sound goal, without the need to involve social justice at all.

    ….what exactly is it that you think the words “social justice” mean?

  25. zbla says

    @PZ: if Mandisa Thomas is as good as Fish then she should have been nominated. And Fish should resign and leave her be president. And you too should stop babbling about white dudes.

    So yes, I fuck off: this blog has some very interesting parts but the irrational, sanctimonious and “we are right so we can do things that others cannot” is getting more and more relevant.
    Also, too many “see how wonderful are my little relatives, I’m sure that you really want to see them because they’re sooo cuuute” photos.

  26. Kreator says

    Aw, the big baby is jealous of the young one. I haven’t met Knut but I’m sure he’s the most coherent of the two.

  27. richardemmanuel says

    Well that was a pretty mild ‘infringement’ to get banned for. Have a look at RD.net – just 3 people agreeing with each other left. Pitiful. It’s only a pixel colosseum…

  28. says

    albz@#3:
    The whole point of organized atheism is to have atheism recognized as a legitimate worldview, and to foster atheist position

    In spite of your vigorous assertion of that, people appear to disagree with you. So, that cannot be the case – you are merely airing your opinion. You’re welcome to do that, naturally. Freedom of speech and free thought is another of those issues organized atheists need to support, after all.

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