Remind me to never cross Sikivu Hutchinson


Not getting up from this one.

She wields a Broadsword of Brutal Honesty +5.

The recent decision by Atheist Alliance International (AAI) to hire the former leader of American Atheists, David Silverman, to its executive director position is yet another indication that this business-as-usual rehab strategy also applies to movement atheism, which can be just as corrupt, cronyistic, and swaggeringly hostile to women as corporate America. Last year, Silverman was fired from American Atheists after allegations of sexual misconduct and financial impropriety were made against him. The claims leveled against Silverman by two female accusers were extensively detailed by BuzzFeed‘s Peter Aldhous, whose 2018 article notes that one of the women was reluctant to use her full name “because of concerns about hostility experienced by other women who have made allegations of sexual misconduct against prominent atheists.”

As I wrote in a September 2018 piece for RD, Silverman was one of several male atheist leaders who’d been accused of sexual misconduct. According to The Friendly Atheist blog, AAI reached out to Silverman via a friendship with a board member, then created a paid executive director position expressly for him. Must be nice. While women of color in all sectors are routinely shut out of entry level, middle, and executive management positions, white males get carte blanche, have positions of authority created for and handed to them; then receive multiple breaks and opportunities for redemption when they screw up.

Is AAI paying attention? Their choice of a shiny* new paladin just alienated a leading light of the black atheist community, and got decapitated for his trouble. This is probably the biggest PR screw-up an atheist org has committed in ages.

*It’s only shiny because of the thick layer of slime around his armor.

Comments

  1. mikehuben says

    I wonder if the problem is the attempt to have a monolithic atheist organization, rather than a confederalist form of organization. Perhaps a survey of how the more liberal religious organizations work might illustrate ways of solving the problem.

  2. says

    There hasn’t been an attempt to have “a monolithic atheist organization” although Madalyn Murray O’Hair thought American Atheists was the only group needed.

    AAI evolved from a group formed by disgruntled American Atheists members after Karen Johnson took over as President of AA after O’Hair had been murdered. The people who formed the original Atheist Alliance liked O’Hair’s bombast and ego and felt Johnson would tone down American Atheists too much – which she kind of did.

    A good problem in the freethought movement is there is no real monolithic idea of how a group should be operated so we have several different groups with different modes of action.

  3. anthrosciguy says

    Here’s one thing that utterly baffles me: okay, so the concerns of women and anyone who isn’t an asshole toward women are completely unimportant; I heartily disagree with that but I can understand other people being jerks enough that they’d feel that way. But what about the financial stuff. Do they not care at all even about that? Do they expect people to donate money to them when they don’t give a shit about that money being misused?

  4. says

    @#4, anthrosciguy:

    I suspect the idea is: “hey, you’re an atheist, you want to support atheism, we’re the only big atheist group here right now, so you really don’t have any choice but to give us all the support you can”. Like the Democratic Party except that if you give them support you don’t end up with a war criminal in the White House who normalizes all the things you hated about the alternative as a matter of policy.

  5. Artor says

    “This is probably the biggest PR screw-up an atheist org has committed in ages.”
    Except for all the other spectacular PR screw-ups recently.

  6. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    But what about the financial stuff. Do they not care at all even about that? Do they expect people to donate money to them when they don’t give a shit about that money being misused?

    They don’t care about donations from the plebs like us. They care about the big donations from the big names, who are mostly rich white men who despise “SJW”s. I wouldn’t be surprised if Dawkins just threw some big money at them just to “own” people like us.

  7. steve83 says

    Thanks for the post. But it was difficult to distinguish between your writing and what you quoted from Sikivu’s article. Silverman should never been given this position. Outrageous!

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