Oh god…I’m watching this video about how the alt-right infiltrates fandoms, and the tactics they use to radicalize members, and I’m suddenly realizing he could be talking about movement atheism, and that I watched this all play out in the last decade.
For instance, there’s the bit where they redefine the bits they don’t like, like feminism, as political, and we can’t have our group divided by politics…and at the same time conveniently redefine alt-right attitudes as apolitical. Then there’s the elevation of micro-celebrities as representatives, not because they’re particularly good people, but because they conform to the mores of the vocal minority. Or the fact that poor arguments are repeated over and over, precisely because they are bad arguments and aren’t going to win anyone over on their quality, so they have to reaffirm it to themselves and find solidarity as a chorus.
Have you ever heard an atheist declare that “all atheism is is a disbelief in god”? Think about it. That’s an argument that’s going to win no one over; it’s certainly not going to persuade anyone outside the core fandom that “Hmm, maybe I ought to give that a try”. Yet it’s the go-to claim of insular atheists to shut down any substantive discussion of goals and principles! This pseudo-apoliticism is exactly what’s allowed atheism to become a haven for the right. While on one hand feminism is declared to be a cancer that causes Deep Rifts, on the other, well, Libertarianism is just natural good sense.
Think about the takeover of the Atheist Community of Austin while watching the video. He’s not talking about atheism specifically at all, but it fits so well.
The good news is that it makes me feel better about having been mobbed out of the movement. The bad news is that atheism has been knocked out of the social conversation as a force for bettering humanity. It’s become just another toxic fandom.